Human Rights Law Network

Media Reports

24 years on, no justice for 5 mentally ill undertrials

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Thiruvananthapuram: Five undertrial schizophrenic prisoners have been languishing in forensic wards at the mental health centre, Peroorkada, for the last 18 to 24 years.

The jail advisory committee and hospital monitoring committee have ignored their plight totally. This has been revealed in an RTI note received by advocate J. Sandhya of Human Rights Law Network.

According to the information, Subash, 32, (for schizophrenic evaluation since May 20, 2013 from Mavelikkara sub-jail),   Das, 55, (schizophrenic since April 8, 1994 from Poojapura central jail), Monichan, 41, (schizophrenic since February 10, 1989 from Kottayam sub-jail), Raghunadhan, 50, (schizophrenic since June 17, 1996 from Mavelikkara sub-jail) and Sojan, 31, (schizophrenic since June 17, 1994 from Poojapura central prison) are facing gross human rights violations.

According to Sandhya, as per law, a mentally challenged person can be tried by courts only if it is certified that he is fit to stand trial. “Over the years, they have controlled behaviour and can live the rest of their lives under ‘supervised medication’ as any other schizophrenic.” “Instead of sending these undertrials to rehabilitation centres, they are still in ‘custody’ in the real sense as forensic wards in MHC are miniature forms of prison,” Sandhya told DC.

Top prison officials told DC that the JAC has to be convened every six months, but the last committee meeting was held on October 14, 2012.

“As they are unfit to stand trial, the respective court has to inform the jail authorities when they have to be produced so that they can be convicted. As long as they are not convicted, we can do nothing,” said a prison official on condition of anonymity.


India's Poorest Women Coerced Into Sterilization

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Financial incentives have driven the rate of female sterilization up in India, where a family can receive up to $10 for every female member who chooses to be sterilized.

According to the Human Rights Watch, some federal health workers are still threatened by salary cuts or dismissal, though formal targets set by the federal government were abandoned in 1996. Health workers will often coerce women into sterilization — who are unaware that they will not be able to conceive — to meet informal quotas. The pressure is greatest during the approach of the fiscal year’s end in March, a time some call “sterilization season.”

Rather than teach illiterate women how to use pills or contraceptives, which would cost the country more, India opted to compensate women for sterilization in an effort to control its skyrocketing population.

India’s population is expected to surpass China’s in 2021.

More than 4 million women were sterilized in India last year and often in unsanitary rooms with rusted equipment, merely washed in warm water between patients. Sonhoula surgeon A.K. Das said that government-issued equipment was expected to be brand-new, but doctors received rusted tools that could lead to infection instead. He added that he had also run out of anesthesia, forcing him to use a weaker sedative for his remaining patients.

Recovering patients lie on the floor until they are able to carry themselves home.


The state should implement judges’ decisions

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Legal experts from both India and Pakistan gathered on Tuesday to pinpoint merits and flaws in the judicial systems as well as the status of human rights in both countries.

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Hamdard University School of Law and the India-based Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), provided them the opportunity to do this at a two-day regional workshop on judicial activism and human rights.

Speaking at the occasion, PILER’s executive director, Karamat Ali, said the living conditions of people in both India and Pakistan are terrible but the governments are still victimising fishermen to fuel political rivalry.

Advocate Colin Gonsalves, a speaker from the neighbouring country, said, “In India, 40 percent of the people earn less than Rs100 a day and this causes widespread malnutrition.” He said a that there was a tradition when prisoners used to write letters to courts and judges would turn them into petitions in an attempt to provide relief. “A court can give orders, but it cannot implement it. It is the responsibility of state to implement orders.”

In his speech, Justice (retd) Rashid Razvi, said, “Pakistan has witnessed four rules of military dictatorship and has spent little time under the democratic dispensation.”

In his speech, Advocate Faisal Siddiqi said that it is the state’s responsibility to implement judges’ orders. “In the Karachi violence and Balochistan cases, the judiciary passed order but the state did not implement it.”

Advocate Prashant Bhushan from India said in his speech that judges make laws and cited the example of police reforms by the Supreme Court in the Parkash Singh case. “Judges make laws and they should. Their judicial powers can be checked with the use of transparent accountability.”

Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid shed light on the role of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners in releasing the fishermen from jails. According to him, there are 437 Indian prisoners in Malir Jail, out of which 284 have completed their term and are waiting for repatriation. He said that they cannot return to their home countries only because of bureaucratic hurdles.


HC seeks govt reply on Goalpara camps

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Guwahati, May 20: Gauhati High Court today sought replies from the Centre and the Assam government on a petition that alleges difficult living conditions at relief camps sheltering families displaced in the Rabha-Hasong violence in Goalpara district.

A division bench of Chief Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan issued the notices in connection with a public interest litigation (No. 45/2013) filed by Manjit Kumar Das on behalf of the Assam unit of Human Rights Law Network.

The HRLN is an all-India body of lawyers and social activists dedicated to the use of legal system to advance human rights.

The respondents will have to file their replies in the form of affidavits by June 20, which has been fixed as the next date of hearing.

Alleging that the conditions at the relief camps are far from desirable, the petitioner has appealed to the court to direct the government to provide adequate compensation, relief and better living conditions to the inmates.

According to government figures, more than 18,000 people are living in 22 relief camps set up by the government in Goalpara district.

Advocate Raju Doley, a member of the network, told this correspondent that they moved the high court after a five-member fact-finding team of the Network visited eight relief camps at Goalpara in March this year and found that the inmates, particularly women and children, were living in deplorable conditions, without adequate food, medicines and other relief materials.


Foreigner in Tihar alleges torture, moves rights panel

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NEW DELHI: A Tihar Jail inmate has complained to National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) alleging constant physical and mental torture by other inmates. Munir from Jail No. 4 is a foreign national who works in the kitchen and serves lunch to other inmates.

Munir has alleged that repeated thrashings by fellow inmates have led to grievous injuries to his private parts. In a letter to the chairman of NHRC (TOI has a copy), a lawyer has filed the complaint on behalf of Munir, a convict lodged in ward number 2 of Tihar's jail number 4, stating that he is regularly attacked by the head of kitchen staff and his fellow inmates.

"Munir is subjected to brutal torture and physical abuse by this group regularly. The last time, he was hit on his private parts which led to bleeding," says the letter. "Since then he is going through trauma and suffering. He finds himself in a helpless condition as the authority is not responding to such atrocities carried out by inmates. He is afraid he might lose his life if the authority does not respond in time." Munir had reportedly complained to the jail staff as well as written a letter to the Tihar DG to report his plight. When TOI contacted jail officials, they claimed no such complaint has been made to them. "We are not aware of any complaint made by Munir," said a senior jail official.

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HRLN is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.