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Children’s rights draft bill aims to protect youngsters — experts

Child Beggar
A child sells miscellaneous items to a passing car at a street in Amman. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — A children’s rights draft bill has enraged social media users on grounds that it encourages children to pick or change their religion, which is widely seen as a violation of religious teachings and a step towards destroying the Kingdom’s tightly-knit family fabric.اضافة اعلان

The 130-seat Lower House referred the government-drafted bill to a joint committee, which includes the Women and Family Affairs Committee and the Legal Committee. A majority of deputies voted to refer the draft to the joint committee for deliberations and possible alteration before it is back to the floor for legislation.

Sociologist Hussien Al-Khuzaie said that all the articles contained in the draft children’s rights law for the year 2022 does not serve children well. “In fact, they lead to the destruction of both the family and children,” he told Jordan News.

He said it allows children to “leave their homes, incites lack of respect and obedience to parents, enhances independence and isolation, and the freedom to do anything without consulting parents.”

“It revokes the role of the father, mother, and family from caring for the child, since it allows children to take matters in their own hands, even though they may be unable to do so, and cannot rely on themselves to secure food, housing, or clothing,” Khuzaie said.

He explained that the draft “grants the children the freedom of ‘movement and membership’ in recreational clubs, which are undefined terms, and here lies the danger.”

He maintained that the vague jargon and other terms stated in the bill “greatly destroys the family, and gives children the right to rebel against their families.”

Despite the concern, lawmakers, human rights, and children’s rights activists countered. They said the draft will enhance the protection and care of children by regulating relations between public and private entities concerned with children or charged with providing services to them in accordance with the legislation in force.

In view of the Kingdom’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child under the Law of Ratification of Convention No. (50) Of 2006, it is necessary to take legislative, administrative, and other appropriate measures to implement the rights, recognized for children in this Convention, on the ground, experts contended.

MP Zainab Al-Bdoul told Jordan News the children’s rights draft confirms the state’s keenness to “develop the human rights system” and underpins “its commitment to international conventions in this context”.

“It enhances the concept of care and protection for children and affirms its keenness to achieve growth, care and maturity for them in a healthy, psychologically and physically safe environment, and directs more attention to this category in all various fields,” she said.

Bdoul said that although the draft clashed with other legislation, it “enables the relevant authorities to deal with and implement legislation better and build the necessary programs to achieve the provisions of that law.”

“The law needs some amendments that would implement the concept of child protection and emphasizes the role of the family in providing care and protection from all kinds of violence and harm”, she pointed out.

MP Dina Al-Bashir told Jordan News that the draft law “is progressive and constitutes a comprehensive umbrella for children, especially since children make up a third of our society, and protecting them is our duty.”
Some children lack the necessary protection and basic rights, and this draft will protect them and give them the rights they lack.
“The COVID-19 pandemic had a direct impact on children, as we noticed an increase in the percentage of violence, in its various forms, against children, in addition to an increase in the percentage of child labor and beggary,” she added.

She said that “we must guarantee children a healthy and safe environment, and the provisions of this draft are in line with these basic requirements.”

“This law respects values and customs in all its articles and did not mention any deviation from religious teaching,” she said. “Since the ratification of the Convention on the Children Rights agreements many years ago, we did not notice any negative impact on the national fabric”.

She stressed the importance of “getting legal information from reliable sources, especially amid the spread of false information that is not even mentioned in the draft.”

Mohammad Al-Miqdadi, secretary-general of the National Council for Family Affairs, told Jordan News that the draft “clarifies who are the parties obligated to provide rights to children, and what the rights are.”

He explained that the draft also invests in children and creates a beautiful, safe and healthy environment, “with provisions that never conflict with other legislation and laws.”

“The provisions of the draft criminalized neglecting, abusing, or exploiting children, and this is something we all agree on. In addition, it stands with providing all children with health care and obligating parents to give their children the right of education and proper nutrition”, he added.

Miqdadi emphasized that people should not be deceived and thus “we should choose the sources from which we receive information”, or parts of the draft that could be misinterpreted.

In all cases, he stressed that “we must focus on the positives of the draft, which I believe will be a victory for all children, regardless of their social level.”

Nahla Al-Momani, a facilitator of the Protection Commission at the National Center for Human Rights, said the draft law “does not go beyond other laws, but rather conforms with them, especially with its criminalization of violence and neglect of children, which is also punishable by the Penal Code.”

She said that “protecting children is our duty, and investing in childhood is an investment in the whole society”.

“Some children lack the necessary protection and basic rights, and this draft will protect them and give them the rights they lack,” she said. “If there were fundamental problems, the Parliament would not have passed a law years ago after ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Children.”

Kathem Al-Kufairi, head manager at the Family and Child Protection Association, told Jordan News that “this draft should have been enacted a long time ago, especially since its existence is a national need, especially with the development of life.”

He explained that “one of the most important advantages of the draft law is to secure the health of children and oblige the Ministry of Health to train and qualify cadres so that they can deal with children, in addition to criminalizing bullying, especially with the spread of bullying in schools amid the absence of deterrence.”

“I think that the draft law is a qualitative leap, and I have not seen anything in it that contradicts our morals, or legislation,” he said. “It is fully consistent with the general directives to respect the rights of a child, while emphasizing not to negatively affect a child’s identity, or religion.”

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