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Thursday, January 26, 2017
Pakistan - SINDH ASSEMBLY BANS EMPLOYMENT OF CHILDREN UNDER 14
The Sindh Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill against employment of children below the age of 14, making child labour an offence punishable with prison term and fine.
The Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Bill, 2017 carries up to six-months’ imprisonment and a fine up to Rs50,000 for the offenders. And if a child is employed for a hazardous job, the prison term may be extended up to three years with Rs100,000 fine.
According to the bill, no establishment or factory could employ a child less than 14. They had to meet strict conditions before employing a child between 14 and 18.
Rounding up the discussion on the general principles of the bill, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah informed the house that a law — The Employment of Children Act 1991 — existed at the federal level but it was being repealed in view of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution as the subject “Labour” had been devolved to the provinces.
“Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces have already replaced the act accordingly and the Sindh government have also devolved many laws, but this legislation is now taken up as we have made a policy of considering the bill in the cabinet before tabling it in the assembly,” he said.
During the discussion, the house adopted two minor amendments suggested by lawmakers Amir Moin Pirzada and Sumeta Afzal of the opposition Muttahida Qaumi Movement about deleting a clause pertaining to allowing a child not below the age of 14 to engage in light work for maximum two hours for acquiring skills. The other amendment was about increasing the members of the Sindh Coordination Committee on Child Labour from seven to nine.
Earlier, Senior Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Khuhro, who introduced the bill, highlighted its general principles and said that child labour on petty wages was an old issue. Before 18th Amendment the federal government used to tackle the issue but after devolvement of the labour department it was now the constitutional responsibility of the provinces to deal with this issue.
He said that it was the Sindh government which made such a law so that no one could take advantage of the poverty of innocent children.
Recalling a recent incident in which a child, Tayyaba, who worked in the house of a judicial officer, was tortured, the minister said that the incident took place in Islamabad and the person involved was not an illiterate person. “Greedy people [take] advantage of children and their families’ economic compulsions, but now we are making efforts so that no one could exploit them.”
The parliamentary party leader of the MQM, Syed Sardar Ahmad, termed the bill very positive and timely.
Pakistan Peoples Party’s Ghazala Sial, MQM’s Heer Soho, Dr Seema Zia of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, provincial minister Shamim Mumtaz and others also supported the bill before it was unanimously passed into law.
CM Shah assured the house that the Sindh government had taken certain measures to provide protection to the artist. Besides, he said, he had written to the interior ministry to take action against those institutions which had turned into ‘nurseries’ for training extremists.