INDIA: 75 bonded labourers including 40 children were released

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding 75 bonded labourers working in a brick kiln in Bangalore who were released on 16th and 17th, September. The AHRC has released a hunger alert case urging the administration of Balangir district as well as of Bangalore city to secure redress for the labourers and the children. The civil groups in Orissa who have been trying to get the bonded labourers released from the brick kiln worked closely with the relevant officials who raised the issue of redress for the victims. Forty out of 75 labourers are children. The six month-old son of Ashok, one of the bonded labourers is currently hospitalised for medical care. The AHRC further urges the state government to take legal action against the brick kiln owner and to pr ovide rehabilitation for all victims.

Hunger Alert Update: AHRC-HAU-005-2010

22 September 2010

[RE: AHRC-HAC-008-2010: INDIA: A Mother and her six month-old child face food and health insecurity under bonded labour] ———————————————————————
INDIA: 75 bonded labourers including 40 children were released

ISSUES: Right to food; right to health; bonded labour; migration
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding 75 bonded labourers working in a brick kiln in Bangalore who were released on 16th and 17th, September. The AHRC has released a hunger alert case urging the administration of Balangir district as well as of Bangalore city to secure redress for the labourers and the children. The civil groups in Orissa who have been trying to get the bonded labourers released from the brick kiln worked closely with the relevant officials who raised the issue of redress for the victims. Forty out of 75 labourers are children. The six month-old son of Ashok, one of the bonded labourers is currently hospitalised for medical care. The AHRC further urges the state government to take legal action against the brick kiln owner and to pr ovide rehabilitation for all victims.

UPDATED INFORMATION:

According to the civil groups in Orissa, Ashok′s six-month old son and his wife, Basumati (21 years old) and other bonded labourers found in brick kiln were released on 16 and 17 September respectively. They are 75 labourers in total, out of which 40 are children.

All the efforts of various civil groups and human rights defenders created strong encouragement and pressure upon the government officials such as Commissioner of Bangalore city, National Child Labour Project (NCLP) officials, and the Police in order to rescue all the bonded labourers in the brick kiln.

The labourers were brought to Bangalore city and are supported under protection by the International Justice Mission (IJM). They will stay in the city in order to undergo legal process in accordance with the Bonded Labour System (abolition) Act, 1976.

Ashok′s six month-old son is currently hospitalized to get medical care. Ashok′s family and other freed bonded labour families should receive substantial rehabilitation under the bonded labour rehabilitation scheme and the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) scheme in order to prevent any other occasion to be engaged in bonded labour in the future. Only guaranteeing the families′ food security at home can secure them from bonded labour.

ADDITIONAL COMMENT:

According to the Act, the bonded debt shall be deemed to have been extinguished (section 6 in Chapter III). The Act ensures that the District Magistrate (Collector) has a duty to promote the welfare of freed bonded labourers by protecting their economic interest so that the bonded labour may not have any occasion to contract any further bonded debt. The Act also ensures the punishment against a person who renders a bonded debt and a bonded labour.

Ashok′s family who has been engaged in bonded debt and labour since 2008 clearly proves that the government authority fails to prevent bonded labour and to implement the Act by failing to ensure food security to the poor belonging to the low caste and the tribes. Ashok′s family and other bonded labourers in this case are mostly from the lower caste that are disadvantaged from the government social security programs and often discriminated by the mainstream groups (upper caste) and the government officials.

Looking into the root cause of the bonded labour in this case, the government′s failure of guaranteeing food security by allotting land and regular income source actually promotes bonded labour. In addition, the failure of monitoring bonded labour also allows some people like brick kiln owner in this case to enjoy bonded labour system. Balangir district has been seriously facing migration distress and bonded labour since 1980s.

The bonded labour rehabilitation scheme launched in 1978 provides financial support the freed bonded labourers and further encourages the state government to conduct a survey on bonded labour every three years by providing financial support for the survey. Despite this, the government authority fails to implement the scheme to eliminate the bonded labour system in society.

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SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please join us in urging the government to provide substantial and long-term rehabilitation for the freed bonded labourers and take thorough legal process against the brick kiln owner.

The AHRC has written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food and and the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of slavery respectively calling for further intervention.

