#India : Death in detention of Mr. Safiqul Haque and acts of intimidation against Family


 

Case IND 280613
Allegations of torture and ill-treatment/ Arbitrary detention/ Judicial harassment/ Death in detention/ No proper investigation/ Risk of impunity

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in India/ West Bengal.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a member of OMCT SOS-Torture Network, about acts of intimidation and judicial harassment against the family of Mr. Safiqul Haque, a 51 year-old man from Bilbari Village, after the family lodged a complaint alleging that Mr. Safiqul Haque had died in detention due to torture and lack of proper medical care. OMCT is particularly concerned about the arrest and alleged false charges brought against his son, Mr. Rafikul Alam, 22 year-old, and the lack of proper investigation into the death in detention of Mr. Safiqul Haque.

According to the information received, Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family has been continuously threatened by the Nabagram police after lodging a complaint in relation to the death in detention of Mr. Safiqul Haque (see background information hereunder). In a recent event, on 11 May 2013, at about 5:00 am, the Officer in charge of Nabagram Police Station, along with other 12 policemen, entered Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family house and arrested without any arrest warrant Mr. Rafikul Alam, son of Mr. Safiqul Haque, after the family refused to sign on blank papers. Mr. Rafikul Alam was illegally detained during two days. During his detention, he allegedly suffered verbal abuses, repeated threats and intimidation. He was also allegedly deprived of adequate food and proper sleep.

On 13 May 2013, Mr. Rafikul Alam was reportedly falsely charged in Nabagram Police Station Case no. 20/2013 under sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (armed with deadly weapon), 149 (member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984. According to the same information, on 14 May 2013, Mr. Rafikul Alam’s mother lodged a written complaint to denounce the aforementioned events before the District Magistrate. To date, there has been reportedly no investigation carried out into the aforementioned events.

Background information

According to the same information received, on 7 December 2012 at about 5:00 pm, Mr. Safiqul Haque was praying at Bilbari Boro Mosque, in Bilbari Village, when he was apprehended, together with Mr. Ismail Seikh, Mr. Jarman Seikh and Mr. Anawar Hossan, by Superintendent of Police of Murshidabab district, Mr. Humayun Kabir, who came with about 500 police personnel. The police entered the mosque and started brutally assaulting Mr. Safiqul Haque and his acquaintances. Mr. Safiqul Haque, Mr. Ismail Seikh, Mr. Jarman Seikh and Mr. Anawar Hossan were reportedly tied and dragged by force to the police prison vans parked outside the mosque, where they were again beaten and verbally abused.

On 8 December 2012, Mr. Safiqul Haque’s wife reportedly received a phone call from an unknown person who informed her that her husband, together with Mr. Ismail Seikh and Mr. Jarman Seikh, had been brought to Lalbagh Court accused of murder. She went to Lalbagh Court where she found out that her husband and the two men were detained in the court lock up and that they had been tortured during the whole night by the police personnel who beat them with their boots and with wooden sticks. After rejection of their bail petition on 8 December 2012, Mr. Safiqul Haque, Mr. Ismail Seikh and Mr. Jarman Seikh were detained in Bhagwangola Police Station until 12 December 2012 when they were brought to the Additional Second Court Special Judge, Berhempur and implicated in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) case 1117/12. Mr. Safiqul Haque esd then moved to Bharampur Central Correctional Home where his family was not allowed to visit him. The police personnel allegedly tortured Mr. Safiqul Haque again during this detention causing him several injuries.

According to the same information, it was not till 7 January 2013 when Mr. Safiqul Haque was admitted to the Berhempur Sub-District Hospital to be treated from the injuries inflicted. Despite the advise of the doctor to move him to Kolkata Hospital for better treatment, the officials in charge did not do so. On 7 January 2013 Mr. Safiqul Haque reportedly died in Berhempur Sub-District Hospital without getting any proper treatment. The police did not inform Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family about his death. On 11 January 2013, Mr. Safiqul Haque’s wife lodged a complaint before the district Magistrate, in Murshidabad. On 14 February 2013 MASUM made a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission. However, to date, no action has been taken and there has been reportedly no investigation carried out into the aforementioned events. As for Mr. Ismail Seikh, Mr. Jarman Seikh and Mr. Anawar Hossan, they have been released on bail.

The International Secretariat of OMCT expresses its concern about the safety and physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family, particularly of his son, Mr. Rafikul Alam. OMCT is also gravely concerned about the circumstances surrounding the detention and death in detention of Mr. Safiqul Haque. OMCT urges the competent authorities to guarantee Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family physical and psychological integrity at all times, notably by immediately putting in place adequate protection measures for them, and by suspending the police personnel believed to be responsible for the allegations of torture and ill-treatment, pending an investigation.

