“WGHR endorsed a joint statement against the killing of Rashid Rehman, human rights defender and a lawyer from Pakistan” – 14.05.2014
Rashid Rehman Khan was a coordinator for the Human Rights Commission for Pakistan (HRCP), the senior lawyer and a human rights defender was representing a blasphemy accused and had complained that he had been receiving threats on his life. He was later gunned down in Multan on 8 May 2014.
Condemning this brazen killing and urging the Government of Pakistan to identify the killers and bring them to justice, a joint statement was released by human rights groups in South Asia, WGHR and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) being one of them.
Read the statement
WGHR Members Activities and News
"Babloo Loitangbam’s statement at the 26th HRC on Rashida Manjoor’s Report" – 11.06.2014
Babloo Loitangbam, director of Huamn Rights Alert (HRA), a WGHR member gave statement on behalf of Commonwealth Human Rights Initative (CHRI) in association with WGHR during the interactive session with the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women welcoming and endorsing the recommendations in her report.
He said “We endorse the call for a qualitative assessment of the National Women’s Commission and steps to ensure its independence. We reiterate the need for India to strengthen women’s human rights, by ratifying all outstanding international conventions. We also demand the urgent repeal of laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.”
Read the statement here
“A campaign to end human rights violations by corporate” – 07.05.2014
A historic campaign initiated by a global alliance of civil society organizations (the Treaty Alliance) made up by large group of civil societies calls on Human Rights Council (HRC) to create an international treaty to address corporate human rights violations.
With the objective to form a treaty to affirm the applicability of human rights obligations to the operations of corporations, have countries monitor and regulate corporations under their jurisdiction, provide for access to an effective remedy for the people affected by corporate human rights violations, as well as provide for an international monitoring and accountability mechanism, a joint statement is already being circulated online to seek support and visibility. The statement has already signed by 150 civil society organisations around the world. WGHR has also signed this statement.
“Child Rights Organisation’s call to PM for inclusive policies and proactive actions from a new Government”
A collective joint action call has been sent to the Prime Minister of India for inclusive and proactive actions from the new government. This joint call, endorsed by major civil society groups and organisations working for the rights of the children like IACR (India Alliance for Child Rigts), HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, YWCA, Women’s Coalition Trust etc urges the PM, Narendra Modi to focus on creating new effective policies in eight to nine important points. It urges the government to focus on child mortality and health and nutritious food, budgetary provisions, a National Mission for Children, education, sanitation and how can the existing resources be used to realise their full potential in protection and promotion of human rights of the children which constitute 40% of the total population on India.
UN Human Rights News
“United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women (VAW), Rashida Manjoo’s report on India visit 2013 and Government of India’s (GOI) response in 26th session of the Human Rights Council” – 12.06.2014
Rashida Manjoo, UN SR presented her report on violence against women in India from her visit in 2013 in UNHRC 26th session. Her report ranged from decrying degrading tests used on rape victims to urging India to define marital rape as a criminal offense and to repeal a law that criminalized consensual same-sex behavior. Rashida Manjoo, said violence against women was systematic and continued “from womb to tomb” and that “According to numerous interlocutors, the physical, sexual and psychological abuse of women in the private sphere is widely tolerated by the State and the community”.
In response to Ms Manjoo’s, the GOI called the allegations “baseless”. “We do not agree with the labeling of 'violence against women in India as systematic',” India said. “Such a sweeping remark smacks of a highly prejudiced state of mind.”
India's response to Manjoo's report listed 16 allegations that it said were not backed up by facts. The examples it gave included her claim that sexual violence was widespread across the country, that members of the security forces had committed mass rapes, that trafficking of women and girls to and from India was widespread, and that police and officials discriminated against people from certain castes.
Find the report here
“Decrease in maternal deaths, says a UN reoprt” – 08.05.2014
According to a UN report, the maternal mortality numbers have gone down by 65 per cent from 569 per lakh live births in 1990 to 190 per lakh live births in 2013 in India. Another study, Global causes of maternal death: a WHO systematic analysis conducted by WHO (World Health Organisation) adds that more than one in four mothers die due to pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV, malaria and obesity, which can aggravate during pregnancy.
Even though there is progress being observed, it is also predicted that most countries won’t achieve the Millennium Development Goal target of 75 per cent reduction in MMR from 1990 to 2015. “Together, the two reports highlight the need to invest in proven solutions, such as quality care for all women during pregnancy and childbirth, and particular care for pregnant women with existing medical conditions,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, assistant director general, family, women’s and children’s health, WHO.
