Press Statement – CSOs, HRDs welcome NHRC meeting with civil society, human rights defenders


Press Statement

CSOs, HRDs welcome NHRC meeting with civil society, human rights defenders

New Delhi, June 14 — Civil society groups and Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) from across India have welcomed the National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) revival of its dialogue with civil society and Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).

On Thursday, 13th June, the NHRC convened a meeting of its Core Group of NGOs and Human Rights Defenders which was attended by HRDs working across a spectrum of issues.

At the outset, the NHRC acknowledged its own status as a HRD and the value of the work of HRDs in furthering India’s democracy and development agenda. It also affirmed its commitment to protecting HRDs in keeping with India’s international obligations under the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the action plan developed at the World Summit of HRDs in 2018.

The deliberations expressed deep concern about the scale and continuation of human rights violations: these include reprisals against those that bring state wrongdoing to notice locally and internationally; the targeting of grass roots activists, journalists, and minorities; the abuse of power frequently used to crush dissent; and stressed the patterns of victimisation such as that of Muslims, through targeted killings in the guise of cow protection and the dangers of statelessness arising out of the ongoing National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam. The NHRC was urged to check that no violations of Article 21, which protects the rights and liberty of all persons living in the country, take place, and India’s full adherence to all international commitments.

Particular concern was expressed of the continuing incarceration of Dr. GN Saibaba in Nagpur Central Jail. Severely disabled and unable to move on his own, Dr. Saibaba’s health has been rapidly deteriorating due to inadequate medical treatment and day-to-day assistance. The HRDs and CSO representatives called on the NHRC “to immediately intervene to ensure he is moved to a well-equipped medical facility, approved by him and his family, at the earliest”. Any further delay, they underlined, could “prove fatal to Dr. Saibaba”.

The NHRC’s attention was directed to the arrest of nine HRDs, currently lodged in Pune Jail, allegedly in connection to the Bhima Koregaon case. As their implication in the case is strongly contested, the centrality of the NHRC’s role was stressed. It was urged to monitor the court proceedings to ensure due process is upheld at every stage. Its continuing vigilance was stressed in light of the recent raids on the office and residence of Stan Swamy, believed to be an act of reprisal for his human rights work.

The urgent necessity to take greater visible and decisive steps to ensure protection of HRDs, through the aegis of the NHRC, was repeatedly highlighted. Training of all human rights commissions was urged, to stress the responsibility of the State to protect HRDs. The NHRC was called on to give the existing Focal Point for HRDs full-time charge in view of the extensive work required, and be active in using HRD networks across the nation.

In solidarity with each other, the NHRC and the HRDs affirmed a joint commitment to work together to protect HRDs, proactively intervene in human rights violations, and deepen engagement through regular and frequent dialogue.

NHRC members who attended the hearing included Dr. DM Mulay (IFS, Retd), Justice PC Pant, Ms. Jyotika Kalra and Secretary-General Jaideep Govind.


Aman Biradari Trust

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Human Rights Defenders’ Alert – India (HRDA)

People’s Union for Civil Liberties

Quill Foundation

SICHREM – South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring

Press Statement-Condemning the malicious act of circulating manipulated video of Prof. Fathima Babu

November 22, 2018


Condemning the malicious act of circulating manipulated video of Prof. Fathima Babu

 We are expressing our strong condemnation over the manipulated video of Prof. Fathima Babu, convenor of anti-Sterlite coalition that has been circulated since yesterday in the social media websites and platforms which allegedly portrays her in a compromising position with her colleague Mr. Raja, who is also associated with the anti-Sterlite movement.

The video is known to be recorded using a spy camera at a hotel room in the month of October when Prof. Fathima and her colleagues of the anti-Sterlite coalition travelled to Chennai to attend the hearing before the expert committee of the National Green Tribunal regarding the case against closure of Sterlite Industries in Thoothukudi this year. The video has been cleverly edited and manipulated to portray Prof. Fathima in a compromising position.

It was also falsely claimed that the video has been leaked by ‘Makkal Adhigaram’, an organisation which is also working towards the permanent closure of Sterlite Industries in Thoothukudi. We strongly believe this is a cheap effort taken to divide the anti-Sterlite movement and also to create ‘caste’ conflict within the anti-Sterlite coalition. Makkal Adhigaram has released a statement denying this allegation, and we strongly appreciate their position over this incident.

