Working Group on Human Rights
in India and the UN
e-Newsletter on Human Rights
January  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

"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

"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

WGHR Members' News and Activities 

HLRN Press Release: Violence against Villagers and Forced Land Acquisition for POSCO Project in Odisha: Gross Violation of Human Rights, 17/02/13

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. On one hand, the Government of India claims it is committed to protecting the rights of women and children but on the other it engages in direct attacks of violence against them. 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

“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

"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

Press Release: "President urged not to sing the Ordinance by Women's Organisations"

Representatives of women's organisations, civil society groups and activists committed to women's rights, called upon the President of India to not sign Ordinance on the criminal law amendments related to sexual violence. Madhu Mehra, a women’s rights lawyer and PLD's Executive Director, added, "An Ordinance like this betrays the trust of scores of Indian men and women, who marched the streets of Delhi and other cities demanding an end to impunity for sexual violence". Supreme Court and human rights lawyer, Vrinda Grover noted "We again reiterate our call to the Government of India to implement the recommendations of the report comprehensively, in letter and spirit". Read more

UN Human Rights News 

“India: Navi Pillay praises groundbreaking report on violence against women'” – Geneva, 25/01/2013

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, welcomed the Justice Verma Committee report and urged the Government of India to implement it in letter and in spirit. “The Committee’s recommendations are grounded in a framework of rights, equality and non-discrimination, and represent a paradigm shift towards recognition of women as holders of rights, not just objects of protection,” Pillay said. “The report should serve as a beacon for many other countries struggling to respect the rights of women more comprehensively by addressing sexual violence through legislation, policies and programmes”. 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

“Rape is a national problem in India: UN rights chief" - Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times, 01/01/2013

Terming acts of sexual violence against women a "national problem" in India, the UN human rights chief has asked the government to strengthen its legal regime against it and she opposed the growing clamour of death penalty stating that “However, terrible the crime, the death penalty is not the answer". Pillay noted, "Now is the time to strengthen India's legal regime against rape. I encourage the government to consult widely with civil society…..Urgent and rational debate on comprehensive measures to address such crimes are required". The UN human rights chief asked the government to invite the “UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women to visit the country to assist it in this process”. Read more

“India to miss UN goals for poverty, hunger, infant mortality" - Mahendra Kumar Singh, The Times of India, 02/01/2013

India is expected to miss the crucial UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG), including those related to reduction in poverty, hunger and infant mortality, as a government report indicates. The poverty ratio is likely to be 26.7% by 2015 as against the target of 23.9%, while infant mortality rate would be 43 per 1,000 live births against the milestone of bringing it down to 27. According to the report, the poverty ratio is likely to be 26.7% compared to MDG target of 23.9% by 2015. While India is expected to lag behind on health indicators as well, the performance is upto the mark on education front. Read more

"India to have 15 crore pending cases by 2040, report says" - The Times of India, 17/01/2013

A conservative judicial estimate predicts that case pendency in the next three decades is going to register a five-fold increase to touch 15 crore, however, the judge strength will increase only four time to settle to 75,000. The cry for speedy justice is going to be shriller. At present, nearly 19,000 judges, including 18,000 in trial courts, are dealing with a pendency of 3 crore cases, resulting in a civil case lasting for nearly 15 years and giving credence to the adage "justice delayed is justice denied". Read more

“Voter ID cards for 6,000 homeless persons in Delhi" - Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times, 21/01/2013

The Election Commission has officially recognised spaces below flyovers, forgotten footpaths near metro stations and pavements near a pedestrial bridge as residential addresses. The unique move is aimed at providing voter identification cards to thousands of homeless in Delhi, who live in such places and don't have access to government welfare scheme because they don't have address proof.Read more

"Education on sexual crimes: SC notices to Home, Law Ministries" - Hindustan Times, 22/01/2013

The Supreme Court issued notices to the Union government, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on a PIL, seeking establishment of effective measures for promotion of awareness and education relating to the importance of women in society. The petitioners have sought that students be educated on sexual crimes against women at the elementary level to ensure that sexual offences are eradicated, and they attain their rightful position in the social order. This would change the mindset of the society towards women, they added. 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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