OMCT recalls that the authorities have to fulfil their obligations under the Indian Constitution and under international human rights law to protect the right to life, the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the right to liberty and security, to consider seriously any allegations of ill-treatment and arbitrary arrest, and to undertake a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation in this regard, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them to trial and apply adequate sanctions. OMCT also recalls that victims must be ensured the right to an effective remedy for the human rights violations suffered as well as the right to full redress, including compensation and rehabilitation.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in India urging them to:

1. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family, particularly of his son, Mr. Rafikul Alam;
2. Immediately put in place adequate protection measures for the family of Mr. Safiqul Haque;
3. Immediately put an end to acts of intimidation and judicial harassment against the family of Mr. Safiqul Haque;
4. Carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into the alleged acts of ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and alleged false charges against Mr. Rafikul Alam, Mr. Ismail Seikh and Mr. Jarman Seikh and into the death in custody of Mr. Safiqul Haque, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
5. Ensure that adequate, effective and prompt reparation including adequate compensation and rehabilitation is granted to Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family, Mr. Rafikul Alam, Mr. Ismail Seikh and Mr. Jarman Seikh;
6. Guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses

  • Mr. Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, India. Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in / manmo@sansad.in;
  • Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 104-107 North Block, New Delhi 110 001 India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979;
  • Justice Altamas Kabir, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, Tilak Marg, New Delhi -1, India. Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in;
  • Justice K. G. Balkrishnan, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Fax: +91 11 2334 0016 / 2338 4863, Email: covdnhrc@nic.inionhrc@nic.in;
  • Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, Chairperson, West Bengal Human Rights Commission, Bhabani Bhaban, Alipur, Kolkata -27. Fax +91 33 2479 9633 / 2479 7750, Email: wbhrc8@bsnl.in
  • Governor, West Bengal, Raj Bhaban, Kolkata – 62, Phone: +91 33-2479 7259, Fax: +91 33 2479 9633 / 2479 7750, Email: secy-gov-wb@nic.in
  • Miss Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister, Government of West Bengal, Writers’ Buildings, BBD Bagh, Kolkata – 1, Fax – +91 33 22145480, Email: cm@wb.gov.insechome@wb.gov.in;
  • H.E. Mr. Dilip Sinha, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations (Geneva), Rue du Valais 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 906 86 86, Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India in your respective country.
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

Geneva, 28 June 2013

 

 

#Gujarat- NHRC irked over denial of scholarships to dalit students


TNN Jun 14, 2013

AHMEDABAD: The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of the TOI report alleging denial of scholarships to 3,125 dalit students in Ahmedabad district. Out of this, applications of 1,613 students for scholarship are pending, whereas, 1,512 have been denied due to lack of funds. Allegedly, the state government had no answer for the Rs 3 crore that was to be spent on scholarships for dalit students.

The commission, shot off notices on Thursday to state chief secretary, Varesh Sinha and has sought a reply within four weeks. The commission also observed that, “the contents of the newspaper report, if true, paints a worrisome picture and constitute a gross violation of human rights of the dalit students. In view of their socio-economic backwardness, they deserve to be given special care and that is why such special provisions for scholarships to them have been made. Any failure in their implementation would defeat the whole purpose.”

The data was procured from the department of social justice after an RTI application was filed by dalit rights activist of Navsarjan Trust Kirit Rathod. It took Rathod three years before he could land on this basic information from the department.TNN “This is the level of transparency that the Gujarat government shows when it comes to the rights of the common man and the downtrodden classes. It took me three years to access information which should ideally should have been on the government website.”

The data in the RTI comprises only of ITI, science, arts, engineering and medical colleges. The information commission failed to provide the information for the dalit kids studying in schools

 

Complaint to NHRC on arrest of Maitree women activists in Kolkata #Vaw


To
The Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House
Copernicus Marg
New Delhi – 1

Respected Sir

I want to inform you that this morning members of a Kolkata based network of women’s group; Maitree, assembled peacefully outside the residence of Chief Minister; Ms. Mamata Bannerjee to submit memoranda on recent incidents of gang rapes on two students at Barasat and Krishnaganj; Nadia. The activists were assembled with few placards on their hands and clarified their intention to the police personnel; guarding the residence of the Chief Minister. The activist also tried to hand over the same on 10th of June at Writers Buildings, when the Chief Minister refused to met the delegation. This time the activists wanted to draw personal attention of the Chief Minister but instead of making the arrangements for the same and receiving the memoranda, the posted police authority arrested 13 women activists having ample social reputation. The arrestees were Ms. Anuradha Kapoor, Ms. Swapna, Ms. Kakoli Bhattacharya, Ms. Anchita GHatak, Ms. Shyamali Das, Ms. Ratnaboli Roy, Ms. Sharmistha Dutta Gupta, Ms. Shreya Sanghari, Ms. Madhura Chakroborty, Ms. Shreya Chakroborty, Ms. Sudeshna Basu and Ms. Aditi Basu. All the arrestees were whisked to Lalbazar Central Lock Up.

The act of the police having clear instances from the state government is not only infringement of article 19 (a) and (b) of Indian Constitution which clearly sated that – All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression; and to assemble peaceably and without arms; but again during the arrest the police violated the mandatory 11 point guidelines on arrest as directed by the honourable Supreme Court in the case of DK Basu versus State of West Bengal; while arresting not furnished the arrest memos at the time of arrest. Later, the arrestees and other civil society organisations came to know that the police arrested the persons for violating section 151 of Criminal Procedure Code. Again, section 151 of CR. P.C (Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences) clearly stated that ‘A police officer knowing of a design to commit any cognizable offence may arrest….’ the question is whether these persons were assembled there to commit any cognizable offence? The answer is no. Further, the Supreme Court in his judgement defined that in case of bailable offences, making an arrest is illegal. The said assemble of women activists was peaceful and they wish to met the Chief Minister and handed over her a memoranda, which was not an offence itself and otherwise well inside the domain of rights of the people.

