The National Human Rights Commission has neglected to fulfil its responsibilities under the law to prevent human rights violations in the country. "The commission has shown extreme incompetence in protecting human rights, and the commission is sleeping with eyes wide open," the High Court has said.
The Court made the comment today while giving the full verdict on the torture of a housemaid.
In 2013, Khadija, a housemaid, was tortured in the capital's Mirpur area. The incident was reported in a national newspaper. A letter was sent to the National Human Rights Commission on behalf of the Children's Charity Foundation along with the report.
On December 22, 2018, Barrister Abdul Halim, chairman of the Children's Charity Foundation, filed a writ petition at the High Court, five years after no action was taken by the commission.
Disposing of the writ petition, the High Court bench comprising of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Rajik Al Jalil on November 11 last year ordered appropriate action to be taken in the incident of torture of domestic worker Khadija.
The full verdict was announced today where the High Court gave several directives to the National Human Rights Commission and the government. At the same time, the court observed the failure of the commission.
According to the verdict, the Human Rights Commission is not fulfilling its responsibilities under the law. The steps taken by the commission on serious human rights violations such as the torture of housemaid Khadija makes it clear that the commission is not aware of its responsibilities and has neglected to fulfil its mandate under the law to prevent human rights violations in the country. "The commission has shown extreme incompetence in protecting human rights and the commission is sleeping with eyes open."
Some directives in the verdict are :
1. The draft rules prepared by the commission will soon be finalised in the Gazette after discussions with human rights organisations.
2. The commission is being instructed to ensure that it passes the order by mentioning the full names of the members in accordance with proper rules and arrangements so that the victim can get a duplicate copy of the order.
3. The commission is being directed to exercise its power to make appropriate recommendations by investigating cases of human rights violations in accordance with the provisions of Sections 16 and 17 of the Act.
4. The commission is being directed to apply to the High Court Division in accordance with Article 102 of the Constitution if any government authority or official disregards the orders of the commission.
5. The commission is legally a quasi-judicial authority. So, it must abide by all the principles of justice. The commission is being directed to conclude the hearing on Khadija's torture within 60 days of receiving the verdict and decide what preventive measures, compensation or other recommendations can be made. If the hearing finds the truth of Khadija's human rights violation, the commission will recommend appropriate compensation to Khadija under Section 19 of the Act.