POST TIME: 22 February, 2019 00:00 00 AM
‘Bangladesh prioritises human rights above all’
UNB, Dhaka

‘Bangladesh prioritises human rights above all’

Planning Minister MA Mannan said Bangladesh has always given top priority to equal rights of its citizens. He also stressed government approach to preserve the needs and rights of labourers in different industries.

Mannan was speaking at a national dialogue session titled 'UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights' organised by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), supported by UNDP, at a city hotel yesterday.

The dialogue brought together thinkers, non-government organisations and human rights activists from home and abroad to discuss the current situation of human rights preservation in different industries across the globe.

"As Bangladesh is rapidly advancing towards industrialisation, the number of workers is also growing. We are all in for preserving their rights regarding workplace alongside the fundamental rights of all citizens," the minister said in his address as chief guest.

"We will take steps acknowledging the reality of our country and we are still on track in preserving rights of the labourers," he added. NHRC Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque complemented government actions to maintain rights of the working class.

He also emphasised following the UNGP in cases that are still hazardous for workers in several industries, especially the readymade garments sector.

"We want the state to take the lead (in securing labour rights). We will continue to support the government in all situations," he added.

Livio Sarandrea, team leader of Business and Human Rights in Asia, Asia Pacific Regional HUB of UNDP, gave insights about UNGP. "Violating people's rights for profit leaves a negative impact," he said.

He also lauded government's efforts, saying Bangladesh is an example of good publicity of industries despite the aftermath of Rana Plaza tragedy. Livio also mentioned that in order to implement the UNGP in workplaces across the country, a cohesive plan is necessary in collaboration with all stakeholders.

Additional Secretary of Ministry of Commerce Tapon Kanti Ghosh said rapid industrialisation has taken off recently in the country.

"After the Rana Plaza collapse, the issues and violation of labour rights have become more visible," he added. He also proposed legislations according UNGP codes securing the rights of the workers. Sayeed Ahmed, additional aecretary of Ministry of Labour, concurred. He said the government has taken necessary steps, including legal and administrative reform, after Rana Plaza incident.

The day-long dialogue saw panel discussions, keynote presentations and open discussion sessions - all of them highlighting the importance of UNGP and its proper implementation.

'United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights' is a set of 31 principles to implement UN framework 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' which connect the issue of human rights with transnational corporations and other business enterprises.