To strengthen the child protection system in Bangladesh and for effective implementation of the Children Act 2013, UNICEF has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Supreme Court Special Committee on child rights.
The initiative reinforces justice for children and establishes a monitoring mechanism of services for children in conflict and in contact with the law by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
The committee aims to advice, monitor and guide government and non-government stakeholders to realise the rights of children.
The agreement signing ceremony was held on Tuesday and was attended by Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, Honourable Chief Justice as the chief guest along with Mr. Justice Muhammad Imman Ali, Honourable Judge of the Appellate Division and Chairman Supreme Court Special Committee for Child Rights; Mr. Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif, Honourable Judge, High Court Division and Member of Supreme Court Special Committee for Child Rights, Syed Aminul Islam, Registrar General, Supreme Court of Bangladesh; and Mr. Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Bangladesh Representative.
The agreement between the Committee and UNICEF includes three key thematic areas: monitoring implementation of the Children Act 2013 – particularly strengthening access to justice for children; developing an information management system and strengthening alternative care facilities, monitoring and follow up.
The initiative is based on the concluding recommendation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) committee.
Keeping the best interest of children at the centre, it aims to ensure that all legislative, administrative, judicial proceedings and decisions, policies, programmes and projects as well as criteria for relevant persons in authority are developed.
A structured monitoring and reporting mechanism will be developed on a pilot basis to identify challenges and gaps; to address and respond to these issues; and to better understand how far duty bearers apply the Children Act.
According to UNICEF, the initiative will undertake and implement certain activities, including 16 Children Courts in eight divisional districts to be set up on a pilot basis.
A database of cases of children in conflict and in contact with the law; a digital recording system and other monitoring frameworks will be developed, it said.
The pilot courts, three Kishore Unnayan Kendra (adolescent centres) and six Safe Homes will have video connectivity for conferencing during a trial to expedite cases.
For updates on challenges in implementing the Children Act, regular workshops and information sessions for duty bearers at national and subnational level will be organised in the presence of the committee for their suggestions.
“Bangladesh has gone a long way to safeguard the rights of children and passing of the Children Act 2013 was definitely a milestone” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Bangladesh Representative.
“The committee and its initiative will now put together in place strong mechanisms at national level to ensure legal instruments and policies to meet the needs and co-ordinate the process to enforce the Children Act and improve access to services by assessing their best interest, but also motivate to change duty bearers’ ‘mind-set’ and promote a different way of working for children.”