We also strongly iterate the fact that this incident is a gross violation of individual privacy and vehemently condemn this act of scandalising a women human rights defender. It is being alleged that this perverted effort to scandalise and defame a genuine women human rights defender has the handiworks of the business house against whom Prof. Fathima Babu has been working against for decades and also the connivance of the police.

We also state that circulation of such videos and pictures in the public domain about WHRDs is witnessed globally and it has been iterated in the report of the then United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Ms. Margaret Sekaggya in her in report that “women defenders often find themselves and their work subjected to stigmatization by both State and non-State actors”. This concerted effort would not only shame and discredit the WHRDs work but will also possibly contribute to the public repudiation.

Hence, we demand that the Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu sets up an immediate enquiry into this matter and order for an investigation by the Cyber Crime Cell to find out:

  • How a spy camera has been fixed exactly at the room where Prof. Fathima Babu has
  • stayed and who has fixed it? And who fixed it
  • Who has edited the video to purportedly show Prof. Fathima in a compromising position?
  • To find the source of this video

We as a platform working for the protection of women/human rights defenders would like to strongly state that this incident done with the mala fide intent is not only to discredit the work and efforts of the WHRD concerned but also to defame the entire anti-Sterlite coalition and we stand in solidarity with Prof. Fathima and the Vyabarigal Sangam which Raja represents to overcome this concerted campaign.

We earnestly call upon all citizens of Thoothukudi , all movements and platforms which work against Sterlite Industries in courts, on the streets, in the villages not to get divided due to this malicious effort and continue to unitedly fight against all state and non-state actors who are trying to work against the will of the citizens of Thoothukudi and the people of Tamil Nadu towards the permanent closure of Sterlite Industries in Thoothukudi.

Henri Tiphagne

Executive Director

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action – Tamil Nadu: Arrest of cartoonist Mr. Bala for a caricature depicting inaction by Governemnt of Tamil Nadu on the suicide of a family due to harassment of money lenders in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action – Tamil Nadu: Arrest of cartoonist Mr. Bala for a caricature depicting inaction by Governemnt of Tamil Nadu on the suicide of a family due to harassment of money lenders in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu

India: official visit by the UN expert on safe drinking water and sanitation

India: official visit by the UN expert on safe drinking water and sanitation

GENEVA (24 October 2017) – United Nations human rights expert, Léo Heller, will visit India from 27 October to 10 November 2017 to examine the extent to which people’s rights to safe drinking water and sanitation are being realized.

“I will look at how human rights to water and sanitation are legally recognized and implemented in India at the national, state and local level, and how the provision of water and sanitation services adheres to human rights standards and principles,” said Mr. Heller, the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation worldwide.

The Special Rapporteur will gather information and testimony on the availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptability and safety of drinking water and sanitation, with a particular focus on groups such as women and girls, persons with disabilities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and those living in informal settlements and rural areas.

The human rights expert, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government of India, will meet government representatives at national and local level as well as civil society and community organizations, residents in urban and rural areas, and UN officials.

He will visit the cities of Imphal, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and New Delhi, as well as urban peripheries and rural areas.

“I want to explore what still needs to be undertaken to ensure the human rights to water and sanitation are enjoyed by all in India,” Mr. Heller noted.

At the end of his two-week visit, the Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary observations at a press conference on Friday 10 November 2017 at 10:00 local time in the UN Conference Hall, UN House, 55 Lodi Estate, New Delhi-110003. Access will be strictly limited to members of the press.

Mr. Heller will submit a full report of his findings and recommendations to the 39th session of the Human Rights Council in September 2018.


Mr. Léo Heller (Brazil) is the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, appointed in November 2014. He is a researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil and was previously Professor of the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil from 1990 to 2014. 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights country page – India

For additional information please contact:
Ms. Ahreum Lee +41 79-444 4187 /

For media requests and queries relating to the press conference on 10 November please contact (in India): Mr. Rajiv Chandran, +91-11-46532237; +91-9810606833;

44 International Human Rights Defenders: Dismiss the Case Against Thailand’s Sulak Sivaraksa

Right Livelihood Award Laureate Sulak Sivaraksa, aged 84, faces up to 15 years in jail after being officially charged with lèse-majesté relating to a speech in which he referenced the role of 16th century King Naresuan at the Battle of Nong Sarai in 1593. 44 fellow Laureates from 32 different countries are today together with representatives of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation demanding the case be dismissed in an open letter to Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai. Sivaraksa was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1995 for his “vision activism and spiritual commitment in the quest for a development process that is rooted in democracy justice and cultural integrity”.

