LAHORE: Newly-elected parliamentarians were urged to play their effective role as legislators for prioritisation of child rights in Punjab to ensure the protection of children from all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. This was urged during a briefing session arranged by the Punjab Search For Justice & Child Rights Movement to brief the issues requiring serious actions by the Punjab government in order to ensure that all children are enjoying their rights will full dignity and in a protective way. The session was held at a local hotel on Thursday.Search For Justice Executive Director Iftikhar Mubarik briefed parliamentarians that Pakistan ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 12, 1990 and being a state party to that convention, Pakistan is obligated to take all legislative, administrative and other possible measures to ensure implementation of a Child Registration Certificate under the guidelines introduced by UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2009 and 2016. He particularly highlighted the issues regarding absence of Child Protection Policy in Punjab, prohibition of Child Domestic Labour, increase in minimum age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18 years, delay in legislation to deal with the issue of physical and humiliating punishments in all settings, provision of adequate human and financial resource to implement enacted legislation related to child labour as well as worst forms of child labour.Iftikhar Mubarik urged for establishment of Punjab commission on the rights of children as an independent body to oversight and monitor the child rights situation in province especially violence against children. Child Rights Movement Coordinator Rashida Qureshi highlighted the gaps in availability of data related to violations of child rights and child protection. She also shared that UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in its concluding observations in 2009 asked government of Pakistan to establish a Child Protection Information Management System to record the violations of children rights, which is still unaddressed. She stressed on political commitment in addressing the issues of children’s vulnerabilities and demanded for development of Provincial Action Plan to end violence against children.Children Human Rights Defender Sameer Haider presented a resolution asking to establish system and mechanisms to capture children’s views and bring into decision making process related to children and adolescents. He quoted reference of Article 12 of Child Rights Convention which is asking to ensure meaningful participation of children at all levels. Member of National Assembly Dr Nausheen Hamid shared that during the previous government’s tenure, a resolution moved by her to initiate a legislation to address corporal punishment was unanimously passed by the Punjab Assembly so that the new member of Punjab Assembly can follow up of that resolution for proper implementation.Member of Provincial Assembly Musarrat Jamshed Cheema suggested to launch a massive campaign for educating masses to handling children with love and care as well as to discourage all forms of violence against children. She particularly mentioned that target 16.2 of Sustainable Development Goals is clearly asking to end all forms of violence against children, which must be dealt as national priority. Child Protection Officer from the United Nations Children’s Fund Zahida Manzoor also shared that the new government in Punjab must focus to approve a comprehensive child protection policy in Punjab to set a strategic way forward to address the issues of child protection.Published in Daily Times, August 31st 2018.