Govt urged to declare bondage as punishable offence

117

Hyderabad—The speakers at the 2-day workshop titled ‘Rights of Bonded Labour’ have urged the Sindh government to declare bondage a punishable offence. They expressed these views while speaking on the second day of the workshop, which was organized by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, here Saturday at a local hotel. The General Secretary of HRCP-I A Rehman said there was need to introduce punishment in the law while declaring keeping the labour in bondage a crime.
He argued that only through a judicial process of protecting rights of the labourers and punishing the offenders the menace of bonded labour could end. Rehman also underscored the need for instituting a rehabilitation program for the bonded labourers who had been freed from the bondage.
Veerji Kolhi, a minority rights activist, said there was a need of a mechanism to recover the unpaid wages of bonded labourers from their employer through a legal system.
‘Similarly the same needs to be done in the cases where bonded laborers were promised share cropping by the landlord before the labourers were held in bondage,’ he added. The minority rights activist Veeru Kolhan spoke about the influence wielded by feudal lords over the local police and demanded oversight of the authorities to protect vulnerable segments of the society.
Senior Member HRCP Husain Naqi said the released bonded laborers were presently living in relief camps which could not be considered a permanent residence. ‘As a result they have no voting rights. And this is an urgent concern,’ he underscored.
He suggested that villages for such laborers be established with help of the government to provide them residence. Naqi also asked the provincial government to provide land to the landless peasants.—APP