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Sunday February 25, 2024

IHC orders end of forced labour at brick kilns

February 03, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday directed the deputy commissioner Islamabad to ensure that no one is working forcibly due to advanced loans at brick kilns and start a campaign to make every labourer aware of his rights.

The court appointed Islamabad High Court Journalists Association (IHCJA) President Saqib Bashir Chaudhry as amicus curiae in the case and stated that such issues must be highlighted in the media. The court directed the deputy commissioner to appoint an officer to visit every brick kiln and sought an implementation report on a commission's recommendations about forced labour.

Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that the labourers are not bound to return the money taken in advance from the brick kiln owners. The advanced loan is an illegal act, he said. Justice Minallah remarked why such important issues are neglected by the media when even it telecasts minor political issues all the day.

During hearing, the participants of the commission set up on forced labour including Adnan Randhava, Umder Gilani and Daniyal Aziz submitted a report comprising 71 pages to the court.

The court asked whether the state has freed all people from advanced loans. Justice Minallah said a message should be conveyed to every labourer that he is not a slave; instead he is a free citizen. The court directed the government to ensure that there would be no pending case of forced labour till next date.

The commission report said that the act of advanced money to the labourers is illegal as it is a new form of slavery in the modern era. All labourers are free and able to discontinue their jobs at brick kilns at any time. The commission also recommended issuing CNICs to brick kiln labourers and stated that these labourers are even deprived of their basic rights. The report recommended that children under 14 shouldn't be permitted to work at brick kilns. A magistrate should be named to hear the cases under labour laws. The court called Saqib Bashir Chaudhry to rostrum, who stated that the journalists would play their role in highlighting such issues. The court later adjourned the hearing.