While MASUM contacted the Lalbazar Central Lock Up at around 11.30 am and asked for the information of arrestees, the attending police officer only said that ‘yes there are few women activists inside the lock up but other relevant information is with Kalighat police station, we contacted the Kalighat police station just after, the attendant, one ASI, who was the duty officer at that time said the Officer in Charge only can put light on the arrest and subsequent detention and he has gone to Arambagh and will be back after an hour. The intention of police was evident that they don’t want to disseminate any information. When the last information came the bonds for release of the arrestees were getting ready at the Central Lock Up.

UN Declaration on HRD (2nd December 1998) states –
“Article 1
Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.
Article 2
1. Each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions necessary in the social, economic, political as well as other fields and the legal guarantees required to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all these rights and freedoms in practice.”
In this regard I want to recall you about your primary responsibility of promotion and expansion of human rights for the people and demand for:-

1. The Commission must take cognizance against the police and start a case on their own
2. Commission must inquire and investigate the incident on their own
3. The errant police must be booked under the law and be prosecuted
4. The arrestees must be compensated for their loss
Sincerely Yours

(Kirity Roy)
Secretary, MASUM
National Convenor, PACTI

 

#India – Violence against the state is tragic but it contains the seeds of rejection


Repression is no solution

Gopal Subramanium

Violence against the state is tragic but it contains the seeds of rejection. Only an inclusive approach that respects human rights can eliminate extremism

Perhaps no other chain of events in the recent past has had a more direct and substantial impact on the life of human beings across the world than acts of terror. Terrorism has not only affected our lives directly, but has also allowed the state to intrude in our lives like never before.

 

Fundamental obligation

 

Since the security of the individual is a basic human right (and a fundamental condition of the social contract underpinning society), the protection of individuals is a fundamental obligation of the state. In recent years, however, the measures adopted by states to counter terrorism have themselves sometimes been found wanting in terms of compliance with human rights norms. The means and methods adopted by the state have posed serious challenges to human rights and the rule of law, and often this is on account of the zeal of the law-enforcement agencies to give a commensurate response to the terrorist.

 

The state cannot legitimately respond by resorting to mechanisms that overstep the limits of the law. Thus, a reason why it is important for the state to ensure that none of its measures transgresses the limits of the law is any transgression may have the effect of eroding both its legitimacy and the rule of law, thereby fomenting further unrest and erosion of faith in the Constitution.

 

In the name of combating extremism, repressive measures are also used to stifle the voice of human rights activists, advocates, minorities, indigenous groups, journalists and civil society. There is another dimension: by being able to build up a perception of threat, the state may be able to get away with channelling the funds normally allocated to social programmes towards strengthening the police force and the army. The talked-up threat perception of terrorism (and a few ‘encounters’) may well be used to justify the acquisition of more weapons. As Professor Simon Bronitt of Australian National University has summed up “…there is almost a new genus of law: post 9/11 law. Although 9/11 has become a significant force in justifying these laws, the truth is that there is an element of opportunism [by some law-enforcement and state agencies] behind these claims of necessity for new powers and offences.”

 

While militarisation and the strengthening of police forces are important in their own right, it is equally necessary to understand the genuineness of the ‘security reasons’ presented by the state as a ground for abridgment of human rights, many of which are fundamental. Frisking, for example, which used to be considered a grave intrusion upon one’s privacy at one point of time, is today normalised and we are all fine with being frisked everywhere.

 

Existential realities

 

Little or no attention is paid to the true causes of resort to violent methods. It is as if the deafening sound of explosions and landmines is used to attract the attention of the state to existential realities. There are grim realities of existence as tribals in this country, and the unfortunate aspect is that their unheard voices fail to make a din in the power corridors. From their perspective, extremism, violence and terrorism become a means to attract the attention of the state.

 

Governments have been non-responsive to peaceful protests and have, in fact, come down heavily on peaceful protesters as they did at India Gate when they relentlessly beat up women protesting in the aftermath of last December’s gang rape in Delhi. The state turns a blind eye to the violence committed by state actors, and private actors in connivance with state actors, which results in irreversible psychological damage.

 

It is evident that the state has misplaced priorities. Since there is little that the state seems to have done, one can safely say that it does not seem to be aware of the abysmal conditions in which the tribals of Chhattisgarh live.

 

The state does not seem to be aware that tribals in Madhya Pradesh eat the poisonous kesari dal which is reported to have a paralytic impact. The state also does not seem to be aware that tribal women and other villagers in Maharashtra have to walk miles before they can get drinking water. This feeling of being ‘parentless’ makes people vulnerable to anti-state ideologies. Having said this, I am not legitimising violence against innocents by invocation of oppression; I am only suggesting that oppression is one of the reasons of unrest which manifests in the resort to violence against the state and insignias of the state.

 

In the Mahanadi Coal Fields Case (2010), the Supreme Court took strong exception to the manner in which the Central government and the Mahanadi Coal Fields Limited had acquired the lands of tribals in the Sundargarh district of Odisha and not compensated them even 23 years later. In fact, 20 years after dispossessing them, the government noted that the land was actually not required!

 

The Supreme Court observed: “the whole issue of development appears to be so simple, logical and commonsensical. And yet, to millions of Indians, development is a dreadful and hateful word that is aimed at denying them even the source of their sustenance. It is cynically said that on the path of ‘maldevelopment’ almost every step that we take seems to give rise to insurgency and political extremism [which along with terrorism are supposed to be the three gravest threats to India's integrity and sovereignty] … The resistance with which the state’s well meaning efforts at development and economic growth are met makes one think about the reasons for such opposition to the state’s endeavours for development. Why is the state’s perception and vision of development at such great odds with the people it purports to develop? And why are their rights so dispensable?”

