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Moot seeks joint strategy to check violation of child rights

HYDERABAD: Participants of a media consultation on “The state of child rights in Sindh” on Friday demanded of the political parties and the government to prepare a joint strategy to address violations of child rights in the province.

The meeting observed an alarming increase in violations of child rights, adding that particularly traditional violence against children through Jirga, trafficking, Karo-Kari, child and bonded labour has been noticed in recent years.

Society for Protection of Rights of Child (Sparc) organised the consultation at the Hyderabad press club, with over 40 journalists and photojournalists participating.

Akhtar Baloch, regional manager, welcomed the guests. He said the government has been bold enough to introduce the Juvenile System Ordinance (No XXII) that was enacted on July 1, 2000. This ordinance provides for the protection of the rights of children involved in criminal litigation, he said.

He deplored the impracticality of the laws and ordinances in the system. Many juveniles are charged not according to the acts but are treated as adult offenders, he said. The probation procedure is being practised under the Probation of Offenders Ordinance introduced in 1960.

He said the shocking figures reveal the sad story of probation in Pakistan. There are only three probation officers in Sindh, which has 23 districts as compared to the Punjab which has 53 officers appointed for the task.

Negligence can also be observed in court arrest summons, which mention the central prison, juvenile offender/women jail, district jail but not the probation home, he said.

The child offenders have the right to legal assistance at the expense of the state provided by a legal practitioner who must have an experience of at least five years at the bar, he said. The prisons all over Sindh are generally overcrowded, he said.

According to provincial authorities, about 19,318 prisoners were lodged against the capacity for 9,000 in the Sindh’s 16 jails. Out of them, 4,200 were languishing in the Central Jail Karachi alone against the capacity for only 911, he said.

President Hyderabad Press Club Mohammed Shahid Shaikh said corporal punishment in educational institutes is also an important issue to be addressed by non-governmental organisations, teacher associations and the media.

He criticised the groups working for child rights’ promotion for what he said neglecting the real victims of violations of child rights, including those working as child labourers.

He said such groups should practically involve these children in their programmes and encourage them to enrol in schools or arrange alternative education facilities for them.

Source: The News

Date:3/3/2007

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