Please see the open letter below, and feel free to reach out if you would like to speak to Mr. Sivaraska in further detail re the charges.

Many thanks and best wishes, James

Dear Honourable Minister Pramudwinai,

We are writing to you on behalf of the board, staff and undersigned Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, a Swedish charity that honours four individuals or organisations each year who have demonstrated exemplary practical solutions to the root causes of global problems. The Foundation currently has 170 Laureates from 69 countries.

Sulak Sivaraksa was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1995 for his “vision, activism and spiritual commitment in the quest for a development process that is rooted in democracy, justice and cultural integrity”.

We are deeply distressed to learn that on October 9th 2017, Ajarn Sulak was summoned to a military court by the police and was officially charged with lèse-majesté under Article 112 of the criminal code. The remarks in question relate to a speech given by Ajarn Sulak in 2014 at Thammasat University, during which he referenced the role of 16th century King Naresuan at the Battle of Nong Sarai in 1593. The Chief Public Prosecutor has required Ajarn Sulak to present himself at his office for another meeting on December 7th 2017, where he will determine whether to proceed with the case or not. If found guilty of the charge, Ajarn Sulak could face the prospect of up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Ajarn Sulak did not make any statement referencing His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn, his immediate family, or his late father, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, that would constitute an offence under Article 112 of the criminal code. Instead, Ajarn Sulak was simply exercising his freedom of academic expression to comment on historical matters. Therefore, we strongly believe that these charges brought against Ajarn Sulak are unsubstantiated, vexatious and do not constitute a criminal offence under the lèse-majesté law. We, the undersigned, urge you to use your good offices to request that the public prosecutor dismiss this case immediately.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Signed by:

  1. Monika Griefahn, Chair, Board of Trustees, Right Livelihood Award Foundation.
  2. Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director, Right Livelihood Award Foundation.
  3. Prof Dr. h.c. (mult.) Manfred Max-Neef, Director, Economics Institute, Universidad Austral de Chile, Chile (RLA 1983)
  4. Bill McKibben, Founder of, USA (RLA 2014)
  5. Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nigeria (RLA 2010)
  6. Dr. Anwar Fazal, Director, Right Livelihood College, Malaysia (RLA 1982)
  7. Ruchama Marton, Founder and President, Physicians for Human Rights, Israel (RLA 2010)
  8. Chico Whitaker Ferreira, Brazil (RLA 2006)
  9. Tony Clarke, Executive Director, Polaris Institute, Canada (RLA 2005)
  10. Paul F. Walker, Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability, Green Cross International, USA (RLA 2013)
  11. David Suzuki, Emeritus Professor, University of British Columbia, Canada (RLA 2009)
  12. Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijan (RLA 2017)
  13. Dr. Raúl A. Montenegro, President, Fundación para la defensa del ambiente, Argentina (RLA 2004)
  14. Wesley Jackson, Founder and President, The Land Institute, USA (RLA 2000)
  15. P K Ravindran, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, India (RLA 1996)
  16. Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, New Zealand/Switzerland (RLA 2009)
  17. Basil Fernando, Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong (RLA 2014)
  18. Swami Agnivesh, India (RLA 2004)
  19. Angie Zelter, Trident Ploughshares, United Kingdom (RLA 2001)
  20. Sima Samar, Chairperson, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Afghanistan (RLA 2012)
  21. Bianca Jagger, Founder, President and Chief Executive, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Member of the Executive Director’s Leadership Council of Amnesty International USA, Nicaragua/United Kingdom, (RLA 2004)
  22. Helena Norberg-Hodge, Director, Local Futures / Ladakh Ecological Development Group, India (RLA 1986)
  23. Shrikrishna Upadhyay, Executive Chairman, Support Activities for Poor Producers of Nepal, Nepal (RLA 2010)
  24. Monika Hauser, Founder, Medica Mondiale, Germany (RLA 2008)
  25. Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate, India (RLA 2017)
  26. Andras Brio, Hungary (RLA 1995)
  27. Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, South Korea (RLA 2003)
  28. Tapio Mattlar, Kylätoiminta / The Finnish Village Action Movement, Finland (RLA 1992)
  29. Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad (RLA 2011)
  30. Johan Galtung, Founder, Transcend International, Norway (RLA 1987)
  31. Martín von Hildebrand, Founder and Director, Fundación GAIA Amazonas, Colombia (RLA 1999)
  32. Juan Pablo Orrego, President, Ecosistemas, Chile (RLA 1998)
  33. Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians, Canada (RLA 2005)
  34. Stephen Corry[1], Director, Survival International, United Kingdom (RLA 1989)
  35. IBFAN, the International Baby Food Action Network, Switzerland (RLA 1998)
  36. GRAIN, International (RLA 2011)
  37. Martin Almada, Paraguay (RLA 2002)
  38. Gino Strada, Co-Founder, EMERGENCY, Italy (RLA 2015)
  39. Asma Jahangir, Pakistan (RLA 2014)
  40. Glorene A Das, Executive Director Tenaganita, on behalf of the late Irene Fernandez, Malaysia (RLA 2005)
  41. Mozn Hassan, Director, Nazra Institute for Feminist Studies, Egypt (RLA 2016)
  42. Vesna Teršelič, Croatia (RLA 1998)
  43. Fernando Rendón, Co-Founder and Director, International Poetry Festival of Medellín, Colombia (RLA 2006)
  44. Helen Mack Chang, Fundación Myrna Mack, Guatemala (RLA 1992)
  45. Memorial International, Russia (RLA 2004)
  46. Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, Gonoshasthaya Kendra, Bangladesh (RLA 1992)

