26th June UN international Day in support of victims of Torture

October 29, 2018

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26th June UN international Day in support of victims of Torture-Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”)

26th June marks the UN International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture. It provides us with an opportunity to honour the victims and survivors of torture, and for us all, survivors of torture and their allies, to stand in solidarity. The Convention against Torture (CAT) adopted in 1984, came into effect on June 26th,1987,

Despite its prohibition, torture continues: both physical and psychological and is prevalent in over half the world’s countries. Instances of torture are not confined to police custody and interrogation situations. In a variety of other settings, particularly in the private sphere, the emotional and physical ordeal endured by women, harassed for dowry, subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination; young children forced into labor, subjected to verbal, physical and sexual abuse; the suffering of marginalized groups, the severe inhumane forms of atrocities on Dalits are some instances. This is a disgrace in the twenty-first century.

The aim of torture is to exert power, to punish, create fear, to destroy trust, to break down the victim’s personality and resilience. It is first and foremost a means of instilling fear in society at large. Torture is not only destructive at the individual and family level, but also a crucial obstacle to economic and social development.

The effects of torture continue long after the actual act. And rehabilitation is crucial – for the individual, their family and society. The purpose of rehabilitation is to empower the survivor to resume as full a life as possible. Rebuilding the life of someone whose dignity has been destroyed takes time and as a result long-term material, medical, psychological and social support is needed. It is important to stress that rehabilitation is possible. And it works. Rehabilitation is also a right.

As of 22nd June 2012, there are 150 State Parties, who have ratified CAT and 74 states are yet to ratify CAT – the Government of India has still not ratified (signed in October 1997).

Request for action: Urgent Appeal regarding the arrest of human rights defender in Dhaka, Bangladesh – Reg

August 12, 2013

12 August 2013


Ms. Margaret Sekaggya                                                                                                      

Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders

c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Palais Wilson

United Nations Office at Geneva

CH 1211 Geneva 10  Switzerland  

Email: urgent-action@ohchr.org

Dear Ma’am,

Sub: Request for action: Urgent Appeal regarding the arrest of human rights defender in Dhaka, Bangladesh – Reg

Greetings from SICHREM!

The South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM) requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

SICHREM is now writing to express our grave concern regarding the arbitrary arrest of    Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar, Executive Committee Member of Forum Asia and a member of OMCT General Assembly, at his Gulshan residence, in Dhaka.

According to the information received, on August 10, 2013, at 10.20 pm, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan was arrested by eight or nine detectives of the Detective Branch of Police (DB) as he was returning home with his family. The detectives, who brought a white microbus apparently belonging to the United Commercial Bank and a blue and silver coloured mitsubishi pajero, asked Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan to follow them. Reportedly, Mr. Rahman Khan was brought to the headquarters of the police DB in Dhaka.

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police subsequently confirmed the arrest to the media, adding that Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan has been arrested under the Information and Communication Technology Act. The arrest was allegedly made on the basis of a general diary filed by the police with Gulshan Police Station, in relation to news and photos uploaded on Odhikar website about the killing of 61 people during the May 5 police drive against Hifazat-e Islam activists at the Dhaka’s downtown Motijheel area.

Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan is a Human Rights Defender among others and is protected under International law on human rights defenders to which India a signatory since 1998. We feel that it is the bounden duty of the State to see that this harassment is stopped and he be released at the earliest.

We understand that harassment, intimidation, and threats on human rights defenders, and of Mr.  Adilur Rahman Khan are acts aimed to target and obstruct the work of his and the organisation.

SICHREM is gravely concerned about the intimidation tactics employed by the state forces, and the alleged afore mentioned facts and recalls that the authorities have to fulfill their obligations under international human rights law to protect the right to life and to protect the rights of a human rights defender to perform his duties without any hindrance. The State authorities must ensure that the forces comply with international human rights standards on law enforcement, in particular those relating to the defenders rights.

SICHREM, deeply concerned by the developments, Accordingly, calls on the competent authorities to ensure that the investigation is carried out promptly, effectively, thoroughly, independently and impartially, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible for the act, before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law.

SICHREM expresses its deepest concern about Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan’s arbitrary arrest, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his peaceful human rights activities, and calls upon the authorities in Bangladesh to guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity as well as to release him immediately and unconditionally.

SICHREM urgently requests you to :

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan and of all human rights defenders in Bangladesh;

ii. Release Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan who has also been a former Deputy Attorney General of the Country immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan and all human rights defenders in Bangladesh;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

–  its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as

– its Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bangladesh.

Looking forward to your immediate action in this regard,

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,


Executive Director


Note : Similar Urgent Appeal regarding the arrest and detention of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan has been sent to the following:-

i) H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Dhaka-1215, Bangladesh

ii) H.E. Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, Minister for Home Affairs, Bangladesh.

iii)H.E. Dr. Dipu Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh

iv) H.E Shafique Ahmed, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Bangladesh.

v) Mr. Hasan Mahmud Khandaker, Inspector General of Police, Bangladesh

vi) Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission Banglade

vii) H.E. Mr. Abdul Hannan, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations in Geneva.

viii) Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Brussels, Belgium.

ix) High Commission of Bangladesh in New Delhi, India.

