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India submits periodic report under article 40 of ICCPR


India has submitted its periodic report under article 40 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).  National security legislations, for instance, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act,  1958 (AFSPA), the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA J&K), the National Security Act, 1980, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967  (UAPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (J&K PSA) were passed to  protect the sovereignty of India and ensure security of its citizens, the report mentioned.

Under these statutes, armed  forces and security personnel are bestowed with powers for the maintenance of public order  and prevention of acts prejudicial to the defence and security of India. Government of India  remains committed to dealing with law and order and security situations with minimum use  of force, in accordance with principles of legal certainty, necessity and proportionality, and  after due consideration of various factors including ground realities, it said. The report said India continues to be a victim of terrorism. This has, over the years, necessitated  certain specific measures like the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987  (TADA), the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA) to ensure security of its citizens. The constitutional validity of these legislations was upheld by the Supreme Court of India in Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab and People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Another v. Union  of India, India further mentioned in the report. 

NCHRO wrote a letter to Police Commissioner of Delhi against hate speech given in Burari


On April 3, 2022, a Hindu Mahapanchayat was held at Burari, New Delhi, where open calls for taking up arms were given. At least five journalists were allegedly assaulted in the process of covering the event. In August 2021, too, there was a similar event after which the organizers of the current event, Preet Singh and Pinky Chaudhary, were arrested for hate speech.

Yati Narsinghanand and Suresh Chavankhe, who were previously in the news for giving a call to arms in ‘protection’ of the Hindu religion, were also present at this event. There was a literal call for genocide against Muslims.

Yati Narisnghanand can be heard in a video of the event saying “If a Muslim becomes the prime minister of India, in the next 20 years, 50% of all of you will change your religion…40% of Hindus will be murdered. Ten percent of Hindus will give their sisters and daughters to Muslims, will live in refugee camps or abroad”. He was arrested previously for the Haridwar assembly and then granted bail, on the condition that he wouldn’t speeches disrupting communal harmony.

Against this incident, human rights organisation the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) wrote a letter to Police Commissioner of Delhi, urging them to take action against the perpetrators.

The letter was submitted on April 06, 2022 by Adv. Ashutosh Kumar Mishra, the Vice President of the Delhi chapter of NCHRO.

We have urged the authorities to take the case seriously and take prompt action.
 
Sincerely,
 Nihaal Siddique, 
Treasurer,
Delhi Chapter, NCHRO

NCHRO Madhya Pradesh challenged Religious Freedom Act 2020 in Jabalpur High Court


BHOPAL:
  Human rights organization National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO) Madhya Pradesh unit has challenged the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act, 2020, popularity known as 'Love Jihad Law' in Jabalpur High Court. The organization's State Secretary Advocate Shilpi Rangari issued a press statement stating that in the petition filed in the name of State President Aradhana Bhargava, the petition has been appealed to the Hon'ble Court to declare the Religious Freedom Act 2020 as unconstitutional, stating the said law is against constitutional values. She stated that the clauses of the said law are against the provisions of Chapter III of the Constitution. She said that Article 25 of the Constitution gives every citizen the right to adopt any religion as per his wish, to follow it and to propagate it. But the Religious Freedom Act 2020 violates this right of citizens as provided by the Constitution. Therefore, this law is against the values ​​and provisions of the Indian Constitution.

It should be noted that since the ordinance passed by the Hon'ble Governor of Madhya Pradesh earlier in the above context, there has been a spurt in religious conversion cases in which a large number of person belonging hailing from minority community have been targeted. Keeping this in view, the said writ petition has been duly selected, seeking to reject the Religious Freedom Act 2020 and to declare it as ultravires to the constitution.

Yours faithfully,

Advocate Shilpi Rangari
State Secretary
NCHRO, 
Madhya Pradesh

We Are Seeing, for the First Time, a Sustained Countrywide Movement Led by Women

A protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in Kolkata. Photo: Twitter
No group stands to lose as much as women do if the CAA-NRC are implemented. The Indian woman knows that, and knowledge guides her in the protests.

In this winter of discontent, in every procession, in every demonstration, in every protest – from JNU to Jamia or Aligarh to Jadavpur – the front rows are occupied by young women.

The independent nation has never seen such a sustained political agitation led by young women – vociferously, unfailingly and determinedly. Who are these protesting, shouting and uproarious young women? Are they just students from India’s liberal campuses? Or are they instigated by opponent parties? Is their participation an accident or is there a method in this upheaval?  
It is neither an accident, nor an instigation. There is a clear and single-minded shift.