 

Listen to people

 

The Supreme Court’s identification of the issue is not off the mark, and I believe it is quite perceptive of the reality. Studies establish that absolute deprivation by the state has a psychological impact on its people. Therefore, any attempt to combat violence by the state must have within its fold the measures to eliminate the conditions conducive to the spread of extremism, which must include (a) strengthening the rule of law; (b) fostering respect for human rights and provision for reparation for violations; (c) reversing ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, and socio-economic marginalisation; (d) listening to the people and (e) becoming more responsive to society.

 

The recent events of violence are tragic without a doubt but they contain the seeds of rejection of political structures. Political structures need to build confidence by dialogue, working on the ground for the uplift of the poor, and must work with an attitude of inclusiveness.

 

While mourning the loss of human life, we must devise innovative systems of engagement, based not on power or hierarchical administration but equality. One wishes ardently that new mechanisms of review — with deep and meaningful engagement with the local communities suggested in the Verma Committee on crimes against women — be quickly operationalised and deployed.

 

(The author is a senior advocate, a former Solicitor General of India, and a former Chairman, Bar Council of India)

 

Take Action to Improve Conditions for Dalit Women- UN Special Rapporteur #Vaw #Womenrights


Women and Girls Facing Caste-Based Discrimination Need Special Protections
JUNE 7, 2013
  • Many [Dalit women] experience some of the worst forms of discrimination. The reality of Dalit women and girls is one of exclusion and marginalization, which perpetuates their subordinate position in society and increases their vulnerability, throughout generations.
Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women

(Geneva) – United Nations member states should focus urgent attention and decisive action to improve conditions for Dalit women, four international nongovernmental organizations said today. The combination of caste and gender makes millions of Dalit women extremely vulnerable to discrimination and violence, including rape, forced prostitution, and modern forms of slavery.

“Many [Dalit women] experience some of the worst forms of discrimination,” said Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, in a written statement. “The reality of Dalit women and girls is one of exclusion and marginalization, which perpetuates their subordinate position in society and increases their vulnerability, throughout generations.”

Following a side event on June 4, 2013, at the UN Human Rights Council on multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence against Dalit women and women from similarly affected communities, IMADR, Human Rights Watch, Minority Rights Group International, and the International Dalit Solidarity Network called on UN member states to support efforts to eliminate gender and caste-based discrimination. The multiple forms of discrimination and violence against Dalit women have mostly been neglected until now, but some UN human rights bodies, including Special Rapporteurs and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, have begun to pay attention to this serious human rights issue.

Dalit women leaders from four caste-affected countries in South Asia took part in the side event and made strong appeals to the international community as well as their own governments to address discrimination. This was the first time that a UN event focused exclusively on the situation of Dalit women, whose courageous struggle for human rights has come a long way over the past decade.

Addressing the event in a written statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, reiterated her “fullest commitment in contributing to the eradication of caste discrimination and untouchability and the correlated deeply rooted exclusion, exploitation and marginalization of Dalit women and other affected groups” through the work of her office.

Pillay, who has spoken out strongly against caste discrimination on a number of occasions, also called on UN member states to “take on the challenge of addressing caste-based discrimination and the human rights violations flowing from this seriously and by mobilizing all of their relevant institutions to this end.”

The ambassador from the German UN Mission, Hanns Heinrich Schumacher, said he had been “shocked” when gathering information about the situation of Dalit women and came to realize the “urgency, the dimension of the problem.”

The fact that numerous states co-sponsored the event demonstrates the increased international attention to the situation of Dalit women – an interest that now needs to be transformed into concrete action by the international community as well as caste-affected countries.

One such country is India, home to almost 100 million Dalit women. Although there are laws in place to protect them, implementation remains an obstacle.
“New laws are useless unless they are implemented, as we have seen with previous efforts to ensure protection of Dalit rights,” said Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

Many of the speakers noted that the lack of implementation of legislation that is meant to protect Dalits is a key problem. Manjula Pradeep, director of the Indian Dalit rights NGO, Navsarjan Trust, stressed the importance of more data about the situation of Dalits and said that, “It is time to look at the intersection of caste and gender.”

Many victims of the combination of caste and gender-based discrimination live in South Asia where they are known as Dalits. Similar forms of discrimination occur elsewhere as testified by Mariem Salem, a parliamentarian from Mauritania and herself a member of a group targeted for discrimination, the Haratines, who are descendants of former slaves.

Salem noted that the pervading social attitudes and perceptions which stigmatize Haratine in general are “a key challenge for Haratine women.” She added that “specific types of work continue to be assigned to them on the basis of their hierarchical status,” a description that could also have been applied to Dalit women in South Asia.

 

Violence in Dalit hostel: NHRC issues notice to HRD Ministry


BS|  New Delhi  June 5, 2013

The National Human Rights Commission today issued a notice to the Union HRD Ministry over alleged caste-based discrimination and violence in a hostel of Dalit students in Patna University.

According to an NHRC statement, the Commission issued notice to the Secretary of the ministry and has given him four weeks time to respond.

The notice was issued after the rights panel took cognisance of a media report alleging fierce caste-based discrimination and violence in the PU hostel accommodating Dalit students.

