Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vote for justice,equality and liberty

More than 4000 votes and nearly 150 comment.Last date of vote is 31 August 2012.Please vote for Lenin Raghuvanshi/PVCHR, my organisation, for the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Victims of atrocities share experience on anti - torture day

50,000/- compensation to a survivor

Case Details of File Number: 1407/34/16/2011

Diary Number154576
Name of the ComplainantDR. LENIN, GENERAL SECRETARY
Place of IncidentRANCHI
Date of Incident 10/12/2011
Direction issued by the CommissionThe Commission vide its proceedings dated 17.4.2012 recommended to the Railway Board to pay a sum of Rs.50,000/- to Shri Dilbodhan Gope within four weeks for the violation of his human rights and sought a compliance report. In response, a communication dated 11.5.2012 has been received from the Deputy Director/ Sec (Crime), Railway Board informing the Commission that the said amount of Rs.50,000/- has been paid to the victim vide cheque No.816500 dated 4.5.2012. Proof of payment has also been forwarded. Since the recommendations of the Commission have been complied with, the case is closed. A copy of the proceedings may be sent to the I.O. and the recipient of the relief. LINK FILE NO-1452/34/16/2011 & 1453/34/16/2011
Action TakenConcluded and No Further Action Required (Dated 6/20/2012 )
Status on 7/19/2012The Case is Closed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

National Consultation “Testimonial Campaign contributes to eliminates impunity for perpetrator of Torture in India”

National Consultation "Testimonial Campaign contributes to eliminates impunity for perpetrator of Torture in India"
Lenin Raghuvanshi, Secretary General PVCHR


First of all I would like to welcome Hon'ble Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson National Human Rights Commission, Guest of Honour: Mr. Pavel Svitil, Chargé d'affaires, Delegation of the European Union to India and chair of inauguration session, Mr. Gautam Navlakha, Consultant Editor-Economic and Political Weekly (EPW). Mohammad Aamir Khan, who was released in January 2012 after 14 years of incarceration and was named as falsely implicated  in 20 low-intensity bomb blasts which took place between December 1996 and October 1997 in Delhi, Rohtak, Sonepat and Ghaziabad. Today PVCHR is honouring Mohammad Aamir Khan with the Jan Mitra Award with 60 Thousand Rupees as a financial support for his commitment and conviction based on rule of law, democracy and non-violence for protection of human life with dignity of individual.


            Mr. Sankar Sen, Ex- Director General, National Human Rights Commission, Dr D Roy Laifungbam, Chairperson, Human to Humane Transcultural Centre for Torture Victims (H2H), Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director SICHREM. And all delegates from Manipur, Assam, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and New Delhi, Kolkata etc


We are organising National Consultation "Testimonial Campaign contributes to eliminates impunity for perpetrator of Torture in India"  Challenging the impunity through breaking the silence is based on eliminating the fear, phobia, hopelessness and fragmentation of the survivors in empathetic safe and secure environment. Survivor's psycho – social and legally supported through Testimonial Therapy converted into human rights defender/barefoot worker based on concept of justice, democracy, non – violence and human dignity. In this context Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), National Alliance on Testimonial Therapy (NATT) in collaboration of Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) and European Union project "Reducing Police Torture Against Muslim Minority"is holding a two days national consultation i.e. 12th – 13th July, 2012 in New Delhi on "Testimonial campaign contribute to eliminate impunity for perpetrators of torture in India". We are aware that the fear and phobia due to torture and organized violence (TOV) is imparting culture of silence and testimonial therapy as a psycho -legal support to the survivor is breaking silence against impunity.


In the national consultation "Testimony to improve psychosocial wellbeing and promote advocacy for survivors of torture and organised violence" held 16 – 17 April 2009 Vishwa Yuvak Kendra, New Delhi a loose alliance National Alliance on Testimonial Therapy (NATT) was formed by the panellist for the further use of testimonial therapy in India. In 2010 NATT secretariat launch formal subscription form for the NATT and now organization from 8 states are its members.


