This is the first time in the history of human rights in Bangladesh that such a recommendation has been made
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended that the government pay compensation to Khadija, an underaged domestic help who was brutally tortured by her employer in 2013.
A full bench of the NHRC presented a three-point recommendation on Monday, after the disposal of the complaint filed with the commission over Khadija’s torture.
Barrister Abdul Halim, who moved the High Court for ensuring justice for Khadija, revealed the NHRC’s recommendation through a press release on Monday.
In its recommendation, the human rights commission asked the Public Security Division under the Ministry of Home Affairs to pay Khadija an initial compensation of Tk50,000 through the upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Bhandaria in Pirojpur district.
This is for the first time that the commission has made such a recommendation since the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2009 came into effect, Barrister Halim said.
He also said that it had been proved that in 2013, a 12-year-old Khadija had been tortured by her employer, and Mirpur police station had not recorded a case over the incident, which violated Khadija’s right to protection under the law.
The NHRC urged the secretary of the Public Security Division to take departmental action against those responsible.
On November 11, 2019, the High Court pronounced a short verdict after concluding the hearing of a writ petition filed by Children Charity Bangladesh Foundation (CCB Foundation), seeking necessary directives for the NHRC.
On June 24 this year, the court published its 31-page full verdict, where it observed that the NHRC had shown negligence and dereliction of duty, which resulted in a failure to ensure justice for Khadija, a victim of human rights abuse.
The High Court directed the NHRC to complete the hearing within 60 days of the verdict and decide on preventive measures, compensation and recommendations.
On January 9, 2019, the High Court issued a ruling asking the authorities concerned to explain why the failure of the NHRC to provide appropriate remedy for incidents of human rights violations should not be declared illegal.
Following the petition filed by Barrister Abdul Halim on behalf of the CCB Foundation, the bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil asked seven people, including the home secretary, to respond to the ruling within four weeks.
Halim said the court had also directed the home secretary to submit a report explaining why no action had been taken about the torture of domestic help Khadija, which took place on December 9, 2013.
The CCB Foundation sent a letter to the NHRC on December 12, 2013, asking it to take necessary legal steps in this regard. The foundation also attached a copy of the news report that covered the incident, published by a national daily, to the letter to the NHRC.
During its investigation, the NHRC found that the domestic help was tortured after being confined to her employer's house and she was made to starve. However, police concealed all the information and did not record any case in this regard.
Later in 2014, the NHRC sent a letter to the home secretary asking that action be taken in this regard after investigating the allegations brought against the police.
Although the commission wrote 18 letters till 2018, no action had been taken till date, Halim said, adding that though the NHRC could identify cases of human rights violations, it could not provide any remedy to this end.