Legal experts at a discussion programme have specified how the right to public health needs to be preserved as the Covid-19 outbreak makes health the foremost concerned human right that needs proper access to justice for every individual.
The "Digital Dialogue 9" about access to justice as human rights during the pandemic was held on September 11 as part of the Lawyers and Jurists Foundation's initiative to bring people the current ideas and discussions in association with The Business Standard.
At the event, Dr Mizanur Rahman, former chairman of National Human Rights Commission Bangladesh and professor of Department of Law at Dhaka University, pointed out that health is more than just a privilege; it is a human right.
He suggested some initiatives to resolve the matter on the basis of right to health and assessed that non-governmental organisations have been playing a vital role in ensuring getting access to justice for public health concern.
Pursuing and holding onto Professor Dr Mizanur Rahman's discussions, Mizanur Rahman Khan, journalist and researcher of law and the Constitution, addressed the issue of alarming public health concern in the eyes of laws and how constrained Bangladesh's public health system is.
He said the existing articles of the Constitution, relating to public health, do not guarantee the right to health and medical services; issues for every individual during this pandemic.
He further assessed countries like Cuba, Nepal and South Africa, where the states have been playing the role of significance in matters of urgency for public health with immense care, attention and initiations by asserting their rights based on their respective constitutions.
As for Bangladesh, the two subsisting Articles of the Constitution-Article 15 (A) and 18 are not at a nexus with public morality and do not suffice to fulfill in asserting the right to public health as their fundamental rights.
He concluded that the Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh shall make amendments to guarantee the public health system as a fundamental right to ensure the gateway to get justice is always there.
Moderator of the event Khandaker Asma Hamid, advocate at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, gave an introductory speech based on the current atmosphere.
The topic itself is vast and a question mark during this epidemic; how human rights are being protected and if not, where the failings are and how this affects the country at large, read a press release.
Khandaker Asma Hamid pointed out that access to justice is a global concern for every individual. The realisation of access to justice remains a great challenge in Bangladesh especially during this epidemic as far as the litigation process is concerned.
She said the Covid-19 pandemic and responses to human rights violations are having an unprecedented effect on the functioning of justice systems globally.
She further said the barriers for accessing the justice system should be identified and mitigated in order to dispense proper justice towards the people.
She ended the speech stating that all human beings should have equal access to justice when their dignity or rights are infringed upon. Every individual has the right to equal treatment under the law and equal benefit of the law.
The programme was coordinated by Nazmus Sakib, an associate of the Lawyers and Jurists Foundation.