HRCP to enhance efforts towards abolishing bonded labour
Bonded Labour remains one of the most reprehensible and widespread forms of exploitation in Pakistan even twenty years after the promulgation of law to abolish it, therefore state and the civil society should redouble their efforts to eliminate this evil.
This was the consensus at a two day wide ranging consultation among organisations working for the elimination of bonded labour organised by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The participants agreed that since bonded labour is universally recognised as slavery like practice in the state and its abolition should be a top priority. The way the Bonded Labour System (abolition) Act of 1992 had been left unimplemented did not suggest that gravity of the problem, that affects the rights of several million people, had been adequately realised.
The meeting noted that following the devolution of the subject of labour to the provinces only Punjab had adopted a slightly amended version of 1992 Act. The other provincial governments were asked to expedite issuance of their own laws on the subject. However, it was necessary to ensure that no provincial enactment on abolition of bonded labour offered the bonded workers less then what the 1992 Act did.
The participants appreciated the decision of the Punjab government to allocate for the second time funds out of its development budget for its bonded labour elimination programme and extend it to four new districts. The meeting stressed his hope that it would be possible soon to bring the while province under the project. The other provincial governments were requested to draw up similar or improved program for the uplift of bonded workers.
The meeting called upon the government to strive to meet the conditions of good governance imposed by the European Union to qualify for generalised system of preferences. The meeting was of the view that issue of bonded labour had to be seen in the context of rights and problems of labour as a whole. The trade unions in particular and all civil society organisations in general, must accept bonded labours concern as their own.
The participants resolved to carry out the decisions of the meeting collectively and to hold rallies through out the country on the international day of the abolition of slavery. Prominent amongst the participants were representatives of Piler, Sparc, Bhandaar hari sangat, green rural workers development organisation, bonded labour liberation front, mehergarh, ILO, HRCP and several lawyers.