[1] Signed in his personal capacity

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action –South India- Tamil Nadu: Brutal beating and ill treatment of human rights defenders by police and denying their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to register their protest near Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action –South India- Tamil Nadu: Brutal beating and ill treatment of human rights defenders by police and denying their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to register their protest near Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

HRC36 | NGOs call on Council Members to take a stand against intimidation and reprisals

HRC36 | NGOs call on Council Members to take a stand against intimidation and reprisals

All States should take a strong stand to address reprisals and to support a crucial resolution being negotiated at this session of the Human Rights Council. A weak resolution would seriously undermine the ability of the UN system to address the needs on the ground, said 50 national and international NGOs in a letter to Human Rights Council members.

Click here to read the joint NGO letter.

The resolution on reprisals being negotiated at this Council session provides a timely and much needed opportunity for the Council to take a stand on ‘worsening incidences of intimidation and reprisals’, as reported in the Secretary-General’s most recent report on reprisals. The Secretary General stressed that ‘any act of intimidation or reprisal is absolutely unacceptable’.

‘The detention of Ibrahim Metwally in Egypt en route to the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances session is a clear example of the dire need to act now and ensure that the right of all people to communicate with the United Nations is protected’ says ISHR’s Director Phil Lynch.

The resolution tabled by the core group – comprising Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Fiji and Uruguay – calls on various stakeholders. This call was echoed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Right Defenders and by Peggy Hicks from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights during a side event on this issue last week as they urged:

  • Member States, in particular Council Members, to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms;
  • States to take measures to prevent the occurrence of intimidation and reprisals;
  • The Human Rights Council President and Bureau to address and follow up on allegations of acts of intimidation and reprisal; and
  • All stakeholders to cooperate with the Assistant Secretary General on human rights regarding the mandate assigned to him by the Secretary General.

‘It is incredibly concerning that a resolution seeking to assist the Council to take a stand on the abhorrent trend of threats and attacks against those engaging with the UN, is being challenged so strongly. It is imperative that the Council adopt a strong and substantive resolution, following positive developments in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights‘, said Lynch.

Beyond the grave impact on the life of persons concerned and their relatives, intimidation and reprisals also constitute an ‘attack on human rights, the rule of law, and the international and regional mechanisms themselves‘. This was highlighted by ISHR in a statement to the Council earlier this session, when expressing deep regret that ‘four years since the detention and subsequent death of Cao Shunli, we continue to call on the President, this Council, the Assistant Secretary General and Chin to take action on her case’.

‘Any proposal to weaken the resolution should be seen in the context of ongoing, systematic efforts in a number of States to restrict civil society space, the right to communicate with the United Nations and its effectiveness and legitimacy’, said ISHR’s Legal Counsel and reprisals focal point Tess McEvoy.

‘If this is how defenders engaging at the UN are treated, it incidates a disturbing picture of the situation for defenders nationally. We call on all Member States to take action to address reprisals at the UN level in an effort to protect human rights on the ground’, added McEvoy.