Human Rights Commission gets no importance15 September 2021
ENVISAGED as the conscience keeper of the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has failed on many counts to take any action against the perpetrators of human rights violence in the country. Speakers at a discussion organised by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) on Monday held the selection process of the commission responsible for this. The selection is politically motivated with only people from the ruling party getting preference. It was also told that former bureaucrats who are not involved in human rights are given preference for inclusion in the commission.
To overcome the flaws of the selection process, the speakers suggested that NHRC should make sure ordinary citizens are present during the selection. The commission also should stick to the Paris Principles when selecting and recruiting its members and chairpersons. Because the Paris Principles are guidelines adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) that delineate how institutions that protect human rights should function. Bangladesh's NHRC is only 'partially compliant' with the Paris Principles, as stated by the Global Alliance on National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI). According to ASK, in 2020, the commission took up 49 complaints at their own initiative, but only one has been solved so far. It received a total of 432 complaints last year, of which 302 are still pending.
Almost a decade ago the NHRC began its journey under the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2009. ASK in a recent report on the commission's decade of activities, observed that it always recruits its secretaries, directors, and joint directors from the Public Administration through deputation on an ad-hoc basis. This adversely impacts on the independence of the commission and is a violation of the GANHRI standards. It also pointed out that while the NHRC makes recommendations to the government, it cann't ensure that the recommendations are followed. It was also mentioned that the law of NHRC itself restricts it from investigating any forces, including the police and the Rab. The investigations are limited to just sending letters.
Ever since its establishment over a decade ago, the NHRC has been struggling to overcome significant administrative, legal and political challenges. The big question however is if this state institution is a 'toothless tiger', can't it even growl?