Giving them their due – Facilitation centre for domestic workers inaugurated.

August 26, 2013

 

Want to make sure that your domestic help gets the benefits she or he is entitled to from the government and is aware of her rights from her employer?

The job has now been made simpler as the Stree Jagruti Samiti inaugurated a worker facilitation centre for domestic workers on Friday, which would maintain a database of the workers. After registering the workers, the centre would help the workers avail themselves of benefits from the government.

Speaking about the need for the centre, Geeta Menon, secretary of Stree Jagruti Samiti, said domestic workers had always been an invisible silent majority and there was a need for them to get recognition. “There is a need to identify them as workers and give them their identity. Maintaining a database will help us give them information on government schemes and benefits that they are entitled to.”

At the inauguration of the centre, the domestic workers were also given a booklet consisting of the number of various helplines, including those of police stations, Labour Department, Childline, Ambulance and Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

Mathew Philip, executive director of South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), urged the workers not to hesitate to call the helplines for assistance.

Anushree, a domestic worker from Jakkasandra, said, “In times of emergency or need our employers turn a blind eye towards us. Although I have been working in three houses for 18 years, my employers refused to help me when I had a medical crisis. We hope that we can get some assistance from the helpline.”

Domestic workers could also approach the centre for assistance if they have any problems related to discrepancies in salary, false robbery cases and physical or domestic abuse.

The centre is located at 2643, 36 A cross, 28th Main Road, Jayanagar, 9th Block, Bangalore- 560069. For details, contact 080 – 22734956.

 

Source: The Hindu, Bangalore, 24th August 2013.


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.


Press Release

July 31, 2013

SICHREM condemns the move by the Central Government to launch The Central Monitoring System and demands its withdrawal

 

The South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM) strongly condemns, the New Central Monitoring System (CMS), a see–all surveillance programme launched by the Central Government. It is a blatant attack on the right to life which is enshrined as a fundamental right in the Constitution and right to privacy is an integral part of right to life.

The right to privacy is guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the United Nations adopted in the year 1948 10 December and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which India is a state party in the year 1975. Article 17 of the ICCPR provides that, “(1) no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation; (2) everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

The term “correspondence” has been broadly recognized to cover all forms of communication, including via the Internet. The right to private correspondence thus gives rise to a comprehensive obligation on the part of the government to ensure that text messages, emails, and other forms of electronic communication are actually delivered to the desired recipient without arbitrary or unlawful interference or inspection by the government or by third parties.

The proposed manner of “snooping” by the Central Government is a direct attack on the constitutional rights of the citizens. In order to uphold its democratic principles and to prevent the formation of an authoritarian image, India needs to be transparent about who will be authorised to collect data, what data will be collected, how it will be used and such details.

The new proposed CMS system will be a violation of article 19(1) of the constitution which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression. There is also a threat that in the name of “society welfare”, this new system might actually be misused by public authorities.

While SICHREM firmly condemns any sort of violence by non-state actors as well as state actors, but in the name of curbing and preventing attacks and violence there are other measures that the government needs to take and SICHREM acknowledges the constitutional duty and responsibility cast on the Governments to protect the life of all people it equally stresses that whatever be the situation, the state must act within the confines of constitution.

SICHREM asserts that any counter strategies devised by the Government should adhere strictly to the rule of law, constitution and specific standards and obligations of international human rights law. 

SICHREM demands from the government that they need to keep all the above constitutional, fundamental human rights and principles of international law in mind while laws are being brought, which if not followed will be a blatant violation of all basic democratic principles.

The CMS is created without the parliament’s approval too, SICHREM demands that the government convene a full public debate about the intended use of the system before proceeding.

SICHREM joins in appeal with all other democratic and rights loving citizens for the immediate withdrawal of The Central Monitoring System.

 

Mathews Philip

Executive Director  

 


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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Training Programme on Human Rights Education for Government teachers in Chitradurga District.

July 29, 2013

Don Bosco in Chitradurga organised a Training Program in Human Rights Education for the Government School teachers. Margaret Sampath was the resource person from SICHREM. The training program was for three days.

Below are some clippings for the local dailies on the Training Program held in Chitradurga.

