House of Commons debate on the #DeathPenalty and Human Rights violations in India


By , http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/

Published: March 2, 2013
    • London, United Kingdom (March 02, 2013): According to a press release by the organizers of the Kesri Lehar, a petition asking for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India was debated in the Main Chamber of the House of Commons on Thursday, 28th February 2013.

The two and a half hour debate, started with an opening speech by Rt. Hon. John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, who said that the national Kesri Lehar campaign urged the UK government to press the Indian Government to sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which encompasses the death penalty.

Amongst the many issues on Human Right’s abuses raised during the debate, two prominent cases, currently on death row in India, that of Balwant Singh Rajoana, and, Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar were discussed at length.

Rt. Hon. John McDonnell referring the cases of Balwant Singh Rajowana and Prof Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, said, “These two cases carry immense significance around the world, the Rajoana case for its historical context and the Bhullar case because it is almost now a symbol of the injustice meted out to so many Sikhs in recent decades.”

Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana (quote from Will)

Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana (quote from Will)

“If Balwant Singh Rajoana symbolises the suffering of the Sikhs in that period, Professor Bhullar symbolises the injustice meted out to Sikhs, over the years at the hands of the Indian police and the judicial system.”

Parliament was told that, “Balwant Singh was party to killing Beant Singh, the chief Minister of the Punjab. We now know that Beant Singh personally commanded the police and security forces in the killing and disappearance of possibly more than 20,000 Sikhs—men, women and children. Faced with the failure of the Indian authorities to take action against the former chief Minister for his crimes against humanity, Balwant Singh and a co-conspirator took the law into their own hands. Nobody, including Balwant Singh, claims that he is innocent of the killing, but Sikh organisations, human rights lawyers and human rights groups are urging the Indian Government to take into account the context of his actions, the scale of the human suffering that the Sikhs were enduring at the time, and the anger that young men such as Balwant Singh felt at the failure of the Indian state to bring to justice the chief Minister responsible for the atrocities against the Sikhs in the Punjab. On that basis, they plead for understanding and mercy on Balwant Singh’s behalf and that the death penalty is avoided at all costs.”

Free Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar

Free Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar

It was also pointed out to Parliament that, the German courts have now ruled that that deportation of Professor Bhullar was wrong. He has been convicted of involvement in an attempted political assassination solely on the basis of a confession, which he retracted, with not one of more than 100 witnesses identifying him at the scene, and on a split decision of the court judges. In split decisions in India, the practice of the courts is not to impose a death penalty, but Professor Bhullar has been sentenced, held in solitary confinement for eight years and, despite his deteriorating health, his plea for mercy has been rejected.

Despite a further petition to the Supreme Court, the fear is that the Indian authorities could move to execute him at any time. This is a shocking miscarriage of justice waiting to happen unless we can intervene effectively.

There is also concern that India is expanding the scope of the death penalty, new laws passed in 2011 which provide for the death penalty include for the making and selling of illicit liquor.

Rt. Hon. Virendra Sharma, MP for Ealing and Southall, stated that, “We must kill the myth that we are anti-India or that we are interfering in India’s internal affairs. We are taking a matter of principle and fighting for the rights of the people living in India and abroad.”, he further stated that, “We cannot always assume that the judicial system is faultless. Therefore, using death, an irrevocable act, as a punishment for a crime, puts the system at risk of punishing the innocent irreversibly.

On talking on the issue of the judiciary in India, Simon Hughes, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said that, a Supreme Court bench said that people’s faith in the judiciary was dwindling at an alarming rate, posing a grave threat to constitutional and democratic governance of the country.

The house noted that “Amnesty International points out that the use of the death penalty in India is “riddled with systemic flaws”.

MP for Slough, Fiona McTaggart expressed her worries that the rights of religious, ethnic and caste minorities in India are not sufficiently well protected. It seems to me that we have a responsibility to say to India, “We expect you, as the largest democracy in the world, to promote the standards of democracy and human rights that we expect, and to recognise that if the death penalty is used in this way, there is a risk that you will deepen the divisions between ethnic and religious communities in country. There is a risk that you will make your country less safe and less peaceful for all who live in it.”

