NHRC’s efficacy under question

Speakers at a virtual discussion meeting raised questions about the efficacy of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

NHRC leadership is more concerned about extending their tenure in the office instead of focusing on upholding human rights, the speakers alleged at a virtual discussion meeting on Monday.

Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) organised the discussion on the government’s responsibility in safeguarding human rights.

Supreme court lawyer Abdul Halim alleged NHRC members are not aware of their jurisdiction.

He said NHRC members always complain that they do not have much power but they do not apply the power vested in them by the concerned law.

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Refuting the allegation that the commission is not aware of its power, NHRC’s director (administration and finance) Kazi Arfan Ashik said the commission might have some limitations but it's not true that they are not aware of the related law.

ASK’s assistant coordinator Tamanna Hoq said NHRC in most cases display excessive caution while investigating any incident of human rights violation. They are always concerned about falling out of the government’s favour.

She also said there is a tendency to select pro-government persons and bureaucrats as members of the commission. The members, who are appointed for a three-year term, also seem to think much about getting their tenure extended.

NHRC’s current chairman Nasima Begum was appointed after retirement from government service as senior secretary of women and children affairs ministry. Full time member of the commission Kamal Uddin Ahmed is also a former secretary.

Dhaka University law department’s assistant professor Golam Sarwar said the NHRC’s activities are frustrating as they remain inactive during big incidents of human rights violation.

He said disseminating education on human rights is one of the commission’s many responsibilities but they failed in this regard.

ASK’s director Nina Goswami said NHRC did not make any comment after the death of so many workers in fire at Narayanganj’s Hashem foods factory. They also kept mum after workers were shot dead in Chattogram’s Banshkhali.

UN Resident Coordinator Office’s human rights officer Zahid Hossain said peoples expectations from NHRC are high as it is a national institution.

ASK’s executive director Golam Monwar also spoke at the discussion.