The panel has also received a complaint from an NGO, Navsarjan Trust of Ahmedabad, quoting media reports that 18 Dalit students committed suicides during the last four years in premier educational institutions including IIT-Mumbai, IISc-Bengaluru, IIT-Kanpur, AIIMS, the statement said.

It has observed that the news report, if true, reflects widespread prevalence of discrimination towards Dalits in the educational institutions driving them to take extreme steps.

“The state has the responsibility and duty to ensure that an atmosphere is created in educational institutions wherein everyone, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, can pursue studies. The Constitution has also elaborate provisions to stop discrimination against the Dalits,” the statement said.

 

#India – Why were 103 women sterilised and left to die in a family planning camp #Vaw


 

On February 5, 2013 a mega female Minilap Ligation operation camp was held at Manikchak Rural Hospital (RH) of district of Malda, in West Bengal. On this particular day 103 women were sterilised. It was reported in the local media that the women who were sterilised in this camp were kept on the open ground (hospital campus premises) in semi conscious state, and their relatives were asked to take them back home immediately after the operation. This was highlighted in the media (NDTV and other news channels) as gross human rights violation and later enquires were conducted by the state health department and the national human rights commission. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to West Bengal’s Principal Secretary Health West Bengal and the Malda district magistrate, taking cognizance of an NDTV report that showed how nearly a hundred women were dumped unconscious.

Civil Society Fact-Finding: There was strong opposition to this from civil society groups as it is felt that despite government guidelines on quality assurance and standard procedures to be followed in camp settings are not being followed and implemented properly. This is a summary of this fact-finding exercise.

On April 6, 2013, an independent fact finding was conducted by a team comprising of public health experts, health and women’s rights activists and members of networks including Heath Watch Forum, Bihar; Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies and Human Rights Law Network (HRLN). National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR) supported the team by sharing the ethical guidelines and checklists for case documentation. The team members are working actively on issues related to reproductive health and rights and are engaged in post ICPD processes in India. Dr. Prabir Chatterjee, RCH Raiganj, West Bengal; Praveer Peterfrom HRLN, New Delhi; Kanti from Smokus local NGO Raiganj, Leena Uppal from Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies, New Delhi; Devika Biswas from Health Watch Forum, Bihar (also filed the PIL in Supreme Court earlier in 2012 about 53 women who were sterilised in a government school in Araria district of Bihar) formed the team.

The main aim of the fact-finding was to systematically document whether the standards specified in different guidelines (a) ‘Quality Assurance Manual for Sterilisation Services, 2006′, (b) ‘Standard Operating Procedures for sterilisation services in camps, 2008′ (c) ‘Standards for Female and Male Sterilisation Services, 2008′ were adhered to during this camp and assess whether the providers are maintaining standards of care as specified in the service guidelines.

Villages Visited: The team visited six villages in Malda district from where women had come for the operation.  Villages included Niranjanpur, Nawada Maheshpur, Fakirtola, Gopaltola, Bagditola and Najiruddinpur. Women who had undergone operations on February 5, 2013 and their families were interviewed. Meetings and interviews with the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), Block Medical Officer of Health (BMOH) of Malda district, five ANMs and four ASHAs were also conducted.

Key Findings: The fact-finding report describes the concerns and challenges faced by the women and their relatives, who underwent operations in the camp. It also throws light on the lack of basic minimum standards adhered by officials in the camp.   

One of the key finding was the fact that the standard camp protocols of the GOI were not followed. Infection control practices were inadequate. Though the GOI guidelines emphasise maintenance of prevention of infection, however the health care providers are unable to monitor or maintain records of infection control mechanisms followed at such family planning camps, given the large number of operations that that they conduct in a single day.

A total of nine women were interviewed. All women interviewed reported that they were not provided options for informed choice at the camp. All the women and their families voiced an environment of utter confusion and chaos at the camp. Women reported pain and minor complications after the operations, lack of complete knowledge about the operation procedure, consent being only in terms of thumb impressions and out of pocket expenditures during and after the operations.

A quick analysis of number and sex of children of all the women interviewed clearly showed a high preference for male child. Most of these women reported that they have been waiting for at-least one son before they go in for permanent sterilisation.  

Discussion: Women, who have undergone inhuman treatment where their dignity and rights have been denied, must be provided some form of redressal. The Family Planning Insurance Scheme which includes provisions for compensation to women who face failures and complications (and death) should be expanded to include humiliation of this nature. The Department of Family Welfare must also audit and ensure strict compliance of the quality assurance mechanisms it has already issued. The state government urgently needs to put the grievance redressal system/complaint box in place and ensure that such negligence is not repeated and the underlying deficits are addressed effectively.

It is hoped that the analysis from fact-finding will be of use to the larger community concerned with the experiences of women who have used family planning services and who are going to use them in future. It is also hoped that these findings will be deemed as relevant by the district officials at Malda, West Bengal who have been a part of this fact-finding process. 

We request you to share this summary widely and to urge your governments to stand up for women’s rights including their right to control their own bodies, fertility and sexuality!

