WGHR participated in ANNI Regional Conference: The Role of NHRIs in the National Human Rights Protection System, 04.09.2014
The Asian NGO Network on NHRIs (ANNI) and Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) organised a two day regional conference (2-3 September, 2014) in New Delhi on the Role of NHRIs in the National Human Rights Protection System. WGHR Secretariat participated in the event on behalf of the All India Network of NGOs and Individuals working with National Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI).
The objective of the conference was to identify challenges and threats that might be affecting the effective work on NHRIs in the Asian region; to foster partnership and dialogue among NHRIs and other stakeholders and identify better practices to protect human rights in the region among others.
The conference was held parallel to the business meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF), where the regional grouping of NHRIs in Asia and the Pacific discussed its strategic plan for 2015 – 2020. This meeting also held a dialogue between the member NHRIs and the ANNI.
Indian Human Rights Defenders’ Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Mr. Maina Kiai, 21.09.2014
WGHR participated in Indian Human Rights Defenders’ Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Mr. Maina Kiai organised by Forum –Asia in Kathmandu, Nepal on 18th September, 2014.
Many recommendations were provided to the Special Rapporteur after the dialogue in a form a brief report. Some of the general recommendations included:
To commission country reports on ‘sectoral equity’ in selected countries, comparing the access that states, multilaterals and local CSOs enjoy.
To address donors, through statement urging them to refrain from bowing down to restrictive and punitive policies, thus giving such policies a legitimacy in practice.
To meet NGOs/human rights defenders without the presence of intermediaries who often have their vested interests in the cause.
WGHR Members Activities and News
Human Rights Alert as a part of an alliance formulated ‘Guwahati Declaration’ to repeal AFSPA, 12.09.2014
Eight human rights and civil society organizations (Centre for Research and Advocacy, Human Rights Alert, Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti, WinG-India, North East Dialogue Forum, Borok People Human Rights Organisation, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee, People’s Right to Information and Development Implementing Society of Mizoram) on 11th September, 2014 resolved to constitute a North East alliance for broader coordination to oppose the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) and to press for repeal of the act.
This included a coalition of human rights groups, civil society groups, peoples’ movements at both regional and all-India level for intensive mobilisation of the masses across the region.
A “Guwahati Declaration”, issued after a day-long convention on various aspects of AFSPA in the region, expressed concern that “the act is increasingly used to gag and subvert democratic voices against unsustainable, predatory and anti-people mega dams and other development projects.”
The declaration noted that it was on the 11 September 1958 that the President of India signed the Act, and the same day “9/11” is observed as anti-terrorism day.
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) advocating for complete overhaul of Tamil Nadu State Police Reforms Act (2013), 26.10.2014
CHRI among other CSOs in the country have been advocating for a complete overhaul of the Tamil Nadu State Police Reforms Act (2013) arguing that many provisions of the Act that was passed last year by the State legislature, were in violation of the Supreme Court’s landmark 2006 judgment in the Prakash Singh case.
In a consultation meeting in Chennai on drafting of an alternative bill, Devika Prasad, Senior Programme Officer, CHRI said that “None of states in the country has implemented the Supreme Court’s directions in its true spirit. A big trend in the new police Acts framed by the states is to give more powers to the police. The Tamil Nadu Police Act has incorporated the Supreme Court’s directions, but highly diluted the directives”.
She also added that “One of the worst aspects of the Act is the police complaints board (which is to deal with the complaints of abuses against police officers). It makes it mandatory for people to file a written complaint attested by a notary public. It should rather be a place where public can freely represent their complaints. Besides, since the board is full of senior police officers, how will the public feel free to lodge a complaint against police officer with them?”
UN Human Rights News
India has been reelected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) till 2017, 23.10.2014
India has been re elected to the UN Human Rights Council till 2017 for the second time running. The Council members are elected for a period of three years by the majority of members of the General Assembly through direct and secret ballot. They have the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. India has joined Indonesia, Qatar and Bangladesh to get back into the council topping the Asian group.