Concluding the debate, Labour MP John McDonnell said, “To add weight to the British Government’s representations, I urge them to raise the issue again with our European partners and to seek a joint representation from Europe on the subject. I urge the British Government, working with other Governments, to raise this call within the United Nations. With the UN Commission on Human Rights meeting imminently, this is an ideal time to put this back on the UN agenda.”

It seems to me that we have a responsibility to say to India, “We expect you, as the largest democracy in the world, to promote the standards of democracy and human rights that we expect, and to recognise that if the death penalty is used in this way, there is a risk that you will deepen the divisions between ethnic and religious communities in country. There is a risk that you will make your country less safe and less peaceful for all who live in it.””

Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, added that, there will be consequences for our relationships with India unless the Indian Parliament looks at this issue very seriously again and makes the changes that Members are asking it to do.

Rt. Hon. David Ward, MP for Bradford East, stated that, “I believe that it is our intrinsic right and, more importantly, our fundamental duty to speak up for all people, and especially for minorities who do not have suitable champions for their cause and who face persecution, wherever in the world that might occur and no matter what entrenched views or self-interest they might be battling against. The oppressors often have powerful weapons at their disposal to stifle debate… I have touched on the necessity for India to uphold the basic human rights that are espoused in the United Nations convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This is an important issue for my constituents, especially those in the Sikh community, who have long borne the brunt of judicial and societal discrimination in parts of India.”

David Ward, went on to state that, “Over the past few years, I have been approached by a number of constituents about the cases involving Balwant Singh Rajoana and Professor Bhullar. I know those cases well, and I am sad that those people are still on death row. I must be honest and tell the House, however, that on researching this issue more thoroughly, I was deeply shocked to discover the sheer scale of the human rights abuses that the Indian Government have not acted against, over many years. I am a member of Amnesty International, and I regularly receive the evidence that it produces. It is shocking to learn of the extensive use of forced evictions, the excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest and detention, and the fundamental lack of due process that are still prevalent in India. Amnesty states: “Impunity for abuses and violations remained pervasive.” The continuing existence of India’s controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act gives the Indian army arbitrary powers and near-immunity from prosecution.”

Seema Malhotra, MP for Feltham and Heston, said. “We participate in many debates in this House, but this one is literally about life and death. I have had a long-standing personal opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances and I am proud to live in a country where it has been abolished. This is a matter of humanity and, as someone once said, it is not for the state to kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong”

The execution of Balwant Singh and others would not end terrorism or causes of concern, and would damage the image of India

Another great concern is the fact that in the world’s greatest democracy we have recently seen innocent people suffering and being killed in the crossfire when peacefully protesting for improved human rights. Last year, a horrific case that touched us all deeply was the death of Jaspal Singh. Jaspal was an 18-year-old Sikh college student peacefully protesting against capital punishment last March who was killed when police opened fire on a crowd of just a few hundred to make them disperse.

India is a nation with more than 1,500 languages and dialects and is a showcase to the world in business, culture, arts and crafts. The Sikh community in India and around the world leads in business and agriculture, where it blazes a trail. The work of the Pingalwara charity in the Punjab shows the deepest compassion for those in the community with the least and those with the greatest disabilities. It is also leading the thinking about how to deal with environmental issues so that we can have a clean environment and tackle the vital questions of quality of life and the supply of water and good food for so many. The Sikh religion has at its heart the principles and values of equality that many of us hold so dear.

Tagged with: 

 

Labour MP John McDonnell urges India to end the #deathpenalty #humanrights


THURSDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2013, The Independent

The British Government should use “every mechanism of communication” to urge India to end the death penalty, a Labour MP has said.

John McDonnell said Britain was “uniquely placed” with its shared history with India to urge its government to halt executions and sign up to the UN Convention opposing the death penalty.

Introducing a backbench business Commons debate on the Kesri Lehar petition to abolish the death penalty in India, the MP for Hayes and Harlington paid tribute to the campaigners, many of whom sat watching the debate in the public gallery.