Chithra durga shots-1

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Chithra durga shots-3

Chithra durga shots


PRESS RELEASE

July 17, 2013

26th JUNE UN INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE

SICHREM calls upon the Government of India to immediately ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”) and to pass a domestic legislation categorically prohibiting torture immediately.

26 June 2013 – On this date in 1987, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force. It was an important step in the much-needed process of globalising human rights and acknowledging that torture, and all forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, are absolutely and universally illegal. In 1997, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this historic date and designated 26 June each year as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Torture seeks to annihilate the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. The United Nations has condemned torture from the outset as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings.

Torture is a crime under international law. According to all relevant instruments, it is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances. This prohibition forms part of customary international law, which means that it is binding on every member of the international community, regardless of whether a State has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly prohibited. The systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity.

Right to Rehabilitation is the theme for the 26 June 2013 campaign. At the end of 2012, the UN Committee against Torture published a General Comment on Article 14 of the Convention against Torture, which states: Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible.

The General Comment clarified points of Article 14, namely that ,Holistic rehabilitation, needs to be provided which includes medical, psychological, legal and vocational support to survivors of torture, that it must be accessible at the soonest possible point after torture, and that torture victims have a right to choose their provider, be it non-governmental organisations or the State providing services.

Further Article 14 of the UN Convention Against Torture expressly provides that States should make compensation to torture survivors an enforceable right, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. It adds a fundamental element to the fight against torture by explicitly recognising that rehabilitation has to form part of the response to torture.

However, while international law grants all torture victims a right to rehabilitation, this is unfortunately not always a reality. As such, we wanted to use, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, to reiterate that victims of torture have this right – a Right to Rehabilitation – and that supporting victims of torture can mean providing as full rehabilitation as possible, through a holistic approach that includes medical, psychological, and social needs, and access to justice and redress.

As of  2013, there are 153 Countries , who have shown their commitment to eradicating torture by ratifying CAT and 78 countries are yet to ratify CAT – the Government of India signed on 14th October 1997 but has still not ratified CAT. Ratification would be an important step in securing the effective protection against torture by requiring changes to domestic law aligning Indian practice with the well-established international standards on torture.

In Karnataka, SICHREM has documented more than 50 cases of illegal detention, torture, encounters (extra-judicial killings), deaths in police & judicial custody from January 2013 to June 2013 (6months), and has filed complaints with the State Human Rights Commission, Government of Karnataka, the Police department and other human rights institutions.

The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, gives us the opportunity to stand united and remind the world that torture is a cruel violation of human rights. Together, we affirm the right of survivors of torture to rehabilitation. We take the opportunity to remind governments to take seriously their responsibilities to ensure as full rehabilitation as necessary.

Therefore SICHREM demands the following from the Government of India:

1) To ensure that an order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as justification for committing torture;

2) To provide an effective mechanism to promptly investigate any allegation of torture;

3) To make compensation an enforceable right, including the means for full rehabilitation.

AND

1. The immediate ratification of the Convention against Torture without any reservations and the signing and ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention;

2. The passing of legislation which penalizes torture and provides for a right to rehabilitation;

3. Specific safeguards protecting women, children, dalits and minorities, set out in legislation and strictly enforced through human rights institutions and court directions.


Students stand for Human Rights

June 27, 2013

Over 250 students of St Joseph’s School of Arts and Science gathered on Wednesday, to express their solidarity with victims of human rights violations on the occasion of United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

However, as rains lashed the city, the rally could not begin from the college premises as planned. 

Holding a candle light vigil, along with members of the South Indian Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), students of the institution got together and voiced their solidarity for victims of rape, assault, suffocation, electric shocks, forced starvation, sleep deprivation and among other forms of physical and psychological torture.

Executive Director of SICHREM Ashok Mathews Philip said that there is a need to prevent assaults and rehabilitate the victims. “Many prisoners are violated by police authorities, people are subjected to domestic violence and children are punished badly. All these are violations and perpetrators need to be prosecuted,” he said.

Hamsa, a second-year BSc Biotechnology student, said that the New Delhi gang-rape and Manipal incident shows that more people need to come out and voice their opposition to such heinous crimes.  

 

Source : The New Indian Express, 27th June 2013.