Ashok Mukerji, India's permanent representative in the UN said it was an endorsement of India's position. "It is a significant victory for India because the Human Rights Council is second-most in importance after the Security Council," he told journalists. India, he said, had given a human rights pledge to the UN before the elections, which includes within the definition of human rights, rights for women, transparent and inclusive development, right to information, etc
India Abstains from voting on resolution on the rights of the LGBT persons at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), 27.09.2014
India abstained from voting on a UNHRC resolution supporting LGBT rights around the world, condemning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The UN Human Rights Council passed the resolution on September 26, 2014, to combat violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution is considered a critically important achievement for upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The resolution led by Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay—followed a resolution in 2011 on the same topic led by South Africa. The resolution expresses grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination in all regions of the world against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity and asks the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to gather and publish information on how best to overcome discrimination and violence.
The resolution passed by 25 votes in favor, 14 against, and 7 abstentions. India abstained from voting, and so did Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Kazakhstan, Namibia and Sierra Leone. Pakistan, Indonesia, Russia and Saudi Arabia were the notable ones among 14 to oppose.Read more
Human Rights in India
India being questioned about human rights record, tough times ahead for the Indian Civil Society, 16.09.2014
Civil Society in India needs to be prepared for harsher scrutiny by the government and top security agencies as the security establishment, wary of any sustained global campaign against the country and its human rights records, puts in place an aggressive strategy for 'setting the record straight'.
Each incident with a communal hue reported from any remote corner of India, each news report of any crime against women all are being meticulously filed away to be compiled into various annual reports of agencies like the US State Department, Euro Parliament, UK Parliament and UNHRC, to be used against India, said a top official requesting anonymity.
The Indian political leadership has been warned of the possibility of such international dossiers in the making that could be used to arm-twist India during crucial international negotiations, and the security apparatus is readying its counter measures now. According to the Indian government sources, “Most of these foreign agencies depend upon statistics provided by the organisations working here. Many international civil rights organisations were increasingly publishing reports questioning India's track-record of handling communal flare-ups, crimes against women and human rights violations, many of them linked to land agitations”. Therefore there is a need to scrutinize Indian NGOs and their foreign donors.
Civil Society Activist Harsh Mandar felt that instead of being defensive on this count, India should display the confidence to stand up to public scrutiny. He said that it should not translate into clamping down on Indian NGOs. "One can debate facts and figures that they put out but the government should not cast aspersions on them, with the sub-text of being anti-national just because they receive foreign funds," he said.
India needs five – pronged strategy to protect human rights, 7.09.2014
In a three-day conference, which concluded in New Delhi on 5th September, 2014, the National Human Rights Commission of India and its regional counterparts agreed to focus on gender equality, peace and security, business, priority vulnerable groups. Vulnerable sections include children, women, the disabled, the elderly and displaced persons.
The conference was organised by Asia Pacific forum from 3rd to 5th September, 2014 in which India along with 21 other members of the Forum resolved to use a five-pronged strategy to promote and protect human rights from 2015 to 2020.
Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) investigating into custodial deaths, 11.10.2014
Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) conducted an inquiry into complaints of alleged human rights abuse by police officials in the western region of state in the city of Coimbatore in October 2014. State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) received 28 complaints from the western region of the state. To ensure easy access to the petitioners, police officials and other government officials, it conducted the probe at the Circuit House located at Red Fields in Coimbatore. A team led by SHRC member K Baskaran also visited Coimbatore central prison to investigate the cases of custodial deaths.
The team recorded the statements of a few inmates in connection with a convicted prisoner C Kumar's suspicious death inside the prison complex. Kumar, 29, from Kallikattu Valavu village in Salem district, murdered his father Chinnasamy. He was arrested by Salem rural police and lodged at Coimbatore central prison in 2005. The Principal district judge court in Salem had awarded a life sentence to Kumar. Later, he appealed before the Madras high court which reduced the life sentence to seven years rigorous imprisonment.
On August 9, 2010, Kumar allegedly committed suicide at the library hall in Coimbatore central prison after he came in contact with live wire. Prison officials claimed that it was a suicide. However, the SHRC has taken the case as suo motu and started the investigation.Read more