Amend laws related to children: Panel

Kathmandu, August 4

The Women and Social Welfare Committee of the House of Representatives has directed the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens to make timely amendment to the Children’s Act to bring about clarity in role and responsibility of all three tiers of the government with regard to uplift children.

A recent meeting of the house panel said the existing act relating to children had various shortcomings.

According to the decision paper of the house panel posted on its website, the MoWCSC has also been directed to define the threshold of the budget to be allocated by the federal, provincial and local levels for children, in each fiscal year. It said there was a lack of policy provision or guidance on budget allocation.

“As our goal is to ensure development of children. The National Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance, MoWCSC and Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration are directed to act in tandem to allocate certain percentage of the national budget for children through the federal, provincial and local levels, with effect from the next fiscal. There is still no consistency in budget to be allocated by each province and local level due to lack of clear provisions in the law,” it reads. The parliamentary committee has also underscored the need to conduct an audit to determine the returns of investment made in children, every year. Effective implementation of the children’s right to learn in a peaceful, punishment-free and disabled-friendly environment provides them with better guidance for the future, it said.

Therefore, the concerned schools are obliged to pay special attention to ensure that they are not discriminated against in any form. As the school education falls under jurisdiction of local levels, MoFAGA and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology are directed to make them more responsible.

The house panel has also expressed serious concern about the curtailment of children’s access to justice due to the growing trend of settling cases related to children through reconciliation, without conducting legal proceedings.

“Settlement of cases through legal proceeding is the only authentic way to ensure justice to the genuine victims and punishment to the perpetrator(s). Therefore, the house panel directs the MoICSC to create an environment to bring to book the parties involved, in settling cases related to children through reconciliation and guarantee the child rights. “It is the duty of the MoWCSC to prevent and control the malpractices that usually victimise the children,” reads the decision paper.

The house panel has also urged the MoWCSC to initiate the process of increasing the degree of punishment to anyone involved in acid attack.

As per Section 193 of the Criminal Code Act, anyone who throws acid on a person or uses any chemical substance to attack him/her shall be awarded an imprisonment for a term ranging from five to eight years, depending on the gravity of the offence and fined Rs 100,000 to Rs 300,000. The fine imposed on the perpetrator shall be provided to the survivor. In the case of death of the victim in such an attack, the perpetrator(s) will face murder charge under the prevailing laws.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on August 5, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.