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State must accept access to food as basic right: NHRC

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  Staff reporter
Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Prof Dr Mizanur Rahman on Monday said the state must ‘accept’ ‘access to food’ as the basic right of its people to ensure food for all.
“It’s the state’s responsibility to ensure access to food for all. If many countries in the world can establish people’s access to food as a right, why can’t Bangladesh do so?” he asked in the inaugural session of a public hearing in the capital.
National Human Rights Commission and Oxfam in Bangladesh jointly organized the public hearing on the right to food at Cirdap conference room.
PKSF chairman Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad and policy advocacy manager of Oxfam in Bangladesh Monisha Biswas also spoke on the occasion.
In his opening remarks, Prof Mizanur Rahman said the government claims Bangladesh has already achieved food autarky and it can now export some food grains.
“Adequate food production cannot ensure people’s right to food. Proper distribution of food is needed to ensure their right to food, and it’s the state’s responsibility to do so,” he said.
The NHRC chairman said the resource constraint is not an impediment to establishing human rights in Bangladesh. “There’re huge resources in the country, but proper distribution of that is needed to establish human rights here.”
He said the illegal wealth of a minister does not come in the limelight as long as he or she loses the cabinet post and Latif Siddique has been the recent case.
Prof Mizanur said the government should take steps to recover the illegal wealth the dishonest people accumulated though an anti-corruption drive and distribute that among the poor.
About the widespread food adulteration, the NHRC chairman said: “We’re talking about the right to food but what kind of food and that is of course safe food.”
Mizanur Rahman said many people are suffering from non-communicable diseases like kidney problem in the country. “Doctors say kidney patients are on the rise for taking adulterated foods,” he added.
The NHRC chairman said it is also the government’s responsibility to ensure safe food for its all citizens aiming to protect their health.
The main objective of the public hearing was to highlight the prevailing challenges about right to food issues of Bangladesh and raise public awareness about the need for protection and promotion of the right to food of the poor.
The public hearing focused on the community testimony as primary witnesses to share their experiences, personal stories, firsthand information relating to the right to food.