December 29, 2013

Functioning of the NHRC Critically Examined: Has it been effective?

    Independent People’s Tribunal on the Functioning of the National Human Rights Commission of India, 14-16th December, New Delhi

NAMHHR member, Human Rights Law Network organized an Independent Peoples’ Tribunal  jointly with All India Network of NGOs and Individuals working with National / State Human Rights Institutions on the functioning of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the occasion of the 20 years of Paris Principles [1993] and 20 years of the Protection of Human Rights Act [1993] and 20 years of the Vienna Conference [1993].

The Tribunal brought together group of 9 panelists included Justice (Retd.) Hosbet Suresh, Former Judge of the Mumbai High Court, Justice (Retd.) Surendra Bhargav, Former Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court, Justice (Retd.) W A Shishak, Former Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court, Justice (Retd.) K Sukumaran, Former judge of the Mumbai and Kerala High Court, Prof. Vimal Thorat, Social Activist, Mr. Yambem Laba Former Member of Manipur SHRC, Prof. Babu Mathew, National Law University, Prof. Kamal Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Prof. Anuradha Chenoy , Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The three day event included sessions on -NHRC’s compliance to UN standards, Police encounter, custodial torture, custodial death, Killings and torture by armed forces , Attack on human rights defenders , Communalism , Violation of Women’s Rights, Dalit issues, Tribal Rights, Environment, housing and displacement ,Health rights, Child rights and Disability.  Each session included a section in which the response of NHRC to their issue was presented to the panelists.

NAMHHR convenor, was invited to be a panelist in the session on reproductive rights violation.  She began by recounting the meeting with the UN-Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health who came to India in 2010.  Although an NRHC member attended the meeting, yet the NRHC did not take the recommendations of the UNSR seriously. Recounting the submissions made by NAMHHR to the NHRC in connection with the Barwani cases (Madhya Pradesh) and Godda cases (Jharkhand), although the NHRC filed a case, no real action resulted; this despite the regular follow done by NAMHHR. This session also saw the presentation of a testimonial by a victim of forced sterilization from Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh), supported in her efforts to seek justice by NAMHHR member HealthWatch Forum, UP.  The HealthWatch Forum had filed her case with NHRC on 21st of December 2012 and the NHRC in turn forwarded it to the State Human Rights Commission Uttar Pradesh, which has not taken any concrete action on it as yet.

However appreciating the initiative made by the NHRC in the Universal Periodic Review 2, the NAMHHR convenor lauded their efforts at designing  a monitoring tool to monitor the implementation of the recommendation made by member countries to the Government of India.  However she stressed that much more needs to be done by this important commission to protect the human right of the citizens of our country.

Aditi Sood, Nibedita Phukan and Leena Uppal also attended the event on behalf of NAMHHR. 

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