Female students in university campuses across India are out to show that the future of politics is shifting rapidly; that 21st century politics is not going to be handled by the rhetoric of masculinity anymore; that the time has come to deal in politics with care and concern for gender discourses rather than making that occasional call for for the blood of the rapist. 

The increasing number of vocal girls is saying that gender-justice is not alms, but a systemic intervention into the nature and logic of politics itself. 

This is the broad picture generally but there are more nuanced reasons why women are willing to bet themselves at the altar of restive, bloody street politics. 

First, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) threatens women in a larger way than men. Images and reports of detention camps in Assam have given demonstration to that effect. And women – not only from minorities, but across sections – have started to feel the fear of being disenfranchised.

This is a real fear, because suffrage is a key issue for a nation with a colonial past. In a nation like India, where the process of decolonisation is hardly over, the national identity of women emerged out of the construction of history of its struggles against the colonial (and also post-colonial) government. And hence, the threat to lose the right to vote or to get the citizenship nullified makes a deep impact.

It is a matter of survival for women in higher studies, who know what it has taken them to have finally found a voice. Therefore, they are are much more keen to resist the law, considering it as one that forecloses a fundamental aspect of gender justice.    

Second, the fear of adequate documents. In India, women, across various socio-economic markers are often deprived of state papers.

Women form a human shield around a man beaten by police during protests against new citizenship law, at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, December 15, 2019 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. Photo: Ghulam Hussain/via Reuters
Since 1990s, the government’s concern for prenatal and postnatal care in rural areas meant that many were birthed by midwives, complicating birth certification prospects; the rate of marriage registration is still arbitrary; women often do not possess immovable property under their name; and stay at the ‘care’ of father or husband after marriage.

Thus, the implementation of CAA and National Register of Citizenship (NRC) are introducing a new order, a new ‘definition of margin’ and a new hegemony, which is posing a grave threat to women across communities, caste and class.
And the increasing rural literacy and urban mobility among women are not hiding these dangers anymore from them. These young women are often first generation learners or the first generation in higher studies in their family. For them, being pushed to a state of lack of agency, which they have seen in their mothers or grandmothers is not an option anymore.

Hence, anything that threatens the possibility of their aspiration and mobility is making them participate resolutely in protesting against a discriminatory law. 

Literacy, is in fact, another reason in itself for increased participation of women. The substantive increase of female students in higher education means that girls are now travelling more, staying in hostels and participatory renting, making them independent and in control of their lives. This detachment from family and increased ownership of the self gives courage to speak up, to stand up and to raise voices; even against the state.

A demonstrator has her eye covered with a patch during a protest to show solidarity with the Jamia Millia Islamia university student who allegedly lost his eye during protests against new citizenship law, in New Delhi, India, December 29, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis
This ability is now further enhanced by harnessing of technology. A faster digital world is changing the way younger generations of women connect to the world, often adapting technology at a rate faster than men.
Adoption of smart-phones and participation in social media-led collectivising is crucial in recognising an increased sense of liberty and a broader role in public voice and space. The digitisation of space is hence a formidable prospect in the mobilisation of student-led politics.
Women are not willing to give it away in the name of flimsy papers and perverse dictations of to citizenship. Also, there is an increasing appetite in the younger users for information and data, which is being denied by this government repeatedly, making the younger wary of their future and well-being. 

Finally, one can end with a retrospective reason for the swelling of women among protesters. This reason might look innocuous from the distance of time; but it is not. If one looks back carefully, one would note that the expansion of the noon-time meal in upper primary schools started during the first term of UPA government in 2004. The idea was to attract children to schools, to reduce drop-out rates and to give nutritional supplements to girls.
In following years, the mid-day meal scheme became a raging success, cutting both absenteeism and gender imbalance in schools. Girls from poor families who were thus incentivised to attend school are now in the age group of 18-25 years.
They are the ones who have benefited from spread of education and know the ethical imperatives of free public education and learning without hindrance of having to prove birth-data. 

Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against the new citizenship law, in Kolkata. Photo: Reuters
So, under these circumstance, if she gets to know that a law like the CAA is about to disenfranchise her or her mother, or both; or if she knows that because of her birth lineage she is going to be sent in detention camps; or be denied rights of a citizen; or if she fears to lose her degrees and enfranchisement by random and mindless gate-keeping, what will she do?
She is doing what she should, marching bravely as vanguards in protests across the country. 

