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Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) works at a national level in Bangladesh to assist deprived sections of society, especially women, child labour and labourers. ASK aims to help establish a society based on impartiality and justice, and free from gender discrimination. ASK urges to ensure accountability and clarity of authoritative institutions. ASK’s endeavour is supported by 17 constituents and one of them is working specifically on raising awareness, and providing assistance in legal and societal aid.
ASK contributes to a number of sectors focusing on protecting legal rights. It provides guidance to the district level advocates so that people can receive necessary legal advice. As well as this, AKS also works on enactment and credibility of the existing law to ensure authoritative responsibility towards its citizen.
Collaborating with 10 NGOs and CBOs, ASK provided necessary assistance to observe the condition of civic rights across 40 unions in 10 upazillas. Currently ASK is in joint venture with 8 local and 10 international groups.
Law on “National Commission for the Rights of Children (NCRC)”: Requesting for feedback on the Draft Law
Bangladesh is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and it has promised to establish a strong monitoring system for the protection and promotion of child rights. The CRC committee in October 2015 has reiterated the importance of establishing a children Ombudsperson in its concluding observations as well as recommendations towards Bangladesh. The similar recommendation came from the ‘Universal Periodic Review 2013’ and the Government of Bangladesh accepted that. The government also had the commitment for establishment of Ombudsperson in its children policy developed in 2011.
Considering the above mentioned commitment of the government, a study titled as “An Assessment to the Prospects of Children’s Ombudsman in Bangladesh” has been carried out by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) with the technical support from ‘Save the Children Bangladesh’.
The study assessed the prospects of Children’s Ombudsman in the country and how this mechanism can harmoniously operate with the other mechanism set forth by the Children Act, 2013.
Based on this study, ASK has drafted a law which includes the establishment of children’s Ombudsperson, process of appointment, general as well as special functions of the ombudsman to promote and protect child rights. Several consultations with the people from different levels took place to ensure that- it addresses all the expected areas and also to rectify the gap in the draft version, if any. Later, this draft Law was submitted to the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA) for their consideration.
Though ASK has been continuously advocating to establish such a structure for the children, but after having several consultations with relevant stakeholders, ASK realised that- a strong opinion exists in favour of the ‘Children Commission’ too. The logics behind this opinion are –
- Previous experiences of the establishment of an independent body could not successfully work due to lack of the government’s support; such as Tax Ombudsperson. The expert opinion is that- the current nature of parliamentary democracy may not allow giving power to an autonomous body that might accountable to them for their task.
- There is a tendency of the government to appoint a person who might work in favour of the government- is huge drawbacks of establishment of Ombudsperson.
- Establishment of the Ombudsperson may create an autocratic structure. On the other hand, there will be more than one person in the Commission, who will come from different background or discipline. This will create a balance in taking decisions and sharing knowledge too.
- The Ombudsman can work only for the protection of child rights but a commission can work for the promotion as well as protection. There are some constitutional limitations to the work of the ombudsman. Considering the recent situation in the country, a Commission is more relevant for the children. The country needs an institutional body rather than a political body.
In this context, ASK brought changes in its advocacy initiatives and activities. Considering the opinion of experts and stakeholders on this, ASK has drafted a law on the “National Commission for the Rights of Children (NCRC)” with technical support from ‘Save the Children Bangladesh’.
ASK believes that the establishment of an independent structure is significant whatever the title of the structure is. Recent spate of incidents of violence against children has also proved the urgency on the matter.
ASK has joined with the National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh (NHRC) as the Commission also supports the establishment of a commission for the children and shared the draft law in regular meetings of the Committee for Child Rights, Child labor and Anti -Trafficking, NHRC in presence of relevant experts, government officials, representatives of national and international child rights organisations to get feedback from them. The draft law was also shared in a public meeting on 23 December 2015 with relevant stakeholders to incorporate their inputs.
We have incorporated those feedback in this version of the law (attached in the media file). Now, the latest draft is available in our website for more inputs, comments and suggestions.
We are requesting to the visitors (in the website) to have a look on the draft law and provide their valuable inputs or comments. After incorporating relevant inputs, the draft law will be submitted to the concerned ministry.
Last updated: October 2016