“Discuss the rights of labors in light of the Constitution of Bangladesh”
Constitution and fundamental rights are interrelated with each other. Every independent country in the world has its own constitution as a foundation to govern the country and this constitution reflects powers, rights and duties of the citizens. The constitution defines the method by which rules and laws are made to protect every citizens rights and also dictated what ought to be done in case of difficult situations. Constitution declares fundamental human rights, state policy, functions of – legislature, executive and judiciary to ensure sovereignty among people. It also declared the separation of power among principle regulatory institutions which serve to give equal opportunity and law among all citizens without regarding race, religion or status. Thus constitution is basically about public interest and that is the prime reason why it is so important to constitute a constitution which will reflect people rightful will and desire. Making people do things against their will is a crime in the eye of the law and making work as labor forcefully is a grave crime. It violets the fundamental right of a citizen of a country. Constitution made specific rules for this kind of violation of the fundamental rights of a citizen and declares for punishment accordingly.
According to Lord Bryce,
“Constitution is the aggregate of laws and customs under which the life of the state goes on”
State is the political organization which is administered by the group of person known as the government. When we say the government of a state, it means basically the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. But this government cannot run the state according to their whim and caprice. There has to be certain rules and principles on the basis and under the authority of which the government can run the state. This set of principle is called the Constitution. Then according to this set of fundamental principles the state is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is. When these principles are written down into a single or set of legal documents, those documents may be said to comprise a written constitution.
The Constitution of Bangladesh is the supreme law of Bangladesh. It declares Bangladesh as a secular democratic republic where sovereignty belongs to the people; and lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles of the state and spells out the fundamental rights of citizens. Passed by the Constituent Assembly of Bangladesh on November 4, 1972, it came into effect from December 16, 1972, the day commemorated as Victory Day in the country, marking the defeat of the Pakistan Army in the Bangladesh Liberation War. The constitution proclaims nationalism, democracy, socialism and secularity as the fundamental principles of the Bangladeshi republic. When adopted in 1972, it was one of the most liberal constitutions of the time.
The constitution of Bangladesh is divided into 11 parts, which are further subdivided into 153 articles. In addition, there are 4 schedules.
As per the constitution of the republic it comprises three basic organs:
1. Legislative Branch
2. Executive Branch
3. Judicial Branch
3. Fundamental Rights:
By definition fundamental rights are a generally-regarded set of entitlements in the context of a legal system, wherein such system is itself said to be based upon this same set of basic, fundamental, or inalienable entitlements or “rights.” Such rights thus belong without presumption or cost of privilege to all human beings under such jurisdiction. The concept of human rights has been promoted as a legal concept in large part due to the idea that human beings have such “fundamental” rights, such that transcend all jurisdictions, but are typically reinforced in different ways and with different emphasis within different legal systems.
Fundamental rights give the citizens dignity of life in an atmosphere of freedom and justice beyond the man-made fetters that had constricted their physical and mental horizons. Modern judiciary is regarded as an excellent product of civilization to put the concept of justice to work in the midst of divergent forces with conflicting class or individual interests. An independent judiciary and strong democratic institutions are the best guarantee against assaults on the rights of the citizens. The fundamental rights in Bangladesh are listed under Articles 27 to 44 of Part III, and the jurisdiction of the HIGH COURT Division of the Supreme Court to enforce the rights is defined in Article 102 of Part Vl of the Constitution of 1972.
For every citizen in a country human right is the first and foremost need and constitution is obliged to ensure that. In the constitution of Bangladesh it is written that,
“The Republic shall be a democracy in which fundamental human rights and freedoms and respect for the dignity and worth of the human person shall be guaranteed, and in which effective participation by the people through their elected representatives in administration at all levels shall be ensured”.
According to the constitution of Bangladesh PART III FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
34. Prohibition of forced labor.
(1) All forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
(2) Nothing in this article shall apply to compulsory labor.
1. by persons undergoing lawful punishment for a criminal offence; or
2. Required by any law for public purpose.
4. Forms of forced labor found in Bangladesh:
Forced labor is a generic or collective term for those work relations, especially in modern or early modern history, in which people are employed against their will by the threat of destitution, detention, violence (including death), or other extreme hardship to themselves, or to members of their families. Many of these forms of work may be covered by the term forced labor, although this tends to imply forms based on violence.
Bangladesh acts as a source and transit country for numerous men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor, etc. A large portion of Bangladesh’s trafficking victims are men recruited for work overseas with fake employment offers who are then exploited under conditions of forced labor. Children – both boys and girls – are trafficked within Bangladesh for commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, etc. moreover there are cases where children are sold into bondage by their parents, while others are induced into labor or commercial sexual exploitation through fraud and physical coercion.
Many Bangladeshi men and women migrate willingly to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon, and Malaysia in hope for better employment, usually under legal and contractual terms. Trafficking victims in Bangladesh are lured into primarily into trafficking by false promises for instance better life/jobs, and marriage proposal, force. the people of this country are vulnerable to trafficking schemes due to poverty condition of the country, gender -based discrimination on social protection, lack of awareness among the public about trafficking victims, weak enforcement of existing relevant laws and policies, and of course general lack of good governance.