Sangbida Lahiri is a PhD Fellow in South and South East Asian Studies Department, University of Calcutta, Kolkata. 

Source:The Wire

"Walls Of Hatred In Name Of Religion": Naseeruddin Shah In Amnesty Video

Walls of hatred are being erected in the name of religion in India and those who stand against this "injustice" are being punished, actor Naseeruddin Shah on Friday claimed in video released by the Amnesty India against alleged government "crackdown" on NGOs.
In the 2.13-minute solidarity video for the human rights watchdog Amnesty, Naseeruddin Shah said those who demand rights are being locked up. 
"Artistes, actors, scholars, poets are all being stifled. Journalists too are being silenced," he said in the video message.
"In the name of religion, walls of hate are being erected. Innocents are being killed. The country is awash with horrific hatred and cruelty," he claimed. 
He said that those who stand against this "injustice" are having their offices raided, licenses cancelled and bank accounts frozen to silence them so that they are deterred from speaking the truth.
"Is this where our country is headed? Had we dreamt of a country where there was no space for dissent, where only the rich and powerful are heard and where the poorest and most vulnerable are oppressed? Where there once was law, there is now only darkness," he said in the video in Urdu.
Under the hashtag of #AbkiBaarManavAdhikaar, the Amnesty claimed India has witnessed a massive crackdown on freedom of expression and human rights defenders. 
"Let''s stand up for our constitutional values this new year and tell the Indian government that its crackdown must end now," the Amnesty said. 
Aakar Patel, a member of the Amnesty India, said it may seem that the odds are against human rights defenders and civil society in India at this moment, but human rights have always won and will this time also. 
"The arc of the moral universe is long, as Dr Martin Luther King said, but it bends towards justice. The widespread crackdown on civil society organisations and human rights defenders by the government of India must end immediately," he said. 
Mr Shah had stoked a controversy last month when he had said that the death of a cow had more significance than that of a police officer. 
He was speaking in the wake of a mob violence that broke out in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr on December 3 over alleged cow slaughter in the Mahaw village. The violence led to the death of two men, including police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh.
"I feel anxious for my children because tomorrow if a mob surrounds them and asks if you are you a Hindu or a Muslim, they will have no answer," Mr Shah had said. 
Last year, five prominent activists were arrested over their alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence.
The Enforcement Directorate in October conducted searches at two locations of Amnesty International India here in connection with a foreign exchange contravention case.
Reacting to Mr Shah's Friday remarks, human rights activist Annie Raja said what he has said is the reality. "There is no space for dissent. There is no space for even democracy. We can see the proof in form of violence all around us," Annie Raja said.
Kavita Krishnan, human rights activist and the Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, said Mr Shah is "spot-on" in his observation. 
"He expressed his concern and I hope people pay attention to it. The world also needs to know what is happening and wake up to the danger in this part of the world," she said

Police started searching for MSAD leaders over Kishorechandra’s detention issue

File Picture
IMPHAL: Manipur Students’ Association Delhi (MSAD) in a statement said that a team of Manipur Police had come at the residence of its General secretary Javed Mehedi at Keinou. The police came to nab the leader of MSAD, the statement added. 

The police team also asked about Veewon Thokchom (President of MSAD) and Damudor Arambam (Advisor to MSAD). 

“They asked all his details and intimidate his family as much as possible. And it is a time when we speak too much against the arbitrary arrest of journalist Wangkhemcha Wangthoi”, the MSAD statement said.

The MSAD said - Way back, MSAD’s plan to organize a protest march in New Delhi, against the arbitrary arrest of Wangkhemcha Wangthoi, was foiled by Delhi Police following the directives of Manipur CM. First in MSAD’s history, all the protestors were detained even before the Protest. Three days before the Protest, they were in search of the General Secretary impersonating themselves as TOI and Zee News reporters. Since then we have been vociferous against the state undemocratic approaches and conducts to gag the voices of the masses. He has been a strong critic against the arbitrary and conspired arrest of Wangthoi. Today, his turn has come and the state authority is using all its might to gag him. This inability to take criticism clearly shows their misconducts.
“This authoritarian misuse of power and intimidation will not go long if we unite and fight back. If we don’t fight back, yesterday was Wangthoi’s turn, today is our turn and tomorrow might be your turn. We are in a sorry state of authoritarian regime that anybody can be arbitrarily arrest and kill anytime at anywhere under NSA and AFSPA, if the government does not want you. (Recently we have seen in Wangthoi’s arrest under NSA & the state inability to question the army in Gaffar’s killing). Nobody can poke nose into this draconian Acts imposed over us. We are under such state of oppression. If we don’t wake up and fight back at this right time for the mankind, justice and truth, our next generation will judge us. We were not born to be oppressed. And our silence will create more violence in future”, the statement said and added that any act of intimidation will not stay silent.
Source: Imphal Times

