ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday passed a landmark bills for better care, protection and rehabilitation of children, including the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Child Protection Bill, 2017 and Juvenile Justice System 2017 Bill. The committee passed both the bills under the chair of Babar Nawan Khan after through consideration. The bills were passed unanimously with a few amendments. Sahibzada Muhammad Yaqub, member of the committee, appreciated the efforts of the Ministry of Human Rights for bringing the bills, which, he termed, would contribute towards human rights protection in Pakistan. Sahibzada said that both the bills were comprehensive and effective for the protection of children for improving the juvenile justice system in Pakistan. Rabiya Javeri Agha, the Ministry of Human Rights secretary, introduced the bills, saying both the bills were drafted after exhaustive consultation with the relevant stakeholders. She said that the Law Reforms Committee and Cabinet Committee had also approved the drafts. While discussing the contents of Juvenile Justice Bill, Legal Consultant for Ministry of Human Rights Sharafat A Chaudhry said that the concept of diversion had been introduced for the first time in Pakistan’s criminal justice system for speedy disposal of cases. Sharafat said that the juvenile justice committee would decide the cases of juveniles within one month. “The accused would have the right to claim juvenility if he is aggrieved by police or court over the question of determination of age,” Sharafat A Chaudhry said. The committee accepted the proposal and approved amendments to Section 8 of the Juvenile Justice Bill by adding a clause if the accused “claims to be a juvenile”. Introducing salient features of the ICT Child Protection Bill, Sharafat A Chaudhry said that a child in need of protection and care included a child who had been subjected to or was under serious threat of being subjected to child abuse or child exploitation while in the care of parents, legal guardian or any other person who had custody of the child in any manner. “The law will also protect children who unattended, victim of an offence, found begging, imprisoned with the mother or lives in an immoral environment,” he said. Ministry of Human Rights Director General Muhammad Hassan Mangi proposed that children engaged in domestic work or any other such places should be given cover of protection under the law. Aliya Kamran Murtaza and Dr Shazia Sobia underscored the need of immediate approval of the bills keeping in view the constitutional rights of every child. After recommendations of the committee, Chairman Babar Nawaz Khan announced the approval of the Juvenile Justice System Bill, 2017 and ICT Child Protection Bill, 2017. Transgender Rights Bill: The Human Rights Committee of the Senate will take up on Thursday draft legislation to ensure the rights of transgender persons. This was stated by Senator Farhatullah Babar while talking to reporter after attending a meeting held in the office f the Commissioner for Children set up by Wafaqi Mohtasib Salman Faruqui to protect the rights of transgender persons. The meeting was attended among others by Senator Rubina Khalid, representatives of transgender community from various parts of the country, reps of NGOs working for transgender rights. “Categorised as neither as male nor female, the transgender are one of the most marginalised communities facing social exclusion and extreme discrimination. Basic facilities of education, employment and health are almost non-existent for them besides being the butt of jokes and ridicule of the society at large,” Babar said. Farhatullah Babar said that this situation must be reversed. “The Constitution not only guarantees under Article 25 equality before law to all citizens it explicitly forbids under other Articles discrimination on the basis of sex,” he said. He said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had already declared that eunuchs could not be disenfranchised under any law and welcomed the decision last week to issue a passport to a transgender with gender identification ‘X’ as a positive step in the right direction. He said that the proposed legislation sought to recognise transgender, prohibit discrimination against them, protect their fundamental rights and confer upon them the right to self-perceived gender identity and expression. He also appreciated Wafaqi Mohtasib Salman Faruqui for taking this initiative even if it is not specifically mentioned in the charter of duties of the Mohtasib’s office and expressed the hope that it would greatly facilitate the job of the Senate Committee and Parliament. Published in Daily Times, July 5th , 2017.