Updates on UPR from UNHRC 26th Session
The deadline for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to receive written contributions from the stakeholders of the countries to be reviewed during the 22nd session of the UPR is 15 September 2014. List of States under review: Belarus, Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia, Panama, Maldives, Andorra, Bulgaria, Honduras, United States of America, Marshall Islands, Croatia, Jamaica and Libya. Stakeholders’ submissions should be sent using the new ‘On-line UPR submissions system’
The UPR Pre-sessions 20
UPR Info is now organising the next round of pre-sessions between Civil Society Organisations, NHRIs and Permanent Missions to discuss the human rights situation of States to be reviewed at the 20th UPR Working Group session (27 October – 7 November 2014): Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Iran , Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, San Marino and Slovenia. The pre-sessions will take place from 6 to 9 October 2014, at the Centre International de Conférences Genève, 17 rue de Varembé, Room 5.
The Follow-up in full swing
The Follow-up programme is currently assessing the mid-term implementation of countries to be reviewed in the 25th UPR session. The Mid-term Implementation Assessments (MIAs) on Antigua and Barbuda, Hungary, Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Sudan and Tajikistan are already online. Many different stakeholders have contributed to this round of assessments with 6 mid-term reports submitted by States, 4 submissions by NHRIs, 5 submissions by UN agencies and 74 submissions by CSOs.
The deadline for submitting comments on the mid-term implementation for session 26 countries is 30 June. The session 26 countries include: Haiti, Iceland, Lithuania, Moldova, South Sudan, Syria, Timor-Leste, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
The Human Rights Council adopts 14 UPR Report
On the 19th and 20th of June the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted the UPR working group reports for the 14 countries reviewed last January at the UPR 18th session: Afghanistan, Chile, Comoros, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of), New Zealand, Slovakia, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen. Cambodia's adoption was postponed to Thursday 26 June. In total, all states, except Cambodia and Yemen, submitted an addendum. The President of the Council has continued the practice initiated in March to summarise, at the end of each adoption, the number of recommendations accepted and noted. This will simplify the follow up for both recommending states and NGOs.
UPR Info participates in a training of human rights defenders
UPR Info was invited on June 18 to give a training to 20 human rights defenders from 18 different countries organised by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) in the framework of the HRC 26th session.
The ISHR Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme wants to equip defenders with the knowledge and skills to make strategic use of the international human rights system. UPR Info was invited to present the UPR process, its origin and its functioning. The training also aimed at providing the participants with practical knowledge on how to effectively engage with the UPR, how to cooperate with the different actors engage in the process, how to work with the recommendations made and how to follow up in the country.
Governments and NGOs committed to mid-term reporting for the second cycle of the UPR
Poland, Morocco and Finland are the first countries reviewed in the second cycle to voluntarily submit a mid-term report on their progress made in the implementation of their UPR recommendations. This critical step is progressively officialised and led us to recently take the floor (see next chapter).
On the same note, for the first time in the second cycle three NGOs published a mid-term report:
For Morocco, both the Réseau Amazigh pour la Citoyenneté and Mobilising for rights associates (partnering with the Advocates for Human Rights), published a mid-term implementation assessment of UP recommendations focusing on cultural rights and women’s rights respectively.
For Bahrain, the Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) presented a similar document analysing the situation in the country and implementation assessment of all the 176 recommendations received by Bahrain during their second cycle review. We would like to underline it is uncommon that NGOs work on all recommendations, so we congratulate ADHRB for its comprehensive vision of the UPR.
This news stresses once more the importance of the mid-term reporting as a key element of the UPR process. UPR Info welcomes this practice and encourages both States and CSOs to keep pursuing this path.
States are doing better in terms of reporting at mid-term
In a statement on 24 June 2014, Roland Chauville, UPR Info's executive director commended a positive trend which "testifies that States progressively see that their engagement in the Council requires reporting at mid-term". He also added that "the number of mid-term reports submitted to the Council has dramatically increased: approximately half of the reports were so published during the last 20 months period." Finally, he underlined that former HRC President H.E. Phuangketkeow presented Thailand's mid-term report: "Thailand is the first South East Asian country to provide such document, so we congratulate its dedication to show the way to neighbouring countries."
The importance of reporting at mid-term has already been demonstrated on many occasions; the drafting process enables ministries to coordinate and set up appropriate focal points in charge of the implementation. It is also an opportunity to revisit noted recommendations and see if some of those could be accepted and implemented.
Denmark accepts 20 recommendations that were rejected during the first cycle
Denmark published a mid-term report on the progress made in the implementation of the UPR recommendations received during their first review.
20 recommendations that were rejected at the adoption of the report in the plenary session in July 2011 have now been accepted. These recommendations deal with international instruments, namely the ratification Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, amendments in the criminal code regarding marital rape, the creation of an Ombudsman for children’s rights and the requirements for migrants and asylum seekers among others. For the full list of recommendations check our updated document 2RP.