To support this appeal please click here:

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SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Call for substantial rehabilitation for the freed bonded labourers and legal process against the brick kiln owner

Name of the victim:
Seventy-five freed bonded labourers including Ashok′s family
(All are living in the villages in Balangir district, Orissa)

Name of the alleged perpetrator:
Name of the brick brand: SLN (Sri Laxmi Narasimha) and LNB (Laxmi Narasimha Bricks)
Name of the brick kiln owner: S. K. Rajasekhar (Phone no.: +91 9141 609 517)

Date of the incident: August 2010

Place of incident: Brick kiln area: Samkeli, Alehnka Area, Bangalore, Karnataka

I am writing to you to inform that 75 bonded labourers including Ashok′s family were released on 16 and 17 September respectively. Ms. Basumati, wife and a six month-old son of Ashok who initially disclosed the incident were also released and son is currently hospitalized to get medical treatment. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has reported the hunger alert case on 8 September 2010 and this letter is to urge you to take further action and intervention.

I am informed that all the efforts of various civil groups and human rights defenders created strong encouragement and pressure upon the government officials such as Commissioner of Bangalore city, National Child Labour Project (NCLP) officials, and the Police in order to rescue all the bonded labourers in the brick kiln of Bangalore.

I am further informed that all the labourers were brought to Bangalore city and are currently supported under protection by the International Justice Mission (IJM). They will stay in the city in order to undergo legal process in accordance with the Bonded Labour System (abolition) Act, 1976.

I am happy to learn the victims′ relief and further urge you to intervene to ensure that Ashok′s family and other freed bonded labour families should receive substantial rehabilitation under the Bonded Labour Rehabilitation Scheme and the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) scheme. Given the fact that most of the bonded labourers are forced to be engaged in bonded debt and bonded labour due to lack of income source and food for years, it is more important to prevent any other occasion to be engaged in bonded labour in the future. It is also a surprising to learn that 40 out of 75 are children.

I am of the opinion that only guaranteeing the families′ food security at home can secure them from bonded labour. I am aware that those rehabilitation schemes aim to ensure regular income source including land allocation. Despite the fact that the Act and the schemes were launched in 1976 and 1978 respectively, it is a shame that the government authority fails to abolish the bonded labour system and rather allow the person like brick owner in this case to enjoy the bonded labour system till today. It is the brick kiln owner who infringes the law and violates human rights, however the government has more responsibility and duty to protect the villagers from the violation.

I therefore, urge you to intervene to ensure thorough legal process in favor of the freed bonded labourers and against the alleged perpetrator, a brick kiln owner. Furthermore, these 40 children should not be deprived of their right to education and right to food in the future. All the children and women in particular need to get medical check-up in case they might be exposed to any sickness or malnutrition.

Most of all, as emphasized above, I urge you to ensure substantial rehabilitation to all labourers and families to prevent another engagement of bonded debt or bonded labour in the future. Under the Act and Schemes as well as international human rights law, you are duty bearers to provide proper rehabilitation and even conduct a regular survey to eliminate bonded labour.

Please be noted that all civil groups and human rights defenders are continuously monitoring the situation.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Krishna Tirath
Minister of Women and Child Development
Government of India
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 2331 4788
E-mail: krishnatirath@yahoo.in

2. Ms. Anu Garg
Commissioner cum Secretary
Department of Health & Family Welfare
Government of Orissa, Secretariat Building
Bhubaneshwar – 751 001, Orissa
INDIA
Fax: +91 674 2390 674
E-mail: orhealth@ori.nic.in or secy-hfw-or@nic.in

3. Mr. Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister
Naveen Nivas, Aerodrome Road
P.O.Bhubaneswar, Dist. Khurda
751001 Orissa
INDIA
E-mail: cmo@ori.nic.in

4. Dr. B.S. Yediyurappa
Chief Minister
Room No. 323
Vidhana Soudha,
Bangalore-560001
Karnataka
INDIA
E-mail: chiefminister@karnataka.gov.in

5. Sailendra Narayan Dey
District Collector
Collectorate
Balangir District
Orissa
INDIA
Fax: +91 6652 233082
E-mail: dmblgr@ori.nic.in

6. S.K. Nataraj
Mayor of Banglaore
No. 144, 12th Cross, 3rd Main,
Sarakki Grama,
Bangalore-560078
Karnataka
INDIA
E-mail: dcadm@bbmp.gov.in

7. Mr. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan
Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi 110001
INDIA
Fax + 91 11 2338 4863
E-mail: chairnhrc@nic.in

8. Mrs. Shantha Sinha
Chairperson
National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
5th Floor, Chnadralok Building, Janpath,
New Delhi
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 23731584
E-mail: ncpcr.india@gmail.com / shantha.sinha@nic.in

Thank you.

Right to Food Programme (foodjustice@ahrc.asia)
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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