By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 9 November 2013:
The rights of children should be . . .[restrict]built into the new constitution and these should include protection from violence and exploitation as well as the guarantee of a free education up until the age of 15.
These were enshrined in ten specific rights set out a “The Libyan Child and the Constitution” meeting in Tripoli organised by the National Council for Civil Liberties and Human Rights. Among them was the provision that children born out of marriage should have exactly the same rights as every other child.
One proposed clause read: “The State is committed to the protection of children against all forms of discrimination and punishment on the basis of any status, activity, opinion,beliefs of parents or legal guardian of the child or his family”.
Another stipulated: “”No child is detained except in cases of in extreme circumstances nd should be detained for the shortest possible period and be held separately from adults.
“The child should be treated according to its age and must be given appropriate care and assistance. The state is committed to providing legal representation to any child who is in contact with the law (delinquent children or victims of crime or witnesses)”.
The NCCLHR’s Abdulhafid Mohamed Sidoun said that all NGOs in the community had a important role to play in pressing children’s rights and he regretted that so few had attended the Tripoli meeting, fearing that it might undermine the campaign for this important part of the constitution.
Social researcher Dr Omar Zintani said the rights of children were protected in Islamic law but he did not understand why they were ignored. He told the Libya Herald: “One of the biggest challenges is that in the home, at school and in other state institutions, though the children are physically there, their rights are not recognised”.
Zintani emphasised the crucial role of the family, in allowing a child to develop and play a full role in society.