The PVCHR had spread the testimonial campaign in Manipur with Wide Angle, in Assam with Barak Human Rights Protection Committee, in Karnataka with SICHREM and in Uttar Pradesh, especially in Purvanchal and Bundelkhand region collaborating with Institute of Social Development Trust. We have trained over 50 human rights defenders and community worker in 5 Training of the Trainers workshops and developed manual "Giving Voice" different cultural context for the south India and north – east India in their own local language.


The testimonial method was originally developed in Chile during the military dictatorship in 1970s. It has been successfully used in the psychotherapeutic treatment of survivors of torture and organized violence in India and it has also been an advocacy tool employed by different human rights movements. It is a specific therapeutic technique which is being used to confirm and document severe emotional trauma that victims of torture and their relatives had experienced.


PVCHR has integrated Testimonial Therapy into a unique advocacy and educational model within which "torture free" model villages are organized and empowered to protect and expand basic human rights, and to fight against impunity of the violators. The pain and the agony expressed in the testimonies have helped to inform and convince the judiciary and human rights institutions about the injustice committed against the plaintiff. It is easier to elicit a coherent story from survivors and it effectively help to release their pain during narration of the suffering of being tortured.


PVCHR have further experienced a synergetic effect of the testimonial therapy with their folk school at villages and colonies in urban locations as breaking the censorship to challenge the impunity. The TOV free village strategy is focusing on survivors and advocating for reforms with interlinked activities:


 Testimonial

Testimonial Therapy

 Seeking Legal Redress

 Building Solidarity

 Advocacy for Institutional Reform


On 13th July 2012, the National Consultation would chalk out a future plan and sessions would be held at Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.

The Saga of Torture in Kashmir




(Dr. Syed Mahar-ul-Hasan)


Terrorism and violence are definitely against humanity. Their perpetrators should never be forgiven. The problem with these acts is that they breed further violence and acts of terrorism, state terrorism and violence, and torture by state machinery is still worst. State has the power and the machinery (bureaucracy, police, paramilitary forces etc.) by which it justifies all its actions, manipulate the legal system to its advantage by appointing commission and committees to look into the matter. Delays – prolonged delays hamper the inquiry, let people forget what has happened, and if by chance anything against the state and its officials is reported, it has power not to accept the report or not to act on the recommendations. Shrikrishna commission report on Mumbai riots (1992) is one example, what happened to the policeman indicted in the report. Gujrat riots (2002) case is another example, where inquiry is being conducted against the government which continues to be in power. As a result the statements by two senior IPS officers were considered unreliable.


Times of India (June 20) news on Soni Suri highlighted this situation.  Soni Suri, a 35-year-old Adivasi teacher arrested on unproven allegations of being a Maoist. Sympathizer was tortured in police custody and further atrocities were committed on her in Superintended Police's office and on his orders. Though, the international organizations asked the govt. for impartial inquiry, the superintendent of police was awarded police medal for gallantry for his role in counter insurgency.


The theme of the present national consultation is "testimonial campaign contributes to eliminate impunity for perpetrators of tortures in India," is very appropriate, and the works initiated by the collaborating organizations PVCHR, NATT, RCT and European Union projects are very encouraging and need further impetus.


The actions should be taken to sensitize police personnels and judiciary (at district and subdivision levels) on the one hand and massive awareness program for the people in general on their rights, constitutional provisions, and what behavior is to be expected from police and authorities in a democratic country where its people's govt. and all govt. agencies are for the welfare of the people and to serve them need to be taken up urgently. Sensitization and awareness programs should be organized at district and block levels, and within each district block individually be identified and groups formed to further disseminate the message.


Taking clue from recent episode conducted by Amir Khan, especially the one on child abuse and the reports that followed, many children got the courage to tell their parents and grandparents about the problems they are facing from family friends and relatives, there should be a regular program on television at prime time showing positive picture of handling and managing torture and ill treatment and steps taken to eliminate impunity for perpetrators of torture, will go a long way in creating awareness, in helping people to act, to break silence, to raise their voices. This feels necessary as in mass media (TV and films) an unfortunate trend is growing where people, encounter specialist persons inflicting torture and ill treatment in police custody are being presented as heroes.


