“WGHR took part in a press conference on publication release event by SAM: BKS (Shahari Adhikar Manch: Begharon ke saath” – 29.04.2014
Shahri Adhikar Manch: Begharon ke Saath, an urban rights forum launched its publication, The Trajectory of a Struggle, in Delhi on 29 April 2014. The publication documents the story of SAM: BKS’s struggle of over a decade, it talks about the perpetual human rights violation faced by the homeless and the work the SAM: BKS has done so far for the homeless to make them realise their fundamental and human rights.
Shivani Chaudhry, Executive Director, HLRN and Executive Committee member, SAM: BKS, said that, “this publication marks a significant moment in the struggle of SAM: BKS since 2008. Through SAM:BKS, issues of police brutality and violence against homeless women, have also been brought to the attention of the High Court of Delhi and national human rights institutions. While the Forum has made some progress, the lack of political will in the government to develop durable solutions for homelessness and the flagrant violation of orders of the High Court of Delhi, continue to be enormous challenges.”
WGHR Secretariat Team was present at the book launch event.
WGHR Members Activities and News
“Handbook on forced evictions launched by Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN)” – 16.04.2014
How to respond to Forced Eviction: A Handbook for India was launched at an event on 16 April 2014 in New Delhi by Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), a WGHR member. The handbook equips activists, victims, civil society organisations and individuals with information on national and international laws and policies that must be followed by state and non – state entities to protect human rights before, during and after evictions.
Shivani Chaudhry, Executive Director, HLRN, said “The fact that we need to publish a book on how to deal with forced evictions indicates a glaring failure of the Indian state to protect the human rights of its people, especially the most marginalised. Since independence, at least 70 million people have been displaced across India. A large majority of them have no access to remedy and have to contend with perpetual homelessness and insecure living conditions. Recognising the human rights violations inherent in acts of forced eviction and the virtual impunity of the state, often in collusion with the private sector, HLRN has produced this handbook to assist affected persons and to help end the widespread practice of forced evictions.”
The launch event also held a panel discussion, Evictions in India: Rule of Law and Role of State followed by the handbook release. The panel constituted, Mr Satabrata Pal, former member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Ms Kalyani Menon Sen, feminist activist and independent researcher, Mr Indu Prakash Singh, Convenor, National forum for housing Rights, Shivani Chaudhry, Executive Director, HLRN and Justice A. P. Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and chairperson of Law Commission
Justice A.P. Shah asserted that, “Those living in informal settlements help the rest of the city to live a decent life. They deserve protection and respect of the right to life and dignity, which the Constitution of India guarantees them”
UN Human Rights News
“UN panel urges nations to lower CHGs (Climate Damaging Greenhouse Gases) levels” – The Times of India, 14.04.2014
UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has come up with a report asserting that despite the various measures being taken by nations to curb climate damage and carbon emissions, there is still requirement of bringing down the CHGs levels stressing that there are ways and tools available to do so provided they be used more effectively and strictly.
The report — Mitigation of Climate Change recommends measures like reduction of subsidy for fossil fuels (diesel and petrol), specifically in transport sector, and use of energy efficient products (by Bureau of Energy Efficiency) through strict mechanism/testing are couple of suggestions which can be adopted by India. Also use of climate smart technology and efficient use of water in agriculture would help countries like India. Mr Shreekant Gupta, one of the authors of the report pointed out how such measures can even help the country in fighting the adverse affects of El Nino which may hit India this year or other extreme weather events.
“Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay supports new Convention on the rights of older persons” – OHCHR, 08.04.2014
United Nations General Assembly is seeking a consensus on establishing a new convention focusing on the promotion and protection of human rights of the elderly persons. While some states favour the proposal others stress upon making the existing international mechanisms stronger and effective for achieving the goal.
Older persons largely face human rights abuse economically, physically and psychologically which is hidden and rather neglected because the older persons are stereotyped as non – productive and irrelevant. Opening the 2014 Social Forum, Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay said “We have found that articulation of dedicated instruments laying [out] the specific rights of certain groups can be of invaluable assistance in focusing world attention – and action – on key groups at risk”.
The Social Forum is an annual event established by the Human Rights Council to enable an ongoing dialogue between the United Nations and a range of actors, including civil society and grass roots organisations.
“Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women recommends the Government of India (GOI) to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as a matter of urgency” – OHCHR, 1.04.2014
In the final report of United Nations Special Rapporteur, Rashida Manjoo on Violence against Women on India’s visit in 2013, she has recommended the GOI to repeal AFSPA as a matter of urgency and to ensure that members of the armed forces involved in criminal activities could be persecuted legally.