Conviction of human rights defender Amal Fathy for social media criticism must not stand

EGYPT: The ICJ called for appropriate measures to ensure justice in the case of Amal Fathy, an Egyptian human rights defender who was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment following her conviction for criticizing the Egyptian authorities’ inadequate response to rampant sexual harassment on social media.
On 30 December, Cairo’s Misdemeanor Court of Appeal will decide on Amal Fathy’s appeal against the conviction. The ICJ stresses that Fathy’s conviction and her prolonged arbitrary detention violate her rights to freedom of expression and to liberty protected under Egyptian and international law.
On 29 September 2018, the Maadi Misdemeanor Court convicted Fathy of “broadcasting false information harmful to national security;” “publishing online material that insults public decency;” and the public “use of foul language.” The charges were in reaction to her posting a video on Facebook criticizing the Egyptian authorities for failing to protect women against sexual harassment and for the poor quality of public services.
The Court sentenced Amal Fathy to two years’ imprisonment for the first two charges and fined her 10,000 Egyptian Pounds (US$558) for the latter, and set bail at 20,000 Egyptian Pounds (US$1115) pending her appeal.
Amal Fathy is said to be suffering from acute stress and depression as a result of her detention.
“Amal Fathy was charged and convicted for exercising her human right to freely express herself, which she exercised by calling on the Egyptian authorities to meet their obligation to protect the population from gender-based violence and commenting on the effectiveness of the services they provide. This is hardly a threat to national security or insult to public decency,” said Said Benarbia, Director of ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “We hope the Court will recognize the charges are completely without legitimacy.”
Amal Fathy was detained from the time of her arrest on 11 May 2018 and following her conviction, despite posting bail. Her ongoing detention was based on charges issued by the Supreme State Security Prosecution on 12 May 2018 in a second case (Case No. 621/2018), including “membership in a terrorist organization,” “the use of the internet to promote ideas and beliefs calling for terrorist acts” and “spreading false news and rumors that damage public order and harm national interest.” There are at least six other defendants in the case, including two political activists, a journalist and a satirical comedy TV reporter. It is unclear whether she was charged under the Penal Code or Anti-Terrorism Law of 2015. On 18 December 2018, the South Cairo Court of Felonies ordered her conditional release and she is expected to be released on 22 December 2018.
“The Egyptian authorities have increasingly used pre-trial detention to harass human rights defenders or anyone who opposes the authorities and to chill them from further exercising their rights,” said Said Benarbia. “Case 621 is a concrete example, where trumped up charges are used as a tool to such ends.”
Amal Fathy’s arbitrary arrest and detention is no isolated case. In September, UN experts condemned Egypt’s systematic targeting and prolonged arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, expressing particular concern over Amal Fathy’s case. Local and international organizations, including the ICJ, have also documented and criticized the persecution of human rights defenders and political activists in Egypt through the use of the courts. The ICJ has documented how the Egyptian justice system is consistently used as a repressive tool to silence and eradicate political expression and human rights work.
Background:
Amal Fathy was arrested at dawn on 11 May 2018, along with her husband Mohamed Lotfy, Director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, a human rights non-government organization. They were taken together with their three-year-old son to the Maadi Police Station. Lofty was released shortly after with their son and Fathy remained in detention until 18 December 2018. Fathy was charged under Articles 102bis, 178 and 306 of the Egyptian Penal Code (Case No. 7991/2018).
In the second case, which is still at the investigation stage, reports indicate the South Cairo Court of Felonies requires Amal Fathy to visit a police station for one hour each week and remain at her home unless she requires medical treatment as conditions of her release. Her next appearance is on 26 December 2018.
During the investigation of felonies related to national security, under Articles 143 and 206bisof the Egyptian Criminal Procedure Code, the Prosecutor can hold defendants in pretrial detention for up to five months (10 times 15-day renewals) before they must be referred to the competent criminal court for trial. Under Article 143, once the case is referred to the competent court, a defendant’s pre-trial detention can be extended each 45 days for up to 18 months, or “not exceeding two years if the penalty prescribed for the felony is life imprisonment or the death penalty.” Article 143 goes on to provide that “in cases of felonies punishable with the death penalty or life imprisonment, the Court of Cassation and the Court of Referral may order that the accused be held in custody for a renewable forty-five days, without the [above] time restriction.” This leaves the possibility for defendants to be detained indefinitely, which is open to abuse. In a mass trial of 739 defendants, all 320 arrested, including photo journalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, remained in pre-trial detention for more than five years, before a verdict was handed down in September this year.
Article 9 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Egypt is a party, protects freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and imposes an obligation on States to ensure a number of protections, including the right to be brought promptly before a judge and the right to habeas corpus. Article 19 of the ICCPR protects the right to freedom of expression. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders similarly protects such rights exercised by human rights defenders and enjoins States to protect them from violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action for the lawful exercise of such rights.

