LAHORE - Speakers at a conference on Children of Incarcerated Parents here on Thursday strongly urged that the police, the judiciary and jail administration not to keep children in detention centers if their parents have committed any offence, and separation of children from such parents should not be the first option. Various parliamentarians, human rights activists and representatives of non-government organisations (NGOs) addressed the consultation held here at a local hotel under the aegis of SPARC here on Thursday. IA Rehman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that the country is party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) under which it is responsibility of Pakistan not to send children to jail along with the mother under the concept of the best interest of the child. A child should not grow inside the jail, he said, adding, it is against the best interest of the child. He also added that the government must use non-custodial measures like bail and probation system to keep women and their children away from the jail. On this occasion, SPARC Executive Director Arshad Mahmood said that courts are custodians of law and they should ensure that the rights of these children are protected. He suggested that the women prisoners should be released on probation. He said that except the issue of diet, place of pregnancy, and suspension of death sentence to pregnant woman mentioned in the Pakistan Prison Rules, there is no such direct legislative provision that states for the rights of these children with mothers in prisons as well as the rights of those children whose parents are in prisons. According to him, children in jails face loneliness and live in isolation as they do not have areas to play. He said that according to prison Rules, up to six years children can live with mothers and in some cases, upto 10 years of age when there is nobody outside to take care of the child. PML-N MPA Arifa Khalid, while speaking on this occasion, said that it is against the spirit of the Constitution of Pakistan that children are not treated according to the law and deprived of their liberty without committing any offence. She emphasized to conduct trainings for parliamentarians and police and judicial officials for protecting the rights of children whose parents are arrested and detained. Another MPA, Deeba Mirza, said that women offenders have problem of submitting bonds and sureties when they are granted bails so the courts should use their discretion in granting bails on person sureties so that children should not go to prisons along with them and stay outside with mothers. Meanwhile, human rights activist Rashid Aziz shared draft recommendations for the protection and welfare of children whose parents go to jail. He recommended that police and prison should be legally obliged to collect information about the number and age of children whose parents have been arrested and or imprisoned. He also said that reforms are needed in child protection laws for the inclusion of children of incarcerated parents in the purview of the child protection service. National Programme Manager Abdullah Khoso said that there are about 180 children along with about 1,200 women prisoners in different prisons of Pakistan. There are no comprehensive scientific and systematic research on social and psychological impacts of the treatment given and the procedures applied on children with women prisoners in detention centers. Article 25 (3) of the Constitution asks for making any special provisions for the protection of women and children. However, the laws are not enacted that could deal with the protection, survival and development issues of children and pregnant women in prisons of Pakistan. He added that unfortunately it cannot be ascertained how children are being abused and deprived of from their social, cultural and economic rights since there is no independent system and body in place within or outside the prison departments to monitor such abuses, exploitation and discrimination.