Inhuman treatment by police should not be tolerated, people have to raise their voices, judiciary should be sensitive in these cases. They should not ask another group of police officers to conduct inquiry and submit the report within a given time. During this period the victims suffers continuously. A different approach needs to be followed to help the victims. Why not the concern judge (a magistrate in subdivision/district) personally inspects the police lockups and jails where the victims are put in and make an on-the-spot inquiry to ascertain what is actually going on. Then he/she may ask some impartial lawyers or respected civilians to accompany him/her on such visits. This will enable the judge to decide whether to keep the victim in police custody or not. The recent case of Pinky Pramanik, the Asiad gold medalist, needs to be looked under this suggestion. West Bengal Human Right Commission took cognizance of the complaint alleging inhuman torture both in jail and police custody to Pinky Pramanik, and asked the home, health, and police department to inquire and submit the report. The victim will continue to suffer till the report is submitted and will the concerned authorities do justice to the victim on which conducting inquiry or try to safeguard the interest of their officers.


In all such cases immediate action is needed, victim needs to be protected, perpetrators to be taken to task and exemplary punishment be given.


In a democratic country, people have a right to get involved in these processes, not by revolting against the system, but by cooperating the system where they can play a part constructively.









harkhand, a homeland of the Adivasi peoples and its birth as a separate state within the Indian union in 2000 was a major victory after a five-decade-long, militant struggle. It was hoped that a separate state would protect the Adivasi Peoples' rights to their own land and natural resources, conserve their distinct culture, and allow them to regain their dignity. But this milestone achievement came after generations of power struggle between the indigenous population and several different outside forces that have colonised the land.


In Jharkhand, as in most indigenous peoples' homelands around the world, mining and logging have together formed the backbone of the economy. But these activities have impacted tribal populations acutely, pushing them off the land and away from their traditional subsistence farming livelihoods, leaving them in abject poverty, landless and jobless.


The growing domestic and global demand for cheap primary products, fuelled by free market economics and Asia's rapid industrialisation, has driven India's government and commercial enterprises to develop the natural resource sector, plundering the land at an unprecedented rate. One adivasi victim of the government's policy of unregulated resource extraction explains, "The government justifies its action by telling us we have to make this sacrifice in the name, and for the greater glory, of National Development.  Ironically, this spectacular progress – given the sugar-coated label of National Development – has seen 50 million people uprooted from self-sustaining livelihoods and thrown into the gutters of industrial townships. Sixty percent of them are Adivasis and Dalits and most have not received any compensation in spite of losing their jobs and their land. The government has made the empty gesture of providing a small number of dispossessed adivasis with token employment on development projects, but generally the work is tedious, poorly paid and offers little security. Also, the government can cynically exploit this vast pool of new 'wage earners', paying them meagre wages to do backbreaking work, and casting them aside when they're unneeded. Not surprisingly, women and children are usually the ones who suffer the most. For generations Adivasi women have shared the same status as men in these traditional, subsistence communities. Now things are completely different. They're confined to dirty male-dominated mining towns and shanty settlements, where they're treated as second-class citizens, and face toxic and hazardous pollutants in their water, air and food.



The displacement has brought adivasis, especially women face-to-face with economic and social paradoxes of life in Jharkhand. Women face trafficking, migration, unemployment, deforestation etc. The transformation of agrarian economy to mining economy degrades women's economic, social and cultural status. Hence non-existent social evils like wife battering, alcoholism, indebtedness, physical and sexual abuse, prostitution, polygamy and desertion are common in the mining region. The patriarchy gets reinforced when mining industry downplays this brutal transformation wreaking havoc on women. Women marketed as vulnerable, entertaining and sexy objects by the media. Trafficking of women in mining and other industries are rampant in districts of Jharkhand. In Ranchi there 1500 placement agencies running the trafficking racket. Tribal adolescents or women fall to the lure of the agents and are employed as domestic maids in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Post to the killings of adivasis putting up resistance against Tatas in Kalinga Nagar (Orissa) newspapers maintains a 'conspiracy of silence' on the mining stories affecting the lives of Adivasis. Formation of Jharkhand in November 2000 added to the influx and emergence of a new class of exploiters, the contractors, politicians and bureaucrats. The major outflow of resources to the urban market-industrial complex has further uprooted millions of Adivasis and major inflow of non-Adivasis with the skills of expropriation, increased pressure on the land.


