Bahrain to ban children at rallies
Manama, February 14, 2012
Bahrain’s Shura Council members have approved amendments to a draft child rights law to ban children below the age of 18 from taking part in political gatherings, rallies and demonstrations.
It means anyone found guilty of encouraging children to take part in political gatherings, demonstrations and rallies could face up to a year in jail, a fine of up to BD1,000 ($2,652), or both.
However, the council's legal commission will decide next week whether to vote on the addition of an article proposed by parliament that prohibits the use of children in criminal activities.
Council members did agree to drop a chapter on the criminal prosecution of children, saying it contradicts Bahrain's international obligations.
Authorities will also not be allowed to remove youngsters from their parents or legal guardians unless a judiciary order is issued after substantial evidence of maltreatment is presented.
The Public Prosecution will have the right to appoint children with a temporary legal guardian during court proceedings.
Human Rights and Social Development Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi urged council members to speed up discussions on the draft, saying they had already taken too long.
She repeated earlier comments that an international report on human rights was due to be published in May and Bahrain could expect huge criticism of its policies due to the delay.
Council members also yesterday approved parliamentary amendments that will have a National Child Commission formed under the chairmanship of Dr Al Balooshi.
It will comprise representatives from the Human Rights and Social Development, Interior, Education, Foreign, Health, Labour, Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments ministries.
Officials from the Supreme Council for Women, Public Prosecution, Information Affairs Authority, Bahrain University and General Organisation for Youth and Sports will also be part of the commission.
A child protection centre will also be formed and a director appointed by Dr Al Balooshi.
Kindergartens will also come under the authority of the Human Rights and Social Development Ministry after councillors rejected demands to have it listed with the Education Ministry. – TradeArabia News Service