Download Fact Finding Report

 

Police of Murshidabad planfully attacking activists of MASUM


25 May 2013

 

To

The Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New Delhi

 

Respected Sir

 

 

 

I want to draw your attention on incidents of consecutive threatening on our District Human Rights Monitor; Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar, a resident of Village- Bardhanpur, Post Office- Murddpur, Police Station- Raninagar, District- Murshidabad. Previously, I made a complaint regarding attacks by anti social elements on the aide of local police from Raninagar Police Station of Murshidabad district on 14th October 2012, when his elder brother’ house became attacked and looted. Though, I made request for his and his family’s security and safety, but now it is evident that it was not heeded.

In recent incident, the house of Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar was attacked yesterday; 24.5.2013, but this time not by the anti- socials but the police only. Just now, I have received information that a posse of 8 police persons; all were in civil attire, not in their uniforms, attacked his house, ransacked, looted and broke open all the doors of his household, while he was not present to his home. The said police persons were identified by his son; Mr. Faruk Kamran and other eye witnesses of his neighborhood as Mr. Ajoy Pal; Sub Inspector of Raninagar and Mr. Swarup Biswas; Sub Inspector of same police station. They even informed that all others can be identified by them if produced. This atrocious and heinous act of police aggression started at 11 pm on the date and continued for next one hour. On that time, Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar was on his way to home from our office. It was reported that the police personnel came by a vehicle with registration number WB- 24 K- 7678. They forcibly entered his home by breaking the tin made entry gate and subsequently broke open the door of the room, where his wife Ms. Nazma Sarkar was fast asleep. They were astonished and shocked by the sudden presence of police and their door breaking noises. The police party asked for Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar, while the family said that he was out of home and would be back, it made the police berserk and furious, they broke open every doors of the house in search of Mr. Sarkar. In between, while one of the son asked the justification of their forcible entry, Mr. Ajoy Pal said if you ask questions, I will fire you. The police party was without any female staff, and while questioned over their looting spree by Ms. Nazma Sarkar, they hold her hands and tried to unclothe her. The daughter of Mr. Sarkar; Ms. Safinaj Nasreen, who happen to be a student of a prestigious college at Kolkata, was forcibly lifted from her bed and asked her to stand. In the melee, the police party threatened to kill another son of Mr. Sarkar; Mr. Tarik Kamran. During this incident, the police party looted, one gold bangle and one necklace from Mr. Nazma Sarkar, one gold neck chain from Ms. Safinaj, two used mobile phones and Rs. 35000 by breaking a steel almirah, the money was meant for purchase of a portion of parental land property. During the loot, the police devastated all the wooden furniture and two bicycles. The police during their destruction and looting spree, threaten the whole family by making several warnings the gist of their threats was that ask Mr. Sarkar to not teach us human rights, we can frame you in fake charges and thereafter will bash you to death and warned against making any complaints to any authorities. There are few witnesses who saw all the happenings but failed to protest due to the demonic behavior of the police party. The witnesses are: Mr. Anarul Islam; son of Late Bainuddin Sarkar, Mr. Ataur Rahaman, Ms. Selina Bibi; wife of Mr. Alamgir Seikh and Mr. Alamgirh Seikh and others.

Our experience in Murshidabad district draw us to conclude that the police and local anti socials are working in unison to check the initiatives taken to establish human rights environment. They have taken measures to intimidate, defame and threat our district level activists in three consecutive occasions in recent past, i.e, Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, Mr. Safikul Islam and Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma. All the details are with the National Human Rights Commission and major international agencies has voiced their anguis over the recent attacks on MASUM’s human rights defenders at Murshidabad district.    

 

This is not an isolated incident, rather the local police- administration- BSF- anti- socials of the area are continuously trying to create hurdles to the activities on protection and promotion of human rights. In this regard I have made several complaints to you whenever such attacks were perpetrated on our activists, but till date no visible actions have been taken, which in other hand encouraged the errant.

 

As the district police of Murshidabad, concurrently trying to diminish the human rights endeavors to shield their involvements in corrupt and atrocious deeds, which is contravene of legal guarantees of the citizenry, has started an all out attacks on our activities and activists, and devoid of any human rights practice must be cautioned and suggested for more prudence by your Commssion.

 

In this context, I demand for:-

 

1.    Immediate intervention over the issue and guarantee of ultimate safety and security of Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar and his family 

2.    Protection of Mr. Sarkar according to the International Conventions on Human Rights Defenders

3.    The criminal acts of Mr. Ajoy Pal and Mr. Swarup Biswas with other police personnel must be investigated by an independent agency and subsequent booking in appropriate sections of penal provision

4.    Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar must duly compensated for the financial loss, he incurred due to police loot and defamation and disrepute caused by raiding his residence in midnight

 

 

Sincerely Yours

 

 

(Kirity Roy)

Secretary


Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in

 

UN calls for strengthened protection of more than 260 million victims of caste-based discrimination


United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

 

 

 

 

Continued plight of the ‘untouchables’

UN experts call for strengthened protection of more than 260 million victims of caste-based discrimination

GENEVA (24 May 2013) – They occupy the lowest levels of strict, hierarchical caste systems founded on notions of purity, pollution and inequality. They face marginalization, social and economic exclusion, segregation in housing, limited access to basic services including water and sanitation and employment, enforcement of certain types of menial jobs, and working conditions similar to slavery.

They are the Dalits of South Asia, who constitute the majority of victims of entrenched caste-based discrimination systems which affect some 260 million stigmatized people worldwide, people considered ‘untouchable’.

Caste-based discrimination remains widespread and deeply rooted, its victims face structural discrimination, marginalization and systematic exclusion, and the level of impunity is very high,” a group of United Nations human rights experts warned today, while urging world Governments to strengthen protection of the hundreds of millions of people across the globe who suffer from discrimination based on work and descent.

