Working Group on Human Rights
in India and the UN
e-Newsletter on Human Rights
March 2014
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
2012
Stakeholders'
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
by OHCHR
Compilation of UN
Information
Report on 2nd UPR:
Recommendations made
to India (May 2012)
India's 2nd UPR:
Recommendations
accepted by the Govt. of
India (Sep 2012)
 

WGHR News

“WGHR endorses Amnesty International’s Global policy for Sex Work and extends support” – 29. 03.2014

WGHR has endorsed Amnesty International’s Global Policy for Sex Work and has extended support for the campaign which argues for decriminalisation of Sex Work. Amnesty asserts that states have an obligation ‘to reform their laws and develop and implement systems and policies that eliminate discrimination against those engaging in sex work’. Amnesty calls on states to ‘actively seek to empower the most marginalised in society, including supporting the rights to freedom of association of those engaging in sex work, establishing frameworks that ensure access to appropriate, quality health services and safe working conditions and through combating discrimination or abuse based on sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression’. The sex workers’ rights movement is aligned with the human and women’s rights movements in condemning the abuse and violation of the rights of women, including sex workers.

Read the Endorsement Letter Here

Read the Summary of Policy Here

WGHR Press Release: WGHR condemns India’s abstention from voting on the UNHRC resolution seeking international probe in the alleged war crimes and human rights violations by Sri Lanka” – 27.03.2014

WGHR condemns in strongest terms the Indian abstention from voting and appeals to the international community to support the demands of human rights groups who are pushing for international action against Sri Lanka in order to seek justice for the embattled people of Sri Lanka.

Henri Tiphagne, Convenor of WGHR said, “The Indian stand can be viewed as a serious betrayal of India's commitment to the international community, people of Sri Lanka and its own citizens. The earlier statements issued by the state officials claiming to support the resolution now seems to be nothing but an eye wash aimed to avert world attention from the serious human rights situation in its neighbouring country”.

Read the Press Release Here

“WGHR attended the 4th National Conference of WinG - India” – 27.03.2014.

The 4th National Conference by Women in Governance - India held on March 26th-27th at the Constitution Club, New Delhi. Women in Governance-India was conceived in 2009 by a group of Dalit women activists and women leaders from areas affected by conflict in Northeast India and other parts of the country. Through their work as an independent network they have been challenging the inequitable structures and systems in the society that perpetuate violence against women and seeking advancement of women’s leadership in governance. This annual conference of WinG-India has brought forward a cross section of women leaders from the country to engage in pertinent discussions on the key focus area of WinG i.e. women security, exploring cultural and tradition practices and their impact on women’s lives and ways forward for leadership of women. This event has enabled the network to highlight the actions undertaken by the members and sought for support and collaboration from the extended community of activists, researchers and women leaders.

“Leading NGOs including WGHR urge States to reject proposals from South Africa to weaken resolution on peaceful protest” – 27.03.2014

A coalition of leading non-governmental organisations has called on governments to reject proposals being made by South Africa and a group of like-minded States that would undermine a Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests.

A letter calling on States to reject the proposed amendments has been sent to representatives of all UN member States in Geneva. The letter expresses deep concern regarding the proposed amendments, which would weaken protection of the right to protest compared with a resolution on the same topic passed by the Council last year. The letter emphasises the resolution's vital importance given recent events around the world and the ongoing incidents of multiple rights violations still committed in the context of protests. “Protests play a critical role in contributing to progress on human rights, development, good governance and the rule of law, particularly in repressive and authoritarian States,” the letter says.

“We believe that the proposed amendments run counter to the spirit and purpose of this crucial resolution. The fact that they are supported by States, some of whom have recent histories of human rights violations in the context of protests, only serves to further our consternation that their inclusion would weaken the resolution’s effectiveness”.

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“WGHR expresses solidarity to WithSyria Campaign on the tragic third anniversary of the Syria crisis” – 10.03.2014

The 15th March marks the third year anniversary of the Syria crisis, a crisis that has been labeled the worst of our generation. Half the country has been forced to flee their homes; well over 100,000 people have been killed and among them the worst affected were children and women.  In this crisis, 9,500 people are internally displaced in Syria every day, or 1 family per minute in the run up to the anniversary, Syrian groups, prominent international NGOs, former world leaders and celebrities around the world are holding vigils in over 30 countries, turning global landmarks into symbols of hope.

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WGHR Member News and Activities

“Lawyer’s Collective launched two handbooks on Criminal Justice Processes” – 31.03.2014

Lawyers Collective Women Rights Initiative, a member of WGHR launched two handbooks in association with British Council. “Locating the Survivor in the Indian Criminal Justice System: Decoding the Law”. The handbook attempts to demystify the law, identify the various stakeholders in the justice delivery machinery and points out the specific roles assigned to each.

