ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Case of State Apathy

Children's Commissions

This article raises two fundamental questions with regard to the role of state vis-à-vis human rights institutions for children. First, why does the state constitute these bodies if there is lack of commitment to ensure their effective functioning? Second, how signifi cant are the recent strides made in legislation on child rights if the institutions meant to implement and monitor them are not in place?

Human rights institutions are established by governments the world over as mechanisms to protect and promote rights recognised under domestic laws and international conventions. They serve as independent oversight bodies that can take cognisance of and initiate action against all forms of human rights violations. They can monitor the actions and inactions of state and non-state actors, ensure that public administration and duty-bearers are held accountable and take steps to safeguard the rights of individuals and groups.

These institutions are warranted as laws on human rights do not necessarily guarantee their respect and protection on ground. Moreover, all forms of violations may not be identified, visible, or brought to the attention of authorities. The authorities may themselves be responsible for serious violations and hence there is a need to have an independent body that can challenge these excesses. In the case of children, rights-holders may not always have the capacities, resources or opportunities to effectively represent their own causes. Furthermore, existing system of addressing violations (such as the higher courts) may be inadequate, overburdened or inaccessible to the victims.

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