“The punishment implicated against forced labour is not stringent to the extent to confine the problem”. Discuss the laws and punishment available in Bangladesh.
From the general view, we can say that, forced labour is that type of offence which is against a person’s will and liberty. If any person compels the other person to do any type of work which that person is not bound to do but he is forced to do this work then this is a criminal offence and considered as “forced labour”.
As forced labour is a criminal offence so it is undoubtedly against the human rights. Human rights are those rights which can be claimed by a5ny person for the very reason that he is a human begins. This right come with birth and is applicable to all people throughout the world irrespective of their race, colour, sex, language or political or other opinion. And forced labour is not a new phenomenon in the context of Bangladesh.
Forced labour under Bangladeshi Laws:
(1)Under constitution of Bangladesh: Forced labour is discussed in our constitution under Article 34. Article 34 does not deals with the definition and actual happening of forced labour in Bangladesh but this article says the prohibition of forced labour.
“34. (1) all forms of forced labour 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 labour-
(a) By persons undergoing lawful punishment for a criminal offence ; or
(b) Required by any law for public purposes.”
(2) Under the Penal Code: Section 374 of the Penal Code deals with unlawful compulsory labour which indicates forced labour. Section 374 says:
“ (1) Whoever unlawfully compels any person to labour against the will of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
(2) Whoever compels a prisoner of war or a protected person to serve in the armed forces of Bangladesh shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year.
Explanation: In this section the expressions “prisoner of war” and “protected person” shall have the same meaning as have been assigned to them respectively by Article 4 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of August 12, 1949, and Article 4 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 12, 1949.”
(3) Under the Labour Law of Bangladesh: The labour law system is more than a century old in Bangladesh. After the independence in 1971, the Bangladesh government retained the previous law through the Bangladesh Laws Order (President’s Order No. 48).In 2006, the country adopted the revised Bangladesh Labour Law of 2006 or BLL. BLL, 2006 prohibits any kind of forced labour in Bangladesh.
Categories of Forced Labours:
(A) Child Labour:
Article 20 of the Constitution refers to work as a right and a duty and a matter of honour of revery citizen who is capable of working. Article 28 of the Constitution empowers the State to make special provisions for the benefit of children.
The Government of Bangladesh through the Ministry of Labour and Employment has reviewed all fragmented laws related to child labour with a view to fixing a uniform age for admission to work and to prohibit their engagement in hazardous occupations. According to the Labour Act (2006) the minimum age for admission to work is 14 years and 18 years for hazardous work. Further, light work for children between the ages of 12 – 14 years is defined as non-hazardous work that does not impede education.
Other laws that define the rights and protections due to children are:
- The Children Act (1974) and the Children Rules (1976);
- The Bonded Labour Act, 2006;
- The Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Act (2000); and
- The Compulsory Primary Education Act, 1990.
As a result of various research studies, there was awareness of child labour in the 1990s within the Government and civil society and several initiatives to combat the problem were taken by the Government of Bangladesh. In 1990, Bangladesh became a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the ensuing Summit Declaration and Plan of Action.
The Children Act (1974) and the Children Rules (1976) and The Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Act (2000) prohibits any kind of child labour whether it is forced or not in Bangladesh.
A) Forced Labour in case of Prostitution:
Prostitution is legal in Bangladesh, but the Bangladesh constitution provides that the “State shall endeavor to prevent gambling and prostitution.” Various provisions of different laws prohibit child prostitution and forced prostitution.
Many girls involved in child labour, such as working in factories and as domestic workers are raped or sexually exploited, these girls are highly stigmatized and many of them flee to escape such abuse, but often they find that prostitution is the only option open to them for survival—once in prostitution they become even more marginalized. Girls are often sold by their families to brothels for a period of two to three years of bonded sex work. The authorities generally ignore the minimum age of 18, often circumvented by false statements of age, for legal female prostitution; the government rarely prosecutes procurers of minors. If it’s a case of a minor person, then our laws highly prohibited any kind of prostitution in Bangladesh and if it’s a case of a major person then any kind of forced prostitution is prohibited.
