Human rights? All left out

August 8, 2013

If safeguarding the rights of people, especially minorities and women, makes for good governance, then the plight of state’s watchdogs paints a sorry picture.

The government bodies set up to look after human rights, and rights of women and minorities are lying headless, and therefore toothless and defanged, for quite some time.

Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC), Karnataka State Commission for Women (KSCW) and Karnataka Minorities Development Corporation (KMDC) do not have anybody at the helm. It means these bodies cannot either look into the complaints of rights violation or make recommendations to the government to punish the culprit.

Sorry state of KSHRC

The KSHRC comprises a chairperson and two members.

The body cannot investigate complaints of human rights violation or take any action without the nod of its chairperson. Its previous chairperson, Justice (Retd) SR Nayak, retired on July 25 past year.

One of the two members, RH Raddi, retired two days after Justice Nayak and the other, B Parthasarathy, retired on March 2 past year. The government replaced the two members (appointing Justice Hunagunda and Meera Saxena) only on November 21. The post of the chairperson is still vacant. It has reduced the KSHRC to just a complaint-receiving body.

In 2012, the KSHRC referred 67 cases of human rights violation to the state government. The government, however, decided to act only in 20 cases. As on June 30 this year, the human rights body had a backlog of 14,410 complaints.

Reportedly, one of the two new members of the commission, Saxena, is not well versed in Kannada. R Manohar, director (project), South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (Sichrem), said people have intimated him about Saxena’s language issue. He said the government should appoint only those people to the KSHRC who have thorough knowledge about human rights.

He rued that the commission does not have a chairperson for a year now. He said many cases of human rights violation have taken place in the state in this period. He gave the example of Lakshmi Devi, a housemaid who died recently after setting herself afire, blaming the city police for torturing her to confess to stealing from her employer’s house.

Women’s woes

While the human rights commission is lying headless for a year, the women’s commission is without someone at the helm for six months now. Previous chairperson of the KSWC, C Manjula, quit on February 1 this year. The post is lying vacant since then. In this situation, the body can only counsel the victims who approach them.

The secretary of the KSWC, Kavitha S Mannikeri, said she is with the women’s commission on deputation for the past three months. She said that they are referring complaints to the department concerned for action as, without a chairperson, they do not have the mandate to take a decision.

She said that she herself has been juggling the two official roles she has—one at the KSWC and one as the joint director of child welfare department—on an everyday basis.

Minority report

The KMDC too has gone quiet ever since its previous chairman, Anwar Manippady, stepped down owing to political compulsions. During his tenure, he had exposed people who had encroached wakf properties worth crores of rupees.

Shaik Latheef, KMDC secretary, said that as the organisation is without a chairperson, it cannot take up any survey to tell if the government’s schemes for minorities’ welfare are being implemented. Also, the body cannot make recommendations to the government if it notices some anomaly.

Manippady told dna that the government should appoint a chairperson to the corporation at the earliest. He alleged that some people were working against the KMDC. He said many politicians had encroached wakf properties worth crores of rupees.

 

Source : DNA, Bangalore – 8th August 2013.

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India Begins Nurturing Its Abused Children, Meets Challenges

August 6, 2013

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PUDUCHERRY, India—India is taking steps to create a more nurturing criminal justice system to help child victims of abuse testify. Child abuse has often gone unpunished in India, but in the past year the government has introduced tougher penalties and laws that encourage people to report abuse.

While stepping in the right direction, the justice system is still struggling to find a foothold, to really put the principles into action.

“One of the main reasons sexual offenders against children used to escape was that children [who are victims] could not cope with facing the criminal justice system,” said Anant Kumar Asthana, a child rights lawyer practicing in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India.

The recent acquittal of a 45-year-old man accused of raping a 5-year-old girl nine years ago shook Indian civil society. The accused was identified by the child in court, but was acquitted because the child couldn’t answer questions in a cross-examination in the court.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act 2012 went into effect in November 2012. Asthana listed the two most significant accomplishments of the law, “[Firstly,] It has made not reporting sexual offenses against children a punishable offense, and [secondly,] it has defined several sexual acts as criminal offenses, which were not there in any penal law before.”

