ISLAMABAD, Jan 30 (APP): The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Law and Justice and the Parliamentary Caucus for Child Rights, on Monday organized a consultative session to discuss the rules to be made under the Islamabad Capital Territory Domestic Workers Act, 2022.

The event was attended by stakeholders from various departments, including NCRC, NADRA, PEMRA, representatives of the Ministry of Law and Justice, ILO, etc.

The session was chaired by Federal Minister for Law and Justice Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar and moderated by Iqbal Dhitto, a Member of the National Commission for the Rights of Child.

The law minister enlightened the house regarding the need to have laws that protect human rights as it will help Pakistan a lot in repairing her soft image, besides making Pakistan more inclusive and plural.

He further noted that it will be a huge help in putting up a strong case for Pakistan internationally besides complimenting FES for arranging such an important event.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice briefed the audience about the salient features of the law and the immense promise it holds for the future of domestic workers in ICT.

Briefing about the law, she canvassed the important stipulations of the Act that it prohibits bonded labour, and outlaws discrimination “on the grounds of religion, race, caste, creed, sex, ethnic background, and place of birth/residence/domicile, migration or any other reason”.

It further stipulates, referring to domestic workers as that and not “servants”, and requires employers to “provide dignified working conditions and occupational safety and health measures” to domestic workers, as well as “sickness benefits and medical care during sickness and injury”. It seeks to enforce minimum wage for domestic workers, a critical responsibility of the government which it so far has not been enforcing and in effect perpetuating poverty and exploitation of the working classes.

The Act further states that no employer will be able to employee any person under the age of 16 years. Finally, the parliamentary secretary also appreciated the efforts of FES for their support in helping arrange such an event.

Further Dr. Niels Hegewisch, Country Director, FES Pakistan who apprised the audience about the merits of the Act and how it will enable the domestic worker to lead a dignified and respectable life. He again stressed the importance this Act holds for securing the promised rights of people particularly domestic workers.

Finally, he lauded the efforts of the Ministry of Law and Justice in helping the laws related to human rights pass particularly in the area of women and child rights.

Professor Herta Daubler-Gmelin, former federal minister of Justice of Germany in her keynote address, shed light upon the significance of this legislation in elevating a lot of domestic workers and stressed that it’s high time that lessons be learnt from international best practices to make domestic laws more progressive and informed.

She went on to appreciate the good work the Ministry of Law and Justice has done over the years to alleviate the pains of the disadvantaged sections of society with missionary zeal especially the domestic workers. She added that credit must be extended to the Ministry for such progressive legislations.

Thereafter, a lengthy discussion commenced on the nuances of law, possible structure of the rules to be made thereunder besides offering comments upon the draft rules shared with the attendees.

Valuable suggestions were made by all the stakeholders including but not limited to the need for further gender sensitization of the language of rules, reconciling the Domestic Workers Act with Contract Act, 1872, enhancement of penal sanction for the violations of the provisions of the law, re-adjustment of jurisdiction in line with other laws in force in ICT and so on.

The whole house unanimously acknowledged the unique effort that has gone into making of this law and commended the Ministry of Law and Justice for being considerate to the plight of the deprived segments of the society.

The house further appreciated that such dedicated attention that the Ministry is seen to have given to the issues pertaining to human rights are certainly worthy of appreciation.

The event concluded with a keynote address of Law Secretary wherein he highlighted the need to have such laws in place, emphasized the need for effective implementation of those law and the role that the Ministry of Law and Justice has played in bringing laws related to human rights.

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