Working Group on Human Rights
in India and the UN
e-Newsletter on Human Rights
February 2013
Human Rights in India – Status Report 2012: Updated and RevisedWGHR Monitoring Tool for Recommendations from the United Nations' Universal Periodic Review for India
Human Rights in India – Status Report 2012: Updated and RevisedHuman Rights in India – Status Report 2012: Updated and Revised
WGHR Documents for
India’s Second UPR
Human Rights
in India
Status Report
Report for
India's 2nd UPR
UN documents for India's
2nd UPR
National report submitted
by the Government of India
Annexes to the National
Report – 1, 2, 3
Summary of 51
Stakeholders' Submissions
Compilation of UN
Report on 2nd UPR:
Recommendations made
to India (May 2012)
India's 2nd UPR:
accepted by the Govt. of
India (Sep 2012)

WGHR Press Release: "WGHR condemns the execution of Afzal Guru; Demands the abolishment of death penalty - 13/02/13

The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) denounced the execution of Afzal Guru on 9 February 2013 in Tihar Jail, convicted of the 13 December, 2001 Parliament attack. WGHR also condemned the indiscriminate and arbitrary use of state power for imposing capital punishment to Afzal Guru covertly, not allowing his family a last visit and not handing over his body. WGHR stated that that death penalty embodies the idea of retribution which is as violent as the offence for which one is convicted, and is contrary to all civilized ideals of criminology and constitutionalism. Read more

"Rights group condemns Afzal’s hanging" - Tribune News Service, 13/02/13

The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) denounced the execution of Afzal Guru and demanded abolition of capital punishment in India. WGHR condemned the indiscriminate and arbitrary use of state power for imposing capital punishment to Guru covertly, denying his family a last visit and refusing to hand over his body. "We are concerned against India aligning itself with the small minority of nations which favour death penalty. On November 21, 2012 a resolution was passed by the UN General Assembly's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) on 'Moratorium on the use of the death penalty' by a record 110 votes but India voted against the motion," the coalition said in a statement. Read more

"India refused 11 recommendations made by UN Human Rights Council on the abolition of death penalty" - The Times of India, 16/02/13

The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) made recommendations to the Government of India on the abolition of death penalty and the adoption of an official moratorium. In a press release WGHR stated that "While none of the 11 recommendations made by the UNHCR were accepted by the Government of India, they nevertheless represent the growing concern in the international community against the continuation of death penalty in India... studies show that there is no scientific or empirical basis for claiming that death penalty has a deterrent effect on the incidence of crime". Miloon Kothari, convenor of WGHR and former Special Rapporteur of the UNHCR noted "What makes matters worse is that we have a President of the country who appears to be trigger happy and ready to rapidly comply with the government's wishes even if his actions are contrary to the humanistic traditions of Indian civilisation". Read more

WGHR Members' News and Activities 

"Women's rights activists downplay government ordinance for omitting marital rape, AFSPA" - ANI News, 02/02/13

Women's rights activists, including Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA), Vrinda Grover, a human rights lawyer, Sunita Dhar of Jagori and Madhu Mehra from Partners for Law and Development, rejected the Ordinance sent to the President by the Union Cabinet for law amendments related to sexual assault on women. The activists criticised the government for omitting crucial issues, such as marital rape and revewing some sections of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), by selectively accepting the recommendations made by the Justice Verma Committee. "It betrays the trust of thousands of men and women who marched on the streets of Delhi and other cities demanding an end to impunity for sexual violence," said Vrinda Grover. Read more

HLRN Press Release: "Violence against Villagers and Forced Land Acquisition for POSCO Project in Odisha: Gross Violation of Human Rights", 08/02/13

Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), Delhi, strongly condemned the use of force, intimidation and violence against villagers, and the process of forced land acquisition for the proposed steel plant of POSCO India Pvt. Ltd. in Gobindpur Village, Dhinkia Gram Panchayat, Odisha. According to Shivani Chaudhry, Associate Director of HLRN: “The POSCO project is yet another example of the failure of governance in the country...Given the enormous damage already evident to the lives and livelihoods of villagers in the POSCO-affected area, the persistent circumvention of local governance bodies (gram/palli sabhas) and democratic procedures, the breach of law, and the multiple violations of human rights, the project should be cancelled.” Read more

ACHR Press Release:
 "1,455 persons awarded death penalty in India from 2001 to 2011", 14/02/13

The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its report 'The State of Death Penalty in India 2013' stated that, as per the National Crimes Records Bureau, a total of 1,455 convicts or an average of 132.27 convicts per year were given death penalty during 2001 to 2011. “This implies that on average one convict is awarded death penalty in less than every third day in India. The rarest of rare case doctrine for application of death penalty has become routine. Death penalty is no longer the exception but the rule.”- stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Coordinator of the National Campaign for Abolition of Death Penalty in India and Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights. Read more

"Rights bodies condemn Posco land grab" - Ashis Senapati, 16/02/13

More than 250 international human rights organizations, comprising social workers, scientists, legal luminary activists, academics among others, have strongly criticized the government of Odisha for using forces to acquire fertile lands and betel vines in the proposed Posco site in Jagatsinghpur district. They also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to stop land acquisition works in these areas. Miloon Kothari, the former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, and executive director, Housing and Land Rights Network, said, "The lack of transparency, accountability, and due process in acquiring land for Posco and moving ahead with the project is alarming. It is clear that the recent action in Gobindapur village is a result of the government's insistence on promoting foreign direct investment, even though it violates the Constitution of India, international law, and the human rights of the villagers". Read more