This is the first time that a country changes positively its position on such a vast number of recommendations and UPR Info welcomes this move.
Human Rights in India
“Notice issued to the Health Ministry by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)” – 18.06.2014
NHRC has issued a notice to the Health Ministry expressing concern over rising cases of Leprosy in the country seeking a report of the situation within four weeks. It has been observed that after the integration of leprosy services with General Healthcare System, there has been shortage of staff in the programme and hence the poor service to those affected by leprosy.
The government has declared that leprosy is under control. However, the official data shows otherwise, with the incidence of the crippling disease on the rise with 1,26,800 new cases in 2010-11, 1,27,295 in 2011-12 and 1,34,752 in 2012-13.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) gives its concluding observations on the consolidated “periodic report submitted by the Government of India (GOI).” – 13.06.2014
CRC has welcomed the submission of the consolidated third and fourth periodic reports of the India and the written replies to its list of issues. CRC in its concluding observations has appreciated the efforts made by the country such as the National Food Security Act, on 10 September 2013; the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, on 14 November 2012; the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, in August 2009; the National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy, on 27 September 2013; and the National Policy for Children, on 26 April 2013.
While appreciating the efforts, CRC also recommends the GOI to take necessary steps to implement observations from second periodic report which have not been implemented or insufficiently implemented such as non-discrimination, adoption, harmful practices, sexual exploitation, education, health, child labour and the administration of juvenile justice. The CRC also urges the GOI to “undertake a revision of all its legislation related to children to ensure the coherent and consistent harmonization of the legislative framework on children’s rights at the federal and state levels with the principles and provisions of the Convention and that they are applied in the same way to all children in the territory of the State party.”
Find the report here
“Intelligence Bureau (IB) report claims foreign funded NGOs obstructing development in the country” – 12.06.2014
Report submitted by the IB to the Prime Minister of India accused "foreign-funded" NGOs such as Greenpeace, Cordaid, Amnesty and ActionAid of "serving as tools for foreign policy interests of western governments" by sponsoring agitations against nuclear and coal-fired power plants across the country. The report also addressed to heads of joint intelligence committee and R&AW, national security council secretariat (NSCS), coal and power secretaries, home minister, finance minister and Cabinet secretary, and signed by IB joint director Safi A Rizvi — alleges that the "areas of action" of the foreign-funded NGOs include anti-nuclear, anti-coal and anti-Genetically Modified Organisms protests. Apart from stalling mega industrial projects including those floated by POSCO and Vedanta, these NGOs have also been working to the detriment of mining, dam and oil drilling projects in north-eastern India, it adds. The NGOs, said to be working through a network of local organizations such as PUCL and Narmada Bachao Andolan, have negatively impacted GDP growth by 2-3%, claims the IB report sent to the PMO and other government agencies.
"It is disturbing to know that information of the IB report has been leaked to a media house and not been shared with the party concerned," said executive director of the Greenpeace India, Samit Aich, in his letter to the home minister.
“Torture, sexual abuse and murder in police custody in Mumbai” – 21.05.2014
Three robbery suspects including a minor have complained against 12 policemen from Wadala railway police of torture, sexual abuse and murder in custody. Agnelo Valdaris, 25, was also arrested with the other three, he could not survive the injuries and died three days later.
"(Constables Ravi) Mane and Kamble stripped me naked and put me on a table," one of them has said in his complaint. "Mane assaulted me with a belt and Kamble with a baton. They hit me so hard I fell unconscious. They poured water on me. After I regained my senses, the torture started again. This time I was forced to perform oral sex on Agnelo and the minor. When I refused, I was threatened with more beatings. Left with no option, I did as asked. They later hanged me naked upside down and assaulted me again with belts and batons."
The three boys are now released on bail and have complained against the 12 constables. The boys are being constantly threatened to withdraw their complaints of murder, sexual abuse, kidnapping, assault and tampering of evidence while the state CID and departmental enquiry by Government Railway Police investigate the case.
“Study observes discrimination against children of vulnerable sections in schools” – 22.04.2014
A study conducted in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Delhi, interviewing more than 160 people, including children, parents, teachers, and a wide range of education experts, rights activists, local authorities, and education officials by Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that teachers discriminate against Dalit, tribal, and Muslim children. Children from Dalit, tribal, and Muslim communities are often made to sit at the back of the class or in separate rooms, insulted by the use of derogatory names, denied leadership roles, and served food last. They are even told to clean toilets, while children from traditionally privileged groups are not.
In addition to this, there is lack of monitoring and grievance redress mechanisms for which the Government of India and State administration is responsible.
Read the report here