Farhatullah Babar calls for protecting rights of Pakistani workers in CPEC projects


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader, Senator Farhatullah Babar, has said that there is a need for transparency in all the infrastructure projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the public must know what the government is signing up for on behalf of the workforce of Pakistan.

Speaking at a discussion on ‘Business and Human rights’ at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) here on Tuesday, Farhatullah Babar said that labour bodies have been demanding that the rights of the local labour in CPEC projects must not be compromised, but there has been no assurance from the government.  The freedom and fundamental rights of the labour force must not be sacrificed for the jobs doled out to them, he said.

The PPP senator also proposed a catalogue of workers in the informal sector, like domestic workers and child labour, to address issues of minimum wage and poor working conditions. Businesses must be required to publish mechanisms for reporting human rights violations and how these will be addressed, he added.

“Presently, permission to undertake large projects is linked to its impact on the environment. The same principle needs to be extended to the impact of a project on the human rights of workers before permission is accorded,” he said.

Farhatullah Babar further said that Pakistan had signed and ratified Convention Against Torture (CAT) in 2010, and it was now obligatory to adopt domestic legislation to criminalise torture. He added that the Senate had already unanimously passed a legislation criminalising torture, which had been sent to the joint session.

He called for the early convening of the joint session to pass the anti-torture legislation.

Human rights icon IA Rehman, National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) Chairman Justice Chowhan, Human Rights Division Secretary Rabia Javeria and PIPS Executive Director Zafarullah Khan besides business executives also addressed the workshop.