NOT TO BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, TELECAST BEFORE THE MORNING OF DAY 20 NOVEMBER 2016. PR No. 177 Message from Senator Kamran Micheal, the Honorable, Minister for Human Rights, Government of Pakistan, on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day, 20th November, 2016 Islamabad: November 19, 2016

On the eve of Universal Children’s Day, it is heartening to note that Pakistan joins the international community to celebrate the Day with great fervor and enthusiasm. Pakistan stands firm in its commitment and accords top priority to the children in ensuring their survival, protection, development and participation rights.

The Celebration of this Day reminds us of our obligations and commitments for the rights of our children. At the Regional level, Pakistan is also signatory to the SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia; and SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution.

Despite the fact that Pakistan is facing many challenges, a number of policy, legislative, administrative and programmatic measures have been taken by the Ministry of Human Rights. The Ministry is implementing a National Plan of Action on Human Rights which has an exclusive chapter on child protection, child Labour, education and other measures for ending discrimination and violence against children. On 18th March, 2016 the Ministry of Human Rights has promulgated the land mark legislation Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 which has raised the age of criminal responsibility from 7 year to 10 years and set the upper threshold from 12 to 14 years. Similarly, the new law has introduced punishments for cruelty to child and child pornography for the first time. The Implementation of the law is a challenge ahead for which we are all prepared. The Ministry of Human Rights has already drafted Islamabad Capital Territory Child Protection Bill, 2016. The Juvenile Justice System Bill, 2015 has also been drafted after elaborative consultations at national and provincial levels.

In order to effectively address the child protection issues, all the stakeholders must put their efforts to ensure healthy growth and development of children. This is our national duty to protect the interests of children and provide them equal opportunities. I hope that the relevant UN Agencies, corporate sector, civil society organizations and media will play proactive role in creating a protective environment for children.

 May Allah bless us in this noble cause, Ameen.