Peasants and rural workers’ rights in Sindh are vulnerable and unprotected due to non-implementation of the existing laws, said by speakers at a seminar jointly organized by Hari Welfare Association (HWA) and Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in Benazirabad district.
Retired Justice Majida Rizvi, Chairperson of the Sindh Human Rights Commission said that the major issues lie with little awareness of the laws on peasants and rural workers’ rights and also no accountability of the officials in the relevant departments for the implementation of the laws.
She further said that the monitoring mechanism needs to be developed within the Commission and each concerned department should submit a mandatory annual progress report on the implementation of laws to the Commission.
He added that the Commission will provide regular/annual recommendations to the concerned departments given the law.
Ghullam Qadir Chandio member provincial assembly and chairmen public accounts committee PAC Sindh said that Sindh government striving to protect rights of peasants and labours, Sindh has many laws about labour, peasants, women, children and other vulnerable segments of our society, he further said that now it’s time to ensure implementation of laws as all human rights can be protected. He further said Sindh government will never go against peasants and labour rights.
Akram Ali Khaskheli, President HWA said that across Sindh, peasants are not registered as peasants by the revenue department as per the Sindh Tenancy Act of 1950; thus, when landlords violate their rights, they cannot claim their share and other rights.
He lamented that every day scores of peasants are released from the custody of landlords by the police but on the orders of courts; but the police do not catch, lodge FIRs against the landlords and make them accountable.
He added that peasants are vulnerable and powerless, they cannot dare to lodge FIR against influential landlords; thus, the police on behalf of the state should do so as provided under Section 491 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898.
Akram said that also conditions of rural workers in Sindh are deplorable and they deprived of decent work conditions especially minimum wage is the major problem; however, social security is absent in rural workers’ context.
He said that the SWAWA is an important development because it recognizes around many rights of millions of women agriculture workers that include the right to earn the same as men doing the same work, to unionize, to have a written contract, and to receive social security and welfare benefits.
However, its implementation will always be a challenge because of the structural barriers in-built in the agriculture economy as well as complexities constructed within it.
HWA urges the government of Sindh and the labour department for notifying the board, setting up field offices across the province, registering women agriculture workers and notifying rules under the law.
It also urged the government to provide a genuine representation of women agriculture workers in the board and tripartite councils through wider publicity and promotion of the law.
Qamar ul-Nisa Dhamrah, member Sindh Commission on Status of women, Zulfiqar Ali President Nawabshah Press Club Adv G.M Khaskheli Joint secretary District Bar Association, Lal Chand Minority Rights organization, Naila Gill women rights activist, Ramesh Kumar, Adv Jan Muhammad Khan, Abid Lashari CEO NDF, Shahzad Ahmed, Asif-ul-Bashar, Asif Raza Ashiq and others also spoke at the seminar.