He said that last year when the “first inkling” was received that India was considering ending its eight year moratorium on implementing the death penalty, members of the Punjabi community in the UK, especially the Punjabi Sikhs came together and launched the campaign.

They secured more than 100,000 names on their petition to abolish the death penalty and address other human rights concerns.

Mr McDonnell said “fears were compounded” when in November 2012 India ended its moratorium and carried out an execution, with a hanging taking place in February this year.

In December 2012 the UN voted for the fourth time for a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions and while 111 countries voted for, India voted against.

He argued there was a “real risk” that with more than 400 people on death row in India and 100 more sentenced to death each year, many more executions were likely to follow unless action was taken.

He said: “First of all we need to recognise the historical relationship between India and Britain means that the UK Government is uniquely placed to urge the Indian government to end the death penalty.

“Therefore I’m calling on the UK Government to use every forum, every mechanism of communication established with India both formal and informal, to press the Indian government to halt the executions now and then to sign up to the UN Convention opposing the death penalty.

“I wrote to the Prime Minister before his recent visit to India to urge him to raise this issue with the Indian government and I hope that the minister can report back on that, and the continuing pressure that successive governments now across party have been placing upon the Indian government.”

Mr McDonnell urged Britain to raise the issue with European partners to seek a joint representation from all of Europe to India on the subject.

He also said Britain should work with other countries to raise this call within the UN, adding: “With a UN Human Rights Council meeting imminent this is an ideal time to place this back on the UN agenda.”

He appealed to India to “embrace humanity by ending the state killing once and for all”.

The Backbench Business motion, signed by a cross-party group of MPs, states: “That this House welcomes the national petition launched by the Kesri Lehar campaign urging the UK Government to press the Indian government to sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which encompasses the death penalty, with the result that India would abolish the death penalty and lift this threat from Balwant Singh Rajoana and others.”

Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said the death penalty “undermined human dignity” and said the British Government continued to aspire to its global abolition.

He told the Commons: “Use of the death penalty in India is a complex issue and it continues to be the subject of much debate across Indian society.

“It was disappointing India’s de facto moratorium on the death penalty which had existed for over eight years ended with the hangings of Mohammad Ajmal Kasab and Mohammad Afzal Guru last November and February this year respectively.

“Kasab and Guru were convicted of very serious crimes, involvement in the Mumbai attacks in 2008 and the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. It is important to remember the impact such acts of terrorism have on the people of India.

“Notwithstanding this, it remains the British Government policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. I hope the Indian government re-establishes a moratorium on executions in line with the global trend towards the abolition of capital punishment.”

Mr Swire said he had reiterated the Government’s position to the Indian administration last week when he accompanied Prime Minister David Cameron to the country.

And he said the India-EU Human Rights Dialogue would present a further opportunity.

The minister added: “They listened to what I had to say, was aware of our consistent position, and stressed to me the very real fear in India created by these acts of terrorism.”

Shadow foreign office minister John Spellar said: “I congratulate Kesri Lehar for their campaign.

“Uniting the community, whatever their views may be, and also gaining very wide public awareness of the issues we are discussing today.

“I also reaffirm the united determination of this Parliament on all sides to secure justice for the Sikh community of the Punjab.”

PA

 

There’s much to answer on human rights for India


United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4th June 2012, Pioneer

India did not have many convincing replies to questions that it faced at a recently held UN human rights meet. Its representative was either evasive or simply did not respond to specific queries on caste and communal conflicts, says Suhas Chakma 

 

On May 24, the United Nations Human Rights Council reviewed India’s human rights record during the 13th session of the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva. In his introductory remarks, head of the Indian delegation, Attorney General GE Vahanvati discarded the role of the UN by stating that India has self-correcting mechanisms in place. India by and large stuck to its 22-page National Report which was lettered mostly with constitutional provisions and success stories but failed to highlight human rights problems.