The Adivasis have been forced into labour market at the lowest rung. The land, their only hope for sustenance with dignity is robbed from them. In Ranchi, you could see at Lalpur Chowk or near the Kutcherry, those uprooted Adivasi men and women sitting on the road to sell their labour. But the contractors prefer adolescent girls, as they are vulnerable and pliable. However, the root cause of all sorts of exploitation, which girls are subjected to and from adolescence onwards, is illiteracy. Disparity between the genders, particularly in rural areas, is a reflection of the social attitude of discrimination towards the girl child. While the solution to the problem does not entirely in the education system, education can certainly play a positive role of social engineering in the improvement of her status. Poor adivasi families cannot afford the direct opportunity cost of girls' schooling (the opportunities being help in running the household and care of younger siblings) Social and cultural traditions perpetuate the disadvantages deriving low status early marriage, poor health and poor nutrition. Girls don't go to school because of distances, inflexible timings, irrelevant and gender-insensitive curricula. First, solving these problems and implementation of compulsory education for girl has to be sorted out. Technical education can be an effective entry point to women's economic and overall empowerment. The level of mother's education is a vital factor in determining infant and child mortality. Education leads to direct economic benefits in the form of higher lifetime earnings for women while the society and community also benefit from higher productivity of its labour force. Female education also leads to greater ability on part of females to communicate with their spouses on birth control.


Even after dream of abua deshum (our country) became a reality for the tribals of the state, the tribals face brutal detachment from Jal, Jangal and Zameen (Water, forest and land). Women bear the brunt of social and ecological paradoxes as a result of displacement. The practice of witchcraft pushes women to the condition of servitude. When women from villages and moffusil come to the cities in search of job, then either falls in the trap of the trafficking racket. Traffickers have carved out specific territories for themselves. Many mine owners procure adolescent girls and women by using women traffickers for liaison. Women or men dalaals (agents) go deeper into impoverished villages and pick up adolescent girls or women. They go into 'labour catchment' villages during festival time and contact village pradhan, panch or influential men or any women who liaises for them with the parents of adolescent girls for procuring them for road construction, stone crushing mines or brick kiln units.  They induce the parents to send their wards to work in the city assuring them a sizeable wage. But it happen the opposite.


Women employed in mining range between the age of 25 and 35 years, walk 10 to 20 kilometres from their villages to gather at the main square of Dumka and Pakur districts of Santhal Pargana region, to earn their day's meal. Slowly potential employers come to the square, walk around talking to the labour and decide whom to employ. Then they pick up women and men, for working in the stone crushing mines. Most of the employers are crafty and clever who try to extract more work from the labourer by pushing back their clocks. If women stop work to drink water or relieve themselves, their employers even taunt them. They rebuke them, while simultaneously entices women labourers to provide the employers some personal services. Sexual abuse is a constant fear gnawing at the women labour. If women refuse the employer then they scold them for not working well and pay them less that what were agreed upon as a wage. As it is, a woman's wage is less than that of a male labourer. Apart from Santhali women, Muslim and Pahariya and Birhor women also work in the stone crushing mines. Barharwa in Sahebganj, bordering West Bengal and Bangladesh adolescent girls and women are trafficked. Dalaals of the trafficking racket operate in collusion with the local police and there is illegal infiltration from Bangladesh, too. Dumka and Pakur, predominantly Santhali districts where women tend lose from all sides. Deprived from inheriting land and quite victims of polygamy, thrown out of the house without maintenance, a large number of Santhali women are forced to lead unimaginably hard lives, with hardly any resource support. Hapless, battered and dejected Santhali women have no other option left but to fall in the trap of the traffickers deployed by stone crushing mines or other mines. There is miserable plight of adolescent girls or women selling coal at a Coal Market in Girdih. Many of buyers ask about the price of the girl along with the coal loaded in a basket. Pushed to impoverished condition, they keep mum by stomaching all the humiliations. Females selling coal in the

