Lawmakers in the legislative body are still fighting over the Child Protection Act after it was voted on--and passed--by the Wolesi Jirga on December 9. Lawmakers say the vote was illegitimate.
Amir Khan Yar, the first deputy of the Wolesi Jirga, Afghanistan’s lower house, said on Saturday that the Child Protection Act and the Law of Social Councils are “not authentic” and their approval by the Afghan parliament is not acceptable.
Resistance to the act is focused primarily on its determination of the legal definition of a child, which the acts says is under 18 years old.
Yar argued that there was not a complete quorum in the lower house to finalize the law, and added that the Child Protection Act and the Law of Social Councils were no longer on the agenda of the Afghan parliament.
“Voting which was carried out a couple of days ago is against the law and it has no legal credibility, so we are sending this law for further assessment,” said Yar.
Some lawmakers lashed out at Yar for rejecting the legitimacy of the vote, and the act:
“I offer my condolences to the orphan sons and widows of Afghanistan. In protest against this political treatment of the law, I leave the session,” an opposing MP Ghulam Hussain Naseri said.
A member of the parliament, Neelofar Ibrahimi, said that the Child Protection Act was already approved, adding that if someone wants to reject it there needs to be a two-thirds majority to reject the law.
“A law that has already been approved needs a two-thirds majority to reject it,” said MP Neelofar Ibrahimi, referring to the voting on the act on December 9, when lawmakers approved the draft law.
Some lawmakers meanwhile said another act, the Law of Social Councils, which was approved last Wednesday, should also be declared invalid. The Law of Social Councils gives the provincial councils oversight authority.
“Article 139 of the constitution of Afghanistan provides an advisory role to provincial councils to improve development affairs. So you are not allowed to conduct voting which is in contrast to the constitution of Afghanistan,” said Ghulam Farooq Majroh, an MP.
But Yar responded: “The internal functioning has been violated here, the honorable lawmakers and the speaker of the house have been deceived and the voting on Wednesday is also invalid.”
In addition, the head of parliament’s internal security commission, Fida Mohammad Ulfat, said that a lack of understanding between the lawmakers about the laws is their personal shortcoming and invalidating these laws is a violation.
“It is not our fault if they do not have an understanding about the law that will define the authority of the local, provincial and village councils,” said Ulfat.
On December 9, MPs approved the Child Protection Act after years of wrangling over the legal age of boys and girls.
According to the law, boys and girls under the age of 18 are considered children.
The law will help victims of the illegal practice of Bacha Bazi and it will prohibit the recruitment of children as soldiers.
The law has 16 chapters and 118 articles.
Along with prohibiting the misuse and abuse of children, the law will secure the rights of children for citizenship, identity, and birth registration. Also, the law establishes freedom for children of religious minorities as well as the right of access to services, and the right to education.
More than half of Afghanistan’s children don’t have adequate living standards. Access to food, education, water and sanitation as well as other basic services is severely limited.