The government could not find a new chairperson for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Bangladesh, even in the last two and a half months. And, as the top post remains vacant, the commission even does not exist, according to the commission act.
"The six-member-commission dissolves automatically, if a vacancy occurs in the office of the chairperson," former NHRC member Aroma Datta told The Business Standard.
According to the act: "The Chairperson and Members of the Commission shall hold office for a term of three years from the date on which he enters upon his office." "Chairperson shall be the Chief Executive of the Commission," the act says.
Therefore, the staff at the NHRC are presently unable to act against any human rights violation; they are attending office, only for internal administrative tasks.
Meanwhile, as many as 1,033 complaints piled up at the commission, needing to be resolved (after checking on the facts, the commission recommends the government and concerned authorities to take legal action regarding the complaints).
Expressing concern over the prevailing state of affairs at the NHRC, Prof Dr Mizanur Rahman, ex-chairperson of the commission said, "It is surprising that the office remains ineffective for months."
"I have reason to be doubtful whether the government cares about such organisation or not. It seems that the office that is supposed to deal with the human rights issues lacks itself in its right to exist," said the professor, while urging the government to appoint a skilled chairperson immediately.
Wife of a former army officer filed a complaint with the commission on July 7 of this year (the woman was allegedly tortured by her husband and two sons, and did not lodge any lawsuit due to fear). The victim came to the NHRC office on Thursday. And the officials at the commission assured her that her complaint would be taken into consideration after the formation of the new commission.
"I visited the commission office at least ten times over the last two months. It has been difficult to come to Dhaka from Munshiganj."
This correspondent talked to 7-8 persons, who came to the commission office on Thursday. They expressed disappointment to see the commission's activities at a halt.
The last NHRC Chairperson Kazi Reazul Hoque's tenure officially ended on August 2. However, he left the post one moth earlier, on July 2, as he turned 70; member of the commission Md Nazrul Islam filled the position for the one month as the acting chairperson.
Sources at the Ministry of Law said, a selection committee, headed by the Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, was formed on September 5. Other members of the committee are: law minister, home minister, chairperson of the law commission, two members of the Parliament, and the cabinet secretary.
Law Minister Anisul Haque said that the selection of the new commission is almost done. "Gazette will be published soon about the appointment of the new chairperson and other members," he told The Business Standard.