While Sudan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines had only praise for India, a large number  of other countries raised questions including the status of the Prevention of Torture Bill, the ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture; ratification of the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances; ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; abolition or moratorium on death penalty; ratifications of the ILO Conventions number 138, 155, 169, 173 and 182; withdrawal of India’s reservation to Article 16 of the UN Convenation Against All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and ratification of the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW Convention; protection/rehabilitation to victims of trafficking; comprehensive anti-discriminatory legislation and adequate means of redress; prevention of caste violence and implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act; repeal and review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Queries were also raised over the prosecution of security forces responsible for human rights violations; reform of the law enforcement bodies; strengthening control over the police forces and sensitisation of Armed forces towards human rights; human rights in school curriculum; access to justice and improvement of the judicial system; National Human Rights Action Plan; restriction on internet freedom; poverty alleviation, food security, health, sanitation, nutrition and drinking water, maternal and child mortality; protection of religious minorities, repeal of the anti-conversion laws and the status of the Communal and Targeted Violence Bill; status of the measures to address corruption; protection of the Human Rights Defenders and enactment of a law for protection of the HRDs; strengthening independence of National Human Rights Institutions; ratification of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees; status of the NREGA; ratification of the Third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child relating to communication procedures; allocation of more resources for enjoyment of economic and social rights especially in favour of vulnerable groups like women, children, poor people and minorities, etc.

It is not only the Western states but Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq and Maldives from Asia, and Botswana and Ghana from Africa also asked India to ratify the UNCAT. Argentina and Chile from Latin America recommended a moratorium on the death penalty.

Among the issues raised, the Indian delegation replied only to those relating to the status of the Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, prosecution of the security forces, refugees, human rights education, the Right to Information Act, torture, restrictions on internet, MNREGA, children with disabilities, HIV, human rights defenders, the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, the AFSPA, National Human Rights Action Plan, child labour, domestic violence, marriage and women’s equal right to property, socio economic caste census, sanitation and safe drinking water and India’s reservation to the CEDAW.

The responses of the Indian delegation were evasive and misleading. India was not only evasive on the question of prosecution of the security forces but also on combating caste violence. Mr Vahanvati did not directly answer questions relating to caste discrimination, but in his final remarks he stated, “India is an ancient country with strong social traditions. Some of these traditions may now be out of tune with modern values. They have to change. But in a democracy, these can only be done in an inclusive manner involving all through persuasion, education, and development. We are conscious of the need for change and promoting it through legislation and social awareness.”

The statement did not reflect the fact that the Union Government had to convene the State Home Ministers’ Conference on Effective Implementation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in New Delhi on April 17 to discuss non-implementation of the Power of Attorney reflected from high pendency and low conviction rate of the cases.

India justified many of its questionable measures on the grounds of “terrorism and armed insurgency”. Regrettably, there was no specific question relating to violence in India manifested in armed conflicts in 21 out of 28 States. Throughout the examination, India appeared to be a land of peace and not ‘India: Million Mutinies Now’ as described by VS Naipaul much before the Maoists multiplied the armed conflicts in the heart of Indian. In all these conflicts, women have been victims of multiple violations but not a single question was raised on violence against women in conflict situations.

Just the way coalition political compulsion has become the excuse at national level, at the UN the Union Government sought to hide itself on its inability to speculate on parliamentary process and federalism with respect to pro-human rights bills. While that is true of the Women’s Reservation Bill and the Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, with respect to the Prevention of Torture Bill, it is the Union Ministry of Home Affairs which simply failed to introduce the Bill despite an all- party Parliamentary Select Committee submitting the draft in December 2010.

The Indian delegation also misled the UN on internet freedom. India’s delegation responded that the current restrictions imposed by the Information Technology Act deals with normally accepted restrictions on “cyber security and removal of illegal contents like child pornography” but did not respond to the pointed questions on the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 which permit private censorship through the service providers.

During the UPR examination of India in 2008, 18 recommendations were made but India implemented only one recommendation — extending standing invitation to the Special Procedures mandate holders. On May 24, India made no commitment to enhance human rights legal framework in the country but has received over 80 recommendations to act upon in four years.

As the same recommendations pile up due to lack of action, India will increasingly face credibility crisis at the UN despite assertion that it is committed to protect and promote human rights of its citizens.

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,229 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,836,621 hits

Archives

March 2021
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
%d bloggers like this: