Skip to main content

SAARC's Kathmandu summit in November should form human rights mechanism: Civil rights groups

By Our Representative
Nearly 100 civil society organizations and individuals from across 20 Indian states have asked the Government of India to work with other South Asian countries to establish a regional human rights mechanism to solve crucial issues nagging vulnerable sections of population in the region. Sponsored by Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) and Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Delhi-based advocacy groups, the consultation of civil rights groups took place in Delhi on August 26-27 as part of the regional initiative for a South Asian human rights mechanism, begun four years ago.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the only inter-state regional organization in the world which does not have a human rights mechanism. The consultation “expressed deep dissatisfaction with the current state of human rights in the region and in India”, a statement issued by the organizers said. The participants adopted a Delhi declaration to work towards such a mechanism. A working group comprising of 12 persons was also formed to ensure implementation of the declaration.
Speaking at the convention, well-known human rights campaigner Teesta Setelvad of the Centre for Peace and Justice, fighting several 2002 Gujarat riots cases, said, “Given the lack of accountability and commitment to human rights by the governments in the region, we should resolve to establish a people’s mechanism in the interim and strongly advocate for the states to set up a regional mechanism for South Asia”.
The consultation took place against the backdrop of the preparations for SAARC summit scheduled in Kathmandu on November 22-27, the statement said, adding, “The participants emphasized the need for the proper implementation of human rights instruments adopted by SAARC and its member states.”
“Regional cooperation is incomplete and meaningless without committing to protection of human rights at the regional level. SAARC will continue to be a muted organisation unless it takes a proactive role in the promotion and protection of human rights in the region”, said Gayatri Khandhadai, South Asia programme officer, FORUM-ASIA.
“From Sri Lanka to Afghanistan, the people suffer while perpetrators enjoy impunity. The people and governments of South Asia must come together immediately to prevent any further violations. This is the only way in which we can ensure peace and stability in the region.” explained Mr. Henri Tiphagne, convenor, WGHR.
The statement underlined, “While Europe, Americas, Africa, Southeast Asia and Arab States have been successful in evolving regional mechanisms, South Asia lags behind with no serious dialogue on regional human rights issues”.
“The regional mechanisms in other parts of the world have made considerable contributions to promoting and protecting human rights and democracy. SAARC, which is best poised to host such a mechanism in South Asia, must also follow the good practices in other regions. SAARC member states must formally engage in discussions for the establishment of a South Asian human rights mechanism at the upcoming SAARC summit.” urged Miloon Kothari, convener, Task Force, Regional Initiative for a South Asian Human Rights Mechanism.
Meanwhile, the civil society groups a delegation of persons from Afghanistan, India and Nepal met the National Human Rights Commission of India, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Parliamentarians, advocating for the establishment of a South Asian human rights mechanism and greater cooperation in the protection and promotion of human rights. The delegation was thoroughly encouraged by the support and response of the civil society and officials.
The civil society’s regional initiative for South Asian human rights mechanism is began following the sub-regional consultations held in Kathmandu in 2010 and 2011. It formed a collaborative platform of civil society and individuals from the region committed to the cause of furthering human rights and peace in the region. The mission of the forum is to advocate for, and help create an environment conducive for the establishment of a South Asia Human Rights Mechanism.

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.

Union Budget: 24 crore people live in the dark, Sitharaman talks of prepaid smart meters

Counterview Desk
The Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), a Delhi-based advocacy group, commenting on the Union budget 2020-21, has has called it a case of missing wood for the trees, pointing out, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman "missed an opportunity to fix the economy, which is reeling under an unprecedented slowdown, with all indices pointing towards a recession."