Under the slogan, “Building a Child’s Character Is Everyone’s Responsibility,” the Iraqi Commission for Children’s Welfare recently held its fifth conference on the protection of children’s rights at the Kufa University auditorium in the holy city of Najaf. The conference witnessed the participation of numerous members of the Council of Representatives, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mohammed Sheikh Radi, Minister of Governorate Affairs, Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Governor of Najaf, Asaad Sultan Abu Kilal, as well as numerous Iraqi and international agencies concerned with family, women, and children’s issues.
In his speech during the conference, the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs confirmed that numerous projects, especially designed for Iraqi children, will be launched in the near future such as the Childhood Law and the Children’s Parliament.
He added that the Commission for Children’s Welfare will be releasing an annual report that provides information on the state of and the suffering of Iraqi children. The report, which is based on gathered field information, provides an objective view and aims to establish a database that contributes to the making of relevant decisions.
Sheikh Radi stated that the legal framework, which was devised to protect Iraqi children from violence and abuse, will be released in the near future. The Commission for Children’s Welfare is also collaborating with the Ministry of Health to establish a specialized center for the treatment of children suffering from war-related shock and those subjected to the dangers of fighting and terrorism.
He explained that the Commission for Children’s Welfare will release an annual report that details improvements and dangers that children face. The report will contribute to a database, which will be submitted to decision makers. In addition, the commission established the Iraqi Child Parliament. The legal framework for this establishment has been drafted so it can be legislated and passed. Sheik Radi noted that the ministry took the initiative through expanding social security networks that provide numerous welfare programs to families, in general, and children, in specific. These programs include small loan programs, training opportunities, handicapped care, and children daycare centers. In addition, the commission’s activities are being expanded to include all governorates.
Kawthar Ibrahim, Director of the Commission for Children’s Welfare office in Iraq, gave a speech during the conference, and stated that children have many rights, most notably the rights to education, healthcare, and security. She added that children should be protected from harmful labor and all conditions that can potentially undermine their dignity.
Ibrahim explained that the commission is aiming to reduce a number of phenomena that Iraqi children struggle with including begging, child labor, and trafficking.
Ibrahim called for bilateral agreements with countries in the region to prevent child trafficking, and to legislate laws that prohibit this phenomenon and institute appropriate punishments in order to protect Iraqi children.
It is noteworthy that 12 ministries have affiliations with the Commission for Children’s Welfare. Numerous conferences focusing on the protection of Iraqi children’s rights and the provision of suitable living conditions were also held.
Ibrahim stated that the conference in Najaf for the protection of children’s rights was held based on recommendations from the second conference, which was held in Erbil in 2006.
The conference was also attended by the Minister of State for Governorate Affairs, Dr. Kholoud Al Maajoun, the senior deputy at the Ministry of Culture, Jaber Al-Jaberi, a number of directors from the Ministry of Labor, the Governor of Najaf, the chairman of the Najaf Governorate Council, the president of Kufa University, and a number of personalities concerned with children’s issues.