“India should ratify UN Convention against torture” - The Hindu, 17/02/13

A public hearing on all forms of custodial injustice in custodial institutions in Tamil Nadu saw 32 cases where victims of custodial torture, kin of encounter victims and sustodial deaths deposed before a six-member jury which comprised human rights activists, an educationist, an advocate and a journalist. Henri Tiphagne, executive committee member, World Organisation Against Torture, Geneva, said that torture was not only inflicted on the accused but also on petitioners and complainants. The idea behind the exercise was to bring out the different dimensions of psychological effects associated with torture. Read more

"Change in anti-trafficking act will affect sex workers" - Press Trust of India, 18/02/13

Human rights activists criticised the proposed amendment to the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act by the Ministry of Women and Child Development for criminalising clients and customers, rehabilitating sex workers by sending them to rehabilitation homes. The activists stated that the amendment was a step in the backward direction. "Complete lack of transparency in amending legislations would impact the lives of people engaged in sex work and further drive it underground,"Madhu Mehra, a human rights lawyer and executive director of Partners for Law in Development, opined. 
Read more

"In India’s remote northeast, civilians challenge rape, killing by security forces" - Simon Denyer, The Washington Post, 19/02/13

Residents of the remote northeastern state of Manipur have been alleging for years that security forces, deployed to fight armed sparatist rebellion, have also waged a separate war of rape and murder of civilians with impunity under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, which virtually prohibits the prosecution of soldiers in conflict zones. Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert, a local rights group that has documented the alleged rapes and extrajudicial executions, said “An incentive structure has created vested interests in the army and police just to kill people on the flimsiest charges, while the judicial process has completely failed”. Read more

"Overseas adoption racket: How children are sneaked out by the hundreds" - Danish Raza, First Post, 20/02/13

Child rights activists and families who have lost their children to overseas adoption demanded a stay on inter-country adoption until a child protection mechanism was put in place. There is no law governing adoptions in India, there are only CARA guideline based on child protection principles and provisions mandated in Juvenile Justice (care & protection of children) Act. For every adoption, domestic or inter-country, Child Welfare Committee (CWC), a quasi - judicial body formed under theJuvenile Justice Act - has to declare a child legally free for adoption. But in many cases, saysEnakshi Ganguly of HAQ- Centre for Child Rights, the committee's role has been unsatisfactory. "Gangs involved in adoption mislead the committee," she said. Read more

"Indian child rights activists demand better child adoption laws" - Murali Krishnan, ABC Radio Australia, 21/02/13

Child rights activists in India are demanding a moratorium on inter-country adoptions until local Indian laws are made stronger to stop what amounts in some cases to child stealing. Speakers: Arun Dohle, Against Child Trafficking; Enakshi Ganguly, Director HAQ Centre for Child Rights and parents, Lakshmi, Kathirvel. Read more and listen

News on Human Rights Issues

“The Criminal Law Ordinance 2013 on Sexual Assault – Cut, Paste and Shock!" - Pratisha Baxi, Kafila, 05/02/13

Pratiksha Baxi, Assistant Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University scrutinizes the Criminal Law Ordinance 2013 on sexual violence pointing out the omissions made on issues of: definition of sexual assault as a gender-neutral offence; exemption of marital rape; the lack of gradation of different sexual assault offences; the non-deletion of the two-finger test; the penetration or touching for hygienic or medical purposes without consent; notions of female modesty and honor; and gender-discrimination before the law. "We wanted radical jurisprudence, to emerge from our protests and unending hard work (and unlike others, we don’t need anyone to applaud us). Instead, what we got is amortifying cut and paste jurisprudential disaster." Read more  

“Access to dignity barred" - Jyotsna Siddharth, 08/02/13

Denial of basic facilities such as drinking water or absence of toilets in Haryana's Kaithal district like in several other rural areas result in women and minor girls to walk long distances every day and put women, especially Dalit women, in a vulnerable situation as walking several miles to fetch water or for toilet often results in incidents of harassment in rural areas. Drinking water and sanitation are the most critical issues that impact women’s lives corresponding to healthcare facilities, education, shelter, livelihood and security. Denial of these in rural areas directly results in increase atrocities against Dalit women. Read more

"Women illiteracy a national concern: Shashi Tharoor" - Rageshri Ganguly, 25/02/13

In a conference the Union Minister of state for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor stated that the fact that one in every three women in India is illiterate is a matter of "deep national concern". "Even today after 65 years of Independence, the literacy rate of women is just at 65.5% compared to the more healthy 82.1% for men," he noted. He characterised the continuing difference between the enrolment ratio for boys and girls at most levels of the education system as no less a national shame than the declining sex ratio caused by the reprehensible practice of sex selection and female infanticide. Read more

“India to vote against Sri Lanka on war crimes in UNHRC" - Bosco Dominique, The Times of India, 25/02/13

Union minister in the Prime Minister's Office ( PMO) V Narayansamy said that India will vote in support of the US-backed resolution against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. India was one of the 24 countries that voted against Sri Lanka on human rights violations at the UNHRC meet in March last year. PM Manmohan Singh has promised to support the resolution against Sri Lanka on war crimes and human rights violations at the UNHRC meeting next month. Read more

"Parliament passes Bill to prevent sexual harassment at workplace" - The Hindu, 26/02/13

The Rajya Sabha approved the amended Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, that seeks to provide protection to women in unorganised and organised sectors including the private sector. The Bill covers sexual harassment of domestic help and agriculture workers. Several members objected to the clause for “conciliation” and for “punishment to the complainant for false or malicious complaint and false evidence” saying it took a lot for a woman to come up and make a sexual harassment complaint. A member wanted to know why offences under the Bill were not non-cognisable. Read more



The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) is a national coalition of fourteen human rights organizations and independent experts from India. WGHR works towards the realization of all civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights in India and aims at holding the Indian government accountable for its national and international human rights obligations. For more information, visit:

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