The second publication is a handbook on Do’s and Don’ts for survivors of sexual violence titled “Engaging with the Criminal Justice System: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Violence”. The publication consists of some basic questions that a survivor often has to deal with and provides necessary answers, thereby assisting the survivors of sexual offences, in navigating the criminal justice system.

WGHR Secretariat team attended the event.

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Read further more

Read more about the publication, Engaging with the Criminal Justice System: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Violence

Read more about the publication, Locating the Survivor in the Indian Criminal Justice System: Decoding the Law

UN Human Rights News

UN Human Rights Council 25th Session Updates

UN Human Rights Council 25th Session and UPR- Positive strides

The UPR benefited from unprecedented attention at the Human Rights Council (the Council) during its 25th session. Many issues of contention were discussed, both during the adoption of UPR reports and during the general debate that followed, such as the role of civil society at the UPR, the specificity of recommendations, and the possibility to make a moment of silence during a statement.

The Human Rights Council adopts 15 UPR reports

From 19 to 21st March, the Council adopted the reports of the 15 countries reviewed last October at the UPR 17th session: Belize, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Congo, Israel, Jordan, Malta, Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Senegal.  

In total, all States – except the Central African Republic, Jordan and Nigeria – had submitted an addendum. However, some addenda were only made available on the day of the adoption or afterward, which made it difficult for other States and NGOs to prepare their statements accordingly.

58 States support the role of NGOs at UPR

58 States made a joint statement to support the role of NGOs at the UPR during the item 6 general debate on 21 March. The statement acknowledged the "positive contribution" and "constructive participation" of civil society at the UPR but expressed "deep concerns for those cases in which the civil society participation in or follow-up to the UPR process has been threatened in various ways." Reiterating the "right to unhindered access to and communication with the United Nations", these 58 States emphasised "the need for all States to ensure a safe and enabling environment" in which human rights defenders could work "free from insecurity" and called on States to "refrain from or prevent, and prosecute as needed, any act of intimidation or reprisals against those who cooperate" with the UN.

UPR recommendations lack specificity, say 19 NGOs

UPR Info and 18 NGOs made a joint statement during the general debate to regret the lack of specific recommendations at the UPR second cycle. According to UPR Info's data, the number of specific recommendations has fallen since the beginning of the second cycle. The statement, therefore, asked States to make more specific and action-oriented recommendations by using all resources at hand to reach this aim, notably by meeting with NGOs and using concluding observations from treaty bodies.

China prevents moment of silence in memory of a human rights defender

 On 20 March, the Council discussed China’s UPR report before its adoption. When the NGO International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) decided to use the remainder of its speaking time to "observe a moment of silent to remember Cao Shunli and human rights defenders everywhere who have lost their lives in their struggle", and while other NGOs sitting in the back of the room stood up to observe that moment of silent, China made a point of order stating that NGOs could only make "general comments" according to resolution A/HRC/RES/5/1 and could not do "anything else" as it was contravening to the proceedings. Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Viet Nam, Morocco, South Africa, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Venezuela, the Russian Federation, and the Maldives took the floor to support the point of order of China while Canada, the United States, Greece on behalf of European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, France, Austria, and Ireland supported the right of NGOs to be silent during their statement.

3 more States commit to submitting a mid-term report

Croatia, Germany and Slovakia joined a statement made by Morocco, on behalf of 47 States, on 21 March 2014, committing to "write and publish, as appropriate, a mid-term report two years after [their] reviews." The number of States that have committed to publish a mid-term report during the second cycle now totals 96 (including the entire African Group).

13 new MIAs published

The Mid-term implementation assessments (MIAs) for 13 of the 14 States to be reviewed during the 24th UPR session are complete.  The reports that have been published include countries such as Belgium, Denmark, and Mozambique, among others. Many civil society members participated in this series of the Follow-up, providing invaluable information on the implementation of recommendations.

Extension of deadline for civil society reports at UPR 21 and 22

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) just extended the deadline for the submission of written reports by stakeholders (civil society organisations and national human rights institutions) at sessions 21 and 22 of the UPR. The new deadlines are 15 June 2014 for session 21 and 15 September for session 22.

“Climate change may lead India into armed conflict: UN Report” – The Economic Times, 01.04.2014

UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its report asserts that Asia is going to worst affected by the climate change and may lead to armed conflict between neighbouiring states over water and other resources.

It also predicts extreme and unusual weather conditions, floods, droughts etc. and India, like other developing economies, may lose up to 1.7% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) if the annual mean temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrialization level, hitting the poor the most.

