Bangladesh has made more advances in the implementation of children’s rights in the last few years than the USA.
Bangladesh ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child as far back as August 1990, America still hasn’t, and is the only country in the world that hasn’t.
This week, however, American House Democrats Karen Bass, Judy Chu and Luis V. Gutiérrez – in the spiritual presence of Bruce Lesley – have introduced a House resolution calling for the passage of a Children’s Bill of Rights.
The Children's Bill of Rights will include 22 points meant to ensure the "physical well-being, social and emotional well-being, and educational and life skills" of all American children.
“Children’s rights are human rights,” said Rep. Karen Bass. “The United States needs to state unequivocally that all children have basic rights. While 197 countries have ratified the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Child, the United States has stayed on the sidelines. This is embarrassing, and it is beyond time for the United States to catch up with the world and support all our children.”
“This resolution will not wipe away poverty, or take guns off of our streets, or make our schools miraculously better, but it is a step,” Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez said.
Much to its shame, corporal punishment is still legal in 19 USA states.
When eminent Bangladesh High Court justices Md. Imman Ali and Sheikh Hassan Arif outlawed the barbaric practice of corporal punishment in schools here in 2011, they declared it: “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom" and became the voice of the voiceless for all children around the world, including Americans.
In 1989, governments worldwide, including Bangladesh, promised all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Last week, Somalia signed this agreement, which leaves the US the only nation in the world that hasn’t.
While Americans have every justification to feel humiliated, embarrassed and ashamed by its government not ratifying the agreement to protect and support its vulnerable younger citizens, the passage of the Children's Bill of Rights is a much-welcomed major step in the right direction.
(The writer, Sir Frank Peters, is a human rights advocate, an award-winning writer, a former newspaper publisher and editor and a loyal foreign friend of Bangladesh.)
BDST: 1248 HRS, OCT 15, 2015