“This form of discrimination entails gross and wide-ranging human rights abuses – including brutal forms of violence,” they said. “Dalit women and girls are particularly vulnerable and are exposed to multiple forms of discrimination and violence, including sexual violence, on the basis of gender and caste. Children victims of caste-based discrimination are more at risk to be victims of sale and sexual exploitation.”

On this day, two years ago, the experts recalled, Nepal adopted the ‘Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability Bill’, a landmark legislative piece for the defense and protection of the rights of Dalits. A recent decision by the British Government in April 2013 to cover caste discrimination by the Equality Act serves as a good practice to protect Dalits in diaspora communities.

“We urge other caste-affected States to adopt legislation to prevent caste-based discrimination and violence and punish perpetrators of such crimes, and call on world Governments to endorse and implement the UN Draft Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination Based on Work and Descent.”*

The UN experts expressed concern about a serious lack of implementation in countries where legislation exists, and called for effective application of laws, policies and programmes to protect and promote the rights of those affected by caste-based discrimination. “Political leadership, targeted action and adequate resources should be devoted to resolving the long-standing problems, discrimination and exclusion faced by Dalits and similarly affected communities in the world,” they stressed.

“Caste-based discrimination needs to be addressed as a major structural factor underlying poverty,” the expert said, while welcoming the acknowledgment of caste-based discrimination as a source of inequality by the global consultation on the post-2015 development agenda.

However, they expressed hope that the agenda will also include specific goals for the advancement of Dalits and particularly affected groups. “Their specific needs require tailored action to lift them out of poverty and close the inequality gap between them and the rest of society,” they underlined.

“We will pay specific attention to the particularly vulnerable situation of people affected by caste-based discrimination and advocate for their integration and inclusion so that they can fully enjoy their human rights in accordance with international human rights law and national legislation”, the UN independent experts said.

“No one should be stigmatized; no one should be considered ‘untouchable’”.

The experts: Rita IZSÁK, Independent Expert on minority issues; Rashida MANJOO, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Gulnara SHAHINIAN, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and its consequences; Najat Maalla M’JID, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; Mutuma RUTEERE, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Catarina de ALBUQUERQUE, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; Magdalena SEPÚLVEDA, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

(*) UN Draft Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination Based on Work and Descent:
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session11/A-HRC-11-CRP3.pdf

For further information on the experts mandates and activities, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Marta Franco (+41 22 917 9268 / mfranco@ohchr.org) or write to minorityissues@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

 

 

 

 

Nestle Chairman wants to sell the world’s water #humanright


Please sign this petition addressed to the European Union, calling it to accept that access to water is a human right. See:http://www.right2water.eu/

Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, has rejected this view in an interview. Under his principles, water is a foodstuff to be sold at a price. He claims that by placing a value on water it will be treated with more respect. People who are poor and have difficulty accessing water should be given help, he says. Of course, Nestlé aims to make a buck from this process and is actively and agressively appropriating community water supplies, often in the face of opposition and legal challenges from those communities. It tries to divert criticism of these tactics with its CSV strategy, that is its Creative Storystelling Venture, or what it prefers to call Creating Shared Value.

From monitoring Nestlé’s baby milk marketing activities and working with partners around the world to force it and other companies to abide by minimum marketing standards, I have seen Nestlé’s strategies employed in their full range from slick PR to dirty tricks. I’ve also followed the water issue with interest, particularly the ten year campaign that ultimately stopped Mr Brabeck’s destructive water pumping operation in the Brazilian spa town of São Lourenço – where I bought my cap.

If water is seen as a human right and a public good then it has to be managed in the public interest. In too many cases community water resources are appropriated by Nestlé and other companies. There is information on Nestlé’s involvement in water on the Nestlé Critics website: http://www.nestlecritics.org/

Water as a human right and public good

Baby Milk Action has backed the campaign for water to be a human right and a public good for many years and raised concerns about Nestlé’s water operations at the company’s shareholder meeting.

For example, we organised a joint event with Christian Aid, War on Want and the World Development Movement in 2006. Our special guest at that event was Franklin Fredrick, a campaigner from Brazil trying to stop Nestlé’s destructive Pure Life water bottling operation in the historic water park in São Lourenço. Organisations signed up to a declaration commiting to work on this issue and to calling on governments “to guarantee, through appropriate laws, the human right to water and the declaration on water as a public good, and to work for the drawing up of an international convention on water to be adopted by the UN”. This campaign continues on many fronts.

Pure Life is one of Nestlé’s global brands of water. It promotes it as the official sponsor of the London Marathon (click here for our 2011 press release and leaflet).

We have asked the London Marathon to consider another sponsor and even reported it to the Charity Commission for refusing to be transparent over its policy on sponsors as required by the Charity Commission. The Charity Commission said it could not investigate as the sposorship is organised by London Marathon Ltd, which is separate to the company and not covered by charity law, even though it is 100% owned by the London Marathon Charitable Trust and passes all profits to the Trust.

While the Chief Executive of the London Marathon has indicated he is willing to discuss this issue, he has also said there is no point as the contract with Nestlé is not up for renewal for some time. A boycott supporter sets up an alternative water point along the course, but is not feasible for us to provide alternatives around the route. It is for marathon runners to campaign for alternative supplies if they do not want to be forced to drink Nestlé’s Pure Life water.

