Extracts from the NHRC Report on Gujarat 2002


EXTRACTS ….


Former Chief Justice of India, JS Verma as Chairperson National Human Rights Commission in his Preliminary Report, April 1, 2002:-

“….9. The Commission would like to observe that the tragic events that have occurred have serious implications for the country as a whole, affecting both its sense of self-esteem and the esteem in which it is held in the comity of nations. Grave questions arise of fidelity to the Constitution and to treaty obligations. There are obvious implications in respect of the protection of civil and political rights, as well as of economic, social and cultural rights in the State of Gujarat as also the country more widely; there are implications for trade, investment, tourism and employment. Not without reason have both the President and the Prime Minister of the country expressed their deep anguish at what has occurred, describing the events as a matter of national shame. But most of all, the recent events have resulted in the violation of the Fundamental Rights to life, liberty, equality and the dignity of citizens of India as guaranteed in the Constitution. And that, above all, is the reason for the continuing concern of the Commission.
*
The term ‘human rights’ is defined to mean the right relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India (Section 2(1)(d)), and the International Covenants are defined as the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 16th December 1966” (Section 2(1)(f)).
(ii) It is therefore in the light of this Statute that the Commission must examine whether violations of human rights were committed, or were abetted, or resulted from negligence in the prevention of such violation. It must also examine whether the acts that occurred infringed the rights guaranteed by the Constitution or those that were embodied in the two great International Covenants cited above.
(iii) The Commission would like to observe at this stage that it is the primary and inescapable responsibility of the State to protect the right to life, liberty, equality and dignity of all of those who constitute it. It is also the responsibility of the State to ensure that such rights are not violated either through overt acts, or through abetment or negligence. It is a clear and emerging principle of human rights jurisprudence that the State is responsible not only for the acts of its own agents, but also for the acts of non-State players acting within its jurisdiction. The State is, in addition, responsible for any inaction that may cause or facilitate the violation of human rights.
(iv) The first question that arises therefore is whether the State has discharged its responsibilities appropriately in accordance with the above. It has been stated in the Report of the State Government that the attack on kar sevaks in Godhra occurred in the absence of “specific information about the return of kar sevaks from Ayodhya” (p. 12 of the Report). It is also asserted that while there were intelligence inputs pertaining to the movement of kar sevaks to Ayodhya between 10-15 March 2002, there were no such in-puts concerning their return either from the State Intelligence Branch or the Central Intelligence Agencies (p. 5) and that the “only message” about the return of kar sevaks, provided by the Uttar Pradesh police, was received in Gujarat on 28 February 2002 i.e., after the tragic incident of 27 February 2002 and even that did not relate to a possible attack on the Sabarmati Express.
(v) The Commission is deeply concerned to be informed of this. It would appear to constitute an extraordinary lack of appreciation of the potential dangers of the situation, both by the Central and State intelligence agencies. This is the more so given the history of communal violence in Gujarat. The Report of the State Government itself states:
“The State of Gujarat has a long history of communal riots. Major riots have been occurring periodically in the State since 1969. Two Commissions of Inquiry viz., the Jagmohan Reddy Commission of Inquiry, 1969, and the Dave Commission of Inquiry, 1985, were constituted to go into the widespread communal violence that erupted in the State from time to time. Subsequently, major communal incidents all over the State have taken place in 1990 and in 1992-93 following the Babri Masjid episode. In fact, between 1970 and 2002, Gujarat has witnessed 443 major communal incidents. Even minor altercations, over trivial matters like kite flying have led to communal violence.” (p. 127).
The Report adds that the Godhra incident occurred at a time when the environment was already surcharged due to developments in Ayodhya and related events (also p. 127).
Indeed, it has been reported to the Commission that, in intelligence parlance, several places of the State have been classified as communally sensitive or hyper-sensitive and that, in many cities of the State, including Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Godhra, members of both the majority and minority communities are constantly in a state of preparedness to face the perceived danger of communal violence. In such circumstances, the police are reported to be normally well prepared to handle such dangers and it is reported to be standard practice to alert police stations down the line when sensitive situations are likely to develop.
(vi) Given the above, the Commission is constrained to observe that a serious failure of intelligence and action by the State Government marked the events leading to the Godhra tragedy and the subsequent deaths and destruction that occurred. On the face of it, in the light of the history of communal violence in Gujarat, recalled in the Report of the State Government itself, the question must arise whether the principle of ‘res ipsa loquitur’ (‘the affair speaking for itself’) should not apply in this case in assessing the degree of State responsibility in the failure to protect the life, liberty, equality and dignity of the people of Gujarat. The Commission accordingly requests the response of the Central and State Governments on this matter, it being the primary and inescapable responsibility of the State to protect such rights and to be responsible for the acts not only of its own agents, but also for the acts of non-State players within its jurisdiction and any inaction that may cause or facilitate the violation of human rights. Unless rebutted by the State Government, the adverse inference arising against it would render it accountable. The burden is therefore now on the State Government to rebut this presumption.
(vii) An ancilliary question that arises is whether there was adequate anticipation in regard to the measures to be taken, and whether these measures were indeed taken, to ensure that the tragic events in Godhra would not occur and would not lead to serious repercussions elsewhere. The Commission has noted that many instances are recorded in the Report of prompt and courageous action by District Collectors, Commissioners and Superintendents of Police and other officers to control the violence and to deal with its consequences through appropriate preventive measures and, thereafter, through rescue, relief and rehabilitation measures. The Commission cannot but note, however, that the Report itself reveals that while some communally-prone districts succeeded in controlling the violence, other districts – sometimes less prone to such violence – succumbed to it. In the same vein, the Report further indicates that while the factors underlining the danger of communal violence spreading were common to all districts, and that, “in the wake of the call for the ‘Gujarat Bandh’ and the possible fall-out of the Godhra incident, the State Government took all possible precautions” (p. 128), some districts withstood the dangers far more firmly than did others. Such a development clearly points to local factors and players overwhelming the district officers in certain instances, but not in others. Given the widespread reports and allegations of groups of well-organized persons, armed with mobile telephones and addresses, singling out certain homes and properties for death and destruction in certain districts – sometimes within view of police stations and personnel – the further question arises as to what the factors were, and who the players were in the situations that went out of control. The Commission requests the comments of the State Government on these matters.
(viii) The Commission has noted that while the Report states that the Godhra incident was “premeditated” (p. 5), the Report does not clarify as to who precisely was responsible for this incident. Considering its gruesome nature and catastrophic consequences, the team of the Commission that visited Godhra on 22 March 2002 was concerned to note from the comments of the Special IGP, CID Crime that while two cases had been registered, they were being investigated by an SDPO of the Western Railway and that no major progress had been made until then. In the light of fact that numerous allegations have been made both in the media and to the team of the Commission to the effect that FIRs in various instances were being distorted or poorly recorded, and that senior political personalities were seeking to ‘influence’ the working of police stations by their presence within them, the Commission is constrained to observe that there is a widespread lack of faith in the integrity of the investigating process and the ability of those conducting investigations. The Commission notes, for instance, that in Ahmedabad, in most cases, looting was “reported in well-to-do localities by relatively rich people” (p. 130). Yet the Report does not identify who these persons were. The conclusion cannot but be drawn that there is need for greater transparency and integrity to investigate the instances of death and destruction appropriately and to instil confidence in the public mind.
(ix) The Report takes the view that “the major incidents of violence were contained within the first 72 hours.” It asserts, however, that “on account of widespread reporting both in the visual as well as the electronic media, incidents of violence on a large-scale started occurring in Ahmedabad, Baroda cities and some towns of Panchmahals, Sabarkantha, Mehsana, etc” in spite of “all possible precautions having been taken” (p. 128-129). The Report also adds that various comments attributed to the Chief Minister and Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, among others, were torn out of context by the media, or entirely without foundation.
(x) As indicated earlier in these Prceedings, the Commission considers it would be naïve for it to subscribe to the view that the situation was brought under control within the first 72 hours. Violence continues in Gujarat as of the time of writing these Proceedings. There was a pervasive sense of insecurity prevailing in the State at the time of the team’s visit to Gujarat. This was most acute among the victims of the successive tragedies, but it extended to all segments of society, including to two Judges of the High Court of Gujarat, one sitting and the other retired who were compelled to leave their own homes because of the vitiated atmosphere. There could be no clearer evidence of the failure to control the situation.
(xi) The Commission has, however, taken note of the views of the State Government in respect of the media. The Commission firmly believes that it is essential to uphold the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression articulated in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, which finds comparable provision in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966. It is therefore clearly in favour of a courageous and investigative role for the media. At the same time, the Commission is of the view that there is need for all concerned to reflect further on possible guidelines that the media should adopt, on a ‘self-policing’ basis, to govern its conduct in volatile situations, including those of inter-communal violence, with a view to ensuring that passions are not inflamed and further violence perpetrated. It has to be noted that the right under Article 19(1)(a) is subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
(xii) The Commission has noted the contents of the Report on two matters that raised serious questions of discriminatory treatment and led to most adverse comment both within the country and abroad. The first related to the announcement of Rs. 2 lakhs as compensation to the next-of-kin of those who perished in the attack on the Sabarmati Express, and of Rs. 1 lakh for those who died in the subsequent violence. The second related to the application of POTO to the first incident, but not to those involved in the subsequent violence. On the question of compensation, the Commission has noted from the Report that Rs. 1 lakh will be paid in all instances, “thus establishing parity.” It has also noted that, according to the Report, this decision was taken on 9 March 2002, after a letter was received by the Chief Minister, “on behalf of the kar sevaks,” saying “that they would welcome the financial help of Rs. 1 lakh instead of Rs. 2 lakhs to the bereaved families of Godhra massacre” (see p. 115). This decision, in the view of the Commission, should have been taken on the initiative of the Government itself, as the issue raised impinged seriously on the provisions of the Constitution contained in Articles 14 and 15, dealing respectively with equality before the law and equal protection of the laws within the territory of India, and the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. The Commission has also noted the contents of the Report which state that “No guidelines were given by the Home Department regarding the type of cases in which POTO should or should not be used” and that, subsequent to the initial decision to apply POTO in respect of individual cases in Godhra, the Government received legal advice to defer “the applicability of POTO till the investigation is completed” (pp. 66-67). The Commission intends to monitor this matter further, POTO having since been enacted as a law.
(xiii) The Commission has taken good note of the “Rescue, Relief and Rehabilitation Measures” undertaken by the State Government. In many instances, strenuous efforts have been made by Collectors and other district officers, often acting on their own initiative. The Commission was informed, however, during the course of its visit, that many of the largest camps, including Shah-e-Alam in Ahmedabad, had not received visits at a high political or administrative level till the visit of the Chairperson of this Commission. This was viewed by the inmates as being indicative of a deeper malaise, that was discriminatory in origin and character. Unfortunately, too, numerous complaints were received by the team of the Commission regarding the lack of facilities in the camps. The Commission has noted the range of activities and measures taken by the State Government to pursue the relief and rehabilitation of those who have suffered. It appreciates the positive steps that have been taken and commends those officials and NGOs that have worked to ameliorate the suffering of the victims. The Commission, however, considers it essential to monitor the on-going implementation of the decisions taken since a great deal still needs to be done. The Commission has already indicated to the Chief Minister that a follow-up mission will be made on behalf of the Commission at an appropriate time and it appreciates the response of the Chief Minister that such a visit will be welcome and that every effort will be made to restore complete normalcy expeditiously.
(xiv) In the light of the above, the Commission is duty bound to continue to follow developments in Gujarat consequent to the tragic incidents that occurred in Godhra and elsewhere. Under its Statute, it is required to monitor the compliance of the State with the rule of law and its human rights obligations. This will be a continuing duty of the Commission which must be fulfilled, Parliament having established the Commission with the objective of ensuring the “better protection” of human rights in the country, expecting thereby that the efforts of the Commission would be additional to those of existing agencies and institutions. In this task, the Commission will continue to count on receiving the cooperation of the Government of Gujarat, a cooperation of which the Chief Minister has stated that it can be assured.

UN Resolution Calls for Israel to Disclose Nuclear Arsenal


Regional outlier asked to join NPT and back vision of a ‘Nuclear-Free Middle East

– Common Dreams staff

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Monday to approve a resolution calling on Israel to open up its nuclear weapons program to international inspectors and to end its refusal to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treary, or NPT.

 A vote by the United Nations general assembly has called on Israel to open its nuclear programme to weapons inspectors. (Photograph: Chip East/Reuters) The resolution passed with a 174-6 vote, and included 6 abstentions. Israel, the U.S., Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau were the “no” votes.

Also included in the UN measure was a call to reschedule a recently cancelled conference that would push for a ‘nuclear-free Middle East,’ something that all countries across the region, including Iran, have supported. A meeting on the issue was planned for this month in Helsinki, FInland, but was  cancelled, or at least postponed, by the U.S. at the end of November.

Though the Israeli nuclear weapons arsenal is widely known to exist, neither the nation’s government or its key ally, the U.S., will publicly acknowledge the program.

This refusal has long helped Israel avoid acknowledging the hypocrisy of its repeated threats against Iran for its nascent nuclear technology program.

As the Associated Press reports:

Resolutions adopted by the 193-member General Assembly are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry moral and political weight.

Israel refuses to confirm or deny it has nuclear bombs though it is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal. It has refused to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, along with three nuclear weapon states — India, Pakistan and North Korea.

And John Glaser, writing at Antiwar.comadds:

If Israel agreed to dismantling its vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and to a deal enforcing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East – a deal Iran and Israel’s Arab neighbors have repeatedly proposed – the supposed threats Israel faces in the region would virtually disappear.

But Israel refuses to give up its nuclear monopoly, insistent on maintaining its excuse to build up its military and distract from the Palestinian issue.

As former CIA Middle East analyst Paul Pillar has written, “the Iran issue” provides a “distraction” from international “attention to the Palestinians’ lack of popular sovereignty.”

________

 

Stand up for the Tibet Pledge #mustread #mustshare


 

15 August 2012

Dear Friends,

This is a crucial moment. Please help us to double support for Stand Up for Tibet.

TsewangNorbu.jpeg

One year ago 29-year old monk Tsewang Norbu set light to himself and died in Tawu, eastern Tibet. Although not the first self-immolation in Tibet – Tapey, in February 2009 was followed two years later by Phuntsok in March 2011 –this was our first realization that those fiery protests were not isolated incidents, and that what we were witnessing unfold in Tibet was a tragedy of enormous proportions.

Unbelievably, there have now been almost 50 confirmed self-immolations in Tibet; a staggering 36 since 1 January 2012 and five in the past 10 days alone. At least 39 of all these protestors have died from their burns.

Something different is happening in Tibet. Over 60 years of occupation, periods of Tibetan resistance have been crushed by China’s military forces. But trying to stop individuals who are determined to set light to themselves must be akin to trying to stop grains of sand running through their fingers. And more than that, China is also now discovering that its military might is unable to prevent mass gatherings of Tibetans, whether they are praying for those self-immolating or engaging in more challenging acts of protest.

On Monday several Tibetans were brutally beaten, one possibly fatally, after a protest erupted in the immediate aftermath of the twin self-immolations by Tashi and Lungtok in Ngaba, Amdo. And as I write this message, a mass demonstration is taking place in Rebkong, Amdo, with several hundred Tibetans gathered outside the police station to protest against the unprovoked beating of four Tibetans by drunken police.

 

I’m writing to ask that you continue to stand with Tibet. Although we feel heartbroken by the news of each passing self-immolation, the Tibetan people need our support now more than ever. We mustn’t lose focus. Now is the time to double our efforts, in raising awareness and pressing for political action, because we’re making an impact. 
Tibetans in Tibet are not alone. They have your support and your pledge to Stand Up for Tibet. And the Tibet movement has made important progress towards our main objectives.

Rebkongprotest.jpg

* Tibet Groups around the world have delivered your pledge and worked hard to press governments to publicly express concernMany of the world’s most influential governments have spoken out, including at sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council. In early September, as the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council prepare to meet, we’ll be calling for an International Advocacy Day and will send you more details soon.

 

* Our demand for governments to act together for Tibet is gradually gaining traction. We were delighted to see that US Congressmen Frank Wolf and James McGovern wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week, calling for “stronger, more coordinated, visible international diplomatic steps with regard to the People’s Republic of China’s policies and practices towards Tibetans.” Read the full letter here.

* A number of key governments have strongly pressed China allow access to the region, including the European Union and Australia. China has agreed that the UN Human Rights Commissioner can visit Tibet as part of a wider visit to China, but no dates have been agreed. Online advocacy group Avaaz joined this campaign and nearly 700,000 people signed an appeal for governments to demand urgent access to Tibet.

* Tibet Groups have generated significant media coverage of the self-immolations, and made a huge effort to raise public awareness, staging coordinated actions and protests around the globe on a regular basis over the last 12 months.

On this anniversary of Tsewang Norbu’s self-immolation, I am writing to ask each and every one of you to undertake to get one more person to sign the Stand Up for Tibet pledge, and help us to double the support for Tibetans in Tibet to more than 100,000 people. Let’s respond to this rapid increase in self-immolations in Tibet with a huge increase in those pledging to take action, to help Tibetans realise their dreams for freedom and for the return of His Holiness to Tibet.

Many, many thanks for your support,

Alison Reynolds
Executive Director, International Tibet Network Secretariat

The second image shows protests in Rebkong, Tibet on 14 August 2012. The banner reads “The atrocity committed by the Administration’s People’s Armed Police to the masses”

 

Snapshots- May 3, World Press Freedom Day 2012


Theme 2012:
New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoekis celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day. It is an opportunity to:

  • celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
  • assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
  • defend the media from attacks on their independence;
  • pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The recent uprisings in some Arab States have highlighted the power of the media, the human quest for freedom of expression and the confluence of press freedom and freedom of expression through various traditional and new media.

This has given rise to an unprecedented level of media freedom. New media have enabled civil society, young people and communities to bring about massive social and political transformations by self-organizing, and engaging the global youth in the fight to be able to freely express themselves and the aspirations of their wider communities.

Yet, media freedom is fragile, and it is also not yet within the reach of everyone. Furthermore, as more reporting is transmitted online, more and more online journalists including bloggers are being harnessed, attacked and even killed for their work.

SAFMA, SAMC appeal for safeguarding media freedom

In a joint statement issued ahead of the World Press Freedom Day which falls on May 3, the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) and the South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) have urged governments in South Asia to safeguard the freedom of expression against repressive provisions, measures or groups.

The two media bodies termed the commemoration of this year’s Press Freedom Day, with its theme as “New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies,” an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of media freedom. It would also serve as an occasion to evaluate media freedom, to defend the media from attacks on their independence, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Freedom of expression is a precious right that bolsters every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity. Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for exercising this right,” said SAFMA secretary-general Imtiaz Alam and SAMC president Kumar Ketkar.

The SAFMA and the SAMC called on the governments in the region to commit themselves to supporting and expanding press freedom and the free flow of information in the digital age. “New media have enabled people to bring about massive social and political transformations. Yet, media freedom is fragile, and it is also not yet within the reach of everyone. Furthermore, as more reporting is transmitted online, more and more online journalists including bloggers are being attacked and even killed for their work,” Mr. Alam and Mr. Ketkar said.

According to statistics with the two media bodies, 185 journalists have been killed since 1992 for their work. Of these, Pakistan tops the tally with 58 followed by India 39, Afghanistan 28, Sri Lanka 25, Bangladesh 18, and Nepal 17.

A free press is a form of freedom of expression, providing citizens with access to knowledge and information, thus safeguarding any political system based on the will of the people.

Photo: Reuters
Members of the media tape their mouth as they protest against the arrest of journalists in Panama. (file)

A free press is a form of freedom of expression, providing citizens with access to knowledge and information, thus safeguarding any political system based on the will of the people.  On May 3rd, we celebrate World Press Freedom Day.   It is a day to consider the importance of freedom of the press, and to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression as stipulated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

But Freedom of the Press Day serves not only to highlight the importance of an uncensored press: it also serves as a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down; that in many countries, journalists, editors and publishers and bloggers are harassed, attacked, jailed and even murdered.  It aims to remind governments of the need to respect their commitment to Press Freedom, and to journalists

This day also serves as a reminder to professionals of their responsibility to society, and of the importance of maintaining professional ethics. It is a day of support for media which are targets for the censorship, or abolition of press freedom. And it is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino once said that “Freedom of the press guarantees popular participation in the decisions and actions of government, and popular participation is the essence of democracy.”