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.

Two illegally housed schizophrenics rescued

June 18, 2013

Two schizophrenic men, who were illegally housed in unsanitary conditions by a couple, were rescued on Friday with the help of the South Indian Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM). The caretaker Marigowda is allegedly a former attender at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS).

Marigowda, 60, who retired from NIMHANS more than a year ago, allegedly met Shivanna, 43, and Ravikumar, 35, both from Bangalore, who were brought to the hospital for treatment in 2011 by their families.

When members of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and SICHREM raided Marigowda’s house, they found that the two men had been living in squalid conditions for nearly 18 months. On the floor above his neat and furnished house, Marigowda had built a shed and kept the two men there. 

“Marigowda was charging each family between Rs 6,000 and Rs 10,000 to take care of the two men. Keeping people under illegal confinement violates a few sections of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Prakash Cariappa, fact-finding coordinator, SICHREM. He said that Marigowda offered to help the family members in taking care of the two men. “They are both from wealthy families and agreed to this.  Marigowda and his wife kept them in a shed on their terrace,” Cariappa said.

“The men were kept in pathetic conditions as the shed was very unhygienic and had only one cot and an open toilet,” he added.

C G Hunagund, member, SHRC, told Express that Marigowda did not have the required qualification and eligibility to home the two patients. “He had no license and took no professional help to take care of the patients. We will recommend government action to be initiated against him,” he said.


Source : The New Indian Express, dated 18th June 2013.

Complaint of Dinesh’s torture by Head Constable Siddalingiah of Subramanyapura Police Station.

May 24, 2013

The Member

Karnataka State Human Rights Commission

4th Floor, 5th Phase, M.S.Building,

Bangalore- 560001


Dear Madam/Sir

The English dailies, The Hindu and DNA, in their columns dated 23rd May 2013; report that, A police head constable has been booked on charges of beating up a 38-year-old private firm employee in Subramanyapura on Tuesday, after the victim demanded a receipt for a fine for smoking in public.

Dinesh, a resident of Gowdarapalya, was outside Uttar Karnataka Military Hotel smoking while waiting for a food parcel, when night beat head constable,Siddalingaiah,told him that he violated a rule by smoking in public and  demanded he pay Rs. 200, which he agreed to and demanded a receipt. Siddalingaiah refused to give the receipt, which led to a heated argument and Siddalingaiah beat up Dinesh black and blue while other customers and hotel staff watched in horror.

Dinesh, undergoing treatment in a private hospital, has sustained serious injuries, had to have 25 stitches on his face because of the repeated punches. On Wednesday, a complaint has been lodged at the Subramanyapura station and Siddalingaiah has been absconding after the severe assault.

The Subramanyapura police claim that Dinesh was found standing in a group outside the hotel smoking and was asked to leave the place but had refused leading to a fight between the duo and they also allege that he was drunk. Further, the  Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) H.S. Revanna is said to have stated that no one came and complained to him but after he came to know of the incident, he has asked the Police Inspector to conduct an enquiry and file a report for further action to be taken.

We file this complaint with a hope that a detailed enquiry into the whole matter is initiated;

1.    To look into the assault and torture of Dinesh,

2.    Why did the Head Constable refuse to issue a receipt for the fine?

3.    Why was the station or control room not informed of the creating of nuisance at that hour?

4.    Whether a medical test was done to ascertain if he was under the influence of alcohol?

5.    If there are eye-witness to conclude that there were drunk and were creating nuisance?

Thanking you,

Yours Truly,


Head – Programs

Honoring the Torture Survivors

October 8, 2012

An event was organised in Mysore by SICHREM in support of RCT, Denmark and PVCHR on the 10th September 2012 to Honour the Torture Survivors. The program was inaugurated by Human rights activist and political science professor Muzzafar Assadi. The other guests who graced the occasion with there presence are Mr. M Chandrasekhar, President of District Kannada Sahitya Parishat;  Sri Mokshapathi Swamiji of Ravandoor Murugha mutt, Mr. Purigali Maradeshmurthy, Journalist and Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director, SICHREM.

Five torture survivors were honored during the ceremony. Their stories were read out and were felicitated by the dignitaries with garland, fruits bouquet and a shawl.

Shocking report

July 5, 2012
A report prepared by the Working Group for Human Rights India and the UN, a forum of the main human rights groups in India, to assist in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of India at the UN in Geneva, should cause special concern to even those who are inured to the reality of human rights violations in the country.

