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Pakistan: Universal Children's Day— A Campaign Is Launched

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-FST-053-2012
November 21, 2012

A Statement from Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Pakistan: Universal Children's Day— A Campaign Is Launched For The Ratification Of Optional Protocol To The Un Convention On Child Rights

The Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC), on the occasion of Universal Children's Day, urges for the "Implementation of UNCRC and ratification of Optional protocol on involvement of children in armed conflict." The SPARK has also started a campaign of activities for the implementation of optional protocol along with other civil society organizations, Child Rights Clubs, and Child Rights Movement in Sindh province.

The Optional Protocol to the UN CRC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution in 2000 and entered into force in 2002. Currently 150 countries have ratified the said Optional Protocol. The need for this Optional Protocol was felt and discussed as article 38 of the UN CRC was not consistent with the protection of children as it mentioned the age of 15 years old not to take part in direct hostilities and not to recruit under 15 years old into armed forces. It has stressed that in the light of definition of a child and in the best interest of the child, that no child under the age of 18 should be allowed to be involved in hostilities, either directly or indirectly and that no child under the age of 18 should be recruited in to armed forces was the conclusion of participants on consultation on implementation UN CRC and optional protocols.

Once states sign or ratify international conventions state parties are bound to make their domestic laws in conformity with international obligations. Furthermore, states are accountable for respecting, protecting and fulfilling those rights even those rights are violated by Non-State Actors.
National and international advocacy can play important role in pressuring countries to implement to become governments to become part of international system while Pakistan wants to become member of Human Rights Council then ratified all core conventions but when it comes to implementation governments are only making pledges and conferences.

Civil society has played its role in monitoring and disseminating information regarding UN CRC. State that ratifies the Optional Protocol must raises "in years" the minimum age of voluntary recruitment, set at 15 in the convention. Also State must take all feasible measures to prevent recruitment and use in hostilities of children under 18 by the armed groups. The State will take legal measures to prohibit and criminalize such practices. After taking all such measures if any person who may have been recovered or released from any such group State will be responsible for taking serious measures to provide assistance, if required, for the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of such persons.

This was the case, as what we have seen in the past when young boys were recovered from militants camps where they were to be trained as suicide bombers. Every child has the right to protection from all forms of abuse and exploitation. The rehabilitation and reintegration of children used as child soldiers is also the right of such children. Pakistan however, has failed to protect the rights of these children and despite the fact that it has signed the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict way back in October 2001 it has failed to ratify it yet. Regrettably, Pakistan, despite being among the first 20 countries to sign and ratify the UN CRC has failed to ratify the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (ratified by 150 countries).

In case where Pakistan ratify the Optional Protocol on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Pakistan will have to submit an initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child within two years detailing the steps which Pakistan has taken to ensure that no child under the age of 18 will be involved directly in any kind of hostilities. The age of voluntary recruitment must be raised from 15 years to 18 years and there should be no under 18 compulsory recruitment in to its armed forces.

UN General Assembly has adopted a new Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) establishing a complaints procedure for violations of children's rights. The new treaty will enable children, or their representatives, claiming that their rights have been violated to bring a complaint to an international committee of children's rights experts if they have not been able to get remedies for these violations in their countries.

Issued by Abdullah Langah Provincial Manager Child Rights (SPARC)

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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