market have to bribe the police, if they refuse then they would be intimidated, terrorised or put behind the bars. Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) deployed for security of the coal mines help in the theft of coal from the mines. CISF jawans demand money for allowing men or women for lifting the coal from the mines. Tribal girls have to shoulder the burden of the family and face physical and sexual abuse in her workplace, home and outside. Physical and sexual assault at the mining areas is high because most of them work without their husbands and families. Women and girls are picked up by single men or by groups and dumped after being used. Such incidents are becoming common in brick kilns and mining areas.  With the influx of outsiders, destruction of forests and erosion of primary economic activities- agriculture and collection of forest produce- gender equilibrium has gone for a toss in Dumka and Pakur districts. As women form the bulk of the active workforce in the tribal society, they have been sucked into underbelly of progress. Crime rates are escalating, with many cases going unreported.



Operation Greenhunt in Jharkhand has directly affected the adivasi population in the state. It has driven them to unprecedented levels of desperation where their very survival is being threatened.


 In the last 64 years, more than 20 lakh acres of land has been acquired directly by the State in the name of various "development" projects displacing more than 15 lakh Adivasis from their homelands. This drive for acquisition of their land has become particularly acute during the last decade when 102 Memorandum Of Understandings (MOUs)  have been signed with a number of large private corporations, some of which are  thousands of acres of land involving the displacement of thousands of adivasis in each case. Most of these MOUs are for mining or for setting up other polluting industries. These have however met with enormous resistance from the adivasis who have organized themselves and have so far successfully resisted the accusations of their land as a result of which virtually none of these MOUs have so far been operationalised.


All this land acquisition of Adivasi land has however been done without the consent or even consultation with the Adivasis. The MOUs were in fact signed in great haste and secrecy with no information at all to the people who were to be affected. All this is in complete violation of the PESA Act which provides that all development in the Scheduled areas would be in consultation (which should mean consent) of the Gram Sabhas. This has led to a widespread feeling among the Adivasis that not only is their right of self-rule being flagrantly violated, but their very identity and existence is being threatened. Many of them consequently taken up the Gun and joined the Maoists who have organised them to fight the state.


The government's response to this has been Operation Greenhunt which uses large sections of Paramilitary forces what they perceive as the single security threat to the State. Interestingly, Operation Greenhunt is largely concentrated in the areas where the MOUs have been signed. The Operation has led to and is causing enormous violations of Human Rights of the Adivasis in terms of all kinds of excesses by the security forces. Arbitrary picking up of Adivasis and their torture; Arbitrary arrests of Adivasis as well as of those who to highlight the abuses by the security forces on false and trumped up charges; people even being killed in fake encounters or in custody. These abuses are only serving drive more Adivasis to pick up Guns and join the Maoists.


The security forces involved in the abuses are hardly ever brought to justice and enjoy almost complete impunity. Unfortunately Jharkhand has not set up a State Human Rights Commissions or even Police Complaints Authority as directed by the Supreme Court in their judgment on Police Reforms. The Courts too which are supposed to examine allegations of torture, fake encounters and malafide arrests on false charges, have abdicated their responsibility with the result that innocents continue to rot in jails for years altogether and the guilty police officers are not punished, even when it is found that they have tortured people, killed them in fake encounters or arrested them on fabricated evidence. The Supreme Court's judgement on arrests, torture and the NHRC's guidelines on encounter killings are being wantonly flouted and no one is being held accountable.


