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SAARC judges to discuss child rights in South Asia

May 24, 2013

Judges, academics, law teachers and public officials are meeting in Bhutan to share perspectives on Child Protection and Constitutionalism.

Judges, academics and law teachers and public officials from eight SAARC member nations today began discussion on “Child Protection and Constitutionalism”, debating constitutional guarantees available to children in the South Asian region and the challenges faced in enforcing child protection laws.

The discussion coincides with the twelfth SAARC Law annual conference and the ninth SAARC Chief Justices Conference organised in Thimpu, Bhutan.

The senior members from the benches of the different courts in the region will share experiences related to the subject in their own nations.

The senior judicial officers will also dwell on issues of missing child, the much-debated subject of corporal punishment, sexual exploitation and practices drawn from culture and tradition that affect children.

The conference will focus on child protection and mapping of existing legal provisions related to child protection and identifying of gaps and challenges, child labour, sexual abuse and trafficking of children.

“The three-day conference will discuss and deliberate upon, amongst other things, the constitutional guarantees available to children in South Asian region and challenges faced in enforcing these guarantees through judicial action,” Mr Justice BA Khan, former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court was quoted as saying to news agencies.

Director general of the Bhutan-based South Asia Initiative Ending Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC), Rinchen Chophel opined that engaging the judiciary on this sensitive subject was crucial because they interpreted, explained and disseminated laws the Parliament passed.

It could also be a forum where they could discuss laws, particularly that of child protection, and how the issue presented itself in reality, what worked and how to go about those that did not.

“Having the judicial fraternity is a blessing to create an environment that’s amenable to implementing laws to protecting children and women,” he said.

“If the Parliament fails to implement the laws they pass, it is the judiciary that should intervene.”

Established in Colombo on October 24 1991, SAARCLAW is an association of legal communities of SAARC countries comprising judges, lawyers, law teachers, academics, public officials and other law-related individuals.

The SAARC grouping consists of Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

According to Justice Khan, SAARCLAW has functioned as the bonding factor between the SAARC nations, even during strained circumstances.

“Over the years this association has been a bonding factor even in strained circumstances and has been able to hold conference and seminars leading to promotion of goodwill and dissemination of legal information amongst legal community across the nations,” Justice Khan said.

Among other issues that pertain to law including constitutionalism and anti-corruption, participants at the conference will also discuss democracy, a process the host country, Bhutan, is transiting to and majority rule, which has relation to the layout of its first National Assembly.

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