A draft act on National Commission for the Rights of the Children shared
Children in Bangladesh are susceptible to deprivation of right to life, personal liberty and dignity. Violence against children remains an issue of grave concern. The overall situation of children in Bangladesh necessitates more equipped and specialized institutional arrangements to strengthen the child protection in general and promote rights of the children in Bangladesh. Save the Children along with a local human rights organization Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) have been advocating long for establishing an independent and neutral institution for children. In this endeavor the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has joined to facilitate the establishment of National Commission for the Rights of the Children (NCRC).
A series of advocacy initiatives have been planned to make the draft act more comprehensive and to generate public interest in favor of the NCRC. Accordingly, the Committee on Child Rights, Child Labour and Child Trafficking under the NHRC hosted a meeting on 3 March 2016 at NHRC office where ASK shared the draft act with the members of the Committee. ASK welcomed open discussion to capture expert feedback on the draft.
Apart from regular Committee members, Justice Md Imman Ali, Appellate Division, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, Barrister Manzoor Hasan, Executive Director, South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SAILS),Dr. Shahnaz Huda, professor department of law, Dhaka University, and representatives of national and international child rights organizations were invited to provide their feedback. The discussion was presided over by Kazi Reazul Hoque, Full-Time member of NHRC and the participants were welcomed by Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Chairperson with his introductory remarks.
“A government official (Secretary/Joint Secretary/former secretary) might be appointed as secretary of the Commission for the smooth communication and coordination with government officials and institutions,” suggested Justice Ali. Financial independence of the commission as well as functional independence was emphasized by Barrister Manzoor Hasan. He also raised the issue of whether the parliament can disburse special funds for the Commission directly without any interference of the relevant ministry.
Additionally, a “Research Cell” was recommended for the Commission to do in-depth analysis on the issues affecting children’s lives. The participants recommended a number of social accountability mechanisms like public hearings, report cards etc to enhance the accountability of the Commission towards citizens of the country.
In an advocacy achievement, the Committee has proposed to formulate a small team of NHRC, Save the Children and ASK representatives to incorporate the recommendations in the draft act for further discussion. The Committee agreed to have further national level consultation on the revised draft act with other key stakeholders working for children and make the draft law available on the website of NHRC for online feedback. The NHRC and CSOs will then hand over and follow up with Ministry of Women and Children Affairs for the enactment.