While people have started filing POCSO cases around the country, the first convictions under the Act have just started to come out.

Another main feature of the law is the mandated creation of child-friendly courts, processes, and procedures. In these, explained Asthana, an effort is made to understand and address the vulnerabilities of children. According to media reports, police chiefs in several states have started issuing orders that cases registered under POCSO can be tried in children’s court.

While praising the Act, children’s advocates say implementation remains a challenge.

Ranganathan Manohar, a program director for the South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring, said coordination between government departments will be important. He also noted that “Child rights activists, physiologists, and others need to be constantly contacted and consulted.”

Asthana gave an example of where the infrastructure is lacking to meet the requirements of the Act. POCSO requires a female police officer record the statements of a child victim, but with the current number of women on the force, it is difficult to arrange.

“Implementation of the POCSO Act is at a nascent stage in our country,” Asthana said. “Police have responded comparatively better to this Act, and that is why we see so many cases being registered by the Police. But other concerned authorities [such as judiciary officials and officials from various government departments] are still in the process of responding to the requirements of this Act.”

To bring cooperation among all agencies and stakeholders on implementing the Act, a POCSO conference was held in New Dehli on Tuesday by the Indian Ministry for Women and Child Development.

Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath stressed the need to introduce the Act in the school curriculum. “Children must be educated about its provisions,” she said in a release.

Many children’s advocates focus on police training, since police are the major players in implementing the Act. Manohar said, “Specific training using child rights activists and medical experts needs to be done for the police who will deal with children while recording statements on audio and video.”

He said the Act needs to be further disseminated in various languages to all concerned, especially the judiciary, police, child groups, and parents.

Source – Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times, August 3, 2013


Childline Awareness Program

August 2, 2013

Childline organized an outreach programme for creating awareness about the Child Labour Act & Child Helpline – 1098 on the 29th of July 2013 in Bangarapet Taluk.

 

Displayed below are some photos of the same program:

 

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Book Release

July 31, 2013

South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM) in collaboration with the Right to Education to Task Force released a Kannada handbook on “SHIKASHANA MAKKALA HAKKU”- RTE 2009 State Rules and FAQ’s.

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The Chief Guest, Sri.Umesh Aradhya, Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights(KSCPCR) released the book and Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director, SICHREM presided with felicitations from Mr.Vasudeva Sharma, Executive Director, CRT and Ms. Aruna, Student of Social Work, Bangalore University.

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‘Most city schools turn away RTE kids’

July 29, 2013

Over 90 per cent of schools in Bangalore are not responding immediately to queries from parents seeking admissions through the RTE quota and most of them get turned away. We have been only 10 per cent successful in implementing RTE in Karnataka, said Umesh Aradhya, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR).

He was speaking at the launch of ‘Shikshana Makkala Hakku’, a book on the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act-2009 written by Gangadhar Reddy N, convenor of the RTE Task Force, at the South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM).

“Many schools are refusing to be questioned by authorities regarding aberrations in RTE admissions. It is not working out very well and children are suffering because of that,” Aradhya said.

Many parents and social workers who struggled to obtain admissions in schools through the RTE quota shared their experiences at the RTE Task Force meeting.

Ningegowda, a parent, said that when applications were submitted to the Block Education Officer (BEO) of his area and admissions were obtained, schools did not bother to inform parents that their children had procured admission. “My daughter’s name was on the list but the school authorities did not inform us. When we went back to the school to equestion them about why we weren’t told earlier, they said they had more important things to do,” he said.

 

Source :  The New Indian Express, 28th July 2013.


Book Release – Invite

July 25, 2013

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SICHREM in Media – Police Station raided, Minor rescued.

June 22, 2013

SICHREM in Media

Source : Deccan Chronicle, 22nd June 2013.