A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Walid Iqbal, here at the Parliament house on Monday.
“The Islamabad Capital Territory Domestic Workers Bill, 2021” introduced by Senator Sherry Rehman in the senate sitting held on 12th July, 2021, was considered in detail.
Senator Sherry Rehman emphasized that a Regulatory Frame Work for Domestic Workers must be formulated to prevent abuse and maltreatment of the same. She further said that there should be laws for the unprivileged class of the country, which they should be aware of. She said that however there are people who treat the domestic workers with integrity but not as a matter of their right. She said that there must be regulatory frame work for the employers on which the entire families of the workers are relied upon, which has also remained a practice in the developed countries.
The officials of the Ministry of Human Rights while reviewing the bill prescribed that globally the rights of the domestic workers are protected and discussed under the ILO convention No 189 and Recommendation 201. The Ministry official said that even though Pakistan has not ratified this convention, the subject Bill caters top most of the rights enshrined in the convention.
Detailed discussion entailed on the prohibition on employment under the age of sixteen years. The Ministry officials said that the minimum age set out in the Bill must be consistent with all the other existing laws. The officials of the Ministry asserted that after inclusion of child domestic labour in list of prohibited occupation in the Employment of Children Act, 1991, the age of children prohibited to work as domestic workers is fourteen, however it may also be noted that the ILO convention on Minimum Age declared the minimum age for a child to be able to work to be 15 and the same is reflected in the Punjab Domestic Workers Act, 2019 as well. The MoHR also recommended the 15 years age as minimum age for the purposes of the Bill.
Senator Prof. Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani disagreed with the Ministry officials on fifteen as the minimum age for child to be able to work under the ILO convention. It was noted that ILO convention is a UN body and eighteen years is the standard age as per the United Nations on all such matters.
The Chairman Committee Senator Walid Iqbal highlighted that even as a “child soldier” the combat age is sixteen years, however the committee by Majority vote decided that in order to ascertain Uniformity with laws such as contract and others amendment in the bill in terms of age should be amended from sixteen to eighteen years as the minimum age to work under The Islamabad Capital Territory Domestic workers Bill 2021.
The Ministry also proposed amendment in section 2 (j) which refers to the companies or agencies engaged in the business of procuring domestic workers and providing relief against any possible violation of labour rights by these agencies, commenting on this Senator Sherry Rehman said that it is a vast domain and a separate bill on "employing agencies", "workers" and "contact" should be formulated.
The Chairman Committee observed that the Bill needs to go through certain editorial changes as well as the bill should be read out section wise by the committee members for more clarity and any further changes required, therefore the committee will meet again on Tuesday at 2:00 PM to further deliberate upon the bill.
Earlier in the meeting the Chair welcomed the participants of the meeting and lauded the prompt response from the Ministry of Human Rights on the issue of dead bodies of the Suicide attack in Quetta (Baluchistan) raised by Senator Abida Muhammad Azeem. The Chair took up the point of Public Importance raised by Senator Kamran Michael on the Lahore (Sharakpur) church firing incident. Senator Kamran Michael asserted that an unknown drug seller mafia has opened fire on twenty houses, killed and injured many out of which eight are females and one pregnant woman has also been killed. He said that ten people have been nominated for FIR. Senator Kamran Michael dismayed that the offence clearly comes in the ambit of section 7 of the anti-terrorism act, and no action has been taken so far neither police has been deployed in the area. A preliminary report by the DG has been submitted on the matter which is in contrast to the facts of the case as presented by Senator Kamran Michael therefore the Chair has directed the Ministry to summon the area Police to brief on the matter in detail.
Voting for the nomination of Senator Dilawar Khan as member of the Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizen, for rectification also took place. The nomination stood ratified with unanimous approval by the members present.
The meeting was attended by Senators Muhammad Tahir Bizinjo, Gurdeep Singh, Seeme Ezdi, Abida Muhammad Azeem, Falak Naz, Kamran Michael, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and Senator Prof. Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani. Senior Officials from the Ministry of Human rights were also in attendance.