Nestlé’s illegal Pure Life water operation in Brazil

Nestlé launched Pure Life water in Brazil after sinking wells in 1996 in the water park in São Lourenço, which it acquired in its takeover of Perrier in 1992. Nestlé’s business model is to become the biggest or second biggest corporation in the world in any sector it enters and bottled water became one of its targets for global domination. São Lourenço has grown up and makes its living from the great variety of mineral springs that come to the surface in the water park, a virtually unique geological feature. There are mineral baths and a series of chapels over the springs to take the healing waters.

Sao Lourenco environmental mapNestlé’s bottling factory is in the area of maximum environmental vulnerability, as shown on the map, left.

Most of the spring water is not very pleasant to drink due to the high mineral content. One spring, the Primavera Spring, does produce mineral water and it was that which Perrier was bottling as São Lourenço water. When Nestlé took control, it sank two 162 metre deep wells and began pumping water at such a high rate (half a million litres per day) it had to build a wall around the plant extending 7 metres into the ground to prevent surface water being sucked into the well. Such was the suction that trees within this wall dried up and died.

Nestlé demineralised the water – in breach of federal laws that value mineral water as a natural resource – added its own salt ingredients and began dispersing it around Brazil backed by a marketing campaign to create demand.

Meanwhile the other springs began to dry up or change their mineral profiles at the massive draw off of water and some of the chapel buildings suffered subsidence and cracking (as Franklin points out, left).

It took ten years to stop Nestlé’s pumping, finally under the threat of daily fines until it did so.

I visited São Lourenço while the destruction was still in full swing. The townspeople were so angry at the fall off in trade to their hotels and restuarants they had petitioned the local prosecutor to take action. He managed to stop the pumping for two days following an investigation, but Nestlé appealed to a higher court and the years passed by. BBC Radio 4 recorded an edition of Face the Facts on the case in 2005. The listen again archive seems to have gone now, but the transcript is available at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/facethefacts/transcript_20050722.shtml

Nestlé’s spies infiltrate campaign group

Franklin joined us at the meeting in 2006 to launch the petition on water as a human right and public good. Nestlé wrote to our partners in the event attacking Franklin Fredrick with false claims. For example, Nestlé dismissed his accusations against the company stated: “a third party audit by Bureau Veritas confirms that we have acted in accordance with Brazilian legislation…” Yet when I managed to raise this in a question to Nestlé’s Latin American manager and now Chief Executive, Paul Bulcke, from the floor of a meeting held by the Prince of Wales Business Leaders’ Forum, Bureau Veritas, also present in the audience, admitted, “our work did not constitute a legal audit as such, nor did it include a review of the on-going civil action”. The civil action had actually been concluded at that point and Nestlé ordered to stop pumping under the threat of daily fines.

 As well as its personal attack on Franklin, Nestlé also placed spies in ATTAC Switzerland, which included the water issues in its book on the Nestlé Empire and invited Franklin to the launch. Franklin gave an interview to Swiss WRS radio when the issue came to court in January 2012 – for details, click here. The court ordered Nestlé and Securitas, its security company, to pay damages and court costs to the victims and, case proven, the companies are not appealing – click here.

Nestlé’s Creative Storytelling Venture – the true meaning of its CSV strategy

Nestlé does not like critics and hired PR guru Raphael Pagan in the 1970s to develop a strategy to respond to disasterous publicity over its baby milk marketing, which was coming to public attention at that time. The strategy developed continues to be followed today.

Part of it involves portraying the company as a force for good and Nestlé unveiled its latest Creating Shared Value report at the shareholder meeting.

We have produced a preliminary analysis we call Nestlé’s Creative Storytelling Venture, the true meaning of CSV. It shows that what Nestlé says it does and what it actually does are two very different things.

Nestlé’s report is full of references to water and Mr Brabeck’s leadership role in this area. He states in his introduction to the report:

“We believe that we can create value for our shareholders and society by doing business in ways that specifically help address global and local issues in the areas of nutrition, water and rural development. This is what we mean when we speak about Creating Shared Value (CSV). We proactively identify opportunities to link our core business activities to action on related social issues.”

Nestlé boasts of cutting its own water consumption, which is to be welcomed, if true. Unfortunately it is difficult to know what can be believed as on the baby milk issue – of which I have direct knowledge – Nestlé’s report is thoroughly dishonest (details in our analysis).

Nestlé highlights that its report is audited by Bureau Veritas. But given its negligent job in performing Nestlé’s so-called legal audit in São Lourenço, that is not saying much.

Nestlé seizes the water agenda

Mr Brabeck is presents himself as a guru on water. For example, he has become a vociferous campaigner against biofuels, claiming they use too much water and land that should be used for farming, while being a poor response to climate change. That is an argument that should be made, but it is laughable coming from the leader of a company that by its very nature is opposed to local production and consumption of food, instead shipping highly processed foods around the planet.

Mr Brabeck also leads the World Economic Forum (WEF) Water Resources Group, is a founder signatory of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate and sponsors World Water Week in Stockholm, as well as other initiatives to promote bottled water, such as the London Marathon.

Franklin Fredrick continues to campaign to protect water resources and his article on the Water Resources Group was published recently. See:
http://europeanwater.org/european-water-resources/reports-publications/204-water-alternatives

Original source- http://info.babymilkaction.org/