His Majesty The King in one National Day address after another has called upon institutions and individuals to be responsible and accountable for their work and actions.
His Majesty has also pointed out the dangers of a care free attitude which can impact the nation in the long run.
This urgency of ensuring accountability and responsibility has only grown in the recent times as Bhutan faces a multitude of economic, social, developmental and now health challenges.
It is heartening to note that the National Council has taken this message to heart in one of the key aspects and is in the process of drafting the Civil Liability Bill.
This Bill is currently in the consultation and research stage and will be presented in 2022 in the NC.
The Bill has enormous implications for both good governance and also individual rights.
The Bill, once law, will ensure that public agencies tasked with important tasks and projects that impact the well being of people can no longer be careless and not worry about consequences hiding behind an institutional wall.
Some tragic recent examples of a child being crushed by a large pipe, a woman being struck on the head by a rusty electric pole, a child and parent drowning in a sewage pond and more all show that public agencies need to be held accountable for lapses where the lives and health of people are impacted.
This bill will ensure that affected victims or their families can file a separate civil suit to claim compensation from the agencies.
Currently, another major problem that affects many parts of the country is poor quality construction. Here again, people can file suits if they are impacted.
The Bill will ensure that agencies are far more careful and accountable about their activities, and this is good for good governance as there will be accountability.
The Bill also is one of the most important legislations in support of people’s rights. Usually most of the laws are about the powers of agencies over people, but this is one of the very few laws that talks about the rights of people.
In that sense the Bill shows a maturing of democracy.
The Bill, however, goes further as it is not just about the government agencies versus people. There is an important element of accountability that applies to all people.
For example, if you have a dog that bites people you cannot let it roam freely as you will be liable under the bill.
The Bill importantly also seeks to set up financial compensation and suits for sexual abuse cases for children which is a welcome step in the right direction.
It is not enough to just make heavy sentencing laws for sexual abuse of children, but there must also be a financial component that makes it very expensive and provides justice to the child.
Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.
George Washington Carver