HRA urges govt. to constitute sit for investigation of serial custodial murders

IMPHAL: Human Rights Alert calls upon the Government of Manipur to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT)  to investigate the serial custodial murders of Manipur citizens by 3 Corps, CISU when unflinching evidence have surfaced in the public domain.
It may be noted that Hijam Naobi, RK Ronel and Thounoajam Prem were killed after being abducted from a rented house in Dimapur on March 10, 2010 allegedly by 3 Counter Intelligence Surveillance Unit of 3 Core Rangapahar. This matter was put up in the form of affidavit to the High Court of Manipur by Lt Col Dharamvir Singh. This fact was already revealed by first whistle-blower Major T Ravi Kiran of the CISU who had reported this assassination to the superior army officers.

Later, on the direction of the Guwahati High Court the Nagaland Police constituted a Special Investigation Team and the investigation is still underway.  The army authority has been consistently denying their involvement in this case. However Capitain Rubina Kaur Keer who is involved in this killing has been recommended for Sena Medal for her involvement by the commander of the CISU. This relevant document was already produced in public domain by Yambem Laba, former Acting Chairperson of Manipur Human Rights Commission.

It may also be noted that the army authority constantly denied their hand in the murder incidents despite Lt Col. Dharamvir’s affidavit before the High Court of Manipur. Dharamvir’s affidavit also revealed that Thangjam Satish and another person was picked up from a rented room at Shillong and later killed in the jungle of Masimpur, Silchar by the same CISU. He also categorically stated that G Jiteshwar Sharma and another unidentified person was killed and buried their bodies behind the army mess at Rangapahar by the same unit. The matter is still pending before different courts. 

In a sensitive document that has surfaced in the public domain, which was shared by the families of the deceased before the media today clearly indicated the involvement of said CISU.  The documents revealed the proceedings of honour and awards board comprising of high level officers of Indian army who scrutinized the recommendations for gallantry awards. The text includes the award being sought by CISU officer namely, Lt Rubina Kaur Keer and Havildar Varinder Pal Singh and Havildar Shamsher Singh. The dates and time of the killing, on the basis of which they soughed the award coincide with the incident of the killing of Naobi, Ranel and Prem.

The same citation also included Major Nector, Havildar L Ibonungshi Singh and Sepoy Phulen Basumatry for killing two terrorist including a KCP leader. This coincided with the dates of the killing of Thangjam Satish and unknown person after they were picked up from a rented house. It may be pointed out that Lt Col Dharamvir in his affidavit to the High Court of Manipur had named the said persons of the CISU for killing the five persons. 

During the press conference today, Jiteshowr’s brother had also revealed that his family had received a ransom demand of rupees one crore from suspected army personnel and that a sum of Rs 20 lakh was handed over to some persons at Dimapur. 

HRA urge the Government of Manipur to set up a SIT to investigate these murders of Manipur citizens. Further, we also urge the Union Home Ministry to protect the whistle blower Lt Col Dharamvir Singh who had testified these incidents whereby revelling the identities of the army officers involved in the killing. In the similar vein HRA also urge the Union Home Ministry to protect the life and security of Naib Subedar Ramesh Chand Sharma, who has been put in custody since May 15 at Agartala for revealing the staged arrests and procuring of clandestine arms by army authorities.

Source: Imphal Times