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“UNHRC resolution calling for an independent international investigation of alleged war crimes committed by Sri Lankan forces in their war against the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) passed, India abstained from voting” – 27.03.2014

The resolution calling an international probe against Sri Lanka for alleged war crimes passed in the UNHRC’s (United Nations Human Rights Council) 25th regular session with 23 in favour, 12 against and 12 abstaining. India abstained from voting altogether this time while supporting the similar resolutions in 2012 and 2013. In explaining its reasoning for the abstention, the Ministry of External Affairs said, ”It has been India’s firm belief that adopting an intrusive approach that undermines national sovereignty and institutions is counterproductive … any external investigative mechanism with an open-ended mandate to monitor national processes for protection of human rights in a country, is not reflective of the constructive approach of dialogue and cooperation envisaged by UN General Assembly resolution 60/251 that created the HRC in 2006 as well as the UNGA resolution 65/281 that reviewed the HRC in 2011.”

Human Rights News

“Supreme Court commutes Devinderpal Singh Bhullar's death sentence to life imprisonment” – The Times of India, 31.03.2014

1993 Delhi bomb blast case convict and Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court of India. A four-judge bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam granted life to Bhullar on the ground of delay on the part of the government in deciding his mercy plea and also on the basis of his present medical condition.

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“Supreme Court of India refused to lower the age of Juvenile in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000” – The Indian Express, 28.03.2014

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, rejected two petitions, filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and parents of December 16 gangrape victim, challenging the constitutional validity of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000.

The bench asserted that the fixed age of a Juvenile that is 18 years is constitutionally permissible and hence no interference is necessary and refused to lower the age of Juvenile in the Juvenile Justice Act 2000.

Read more

Read the Supreme Court Order Here

“India responds to the questions raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 24th session of UNHRC” – 28.03.2014

India has responded to the questions that were asked by the CRC in 24th session of UNHRC which will be now discussed in the 26th session which is going to be held in May 2014.

On questions like provisions for protection of girl child, disabled children and backward and adivasi children, India has responded with the non discriminatory provision in the Constitution of India, SC and ST (Prevention of atrocities) Act 1989, and that the “The National Policy for Children 2013 forms the main basis for strategies in place for the welfare of the children. The Policy takes special note of children who are socially, physically handicapped and emotionally disturbed, aiming to provide on a priority basis education, training, special treatment,  rehabilitation and care for them. The Twelfth Five Year Plan has adopted fulfillment of child rights as a sensitive lead indicator of national development, at national, state, district and local levels. This is meant to provide an overarching framework to which concerned ministries/departments that impact the lives of children, are committed. Several flagship programmes of the Government focus on fulfilling rights of children, including rights of children of vulnerable groups to health and education. These include the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS), and National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).”

Read India's Responses Here

“Amendments in the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Rules 2006 based on the Supreme Court Directions” – 24.03.2014

By way of a Gazette Notification dated 24.03.2014, Ministry of Women & Child Development of Union of India has carried out certain amendments in The Commission for Protection of Child Rights Rules 2006.These amendments appear to have been carried out to give effect to the directions of Hon'ble Supreme Court dated 25.02.2014 whereby Hon'ble Court had indicated that Under Section 35 of CPCR Act 2005, a procedure for making the selection including guidelines/ norms for selection can me laid down. Now the amended rules prescribe for a selection committee, public advertisement in at least 4 news papers.

By way of this Amendments 2014, five major changes have been made: Rule 3A- Norms for Selection of Chairperson and Members, Rule 6A- Invitation of Applications for the post of chairperson and member, Rule 6B- Selection Committee for appointment of Chairperson and Member, Rule 6C- Procedure for appointment of Chairperson and Member, Rule 7(1)- Words " Cabinet Secretary" and "Secretary" have been substituted with " Secretary" and " Additional Secretary" respectively. Striking is this amendment made in  Rule 7 by which  now status of Chairperson-NCPCR has been reduced from "Cabinet Secretary" to "Secretary" and status of Member-NCPCR has been reduced from "Secretary" to " Additional Secretary".  This has not come from the Supreme Court Directions at all.

“Delhi High Court upholds death sentence of the all the four 16 December rape accused” – The Hindu, 13.03.2014

A Division Bench of Justices Reva Khetrapal and Pratibha Rani upheld the death sentence of all the four accused in rape and murder of a physiotherapy student in Delhi on 16 December 2013. The Bench said: “We are constrained to hold that the mitigating circumstances… fade into insignificance in the light of the aggravating circumstances.” The Bench pointed out the “depravity of the mind of the convicts, the brutality of the crime and the grotesque and diabolical way it was committed”.

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“Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Ordinance cleared making stringent provisions for crimes against SC/ST communities” – First Post, 3.03.2014

Inclusion of more forms of discriminatory practices from 64 to around 94, formation of exclusive special courts at the district level,  expansion of rights to cover economic rights such as  right to deny access to public services or contractual services, wrongfully dispossess of lands from scheduled caste communities, included social boycott, compensation and complete protection to victims, socio-economic rehabilitation during the trial period, and included newer forms of offences such as 35 in the schedule , thus this ordinance has been victim-friendly and protection of victim oriented.

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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: www.wghr.org

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