MPs in the Wolesi Jirga’s (the Lower House of Parliament) were on Saturday expected to approve the Law on Children’s Rights but – for the fourth time – failed to do so.
The law has 16 chapters and 108 articles and has been on the table for months, but MPs have failed to sign it off.
MPs were on Saturday divided into two categories on only one article of the law which is about the definition of the age of children.
Most MPs say the word child should apply to everyone under the age of 18.
“The world believes that until 18, rational maturity does not exist,” MP Zakaria Zakaria said.
“I do not have any personal interest, parliament should decide as it approved the previous laws. If parliament decides to amend it, we have our decision and also have the commission’s proposed amendment,” MP Fawzia Kofi said.
Some other MPs meanwhile said when signs of puberty are seen in a child, then he is no longer a child and childhood has nothing to do with age.
“Any human being under 18 is considered a child, unless, under the children’s law, the child has grown up sooner,” Qazi Nazir Hanafi head of Parliament’s Legislative Affairs Commission said.
Parliament speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi asked MPs to vote on the two different views on the definition of the age of children. Footage shows most MPs supported the first view.
Parliament’s administrative board however instead of counting votes, at the request of a number of MPs, left their seats and the law remained unapproved.
“We failed to make a decision about today’s agenda,” said Ibrahimi.
A number of MPs in reaction to the administrative board’s move accused the board and parliament speaker of betrayal over not counting the votes. The MPs said the board members based on their personal demands failed to allow the law to be approved.
“This is the fourth time that the Law on Children’s Rights has fallen victim to conservatism and betrayal by the speaker,” MP Massouda Karokhil said.
Parliament’s administrative board refused to comment in this regard.
A number of MPs said a government and international aid organization programs for children are waiting for this law to be approved.