26 November, 2010

Hotline for Children’s Grievances established

Published in Pakistan Observer (25 Nov. 2010)
Sana Jamal
ISLAMABAD: “No lawyer, no fees, just call and complain” was the simple and effective message to the vulnerable children of Pakistan by Children’s Complaint Office (CCO), a unique organization working to address children’s grievances.

CCO, the first children’s ombudsman office in South Asia established by Wafaqi Mohtasib and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) receives and resolves complaints from or on behalf of children whose rights have been violated by a federal department or agency.

Media person learnt this while attending a workshop organized by CCO to engage media in highlighting the issues of vulnerable children in Pakistan and also and to explain the working mechanism of CCO to the public through media.

The Child ombudsman has received 272 complaints till now since Aug. 2009. Out of which 90% complaints have been redressed within a period ranging from 3 - 6 months.

The basic purpose of CCO is to receive, examine and investigate complaints made by or on behalf of children and young people. Besides, the organization also aims at promoting children’s rights and welfare; create awareness about the child rights issues in Pakistan and to take proper measures to solve the issues.

Concerned citizens especially the children were urged to inform CCO against any rights violation through email, call or direct visit to regional offices of CCO.

“This is the first Child ombudsman in Pakistan which will entertain complaints at its head office in Islamabad and eight regional offices across Pakistan” said Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi, Head of CCO.

While addressing the participants, Qureshi told that the purpose of the meeting was to consult media in order to work in a proper way. He also insisted that the media should highlight the issue of child rights in the same way as it highlights the issues of corruption or women maltreatment.

Child rights were identified as an issue in the UN Convention in 1990, however “It has been 20 years since then but nothing concrete has come forward,” Qureshi said.

M. Jamal Khan Saddozai, Project Coordinator at CCO was of the view that, “In a country like Pakistan where more than 50% population is 18 years or below 18, the issues of children cannot be ignored.”

Mansoor Ahmed, Advisor & Investigation Officer of CCO explained the procedure of making complaints in detail. However, apart from individual complaints; the CCO is also addressing systematic issues which are the root cause for these complaints. “We are making federal agencies and ministries accountable for their policy and legislative action,” Mansoor added.