WGHR Press Release: "WGHR welcomes India’s vote in favour of the Resolution on Sri Lanka; GoI falls short, however, of ensuring inclusion in the resolution of the call for an Independent and Credible International Investigation" - 22/03/13
The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR)welcomed India’s vote in favour of the resolution on Sri Lanka at the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on 21 March 2013. WGHR was encouraged that India stood with rights, justice and accountability and supported the present resolution as it did the resolution at the 19th session of HRC in 2012.Read more
WGHR Press Release: "WGHR urges the Government of India to Vote in favor of the Sri Lanka Resolution at the UN Human Rights Council" - 20/03/13
The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) , in a letter to the Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Salman Khurshid, urged the Government of India to vote in favor of the resolution and use its leadership position to convince other states at the UNHRC to include the demand for an independent and credible international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka. Read more
To read the full version of the letter sent to the Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Salman Khurshid, click here.
"Human rights group urges govt to vote in favour of Sri Lanka Resolution" - The Times of India, Indrani Basu, 20/03/13
The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) in a letter to the Minister of External Affairs, Salman Khurshid, has urged the Indian government to vote in favour of the Sri Lanka resolution at UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). "India's moral stance in favor of human rights should not be considered 'against' the government of Sri Lanka but rather be viewed as a further step in its assistance to that country aimed at cementing peace and assuring justice to all those scarred by the recent conflict," said Miloon Kothari, WGHR Convener and Former Special Rapporteur on adequate housing at UNHRC. Read more
"Rights group urges India to vote for resolution" - The Tribune, Aditi Tandon, 20/03/13
In the midst of a political crisis following the pullout of the DMK support to the UPA coalition at the Centre, the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) urged the government to vote in favor of the Sri Lanka resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). WGHR Convenor, Miloon Kothari stated that "“The world is now keenly watching how India votes on the Sri Lanka resolution at the UNHRC. Indian and international public opinion will measure India’s capabilities and its credibility on human rights and diplomacy by its ability to stand again, as it did in 2012, for justice and accountability in Sri Lanka”. Read more
WGHR - National Training Workshop on the role of United Nations Special Procedures with a Special Focus on Violence against Women and Adequate Housing, 14 & 15 March 2013, New Delhi
The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR),Partners for Law in Development (PLD), and Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), conducted a two-day National Training Workshop on the role of United Nations (UN) Special Procedures, in New Delhi on 14 and 15 March 2013. The Training Workshop was organised in view of the forthcoming visits of the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on violence against women and the SR on adequate housing, and was attended by 30 participants, including human rights activists, NGOs and academics from around the country. Read more
Governance by Denial: FORCED EVICTION AND DEMOLITION OF HOMES IN KORAMANGALA (EJIPURA), BANGALORE - Interim Report of a Fact-Finding Mission
Housing and Land Rights in collaboration with People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL - Karnataka), undertook a fact-finding mission to investigate the forced eviction and demolition of 1200 homes in Koramangala (Ejipura), Bangalore, and its aftermath. The interim report of the fact-finding mission (Governance by Denial) was released in New Delhi on 6 March 2013|. For the full interim reportclick here. The final report will be published in April 2013.
