By Razzak Abro
The Permanent Mission of Pakistan, Geneva has taken notice of Amnesty International’s (AI) report criticizing the Pakistani government’s “inadequate” implementation of a juvenile justice system in the country. The Mission has said that the report casts a negative impression of the country’s commitment to child rights thus asking the Foreign Office to counter these allegations by highlighting what the government has done for children’s rights. According to sources in the Sindh government, following the Mission’s instructions, the Foreign Office issued directives to all provincial home departments to provide details on what steps have been taken to protect child rights. In a fax message sent on December 27 last year, the Mission also dispatched a copy of the AI’s report and mentioned some points it had raised including the AI’s concern over the “slow implementation of obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)”. The report said that it was setback that the Lahore High Court revoked the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) in December 2004 even though the Supreme Court stayed the judgment in February 2005. According to the report, the JJSO’s implementation has been slow and partial and the law was only enforced in select parts of the country, leaving the criminal justice system to work in other areas without any child rights protection. It states: “Pakistan remains one of the countries where blatant violations of the CRC and customary international law, banning the death penalty for juveniles, continues to be reported”. The report also said that the Presidential Order 2001 to commute all death sentences of juveniles was slowly implemented. The Mission has asked the Foreign Office to send a rebuttal to the points raised on the grounds that since the ratification in 1990 of the CRC, the government has introduced various programmes and legal and social measures to protect the rights of children and their welfare. Some of these measures have been also acknowledged by the CRC while examining Pakistan’s second periodic report in September 2003. The Mission also said that the National Commission for Child Welfare and Development, the focal point on children issues, should be asked to send an objective response to the Amnesty International’s report, highlighting the measures taken by the government in recent years and particularly the improvement in indicators relating to children.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006