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Senate body to take up bills for protection of rights of children, transgender persons


ISLAMABAD: The Senate Func­tional Committee on Human Rights will take up two bills for protection of rights of children and transgender people in its meeting on Tuesday.

The National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC) Bill 2017 and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2017 are part of a four-point agenda issued by the Senate Secretariat for consideration by the human rights committee.

The bill seeking to set up an independent national commission to monitor, protect and promote the rights of children moved by the government, has already been passed by the National Assembly, whereas the bill seeking protection of rights of transgender persons was moved by former law minister Babar Awan of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the Senate as a private members’ bill.

The NCRC bill suggests formation of an 18-member commission to exercise its powers and perform its functions to ensure protection of the rights of children.

The main functions of the commission are to examine or propose legislation and administrative instruments to protect child rights, hold inquiry into violation of child rights and recommend to the relevant agency or department initiation of proceedings in such cases and to examine all factors that inhibit enjoyment of rights of child such as violence, abuse and exploitation, trafficking, torture, pornography and prostitution, and recommend remedial measures.

The commission having powers of a civil court can seek report or information from the federal government, civil society organisations and autonomous bodies.

The commission will be bound to meet at least once every quarter and make decisions by majority. It will also present its annual report to parliament on the situation of child rights in the country and its performance.

According to the statement of objects and reasons attached to the bill, the commission is being set up on the directive of the Geneva-based United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued in 2009.

It states that Pakistan has already ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Children in 1990 and its Optional Protocol on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography in 2011, and is thus obliged to implement these instruments and report progress to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Geneva, every five years.

Besides a chairperson to be nominated by the federal government, the NCRC will comprise a secretary of the human rights division, one representative each from the foreign affairs and interior divisions not below the rank of a joint secretary, chairpersons of the National Commission for Human Rights and the National Commission on the Status of Women or their representatives, chairpersons of the four provincial commissions on rights of the child set up under the provincial laws, six members of civil society — one each from the four provinces, Islamabad and Fata — including one woman and a minority member, a secretary of the commission and a child.

The chairpersons and members of the commission will have a three-year term, one time extendable for another three-year term.

The bill seeking protection of rights of transgender persons and their welfare was moved by Babar Awan in Senate in January.

The statement of objects and reasons attached to the bill said that the act sought to protect transgender persons, the most marginalised community, in the country owing to their innocence.

It says: “The community faces problems ranging from exclusion to discrimination, lack of education facilities, unemployment, lack of medical facilities and so on.”

The bill states that under various provisions of the Constitution regarding the dignity of human beings and human freedom, it is obligatory for “the state to secure the well-being of the people, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race, by raising their standard of living, etc”.

It said: “In order to effectively address the issue being confronted by this marginalised community, the instant bill seeks to define a transgender person and prohibit discrimination against them.”

The bill provides that “no establishment shall discriminate against transgender persons in matters relating to employment, recruitment, promotion and other related issues” and calls for providing grievance redressal mechanism in each establishment.

The human rights committee in its meeting will also finalise its report on the incident of a child maid torture case.


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