NHRC issues Advisory for the protection of the rights of Children in view of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on them: Calls for greater preparedness by all the stakeholders in view of the impending risks
New Delhi, 03rd June, 2021
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC India, has issued an Advisory for the Protection of the Rights of the Children in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has issued keeping in view the continuing impact of the pandemic on children and the experts’ apprehensions about its third wave hitting them hard. This is the fifth as part of the 2.0 series of Advisories that the Commission has issued in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
The Commission, in a letter through its Secretary General, Mr. Bimbadhar Pradhan to the Secretaries of the concerned Union Ministries/Departments and Chief Secretaries of States and Administrators of Union Territories, has asked for the implementation of its recommendations in the Advisory and sought action taken reports within four weeks.
The Union Ministries and the departments include Women and Child Development, Home Affairs, Health and Family Welfare, Department of School Education & Literacy, Department of Food and Distribution.
The report from the various authorities is expected to include the specific measures undertaken to safeguard the Rights of Children in view of the conditions imposed by the pandemic.
The Advisory has focused on four key areas of Health, Education, Child Care Institutions and orphaned children during COVID19 pandemic.
Some of the important recommendations, among others, are as follows:
· Strengthen paediatric COVID hospitals and protocols. All the hospitals should prominently display contact information of CHILDLINE (1098), local Child Welfare Committee (CWC), District Child Protection Unit (DCPU), local police, etc;
· Ministries and departments at the centre and state level should also set up a page pertaining to COVID on their website immediately and prominently to share all important circulars and orders related to safeguarding children’s rights during the COVID pandemic and inform of progress in implementation;
· District Magistrates to take steps for supporting families economically that have lost either of the parents by linking them to existing social protection schemes and policies within 4-6 weeks of the death of the parent. Steps should include expediting the benefits announced by the Prime Minister under the ‘PM-CARES for Children’ scheme on 29/05/2021;
· Indicate state-wise progress in the rehabilitation of all children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic, in compliance of the Supreme Court’s order dated 28/05/202110 and instructions of NCPCR to all Chief Secretaries dated 26/05/2021;
· Disseminate information regarding the toll-free telephonic counselling service SAMVEDNA4 available at 1800-121-2830 for psychological support to the children during COVID pandemic;
· Maintain disaggregated data on the official website regarding the various categories of children tested for COVID-19, found positive, recovered and died due to the virus, special steps taken to strengthen paediatric COVID care facilities, etc.;
· Ensure universalization of digital facilities for online access to education for all children. An adequate budget should be allocated specifically for this purpose and develop a monitor mechanism for the same;
· Take all necessary steps to ensure that children do not drop out of school due to the circumstances imposed by the pandemic forcing them to enter into child labour, child marriage or fall prey to mishaps such as trafficking;
· Establish Special Quarantine Centres for Children from Child Care Institutions and ensure that children have access to family members/ lawyers/counsellors either through visits while maintaining COVID protocols, or through telephone/ video conferencing;
· Child Welfare Committees and Juvenile Justice Boards proceedings should be through digital mode. Necessary infrastructure required for video conferencing including the budgetary support must be provided;
· Frontline workers providing core child protection and health services including the members and personnel of the JJBs, CWC, DCPUs, SJPUs, CCIs, workers from CHILDLINE, ANMs, ASHAs, AWWs, etc., may be vaccinated on priority basis and provided unrestricted movement during lockdowns;
· Data should be made available in the public domain on the numbers of children currently residing in CCIs, released from CCIs and/or restored to family/guardians, provided sponsorship, and placed in foster care, adoption, and in kinship care, apart from the data on children in CCIs who tested positive, are in quarantine facilities, etc;
· In case of death of both parents where family or kinship care is not available and the children is found orphaned without any support, ensure that the child is immediately produced before the CWC for immediate rehabilitation of all such children as per the law;
· For Children who lost their parents during COVID pandemic, the nodal department for children in coordination with the State Government must work to strengthen sponsorship and foster care.
For more details please see the link to the Advisory : Click here
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