Pakistan was one of the six initiators of the World Summit for Children in 1990 and took the lead in signing and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Both the Constitution of Pakistan and the UNCRC recognize that all children have the right to be treated with dignity, to be protected and to develop to their full potential in life.
As the lead Government agency, the Ministry of Human Rights has responsibility for the protection and promotion of human rights of all citizens of Pakistan, including children and those that are most vulnerable.
The mandate of the Ministry begins at the legislative level where we have been instrumental in the drafting and promulgation of important laws on child protection and welfare--this includes amendments in the CRPC to add cruelty and trafficking of children as major compoundable offences.
We were fortunate to be able to pass the Juvenile Justice Act, the ICT Child Protection Act and recently the Zara Act which identifies procedures to help police authorities recover missing and abducted children. The National Commission on the Rights of the Child, an independent Commission has also been constituted and is functional.
Legislation, however, must be coupled with action. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Human Rights has worked tirelessly with its partners to further protect children during this unprecedented crisis. Unfortunately, children are more exposed to abuse and violence during lockdowns. It will require the dedicated efforts of Government, non-profits, as well as the public, to ensure their safety.
I commend Group Development Pakistan for launching this directory, which is an important step towards information dissemination and will assist in helping protect our children. Collaborative efforts such as these will go a long way in achieving our collective goal for a safe, fair and equitable environment for all citizens, particularly the innocent and vulnerable children in our country.