However, Human Rights Watch in its scathing 118 page report "Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse and Impunity in the Indian Police", pointed out "a range of human rights violations committed by police, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and extrajudicial killings." It notes, "Several police officers admitted to Human Rights Watch that they routinely committed abuses. One officer said that he had been ordered to commit an "encounter killing," as the practice of taking into custody and extra-judicially executing an individual commonly known. "I am looking for my target," the officer said. "I will eliminate him…I fear being put in jail, but if I don't do it, I'll lose my position.""

The report also documents "the particular vulnerability to police abuse of traditionally marginalised groups in India. They include the poor, women, adivasis, dalits and religious and sexual minorities. Police often fail to investigate crimes against them because of discrimination, the victims' inability to pay bribes, or their lack of social status or political connections. Members of these groups are also more vulnerable to arbitrary arrest and torture, especially meted out by police as punishment for alleged crimes."

Thus, the state has not only ignored to address basic concerns of tribal people, but also tried to destroy the voice and language of their victims by aligning with the exploiters. E.A.S. Sarma, former Commissioner of Tribal Welfare and former secretary, Expenditure and Economic Affairs, says, "Left extremism is a secondary issue. How many adivasis even know there is a government? Their only experience of the State is the police, contractors, and real estate goons. Besides, the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution grants adivasis complete rights over their traditional land and forests and prohibits private companies from mining on their land. This constitutional schedule was upheld by the Samatha judgement of the Supreme Court (1997). If successive governments lived by the spirit of the Constitution and this judgment, tribal discontent would automatically recede.


By violating their human dignity, value and rights, the state has committed violence against the Tribals. The tribal dissent is a dissent out of desperation for human dignity, value and rights. Among these poor, disempowered, and oppressed and exploited Tribals Naxals have wide support due to latter's struggle for their cause. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged that "Left wing extremism requires a nuanced strategy, a holistic approach – it cannot be treated simply as a law and order problem. Despite its sanguinary nature, the movement manages to retain the support of a section of the tribal communities and the poorest of the poor in many affected areas. It has influence among certain sections of civil society, the intelligentsia and the youth.

Torture - A Burning Human Rights Issue in India

Torture - A Burning Human Rights Issue in India

-         Mathews Philip, Executive Director SICHREM

Ineffective policing techniques and an absolute disregard for human rights along with a license to abuse authority as they please, has lead to the rise of a grave social evil - that of custodial torture. The United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) defines torture as: "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions".

Torture has been practiced explicitly through the centuries as a means of imposing ideas, breaking resistance or sometimes even merely to obtain information. It has often been the case that when a high handed and abusive authority observed a spirit in a people that was unbreakable by mere threat or other sanctions, the immediate recourse was a violent and retaliatory response to break that spirit. Torture was the "most effective" form of this. Today, torture is carried out for the same reasons as it has always been.

The perpetrators: Since the very aim of torture in itself is to impose authority, it is often the case that the perpetrators of torture are state officials.  In addition, since the criminal investigation process requires gathering of information torture is practiced by officials belonging to the police. In the maintenance of law and order as well, the idea that authority has to be imposed upon the "aggressors" often leads to the police and the military resorting to torture. Other perpetrators of torture would thus include:

1.      The Military

2.      The Para – Military Forces

3.      Prison Officers

4.      Other detainees

The victims: The victims of torture could be anyone. Young or old, man or woman, the susceptibility to torture is alike, but increases drastically when he/she is a member of a particular religious or political ideology or belongs to a weaker section of society. Criminals, particularly those alleged to have committed really serious offences are also extremely susceptible to being tortured in order to obtain a confession or to extort information from them. The problem is more magnified when women or children are the victims. There have been numerous reports that tell horror stories of sexual abuse and the custodial rape of women. The NHRC had recorder 39 cases of custodial rape in the past 4 years along with a few cases of the rape of minor girls as well! There have also been numerous instances when there has been torture directed against juveniles in conflict with the law as well. In India, the classes of Dalits and tribals are also extremely prone to torture. Given their fragile position in the class structure in India and also their generally poor economic conditions, the authority sees these reasons as ample warranty to ill-treat them. Sometimes, individuals are also tortured to extort false confessions and to slap fake offences onto them so that the authority can get away with a lapse in its job.

