Equip commission with power to deal with HR violations
Speakers tell dialogue

In the media Staff Correspondent, The Daily Star - 7th December 2008

The newly formed National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) would be a 'toothless body' unless it is equipped with 'enforcement mechanism' said the speakers at a dialogue yesterday.

The dialogue titled'National and regional institution for the protection of human rights: challenge for Bangladesh' was organized jointly by South Asian Institute for Legal and Human Rights Studies(SAILS) and the French Embassy in a city hotel.

Making a vow of not letting the NHRC to become a toothless body its Chairman Justice Amirul Kabir Chowdhury, however, observed that it would be tough to deal with human rights in Bangladesh where there are numerous enemies against human rightsincluding poverty and illeteracy.

'Poverty and illiteracy are the main causes of in equality in the society.To protect human rights we must create sufficient employment opportunities for our youths who often indulge in criminal activities including exortion in absence of job putting life to men, womenand children at stake' said Justice Chowdhury.

He also observed that as the state of emergency restricts some fundamental rights of people it would be better to lift the emergency as soon as possible.

'Establishing human rights commission is not enough unless it has independence, defined juridiction and adequate power to deal with human rights violations' said the assiciate professor of Chittagong University Dr Abdullah Al Faruque who presented the keynote paper.

He said many people consider the commission 'toothless body' as it lacks power to initiate independent proceedings against perpetrators of human rights violation.

He also said that commission is overwhelmed by government staffs, and lacks experts in human rights and representation from civil society.

'Institutions, should they be national, regional, or international, are the pivotal instruments in upholding human rights' said M Charley Causeret, embassador of rance to Bangladesh, reffering to the formation of NHRC.
Emphasising the necessity of an institution in South Asia to ensure human rights the speakers observed that the leaders from different countries of the region should sit together to fix an agreed charter on human rights.

'The commission must conduct investigation independently and impartially and the court and the commission should work hand in hand,' said Dr Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury.

'Regional initiatives should be taken to ensure human rights in the region and thus we would be able to learn from each others.We see light on the horizon as Bangladesh has established human rights commission finally,' said Dr Kamal Hossain, chairperson of SAILS.

UN special rapporteur for Somalia Dr Shamsul Bari chaired the dialogue while Noemie Bienvenu,legal adviser to national consultative commission of human rights in France,Senior Lectyrer of University Montpelllier I, France  Dr Katarzyna Grabarczyk,Supreme Court Lawyer Dr Faustina Pereira and Prof Dr Imtiaz Ahmed also spoke on the occasion. The NHRC started functioning on December 01.


Dr Kamal Hossain speaks at a dialogue jointly organised by South Asian Institute for Legal and Human Rights Studies (SAILS) and the French Embassy at a city hotel yesterday.