B) Forced Labour in case of Domestic Workers:
Throughout the world, thousands of children are working as domestic helpers, performing tasks such as cleaning, ironing, cooking, minding children and gardening. The root causes of child domestic labour are multiple and multi-faceted. Poverty and its feminisation, social exclusion, lack of education, gender and ethnic discrimination, domestic violence, displacement, rural-urban migration and loss of parents due to conflicts and diseases, are just some of the multiple “push factors” for child domestic workers Some of the most common risks children face in domestic service are:
- long and tiring working days;
- use of toxic chemicals;
- carrying heavy loads;
- handling dangerous items, such as knives, axes and hot pans;
- insufficient or inadequate food and accommodation, and
- Humiliating or degrading treatment, including physical and verbal violence, and sexual abuse.
According to our laws, domestic work by a child is totally prohibited and in case of a major person any type or kind or forced domestic work is prohibited. 
Does the Forced Labour is against the Human Rights and the Fundamental Rights?
All fundamental rights are human rights but all human rights are not fundamental rights. Fundamental rights are those of human rights which are placed in a written constitution. Human rights, therefore, are the whole of which fundamental rights are a part.
The source of a fundamental right is the Constitution whereas the source of human rights is the international law.
Fundamental rights are protected by constitutional guarantees and can be enforced through the state courts. But there is no effective enforcement machinery for human rights.
There are six rights enumerated in Articles 32, 33,34,35,41 and 44 of the Constitution deals with the rights granted to all persons- citizens and non-citizens alike. That means, any kinds of forced labour is totally against the fundamental rights under our constitution and it is also against the basic human rights in the context of our country.
Because of widespread poverty, any children are compelled to work at a very young age. This frequently resulted in abuse of children, mainly through mistreatment by employers during domestic service and occasionally includes servitude and prostitution. This labour related child abuse occurred at all levels of society and throughout the country. Sometimes, children are seriously injured or killed in work places. Reports from human rights monitors indicate that child abandonment, kidnapping and trafficking continue to be serious and widespread problems. There are extensive trafficking f children for the purpose of prostitution and forced labour. So we can say that forced labour is against the human rights. Human Rights in no case support this forced labour. Our Human Rights Commission works against forced labour which has negative impacts on the socio-economic condition of our country.
Punishments Provided for Forced Labour in Bangladesh:
As forced labour is prohibited by the laws of our country so certain provisions of punishment are provided by our laws.
According to our constitution, forced labour is a punishable offence. As it’s a criminal offence, so there are lawful punishments provided for this type of offence.
In our country, the provisions of punishment are provided in the Penal Code. Section 374 of The Penal Code provides that:
|Imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.||Unlawfully compelling any person to labour against his will.|
|Imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year.
|Compelling a prisoner of work or a protected person to serve in the armed forces of Bangladesh.|
Here, it is to be mentioned that, if no sum is expressed to which a fine may extend, the amount of fine to which the offender is liable is unlimited, but shall not be excessive.
From the above mentioned provisions of punishment we can say that the punishments are imposed to prohibit the forced labour which is unlawful and to protect the human rights. If there are no provisions of punishments in our country then the negative impact of forced labour is going to be always in our country. So, for the smoothness of legal justice and for the effective fundamental rights provisions of punishment are necessary.
The idea of protection of human rights in case of forced labour can be best understood from the American Declaration of Independence 1776 where it is stated-
“That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute a new one.”
Ahmed. Z. Shahab, Article name: Situation of Human Rights in Bangladesh.
Article 20 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, also available at http://www.ilo.org/legacy/english/regions/asro/newdelhi/ipec/responses/bangladesh/national.htm
Domestic Labour, see at http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/Childdomesticlabour/lang–en/index.htm
Halim Md. Abdul, Constitution, Constitutional Law And Politics : Bangladesh Perspective, Ed 4th ,Pg 93
Halim Md. Abdul, Constitution, Constitutional Law And Politics : Bangladesh Perspective, Ed 4th ,Pg 101.
The Bangladesh Labour Code. Revised edition 1997
The Penal Code.
 Halim Md. Abdul, Constitution, Constitutional Law And Politics : Bangladesh Perspective, Ed 4th ,Pg 93
 The Bangladesh Labour Code. Revised edition 1997
 See Article 20 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, also available at http://www.ilo.org/legacy/english/regions/asro/newdelhi/ipec/responses/bangladesh/national.htm
 Domestic Labour, see at http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/Childdomesticlabour/lang–en/index.htm
 Halim Md. Abdul, Constitution, Constitutional Law And Politics : Bangladesh Perspective, Ed 4th ,Pg 101.
 Ahmed. Z. Shahab, Situation of Human Rights in Bangladesh.
 The American Declaration of Independence 1776