In addition to repealing the AFSPA, she has also recommended the GOI to ratify all outstanding international human rights instruments; withdraw the declarations and reservation to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, in particular regarding articles 5 (a); 16, paragraphs 1 and 2; and 29, paragraph 1; to amend the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 and in particular review the provisions that provide for the death penalty in section 376A; include a definition of marital rape as a criminal offence; expand the scope of protection of the law and include other categories of women, including unmarried women, lesbian, transgender and intersex women, religious minorities and underage citizens; and define gang rape as multiple crimes requiring appropriate punishment (section 376D); Furthermore, she recommends repeal of section 377 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes consensual same-sex behaviour; review the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 that de facto criminalizes sex work and ensure that measures to address trafficking in persons do not overshadow the need for effective measures to protect the human rights of sex workers.
The report further says."Dalit and Adivasi women and women from other scheduled castes and tribes and other 'backward classes' are frequent victims of multiple and intersecting forms of caste-based discrimination ... continues to be pervasive and widespread. The intergenerational nature of caste-based discrimination condemns women to a life of exclusion, marginalization and disadvantage in every sphere of life. Many of those women are denied an education and economic opportunities, and perform dangerous and unprotected work, including bonded labour (debt bondage) and manual scavenging, which are both widely regarded as forms of forced labour and modern forms of slavery."
Human Rights in India
“Supreme Court of India agrees to hear curative plea on section 377” – The Hindu, 22.04.2014
The Apex Court has finally agreed to hear the curative plea on section 377 which was filed after Supreme Court recriminalised gay sex in India through a judgment given on 11.12.2013 and also dismissed a review petition filed in January 2014 challenging the judgement.
The hearing is now scheduled in July after the Court holidays.
“Supreme Court of India recognises transgender persons as third gender in a land mark ruling” – 15.04.2014
A historic ruling of the Supreme Court of India recognises transgenders which make about two million of the total population as third genders. The judgment provides for reservations in jobs and education for trangender persons who neither identify as male nor as female.
"Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue," Justice KS Radhakrishnan, who headed the two-judge Supreme Court bench, said in his ruling.
"Transgenders are also citizens of India" and they must be "provided equal opportunity to grow and that the spirit of the Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender” he said.
“Coalition from India and United States urges World Bank to stop water privatisation” - Corporate Accountability International, 14.04.2014
An international coalition on water rights from India and the United states on water is urging the World Bank not to support projects for privatizing water in the Global South. But even after several of meetings and side events the World Bank through International Finance Corporation (IFC) continues to support such projects. In Nagpur, India the IFC holds a 13.9 percent stake in the Veolia subsidiary whose joint venture, Orange City Water,won the water supply contract. Already, the project has been marked by inequitable water distribution, service shutdowns, and allegations of corruption and illegal activity that have resulted in ongoing protests,official investigations and legal action. Most surprisingly, the World Bank has declared the project a success and a model to be emulated elsewhere. “The IFC’s ideological promotion of private water is doing more harm than good in many places around the globe.” said ShaydaNaficy, a water expert at Corporate Accountability International. “The World Bank must put decisions and funding for water in the hands of governments and the people they are accountable to, and stop directly supporting corporations like Veolia that are designed only to produce profits for their shareholders.”
“The World Bank has dropped funding for the Hydro Power Project on Sutluj, a victory for saving the river Sutluj campaign” – The Times of India, 12.04.2014
The World Bank has dropped funding for Luhri Hydro Project in Himachal Pradesh after being reviewed for environmental and social impact of the project by USAID team, according to a statement issued by the South Asia Network of Rivers, Dams and People (SANDRP).
Nek Ram Sharma of the Satluj Bachao Jan Sangharsh Samiti (SBJSS) said, "This will boost the confidence of local people in deciding their own future." SBJSS has been campaigning against the environmental impact on proposed 38 kms long tunnel to be constructed as part of the project.
“Ministry of Health and Family Welfare comes out with new guidelines for handling rape victims” – The Indian Express, 17.03.2014
To ensure that rape victims be handled sensitively and not harassed any further by the police, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (MHFW) has come with a new set of guidelines. The new protocols translate into practice the recommendations of the Justice J S Verma committee and conforms with the WHO’s guidelines for medico-legal services for victims of sexual violence.
Shakuntala D Gamlin, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said, “It is incumbent on every government hospital in the country to treat rape victims free of charge, even post-treatment will have to be gratis.”
Read the guidelines here