Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Human rights violations: NHRC "failed" to act independently of Govt of India, shouldn't get UN accreditation

By Our Representative
India’s civil rights groups are all set to ask the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) to defer UN accreditation status to the National Human Rights Commission, which, they say, has failed to comply by UN Human Rights Commission guidelines seeking autonomy to national human rights institutions (NHRIs).
Earlier, a similar report, prepared in 2011, and endorsed by more than 350 individuals and civil rights organizations, had ensured that the NHRC’s accreditation with UN was deferred till November 2017. The new report says that NHRC, over the years, has failed to act “either acted in the capacity of amicus curaie to ensure justice or took up suo motu cognizance and follow the case through.”
GANHRI is supposed to coordinate the relationship between NHRIs and the United Nations human rights system, and is unique as the only non-UN body whose internal accreditation system, based on compliance with a UN Human Rights Commission resolution endorsed in 1993 in Paris, grants access to UN committees.
Prepared for the upcoming accreditation of NHRC in November 2017 by the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC), final draft of the report has been sent to all civil society organizations for approval.
Pointing out that NHRC has carried out any “independent investigations or action taken against perpetrators”, nor has it made any “significant contributions” when during hearings in Supreme Court or High Courts”, the report quotes a study of the NHRC recommendations, collated from its monthly newsletters for the year 2016 and January-April 2017, to say that “of the total 317 recommendations were made in 2016, 122 cases (38.48%) are treated as closed.”
Sharply criticizing NHRC for “keeping its distance from all controversial subjects”, the report states, it has failed to act independently of the government even in appointment of its members, including investigating officers. The result was that, last year, Avinash Rai Khanna, vice-president, BJP, was sought to be appointed NHRC member without any screening process.
Police officers, IB officials on deputation investigate NHRC complaints, creating conflict of interest in cases of abuse committed by authorities 
Noting that NHRC employs police officers to investigate complaints, “which creates a real or perceived conflict of interest in cases of abuse committed by police and impacts the ability of the victims to access justice”, the report says, “These police officers are on deputation to NHRC and are nor permanent employees of NHRC. As such, their primary loyalty is to their parent police departments.”
“What is even more worrying is large number of Intelligence Bureau staff deputed to the NHRC. These officers are not answerable to anyone and have no expertise in the field of human rights”, it underlines.
Giving the example of PVK Reddy, who was appointed as the Director General (Investigation) of NHRC after Supreme Court asked NHRC to fill up the post, the report regrets, Reddy served as Special Director General in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the largest para-military organisation in India.
It adds, several complaints on human rights violations by security personnel under him are pending before courts. Reddy completed his term April 2017 and the post continues to be vacant.
Pointing towards how NHRC has failed to lobby for having even a law specifically catering towards the prevention of custodial torture, the report says, “The NHRC keeps count of incidents of custodial torture only if the inhuman treatment led to death and not otherwise. Between 2013 and 2016, only in two cases of custodial torture was a disciplinary action recommended by NHRC.”

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