A free press is sometimes called the Fourth Pillar of Democracy.  That is because a free press reports abuses of power by public officials.  It shines a spotlight on government decision makers and those who influence them.  It keeps the citizens informed of news critical of the government, gives them the opportunity to exchange information and opinions about public affairs without interference by government officials. It spurs them into pressuring the government to right wrongs.

As one-time U.S. Supreme Court Judge Felix Frankfurter once said, “Freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of [achieving] a free society.”

A silent press means the end of democracy.

Call for code of ethics for citizen journalism

The theme for this year’s World Press Freedom day is “New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies”.

In the open letter, Smith and Achtelstetter draw attention to the transformative power of new media technologies and social media. They cite the ongoing uprisings in the Middle-East which highlight “the potential of citizen journalism to counter attacks on freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

However, they caution that while emerging media technologies and social media platforms offer new channels for increased information flows and strengthening communication rights, using them demands greater responsibility. “Part of that responsibility is developing and adapting professional standards to guide journalistic practice,” they say.

WACC believes that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are basic human rights. Media independence and pluralism strengthen democratic processes and promote both government accountability and citizen participation. WACC’s new Strategic Plan 2012-2016 focuses especially on the role communication rights play in giving voice to poor, marginalized, excluded and dispossessed people and communities.

Read full letter here

‘Censorship on Journalists a Threat to Democracy’

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS): Violence and censorship against mediapersons are a “threat” to democracy and also constrains their ability to operate freely, an international body of journalists said Wednesday.The Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) also condemned state repression against media in countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

“Without a free press and freedom of expression, governments can impose bad policy and abuse power with impunity,” said Rita Payne, president of CJA, underlining the consensus at a meet on ‘Threats to Democracy’.

Violence and censorship remains an everyday threat for many journalists and such constraints their ability to operate, the CJA said in a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day May 3.

“The CJA unanimously condemns instances of state repression against media reported out of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and some African member states of the Commonwealth,” Payne said.

“With some Commonwealth countries, including India and Pakistan resisting a draft UN Action Plan on safety of journalists, the CJA warned that democracy itself is under threat due to constraints on the ability of journalists to operate,” she added.

Putting action to words, the CJA has endorsed the Table Mountain Declaration, aimed at abolishing criminal defamation and promoting a free press in Africa.

In 2011, 179 journalists were imprisoned worldwide, up from 145 the previous year while another 67 were killed last year; 17 more so far this year. They were murdered, killed on dangerous assignments or died in crossfire, Payne said.

Pakistan is rated among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. South Africa has enacted strict censorship measures that limit reporting on corruption and attempt to control the press.

The CJA’s efforts are global, with its branches in Pakistan, Sarawak, Uganda, Cameroon, India and Britain among those holding educational workshops and awareness-raising events to mark World Press Freedom Day.

“It is time for all Commonwealth countries to uphold the same values of a civil society. The onus here is on governments. Press freedom and freedom of speech must be protected and promoted,” Payne said.

Petition against the Death Penalty- Pl sign and share widely


39 nations have already abolished the death penalty. In December 2012, the United Nations‘ General Assembly will vote on a resolution calling for a worldwide halt to its use.

We, the undersigned, in recognition of the five million people who signed the moratorium petition that was handed to the United Nations’ General Assembly in 2007, promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio in collaboration with Amnesty International and other organizations all over the world, renew the call for a worldwide moratorium on sentences and executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty worldwide in the belief that this penalty is inhumane:

* Whatever the method of execution, there is no humane way to kill
* Whatever the country, death row is inhumane
* Whatever the length, awaiting death dehumanizes people sentenced to death

We welcome the strong progress already made towards a global end to capital punishment and acknowledge that 139 nations have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

For the 4th vote of the United Nations General Assembly on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, to be held in December 2012, we, the undersigned, call on all countries to support the resolution and all those which retain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on its use, with a view to abolishing this inhumane practice altogether!

 

Please sign online petition here

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