NHRC chief calls for stronger efforts to protect children’s rights

January 31, 2019

Nearly 45 percent of Bangladesh's population are aged below 18 years. Photo: UNDP

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman, Kazi Reazul Hoque, has called for stronger institutional effort to curb children’s rights violations in Bangladesh.

“Though we achieved progress in many areas, we are still lagging behind with regard to protecting children’s rights”, he said that in a launching event titled “State of Child Rights in Bangladesh 2018” organized by Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) with support from the Human Rights Programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the Dhaka Reporters Unity on 23 January.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines child as "a human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier".

Over 45 percent of Bangladesh’s population are aged below 18.

“The overall state of children’s rights is unfortunate. We want an end to child marriage in the country. We want that no child will become a victim of rape.”

“Formulating the Children Act 2013 was a great initiative, but the rules that are prerequisite for the implementation of a law have yet to be enacted,” he added.

“To protect children’s rights, we have long been demanding for a children’s directorate and the Child Rights Commission to be established, so every incident of violence against children can come to light and be properly dealt with.”

The report showed that the number of children facing violence and torture was 3,845 in 2017 based on reports published in the country’s 15 leading Bangla and English dailies. The BSAF statistics further disclosed that a total of 2,354 children became the victims of unnatural deaths and 812 faced sexual harassment in 2018.

Sharmeela Rassool, Chief Technical Adviser at the UNDP’s Human Rights Programme, who also attended the event, said the culture of impunity must be abolished, and preventive measures must be adopted to curb violence against children in Bangladesh.

She also pointed out that about 1.3 million children have been involved in hazardous work in Bangladesh. “Efforts should be made to improve their condition.”