The Sindh Assembly on Friday passed into law the Sindh Child Protection Authority (Amendment) Law 2021, paving the way for setting up special courts for child protection in each district of the province.
The Section 20-D of the newly passed amendment bill titled ‘Establishment of Special Courts’ reads: “For the purpose of speedy justice, government shall, in consultation with the High Court of Sindh, by notification, specify for each district, an existing court of Civil Judge/Assistant Sessions Judge to be a Special Court for Child Protection to try the offences under this (Sindh Child Protection Authority) Act.”
The bill further states: “On establishment of special courts, the cases failing within the purview of this act pending in any court shall be transferred to the Special Court for trial. “The Special Court on taking cognizance of a case shall proceed with the trial from day to day and shall decide the case within 120 days.”
The amendment bill also makes it binding upon the police or any other law enforcement agency in the province to lodge the first information report (FIR) against any incident of a child going missing or abducted within four hours of the occurrence of the criminal instance.
The failure of the police or any other LEA concerned to lodge the FIR would attract due penal action. The amendment law has also empowered the chairperson of the Sindh Child Protection Authority to take suo motu cognizance of the incidents of the child abuse in Sindh.
The newly passed law defines the act of abuse against children as being physical, psychological or sexual violence, exploitation, compromising economic exploitation and sexual exploitation including child marriage, child trafficking, domestic or commercial child labour, corporal punishment, injury, and maltreatment.
After the passage of the bill, Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Shamim Mumtaz, who also acts as the chairperson of the Child Protection Authority, expressed gratitude to the lawmakers for their support to pass the new amendment law.