In the view of the harmful effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued three more recommendations to the Centre, States, and Union Territories (UT) administrations, urging them to take specific action within four weeks on mental health, bonded labourers, and migrant informal sector workers.
In documents to the Secretaries of the Union Ministries of Health & Family Welfare, Labour & Unemployment, Women & Child Welfare, Chief Secretaries of States & Administrators of Union Territories, the NHRC has requested that its recommendations in the Advisories and the action taken report be implemented within four weeks. In focus to Right to Mental Health, Identifying Release & Rehabilitate Bonded Labourers & Safeguarding the Rights of Informal Workers during the pandemic.
According to the Commission, difficulties that occurred during the epidemic have resulted in poor mental health, notably among vulnerable groups. On the topic of bonded labourers' rights violations during the pandemic, the Commission found that the second wave has exacerbated their current vulnerabilities, making them more vulnerable and an easier target for human smuggling.
Apart from the recommendations divided into the 5 major groupings of prevention, identification, rescue, rehabilitation & repatriation & legal aid to the district administration, the Commission has given eleven specific recommendations to the Centre and State Govt & UT Administration in the advisory on "Identifying Release & Rehabilitate Bonded Laborers."
If state governments fulfil the requirements correctly, the Ministry of Labour and Employment should consider disbursing funds immediately. Following the recovery, the local administration should ensure that released bonded labourers receive quick pay and travel support.
The State Labour Department will establish a helpline number, which will be linked to the district's labour officials, to provide urgent assistance to workers in trouble at work.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, the Chief Secretary may provide directives to the concerned department to establish a State Action Plan for protecting and retraining victims of bonded labour and labour trafficking, according to the NHRC.
It was stated that both Union Ministry of Labour and State Labor Departments must maintain their websites on a regular basis and guarantee that data is correctly handled with up-to-date information. The Chief Secretary of State will send letters to all DMs/DCs and get an official version of the District/Sub-Divisional Functional Vigilance Committees.
According to the NHRC, the District Administration must collaborate collaboratively with the Education Department to encourage young people to register in school and to decrease the number of children who drop out of school and enter child labour.