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
SICHREM – South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring
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.
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 / email@example.com
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; firstname.lastname@example.org