Most Bangladeshis seeking overseas employment through legal channels rely on the 700 recruiting agencies belonging to the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) which are legally permitted to charge workers up to $1,235 — and often charge more unlawfully – for placing workers in low-skilled jobs that usually pay between $100 and $150 per month. NGOs report that many Bangladeshi migrant laborers are victims of recruitment fraud, including fraudulent representation of the terms of employment; such victimization often results in situations of labor trafficking. Women typically work as domestic servants; some find themselves in situations of forced labor or debt bondage when faced with restrictions on their movements, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. Some Bangladeshi women working abroad are subsequently trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. Bangladeshi adults are also trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and bonded labor.
5. Fundamental rights in the Constitution:
Constitution basically reflects the legality of power under which a government may perform. It is written or designed in such a way that the fundamental rights of the citizens would be protected at all times. Making people do things against their wills is prohibited at all times and many laws are made in the constitution of Bangladesh to protect fundamental rights of its citizens.
The Constitution of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh prohibits forced and compulsory labor (Article 34). In addition, the Penal Code, 1860 (Sections 372, 373, and 466A), the Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1933 (Sections 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10) and the Repression of Violence against Women and Children Act, 2000 (Articles 5 and 6) clearly provide that trafficking is an illegal and punishable offence for which capital punishment may be imposed as the maximum punishment.
In spite of all these laws crimes are still being committed by people. The Government of Bangladesh made inadequate overall anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last years. According to Article 34 in the constitution of Bangladesh prohibits forced labor, but the prescribed penalties of imprisonment for up to one year or a fine are not sufficiently severe enough to deter the offense.
According to U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009 the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) in Bangladesh reportedly shut down nine recruiting agencies, cancelled the licenses of 25 agencies, suspended seven agencies, fined six others and initiated three new cases for their involvement in fraudulent recruitment practices that potentially facilitated human trafficking. Despite these administrative actions taken against labor recruitment agencies involved in fraudulent recruitment and possible human trafficking, the government of Bangladesh did not report any criminal prosecutions or convictions for labor trafficking offenses. This inadequacy in being unable to prevent such criminal acts led to an increment of victims. There were no reported prosecutions or convictions for forced labor offenses as a results people are still suffering. Furthermore in mid-2008, the government created a 12-member police anti-trafficking investigative unit that complements an existing police anti-trafficking monitoring cell. The country’s National Police Academy provided anti-trafficking training to 2,827 police officers during the year. Although all these steps were taken by the government of Bangladesh to protect people from forms of forced labor it could not be eliminated from our country. Criminals are still preying on the weaker people to earn more money and continue to use humans as a form of good to sell. The promise made by the government in the constitution is being carried out to its word. This type of crime keeps on happening in the country and hampering the safety of the people as well as the growth of the nation.
From the above discussion we can say that Constitution is an important written document for every country. It is the symbol of people’s rightful wishes and desires. It is written keeping in mind that none of the laws stated in there could harm to a single citizen. Constitution ensures basic human rights will be protected along with equality among all the citizens at all times and punishment for those who commit crimes knowingly. However all these are just words if the right actions are not taken when needed. The reports that I came across regarding forced labor during completing this assignment points towards negligence of law. In most cases proper actions were not taken to prevent forced labor as a result criminals ran free and more crimes were committed. For instance an article stated:
“However, low number of court cases and convictions regarding trafficking in Bangladesh demonstrates the weak implementation of existing laws. During the last five years only 53 cases of trafficking have been brought before the court, out of which 35 were dismissed by the court for lack of adequate evidence. Only 21 accused have been convicted with the highest punishment of 10 years of rigorous (hard labor) imprisonment.”
It is quite certain that forced labor in Bangladesh cannot be abolished totally. It will be a quite difficult goal to attain. However numerous steps can be taken to reduce this kind of inhuman crimes. First of all awareness of the general public should be increased. It is very important that they should know about the dangers that surround them and their children. Next the government has to be pressured to strictly enforce the existing laws and ensure corrective measures against the people who prey on the weaker people. Punishment of the traffickers should immediately take place and handed down within the shortest period of time using summary trial.
The social and economic progress achieved by the flourish of democracy in many societies has been shaped by their efforts to successfully protect the rule of law. But in Bangladesh instead of laws are being ignored and the fundamental rights of the weaker citizens are not being protected. It’s high time now that proper steps should be taken to rectify the ongoing mistakes.
2. constitution of Bangladesh retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Bangladesh
3. Fundamental rights retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_rights
4. Banglapedia retrieved from http://www.banglapedia.org/httpdocs/HT/F_0190.HTM
5. Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (4th November, 1972). Part II, Sec 11.
6. Constitution of Bangladesh retrieved http://www.chanrobles.com/bangladesh.htm
7. Retrieved from http://dictionary.babylon.com/forced%20labor/
8. BANGLADESH (TIER 2 Watch List) [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]
9. Chowdhury,J.A.,N.A. retrieved from http://www.hurights.or.jp/archives/focus/section2/2004/09/human-trafficking—a-new-form-of-slave-trade-in-bangladesh.html
10. Human trafficking retrieved http://gvnet.com/humantrafficking/Bangladesh-2.htm
11. Retrieved fromhttp://www.hurights.or.jp/archives/focus/section2/2004/09/human-trafficking— a-new-form-of- slave-trade-in-bangladesh.html