Ombudsman takes notice of ‘corporal punishment’ to special children

Ombudsman takes notice of ‘corporal punishment’ to special children

Federal Ombudsman (Mohtasib) Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi, while taking cognizance of the objectionable act of physical punishment to differently-abled children by the staff of the National Institute of Special Education (NISE), H-9 Islamabad, on Wednesday has taken the notice under article 9(1) of the establishment of the office of Wafaqi Mohtsib (Ombudsman) order, 1983.

The news of inflicting corporal punishment on some differently-abled children by the staff of the National Institute of Special Education Sector H-9, Islamabad was aired on various news channels as social media was flooded with outcry from the general public taking exception to this inhumane act.

The federal ombudsman has asked the secretary and the ministry of Human Rights to submit a comprehensive report.

The report, as per the directions of the federal ombudsman, must clearly highlight all aspects of the said incident, including action taken against those responsible for this inhumane treatment, which includes the management of the centre within one week.

In December 2021, the President of Pakistan signed Act No. XLIX of 2021 “to make provisions for prohibition of corporal punishment against children” in the Islamabad Capital Territory. Section 3 (2) of the new Act prohibits corporal punishment of children at work place, in public and private schools and other educational settings including formal, non-formal, and religious institutions- in child care institutions, as well as in the juvenile justice system. Act No. XLIX of 2021 provides that “under no circumstances corporal punishments, or punishments which related to the child’s physical and mental development or which may affect the child’s emotional status are allowed” (section 3(3)). It includes a list of sanctions and modalities for enforcement of the Act to private institutions. The Act does not prohibit corporal punishment of children in the home.

The Act prohibiting corporal punishment against children in the Islamabad Capital Territory was initially presented by Mehnaz Akber Aziz, Member of the National Assembly in early 2021. Ms Aziz, also a Member of Pakistan’s Parliamentary Child Rights Committee within the Parliamentary SDGs Task Force is a champion of law reform to advance children’s rights within the National Assembly of Pakistan.

It should be noted that Act No. XLIX of 2021 only applies to the Islamabad Capital Territory. Corporal punishment still needs to be prohibited in the home, some alternative care settings and day care, some schools, penal institutions and as a sentence for crime in all regions of Pakistan.

Related: Challenges faced by Special Needs Students in Pakistan

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