The picture of police atrocities and highhandedness that the report presents is shocking. According to it, a two-year survey in the country revealed that 1.8 million people became victims of police torture and violence every year. The National Human Rights Commission has said that on the average 43 deaths have occurred in police or prison custody every day during the period 2001-2010. The report adds that these figures represent only the tip of the iceberg because they are based only on the cases that are reported to the NHRC. The reality may be  much more dreadful.

The threat posed by police excesses to the rule of law, which the police is actually meant to protect, is real and strong.  It is unfortunate that there is a general indifference among the people to cases of atrocities.

The case of Soni Suri, a school teacher in Chhattisgarh, who was inhumanly tortured and humiliated for alleged connections with the Maoists, is now forgotten. For every case that is known there are hundreds of others, involving common people who cannot complain, that go unnoticed. People lose their sensitivity also when they are exposed to a daily fare of atrocities and accept with resignation that it is the norm. Only more cruel forms of atrocity will then attract attention, that aren’t rare either.

India has not ratified the UN Convention Against Torture and does not have a domestic law against torture. But the law is only one part of  the remedy needed to cure the system of its propensity to resort to violence and torture as the common tool of interaction with the people. The police organisation and methods of investigation should be modernised and the basic attitude of the police to the people should change. This is not easy. A number of reports to reform the police have not been acted upon. In the meanwhile, the minimum that can be done is to investigate cases that come to public attention and punish the guilty.

Source: Deccan Herald, Article dated: July 3, 2012

Observance of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

June 23, 2012


Programs for the observation 26 June

The UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

By SICHREM, St Josephs College and NATT



22nd June 2012
  • Awareness Walk by students inside the college campus to create awareness on torture through songs and display of posters.
  • Initiating a signature campaign demanding ratification of CAT, enactment of a domestic legislation and a rehabilitation policy for victims and survivors of torture.
23rd June 2012
  • Signature campaign continues in Arts and PG Block of the college and with friends outside.
25th June 2012
  • Flash Mobs are to be conducted in the college, documentary screening, collage making, poster making.
  • Painting of long banner to say “Stamp out Torture’
  • Hall Meeting addressed by Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director, SICHREM and Fr. Daniel Fernandez, Principal of St Joseph’s College and facilitated by R.Manohar Head of the Programs, SICHREM.
26th June 2012
  • ‘A Walk Against Torture’ through the main thoroughfares of the city to end at the Town Hall.
  • Candle light vigil in solidarity with all victims and survivors.
  • Oath Taking

The Prevention of Torture Bill: an affront to civil liberties?

May 14, 2010

In the late hours of the 6th May the Prevention of Torture Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha.

Eventhough Kaul and Shakder’s Manual of Practice and Procedure in Parliament, says hourly statements of the number of MPs sitting in the House is required to be published in the bulletin, this practice is routinely flouted. Consequently, we do not know who was in House when the Bill was debated, or even if it made the quorum requirements.

Not a single member from the main opposition party-the BJP spoke on the Bill. Similarly, RJD, BSP, CPI, NCP, NC, Shiv Sena, did not say anything on the Bill.

The apparent lack of a serious debate of the Bill coupled with the fact that we do not know how many people were in the House to hear the debate suggests that the Bill has not been scrutinised thoroughly enough.

This lack of scrutiny is particularly pertinent when considering Section 3 of the Bill. The Bill can be accessed here http://prsindia.org/uploads/media/Torture/prevention%20of%20torture%20bill%202010.pdf

The proviso in section 3 seems to curb our civil liberties and human rights in two fundamental ways:

1. It seems to justify the death penalty, and
2. It seems to condone the use of force to maintain law and order when facing unlawful assemblies.

One potential option is to lobby MPs to refer the Bill to a Select Committee of the Rajy Sabha (and not a Standing committee which is a joint committee). This could provide the opportunity to form an informed critique of the Bill.

Please see Section 3 and its proviso below:
Whoever, being a public servant or being abetted by a public servant or with the consent or acquiescence of a public servant, intentionally does any act for the purposes to obtain from him or a third person such information or a confession which causes,—

(i) grievous hurt to any person; or

(ii) danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of any person, is said to inflict torture:”
The proviso reads as follows:
“Provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply to any pain, hurt or danger as aforementioned caused by any act, which is inflicted in accordance with any procedure established by law or justified by law.”

Open letter to the editor of the Deccan Herald

April 21, 2010


The ‘Prevention of Torture Bill’ is a long awaited piece of legislation by human rights activists in this country.  Many human rights organisations jointly had submitted a model bill to the central Government last year.

Unfortunately, the provision for prior sanction for prosecuting the accused reduces this Bill to be a “paper tiger”.  It goes against the principle of ‘eqality before law’ that is enshrined in the Constitution.  The Government has rendered many laws ultimately ineffective by bringing this provision; the anti- corruption laws being the other best example. With this provision, the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of torture will continue to prevail.  This provision needs to be deleted if the State is serious about stamping out torture.
Mathews Philip

Executive Director, SICHREM.