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
October 1, 2011
The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) and South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM) organised a consultation for the southern states of India towards preparing the stake holders’ report to be submitted before the UN for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The consultation for the southern states was the final of the series of five regional consultations held across India. Apart from training participants on UN human rights mechanisms – with a focus on the UPR process – this consultation aimed at gathering testimonies, documentation and information on the most pressing human rights challenges in the southern states. The information collected at this consultation will be included into a national stakeholders’ report and submitted to Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) by the 7th of November 2011.
There were 35 representatives from different NGOs in the southern states gathered at the consultation to share their experiences and challenges in fighting for rights.
Dr. C.R. Neelakandan, Writer and Human Rights Activist and Ms. Anuradha Saibaba, Assistant Professor, National Law School of India University presented the Overview of the Human Rights Situation in the South.
On the exercise of assessing the Human Rights Situation of the Region the participants break in to 4 groups on the following Human Rights Themes
- Access to Justice
- Economic, Social and Cultural Rights & the Rights to Development
- Human Rights Defenders
Each group came out with the compilation of the main issues/comments that emerged during their discussions as a way forward to analyze trends and assess how various constituencies are affected.
Mr. Samuel Paul, Founder Director – IIM, Ahamedabad delivered the concluding remark on “Human Rights in the Region: The Way Forward”. This was followed by the responses of Justice S.R. Nayak, Chairperson SHRC, Karnataka and Mr. K.V. Rajanna, Commissioner for Disabilities, Karnataka.