Gov’t comes under attack over articles in child rights draft law

(Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN— The government came under fire on Wednesday as lawmakers began discussions of the child rights draft law for 2022.

After a heated debate, the Lower House referred the controversial draft to a joint committee comprising the legal and women committees, Al-Mamlaka TV reported.اضافة اعلان

Minister of State for Legal Affairs and head of the Interministerial Committee for Women Empowerment Wafa Bani Mustafa said that Jordan has reservations about articles 14, 20, and 21 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, regarding adoption and a child’s right to change religion.

Bani Mustafa said that the government had taken into consideration the Jordanian “particularities” when drafting the articles.

“The draft law was submitted in compliance with the constitutional amendments approved by the House of Representatives, which speak of the protection of mothers, children, and senior citizens from all forms of abuse and exploitation,” she said.

In addition, the draft law comes as part of Jordan’s commitment to fulfill its international obligations regarding the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, she added.

“Concerns and reservations raised about the subject of religion are significant,” Bani Mustafa said. Article 14 mentions the right to choose or to change one’s religion.

Last April, the Cabinet approved the 2022 child rights draft law, which came in response to the new constitutional amendments that emphasized child protection.

The Kingdom is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, compliance with which requires adaptation to legislative, administrative, and other measures.

Reacting to the proposed draft, head of the Lower House Education and Youth Committee Taleb Al-Sarayrah said that it contains several negative aspects that outweigh any positive sides.

“Certain articles provided in the draft go against Islamic laws and principles,” he said.

“They want to separate the child from his family. It is disturbing to prohibit parents from censoring their children’s communication,” Sarayrah said.

Deputy Ahmad Qatawneh voiced opposition to the draft law, pointing to “plans” aimed at “dismantling” families. 

“When reading the draft, one can feel the absence of Islamic Sharia, and feels that such (international) agreements and organizations seek to build their own version of future generations,” he said.

“The draft law prevents any parental oversight of the child,” Qatawneh added.

He drew attention to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, on which he claimed that the proposed draft law was based, saying that the convention suggests that it is possible to remove a child from his/her family.

“The draft law provides broad and vague definitions, allowing the child to lodge complaints against parents if they attempt to censor the child or his/her mobile devices,” he said.

“There is a plot that is targeting the next generation. Islamic centers are being shut down and are replaced by summer camps. A child has the right to learn the Quran, and the parents have the right to educate their children about the Quran. I warn against such agreements and conferences that are held in this regard,” Qatawneh added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Ismail Al-Mashaqbeh stressed that it is important to have a law that is in harmony with Jordanian traditions and values, and Islamic law.

Deputy Yanal Fraihat said that the proposed draft “is void of Jordanian and Islamic values and does not stipulate the child’s responsibilities toward his/her parents”.

“The law cannot be taken out of local context, which is linked to global contexts aimed at changing the values on which families are built. There are movements that are targeting such values,” he said.

Fraihat added that the proposed law permits removing the child from the family and enables children to submit complaints against their parents if they exercise some sort of censorship.

He said that several organizations and entities are “spending hundreds of millions to encourage and push children toward atheism” and called for the involvement of religious institutions in the ongoing discussion about the draft law.

“The proposed law wants to strike family values, as no one would be able to impose custodianship over a child or a woman. It is unacceptable that Islamic centers are closed for children while parties and concerts that are being held in Aqaba,” Deputy Suleiman Abu Yahya said.

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