Rights groups on Friday appealed to the Chief Justice to expand the scope of its suo motu case on a victim girl to all child labour and make the government accountable for non-implementations of the laws to protect underage workers in Pakistan.
At a joint press conference held at Karachi Press Club, Karamat Ali, Secretary of National Labour Council, Habibuddin Junaidi, Convener, Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee, Shafeeq Ghauri from Sindh Labour Federation, Mir Zulfiqar Ali of Workers Education and Research Organisation, Farhat Parveen from NOW Communities welcomed the Supreme Court suo motu action on domestic child labour girl’s torture.
Karamat Ali condemned the incident of torture on a domestic child worker, employed by a judge in Islamabad, saying that the accused should be arrested and punished as per the law. The serving judge employed a girl, aged 10, which was illegal, he said and cited an estimate that there were over nine million child labourers in the country and showed concerned that many of them worked in dangerous and harmful conditions.
He pleaded to the Supreme Court to look into the implementation of the relevant laws, which were legislated to prevent child labour, who were always open to the abuses.
Employment of Children Act 1991 and National Child Policy and Plan of Action to Combat Child Labour were formed many years back but both federal and provincial governments failed to take any steps to ensure their implementation, he was of the view, reading out various clauses of the law and policy and said that the provincial governments had to ensure that all children up to the age of 16 years must be in the schools.
“After inclusion of Article 25 A as a result of the 18th Amendment in the Constitution it is the responsibility of the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 16 years,” he said, adding that Pakistan had also ratified the United Nation’s Child Right Convention to protect all fundamental rights of children.
He demanded for the review of all the labour laws including Employment of Children Act 1991, minimum wages laws and Bonded Labour Abolition Act. Habibuddin Junaidi and Shafiq Gauri also voiced for the rights of all vulnerable sections of the society.