National Human Rights Commission issues advisory on rights of informal workers

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NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued three advisories to the Centre, states and Union Territories, recommending measures regarding mental health of vulnerable populations, release and rehabilitation of bonded labourers and safeguarding rights of informal workers.

In a letter to the secretaries of Union Ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Labour & Employment and Women & Child Welfare, the chief secretaries of states and administrators of UTs, the rights panel directed them to implement its recommendations and submit reports on action taken in four weeks.

The Commission’s advisory on right to mental health focuses on 10 key areas where action is required — access to mental healthcare, dissemination of information, awareness, grievances redressal and review board, extending outreach of mental health support, support for special groups, suicide prevention, health insurance, media sensitivity in reporting and promoting research.

On the issue of violation of the rights of bonded labourers during the pandemic, the NHRC has observed that the second wave has exacerbated their problems, making them more vulnerable to human trafficking.

Governance at all levels must ensure that medical resources are provided to the bonded labourers so that they don’t suffer further, the panel said.

With unprecedented reverse migration during the first wave and disruptions in agricultural value chains, Covid has impacted the rural economy and livelihoods of informal and agricultural workers. Evidence points to a deep economic crisis of job loss, reduced wages and shrinking manufacturing sector, the Commission noted.

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