Skip to main content

Participants at UN experts meet in Geneva insist on need for lasting mechanism to monitor caste discrimination

By Our Representative
A high-level interaction in Geneva, United Nations (UN) experts and civil rights activists stressed on the need to move towards a “more structured mechanism against caste-based discrimination” in countries like India and its South Asian neighbours. During the interaction, in which UN special rapporteurs, civil society groups and independent experts participated, there was sharp focus on the need to usher in a formal UN mechanism to end caste-based discrimination in a year’s  time. This mechanism, it was suggested, could monitor caste discrimination and suggest ways to overcome it. Before the mechanism is worked out, experts could move around different countries to see how effectively are laws to end caste-based discrimination being implemented.
Held between September 29 and October 3, the participants at the interaction said all countries must endorse the draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent. Participants discussed caste-based discrimination as a cross-cutting issue and stressed on the need to outline areas of joint intervention. They said, one should ensure that affected countries effectively monitor and investigate caste-based discrimination, and states start acting on it with the help of “non-state actors”.
Ahead of the meeting, the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), one of the important participants, wanted particular focus on three major issues:
  • regular joint review process on status of caste discrimination; 
  • develop a road map for action to improve implementation of recommendations; and
  • engage OHCHR/UN consultations on caste-based discrimination 
Following the meeting, the IDSN said there were “proposals for significant initiatives” at the meeting while exchanging views, including on “a more structured mechanism against caste-based discrimination for the next annual meeting in 2015, placing caste-based discrimination and slavery on the agenda of next year's annual meeting or having a consultation on caste-based discrimination, and working on caste-based discrimination across mandates as a concerted effort.”
Taking part in the meeting, the UN special rapporteur on minority issues Rita Izsak said, “We have been discussing how to jointly move towards a more structured mechanism against caste-based discrimination for the next annual meeting (2015) and to see how we can move together in more concerted and coordinated effort for these 260 million people … we will work for this and assure that we are committed.”
UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, Urmila Bhoola said she was “indebted” to IDSN for “raising the issue of caste-based discrimination in the form of caste-based slavery and manual labour and manual scavenging and the persistence of forced and bonded labour particularly among Dalit people.” She expressed her interest in “conducting missions and writing a report on caste-based discrimination.”
Frances Raday, Chair of the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Discrimination against Women focused on what she called “horrors of sexual violence on basis of caste-based discrimination.”
An earlier meeting under UN auspices on the issue on May 17, 2013 said the IDSN statement, reached the conclusion that “caste-based discrimination remains widespread and deeply rooted, its victims face structural discrimination, marginalization and systematic exclusion, and the level of impunity is very high”, asking world governments to “strengthen protection of hundreds of millions of people who suffer from caste discrimination, and to endorse the draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent.”
Apart from the IDSN, those who participated in the meeting were activists representing the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), India; the Dalit NGO Federation (DNF) Nepal; Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement; Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network, and dalit solidarity networks of UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Finland.
Several senior activists from India and other South Asian countries, including Manjula Pradeep, executive director, Navsarjan Trust of Gujarat, participated.
International groups which took part included Human Rights Watch, Lutheran World Federation, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism. Anti-Slavery International, Minority Rights Group International, Asian Human Rights Commission, Robert F. Kennedy Foundation, World Council of Churches, Asian Centre for Human Rights, and International Centre for Ethnic Studies, based in Sri Lanka.

Comments

TRENDING

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Report on "torture" in Kashmir jails: 44% detainees stripped naked, 29% electrocuted

Counterview Desk
A recent report titled “Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir”, published by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), has claimed to build “on the body of human rights documentation on torture” in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) through an examination of 432 case studies. It seeks to focus on "the trends and patterns, targets, perpetrators, contexts and impact of torture" in the state.

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Amidst Modi celebrations, thousands protest 'massive' submergence in Narmada Valley

By Our Representative
Thousands of women and men gathered on at the Shaheed Stambh in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, to raise their voice against what they called "the destruction of the Narmada Valley", protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat BJP rulers for celebrating the Sardar Sarovar dam being filled up to the full reservoir level (FRL) on September 17, which also happens to be Modi's birthday.
Calling it a black day for the people of the Valley, whose villages and farms got submerged because of highest-ever water level having been achieved in the dam, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which organised the parallel rally across the border with Gujarat, regretted in a statement that Modi's celebration at the dam took place amidst " martyrdom of the Valley".
The demonstration in Badwani was preceded by a vehicles rally, which took rounds of the city streets. They were joined by people from several villages of Dhar district. They gather…

Narmada valley: SC notice to Gujarat, MP, M'rashtra on submergence sans rehabilitation

By Our Representative
Thr Supreme Court has issued notice to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments following a Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)-backed petition seeking the explanation as to whether large areas of Narmada Valley have gone into submergence by filling up the Sardar Sarovar dam up to the full reservoir level (FRL) without rehabilitating the project affected families (PAFs).

Kandla Port Trust activities 'destroyed' mangroves, affecting rare camel species: NGT

By Rajiv Shah
Taking serious note of large-scale destruction of mangroves on about 750 acres in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi, has “directed” the Gujarat government, its forest department, and the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GSZMA), to “jointly inspect the area” and fix responsibility as to who is “responsible for obstruction of the creeks” next to the Kandla Port Trust (KPT), leading to the damage to the plantations in the area.