Minister for amending bonded labour laws to award strict punishments to violators

Published January 26, 2023
Minister for Human Rights Riaz Hussain Pirzada presides over a meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday. — APP
Minister for Human Rights Riaz Hussain Pirzada presides over a meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday. — APP

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Riaz Hussain Pirzada on Wednesday stressed on imposing stringent punishments on violators of bonded labour laws to end discrimination and exploitation of people trying to earn a decent livelihood.

Speaking at the third meeting of the Inter-Ministerial and Inter-Provincial Steering Committee of National Action Plan (NAP) on business and human rights, the minister said there was a need for amendments in existing laws to provide more stringent punishments against those violating the law and also to ensure provision of government assistance and rehabilitation programmes’ dividends to victims of forced or bonded labour.

Riaz Pirzada said inter-provincial coordination on business and human rights should be continued among federating units in line with the National Action Plan (NAP) without any interference from the government.

The provinces or federating units should exercise their powers to ensure NAP recommendations extending human rights to all without interference of the federal government, he said, adding that the federal and provincial governments should periodically revise the list of hazardous occupations and increase uniformity among various regulations regarding working hours in industries.

The minister said the United Nations framework also clarified that corporate responsibility to respect human rights existed parallel to the states’ ability to protect human rights.

He said the Departments of Industries, Human Resources Development and Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan should make efforts for better coordination on implementation of the NAP on business and human rights.

Mr Pirzada also stressed on incorporating sections of the ILO Conventions into legal framework governing rights of all workers, adding that to eliminate child labour, violators flouting rules should be fined.

The meeting was attended by human rights secretary and the ministry’s director general, inter-provincial stakeholders of human rights and members from the industries department.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2023

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