WGHR Members' News and Activities
Partners for Law in Development (PLD) & Vrinda Grover, Supreme Court Advocate: Press Release from women's Groups on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013
Representatives of women’s rights groups, lawyers and activists from across the country who have campaigned for decades to reform laws on rape and sexual assault, welcomed the passage of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 but decried tenor of parliamentary debates. The group urged the Government to take the next step towards comprehensive reforms outlined in the Justice Verma Committee report, and amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and the Representation of People Act, 1951 to erase immunity and instill accountability across all institutions. Read more
HAQ: Centre for Child Rights: BUDGET 2013-14 AND CHILDREN - A FIRST GLANCE
HAQ: Centre for Child Rights conducted a preliminary analysis of the Government's current budget allocation to children. As the report indicates, 4.64% of the total Union Budget is allocated to children for 2013-14, which translates into a reduction of 0.12 percentage points from the last financial year. The report includes a brief analisys of the sectoral share in the Union Budget revealing that the share of various child rights sectors in the Union Budget for 2012-13 and 2013-14 shows a decline in the education sector, while the allocation for the development and protection sector remains the same. Read more
"Because age matters" - The Hindu, Aarti Dhar, 21/03/13
As a response to government's intention to lower the age of consensual sex from 18 to 16 years, a colloquium organised in the National Capital agreed that the age of the child or juvenile should be 18 years and lowering it would be a regressive step.The three-day event, organised by HAQ — Centre for Child Rights, UNICEF, National Law University (Delhi), Save the Children-India and Child Fund-India, ended on the note that across the world, knee-jerk reactions in some cases have led the politicians and policy makers to change the law to the detriment of both the young offender and the victims. Read more
New report by Asian Centre for Human Rights: "Nobody’s children: Juveniles of Conflict Affected Districts of India"
Releasing “Nobody’s children: Juveniles of Conflict Affected Districts of India”, Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) stated that though a heated debate has been raging at national level with respect to lowering the age of juveniles from 18 to 16, in 197 districts of India officially notified as affected by internal armed conflicts, the edifice of the juvenile justice does not exist. Children, irrespective of their age, are treated as adults and subjected to gross human rights violations including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extrajudicial executions and sexual assaults as part of the counter-insurgency operations. For the full reportclick here
“Justice on the Way? Extrajudicial Killings in Manipur” - Babloo Loitongbam, Executive Director Human Rights Alert
Babloo Loitongbam writes on the long struggle against encounter killings by security forces in Manipur and the petition filed to the Supreme Court of India by the Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families’ Association, Manipur (EEVFAM) with the support of a leading human rights lawyer, Colin Gonsalves (Human Rights Law Network). The Supreme Court decided to appoint a High Power Commission headed by Justice N. Santosh Hegde, former Judge, Supreme Court of India and with Mr. J.M. Lyngdoh, former Chief Election Commissioner and Dr. Ajaikumar Singh, IPS. (Retd. DGP and IGP of Karnataka) as members. The Commission is mandated “to be fully satisfied about the truth of the allegations concerning the cases cited by the writ petitioners”. Read more
UN Human Rights News
World Water Day, Friday 22 March 2013
A group of UN human rights experts on water and sanitation, food, extreme poverty, environment, health, discrimination against women, violence against women and the promotion of an equitable, democratic international order marked the World Water Day, which this year is devoted to Water Cooperation. "It is crucial to ensure cooperation between the competing users of water, to ensure that the human rights of all are realized and also that the most marginalized and vulnerable are not negatively affected by unequal resource allocation at every turn, by every decision on water resource allocation. Human rights require that considerations of the needs of marginalized and vulnerable individuals and groups are prioritized, and that the necessary resources are affordable to those who need them.” Read more
Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013 - Violence against women
"In recent weeks, in three countries that have few features in common- India, Papua New Guinea and South Africa) pervasive indifference to violence against women has given way to outcry...In January, the report of the Verma Committee in India proposed sweeping reforms on issues of sexual assault, legal and electoral reforms to ensure that people charged with criminal offences may not hold political office. These recommendations require serious and sustained follow up. They can also serve as a model for other situations. Read more
UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women forthcoming visit in India: 22 April - 1 May 2013
The visit Special Rapporteur (SR) on Violence against Women in India has been confirmed to take place from 22 April till 1 May this year (see forthcoming SR visits here). According to her mandate, Ms. Rashida Manjoo is requested to:
(a) Seek and receive information on violence against women, its causes and consequences from Governments, treaty bodies, specialized agencies, other special rapporteurs responsible for various human rights questions and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, including women's organizations, and to respond effectively to such information;
(b) Recommend measures, ways and means at the local, national, regional and international levels to eliminate all forms of violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences;
(c) Work closely with all special procedures and other human rights mechanisms of the Human Rights Council and with the treaty bodies, taking into account the request of the Council that they regularly and systematically integrate the human rights of women and a gender perspective into their work, and cooperate closely with the Commission on the Status of Women in the discharge of its functions;
(d) Continue to adopt a comprehensive and universal approach to the elimination of violence against women, its causes and consequences, including causes of violence against women relating to the civil, cultural, economic, political and social spheres.
