The pact has received backlash from human rights groups, who say it could undermine the UN convention on the rights of children already in place.
Rabat – During a meeting on Thursday, August 22, the Moroccan government adopted the Children’s Rights Covenant of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a pact outlining the rights of the child in Islam.
The covenant was first signed at the 32nd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the member countries of the OIC in 2005, but was just passed in Parliament this week.
“The Pact of the Rights of the Child in Islam aims to protect the child within the family and strengthen the child’s status,” said Government Spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi in a statement to the press.
The new pact makes it a fundamental right in Morocco for all children to be protected, to have free access to compulsory and secondary education, and to have access to disability care.
The pact directly stipulates that refugee children have these rights as well as Moroccan-born children.
“This pact aims to ensure a healthy and safe childhood, to cement free access to compulsory and secondary education for all children, regardless of sex, color, nationality, religion, etc., and to provide care for children with special needs,” El Khalfi said.
The pact also says that children must recieve sex education that supports religious values during primary and secondary school, a controversial stipulation. “Every child close to puberty has the right to access a healthy sexual education allowing him to distinguish the lawful from the illicit according to the vision of Islam,” states Article 12 of the pact.
The pact has received backlash from human rights groups. The Center for Human Rights and Democracy Studies (CEDHD) urged the government not to endorse the pact, saying it “undermines the provisions of the United Nations Convention to which Morocco acceded in 1993.”
In a statement posted to its Facebook page, CEDHD questioned the need for the pact when the UN convention is already in place, which the human rights group defines as “the most prestigious international standard in this area.”
CEDHD also noted that the pact does not outline any ”monitoring or control mechanism,” thus putting the progress the UN convention made in Morocco at risk.
“This pact may affect the progress made on human rights in our country and will effect the way we deal with these issues at a public policy level, as well as the procedures and approaches in place,” said CEDHD.