State responsible for guardianship of 32,500 destitute children: SHC

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has pronounced the State as responsible for the guardianship and protection of destitute and hapless street children. According to the judgment, the Sindh government would arrange for the destitute children within two weeks and expand the allocated budget for the welfare of these children.

The order was pronounced in a constitutional petition filed by Secretary General Human Rights Commission South Asia (HRCSA) against Sindh government through Secretary Social Welfare Department (SWD), Secretary Finance Department (FD), Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sindh and Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police-Railways here on Monday.

The court further said in its order that the Sindh government (State) and its concerned departments SWD and FD are responsible for providing shelter, protection and all basic facilities to the homeless, hapless and destitute children. The concerned departments are also bound to expand allocated budget on right prospects.SHC also directed the IGP Sindh and DIG Railways Police to recover the street children safely and hand them over to the SWD.A division bench of the SHC, comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmad and Justice Salman Hamid, was hearing a petition filed by the HRCSA general secretary Kazmi.

Kazmi stated in his petition that the HRCSA conducted a survey for the homeless, hapless and destitute children some time ago and according to the survey some 32,500 children were found destitute.He also stated, specifically 17,000 out of 32,500 children were living below the open sky at parks, open grounds, railway stations and footpaths.According the figures 2,800 children from Karachi were found subjected to homosexuality who had adopted it as a profession to earn their bread. Some 9,860 were working at several industries, including Korangi, SITE and Landhi Industrial areas, adding that a number of children are also working as bonded labour.

Kazmi said that 11,530 poor and helpless children were found working at hotels, 1,685 at workshop/garages, 4,700 selling flowers and other things on the main roundabouts and signals of the city, adding some 12,000 children are professionally begging in Karachi.He further stated some 4,840 children were facing different cases, including murders, robberies and other crimes at the trial courts of Karachi, 145 juvenile prisoners and nine children are living with female prisoners at Karachi Women Jail.Kazmi said, under the Guardian and Warden Act 1900, the State is the guardian of the destitute children and responsible for providing basic facilities including shelter, health and education.

Also under articles 9, 14, 37 and 38 of the Constitution of Pakistan, the State is bound to provide all facilities to the children.Kazmi further stated that the provincial government had allocated Rs 31.641 million in the head of social protection and Rs 45.755 million including foreign aids in the head of City District Government Karachi (CDGK)’s Special Education Project (SEP). Unfortunately not even a single rupee was spent for the destitute children.He further stated that the provincial SWD has allocated more then Rs 1.053 million share out of Rs 119.450 million allocated for SWD in previous fiscal year’s budget 2011-12 for Assistant Director Child Welfare. He said, Commission for Child Welfare and Development Unit (CCWDU) is also working under the supervision of the provincial government.

He disclosed that the CCWDU had setup Child Protection Management Information System (CPMIS) with the collaboration of UNO for juvenile justice, violence against children, child molestation, child smuggling, family and alternate care but unfortunately all such projects/programmes were lost in papers and in the bundles of files.Kazmi prayed to the court for ordering the provincial government to take under its guardianship all 32,500 destitute and hapless children and provide complete basic facilities to them. – Dailytimes