New Delhi, Oct 7 (PTI) Human rights NGOs have urged apex child rights body NCPCR to immediately withdraw its direction to send back children living in child care institutions from eight states to their families, saying it 'violates' the objectives of the Juvenile Justice Act.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has directed eight states that account for over 70 per cent of children in care homes to ensure their return to their families, noting that it is the right of every child to grow up in a familial environment.
The NCPCR said the decision was taken also keeping in view the alarming concerns over the safety and security of children residing in these institutions.
In an open letter, All India Network of Individuals and NGOs working with National and State Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI), Enfold Proactive Health Trust, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights and People's Watch claimed the recommendations ignore the need for preparedness of families and alternative care measures and the larger issue of systemic failures.
'NCPCR's recommendations are contrary to the purpose, principles, and spirit of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015,' it said.
By selectively citing the principles of institutionalisation as a measure of last resort and repatriation and restoration in support of its exercise of suo motu cognizance, they claimed the NCPCR violates the objectives of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act, 2015) and 'fails to consider the other fundamental principles of best interest of children, safety and participation'.
'Strongly condemn this letter from the NCPCR and demand its immediate withdrawal, the open letter said.
'Due diligence calls for preparedness of children, families and the child protection system. The NCPCR has ignored this completely in making far-fetched recommendations to be implemented in haste,' it said.
They further said the direction comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered children and families even more vulnerable.
'In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, families have been pushed beyond the margins - from food security to housing and livelihood, their problems, including mental health challenges, have increased manifold. Restoring children to such a situation without considering the views of children and their families and without an assessment cannot be in their best interest,' they said. PTI UZM CK CK