A draft "Child Rights Law" expected late this year

Under the slogan "children taking over" launched by UNICEF, Jordan joined world countries in marking the World's Children's Day.
Echoing the UN's campaign which stresses the need to make children's voices heard, children rights advocates emphasized the importance of advancing children's welfare, considering that achievement of comprehensive development requires primarily that all children have equal opportunities to education, health and protection against violence without discrimination on any basis.
According to advocates, the attainment of such goal initially requires the enactment of a contemporary child rights law without delay, provided that its articles are fundamentally set in the best interests of the children, saying that the government's drafting of the law is a positive step.
The government of Jordan has started drafting the law with a view to address legislative shortcomings and apparent gaps in the child rights laws that are in force. Moreover, the enactment of the law had been repeatedly called upon by the International Committee on Rights of the Child in the Human Rights Council which view the existence of the law as a requirement to secure Jordan's fulfillment of its obligations under the CRC.
"It is in every state's interest to achieve development; and to do so, the rights of all children to equal opportunities in education, health and nourishment should be guaranteed with no discrimination based on social status, wealth, citizenship, geography or disability", said Eva Abu Halaweh, Executive Director of the Mizan Law Group for Human Rights.
"While school enrolment rates are showing improvement, the quality education gap and disparities among schools on the basis of geography and wealth are increasing ", added Abu Halaweh.
Jordan has come a long way in lowering the school dropout rates and bridging the gap of gender equality in education to the extent that the number of female enrolment has surpassed that of males. Nevertheless, many challenges remain including the existence of more than 80 thousand Syrian school dropouts, in addition to the difficulties facing the enrolment of those with disabilities. Figures of the Higher Council for Affairs of Persons with Disabilities show that "79% of children with disabilities are constrained in accessing education" and that there are 70 thousand child workers in Jordan most of them are dropouts.
Abu Halaweh underscored the importance of ensuring the right to health care for all children including physical and psychological care regardless of their conditions, criticizing the near-absence of children's psychological health care services.
It is to be noted that Jordan provides a comprehensive health care for Jordanian children under the age of six years including all child benefactors from the National Aid Fund. Jordan also provides free of charge vaccination program for all those residing in Jordan. But, according to experts, the problem lies in the lack of health care coverage for those above six years, alongside the fact that the new mechanism for medical exemptions can be time-consuming preventing the access to proper timely treatment.
Abu Halaweh also stressed the importance of providing protection and eliminating all forms of discrimination, whether legislative or social, against children who are victims of family disintegration or "children without a family", calling for greater social and legal protection for those groups.
"Jordan has taken great steps in the area of child rights, particularly the drafting of a child rights law", added Abu Halaweh, emphasizing the need to endorse the law promptly in a manner that gives prominence to the child's best interests, being at the same time applicable and agreed among legislators.
With regard to the progress achieved in the law so far, NCFA Secretary-General Fadel Al-Hmoud indicated that "the new draft law is expected to be announced by the end of this year, noting that work is still in progress to get the first draft of the law ready.
Al-Hmoud explained that in light of the need for the legislation and informed by the outcomes of specialized workshops on the matter, NCFA has started preparing the draft law and formed an ad hoc committee representing the Ministries of Justice and Social Development, National Center for Human Rights, the Judicial Council, the Supreme Judge Department, UNICEF/Jordan and NCFA with a view to determine the structure of the project and proofread the draft.
The committee, as Al-Hmoud pointed out, worked to identify all child-related legislation at the regional and international levels, particularly those of Arab countries, and examine their alignment with CRC provisions. It also worked to examine the practicality of its monitoring and investigation of children's issues from the perspectives of the law, psychology and sociology.
According to Al-Hmoud, the proposed law seeks to address the legislative shortcomings and gaps within existing child-related laws, and come up with a broad scope exhaustive law that encompasses all urgent aspects of childhood including: health, education, social aspects, economic aspects (labor) and civil and personal status.
"The law will enable the Kingdom to respond to the recurrent remarks made by the International Committee on the Rights of the Child on the implementation of the CRC as there are numerous rights that need to be provided for in the new law directly and explicitly in view of their extensive inclusion under the CRC", added AL-Hmoud.
"The law enhances the principle of non-discrimination between Jordanian children and non-Jordanian children residing in the Kingdom and addresses the legislative gaps in the child rights realization mechanisms such as enrolment in rehabilitation programs and the right to adequate nourishment, clean environment and recreation areas", said Al-Hmoud, noting that the law also "determines the extent of parental obligations by explicitly detailing the procedures for obligating parents of this responsibilities and to prevent them from failing to abide by their parental duties towards the child

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