Human Rights Law Network

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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.


Government to strengthen child protection

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The cabinet will on Tuesday, take up for discussion the draft of a set of rules framed for establishing the Kerala state commission for protection of child rights (KSCPCR) on the lines of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

The commission has been envisaged to check the violation of child rights and also to ensure protection to children.

"The KSCPCR will have a chairperson and seven members to look into cases relating to violation of child rights across the state," said minister for social justice M K Muneer. The commission would coordinate with Integrated Child Protection Services for proper implementation of rules to protect child rights, said Sandhya Raju of the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN). She was part of a team of experts who attended a review meeting of the draft on Monday.

"The state child rights commission can intervene whenever there is an infringement of child rights in the state," Lida Jacob, adviser to the government for gender and child rights, said.

The KSCPCR would also ensure the proper functioning of all child welfare institutions across the state. "After framing the draft rules some changes have been incorporated by the Law department," said deputy director of the department of social justice P Prathapan.


Artists protest against rapes, oppose death penalty

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New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) The national capital Sunday witnessed a rare event as artists and civil society members came together to protest against rising insidents of rapes and to register opposition to death penalty through poetry, discussion and songs.

Those present at the event 'Violence no more' included personalities like Shabana Azmi, Usha Uthup, Syeda Hameed and Binayak Sen.

The participants pitched for a case against the death penalty and paid tribute to late Chief Justice J.S. Verma who played a key role in drafting a harsh anti-rape law.

"Violence against women has the tacit approval of the society all over the world. It begins right from the time a foetus begins to breathe her first," said Shabana Azmi, actor and social activist, as she recited verses from Kaifi Azmi's "Aurat", Faiz Ahmed Faiz's "Bol" and Farhan Akhtar's "Little Girl".

"It is important to understand this is not merely a women's issue but a reflection of us as a society and nation at large. And the responsibility rests with each one of us - men and women alike - to initiate change," Azmi said.

Voicing resentment against the rising cases of violence against women and minors, Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed recited three poems of Pakistani poet Zehra Nigah which reflected the pain of women who suffered violence.

She pitched for a commitment from all stakeholders of society to stand up against such injustices.

Human rights lawyer Colin Gonsalves opposed the death penalty, saying that it would not solve the problem of rape and murders.

"The alternative of life imprisonment up to death is as severe a sentence as the death sentence. If the people seek death penalty as a punishment or maybe as revenge, it doesn't reflect a healthy psyche of a society," he asserted.

Gonsalves sought radical reforms "by purging police of all criminal elements".


8 convicts denied mercy by President get SC stay on hanging

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday late evening stayed for four weeks the execution of 8 persons, including condemned woman prisoner Sonia, whose mercy pleas had been rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee.

A bench of Justices P Sathasivam and M Y Eqbal stayed the execution of the eight - Sonia and her husband Sanjeev, Gurmeet Singh, Praveen Kumar, Sunder Singh, Jafar Ali, Suresh and Ramji - on a petition filed by "People's Union for Democratic Rights", civil rights group.

In the late evening hearing at Justice Sathasivam's residence, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves gave the instance the stay of execution of four aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan granted by a bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir on February 18.He cited the delay in carrying out the death sentence after the Supreme Court had confirmed them, as the main ground for staying the executions.

Gonsalves said the delay in all these cases ranged from 3 to 12 years. The apex court has already reserved judgment in the case of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, who had cited a delay of 11 years in adjudicating his mercy plea by President as a ground for seeking commutation of death penalty to life imprisonment.

'Shouldn't repeat mistakes that happened in Afzal case'

During the hearing, the bench of Justices Sathasivam and Eqbal said it was also entertaining the petition on the additional ground to ascertain whether proper communication had been sent to the relatives of these condemned prisoners whose mercy pleas have been rejected.

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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.