A TIB report unveiled on Sunday illustrates the discriminatory practices today, and calls for ratifications to international conventions on the indigenous and Dalit peoples
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has demanded constitutional recognition of ethnic identities of all indigenous and Dalit peoples through proper inclusion in the constitution as well as ratifying the international conventions on their rights.
The Bangladesh chapter of the international anti-graft campaigner made the call in unveiling a research report, “Indigenous and Dalit Peoples of Bangladesh: Challenges and Way Forward for Inclusion in Rights and Services,” at its office in Dhaka on Sunday.
The report pointed out the limitations and challenges in ensuring equal rights for the two communities as seen in the constitution, international conventions, different laws, policies, etc.
It also shows the blatant discrimination faced by the two communities in education, health-care, land rights, other sectors, and employment opportunities.
The report illustrates a key element in The Dalit Manual 2013 where it says the manual has defined the Dalits to be only employed in cleaning jobs. However, they are involved in other professions as well.
According to the report, the communities faces barriers in school admissions, receiving classes in their own language, and inclusion in school management committees.
Also, Dalit students have reportedly been made to clean toilets, and face verbal harassment from fellow students and teachers.
In terms of health-care, pregnant women face barriers in receiving healthcare facilities, vaccination is not given in camps, and medication is prescribed without check-ups.
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said: “The constitution in a way offers equal rights for all, while it also does not offer constitutional recognition for the two communities. Even, several administrative barriers have been imposed on the use of the word 'Adibashi'.”
The report, however, also ended with a note of 12 recommendations including finalizing a draft ‘Elimination of Discrimination Act’ that TIB feels will help eliminate the discrimination and help in effective implementation to ensure equal rights for all.
Recommendations include developing textbooks for the two communities in their mother tongues, and the appointment of teachers with a view to ensuring the right to education in mother tongues.
The TIB executive director urged the government to bolster legal reform to ensure their rights properly.
Recommendations also include identification of the two groups through proper research and recognition of their distinct identities, and formulation of laws and policies inclusive of them.
TIB stressed organizing orientation and training for public service officials to change their negative attitudes towards the communities.
Formation of a separate land commission for the indigenous peoples has also been recommended.
Introduction of a quota system for Dalits in accessing government jobs, and restoration of the quota system for indigenous peoples in first and second-class government jobs, as well as ensuring proper implementation of the existing quota system, has also been recommended.
The government has been recommended to provide instructions about ensuring representativeness and participation of the communities in formal power structures at different levels, including local government institutions.
Developing a separate monitoring mechanism in relevant departments or ministries with a view to ensuring education, health, a social safety net, and other basic services for the communities has also been recommended.
TIB also called upon the National Human Rights Commission, media, and civil society members to play an active role in ensuring the rights and protection of the two communities.