For more information on the SR's mandate see here.
News on Human Rights Issues
“Child rights panel received only 51 abuse cases in 5 years" - The Times of India, Himanshi Dhawan, 31/03/13
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) mandated to monitor child rights' violations and armed with quasi-judicial powers has received only 51 complaints of sexual and physical abuse of children from across the country in the last five years. Even more shocking is that it has filed FIRs in only eight cases, according to data accessed by RTI. The measly number of cases with NCPCR looks all the more startling considering that a government study in 2007 estimated that 42% children in India face some form of sexual abuse or other. Read more
"Poverty reduction lesson for India in Nepal, Rwanda" - The Times of India, Saira Kurup, 23/03/13
An Oxford University study of 22 countries, has found Nepal and Bangladesh to be among the top three nations that have reduced poverty in absolute terms. The reasons for India falling behind its poorer neighbours have been its exclusive development model, the neglect of health and education, its outdated definition of poverty, as well as new challenges that are inducing poverty, like migration, displacement and climate change. Read more
"Anti-rape bill gets Rajya Sabha nod" - The Times of India, 22/03/13
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which provides for not only stirngent punishment for rapists and repeat offenders but also makes maiden provisions of strict punishment for offences like stalking, voyeurism, dirobing and acid attacks, was passed by both Houses of the Indian Parliament. The Bill that will now replace the existing anti-rape ordinance, provides for even capital punishment, it keeps the rape as a gender-specific rime where only a man can be booked for committing such an offence, and it keeps the age of consent at 18 in sync with the ordinance. Read more
"Summary Of The National Food Security Bill 2013" - Tehelca, 22/03/13
Summary of the National Food Security Bill 2013 available here.
Full text of the National Food Security Bill 2013 available here.
"The Mind And Heart Of Lotika Sarkar, Legal Radical, Friend, Feminist: Usha Ramanathan" - KAFILA, 08/03/13
Lotika Sarkar was the first woman to graduate from Cambridge and the first woman law professor at the Delhi University, Faculty of Law. She was later a member of the Committee on the Status of Women, which produced the Towards Equality report - arguably a key milestone in the history of women's movement as well as the founding document for the academic domain of Women's Studies in India. Lotikadi was instrumental in the setting up of institutions such as the Center for Women's Development Studies and the Indian Association for Women's Studies. Her name came up frequently in the last couple of months, in the deliberations and discussions over sexual assault law reform. She was remembered again and again in the context of the historic Open Letter written to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India in the wake of the Mathura judgment. Lotikadi was one of the authors of the letter, which had protested the reasoning followed by the Supreme Court that absence of marks of injury on the body of the victim amounts to her consent to sexual intercourse. Even after 30 years of writing that letter, this line of reasoning is prevalent among members of the judiciary. Read more
"SC castigates Punjab, Bihar cops for violation of rights" - The Times of India, Dhananjay Mahapatra, 07/03/13
The Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of Punjab police assaulting a woman in Tarn Taran, and Bihar police caning contractual teachers in Patna saying the governments had failed to safeguard people's right to life and dignity from "wholly unwarranted" police action. Initiating proceedings on its own in discharge of its mandate to protect fundamental rights of citizens, particularly women and weaker sections, a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and Ranjana P Desai said, "We feel that it is proper for this court to take cognizance of the gross violation of human rights as well as the constitutional rights of the people."Read more
"Sharp fall in child sex ratio in six districts" - The Hindu, Thiruvananthapuram, 02/03/13
Kerala’s much-vaunted achievements in human development appear to be coming unstuck in crucial areas such as child sex ratio, which currently shows a disturbing downward trend in at least six districts in the State. The study, commissioned by the State Department of Social Welfare, shows that the child sex ratio in Kerala had declined from 976 to 958 in the course of the two decades between 1971 and 1991, showed a marginal increase by two points in 2001, but declined by one point — from 960 to 959 — in 2011. Read more