What constitutes torture? At the first level, detention conditions are so inhumane in certain places that these in themselves constitute an act of torture. Detainees are often kept in dingy, poorly lit rooms with barely any provision for ventilation. Detainees are at the greatest risk in the first phase of the detention process that is before they have been presented before a court. There have been numerous reports of incommunicado detentions, where detainees are not registered and no information of their detention has been logged or conveyed to their friends and families. This has led to the concept of abductions where this is carried out to instill a fear in the general public and often the victims only return back after many days or even months with some of them dying in custody. Other grave forms of torture include beating, sleep and food deprivation, mental and psychological stress, refusal of access to restrooms and grave forms of physical assault – sometimes involving sexual abuse. Even convicted prisoners are sometimes subjected to deprivation of food or long periods of solitary confinement.

Reasons to condemn torture: Torture is one of the gravest forms of injustice that can be perpetrated against an individual. It constitutes a grave violation of an individual's basic rights and his dignity. It creates effects that ripple throughout an individual's life and may affect his livelihood, his health, his confidence and his reputation. The original "end" to torture would, in the most idealistic perspective of the authority that perpetrates it be the carrying out of "justice". However, this is not true as a justice system plagued with torture does not serve the interests of justice but merely corrupts it exposing the weak to the high handedness of the authorities. When the justice system relies on torture, it severely impedes the application of modern investigation techniques and questions the whole credibility of the investigation process. Moreover, the perception that the public bears of the authority would be tarnished and the credibility that they associate to the authority would be lost thereby severely impeding further functioning of the authorities. Further, torture is strictly condemned by the international community.

Prima facie, torture is considered illegal as per international law, Amnesty International reports that over 75% of countries worldwide practice torture as they define it. Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International was quoted as saying:

"Torture is banned but in two-thirds of the world's countries it is still being committed in secret. Too many governments still allow wrongful imprisonment, murder or "disappearance" to be carried out by their officials with impunity."

In India, the problem is indeed a grave one. A study published by the NHRC list over 124 custodial deaths in the year 2009 – 2011 alone and 1389 deaths in judicial custody in the same period.

The law: Torture, which was a violation of an individual's life and liberty and his dignity, was condemned under the United Nations Charter. The Third and the Fourth Geneva convention also condemned torture. The United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) with 145 ratifying countries further condemns the use of torture and clarifies the international body's stand on this matter. It also mentions that there exist "no exceptional" circumstances would torture be justified. Other relevant legislation concerning the prevention of torture would be UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.

In India, Art 21 of the Constitution guarantees that an individual would get the right to his basic life, liberty and dignity. Torture in any form is a grave violation of this and is a serious matter with recourse to approach the Supreme Court directly. Art 22 further guarantees protection against illegal detention. India however, has not ratified the CAT and has been very hypocritical in its approach towards this critical issue. It seems to protect these rights of individuals with the help of its Constitution but when it comes to ratifying a legal document that would compulsorily require them to apply it, it seems to show neglect. The Indian Government needs to wake up to its commitments. The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 was a lukewarm step in this regard.

What has to be done? Probably the most important and effective step to combat this evil would be to increase transparency within the system where records, police stations and detention centres are open to scrutiny by members of the media, non governmental organizations and other watch organizations. There must be a clear chain of command in the ranks of the police and each official must know that they would be held personally responsible for the treatment of the detainees under their supervision. Preventing any forms of incommunicado detention and improving detaining conditions must also be carried out. Female officers must be present when women are detained. Awareness programmes must be carried out to make known to officials that any form of torture or ill-treatment would not be tolerated and that matters relating to these would be strictly investigated. Legislation must be strengthened allowing for effective adjudicating and investigating bodies to look into matters of alleged torture and the punishments reserved for convicted individuals should be made stricter.

Let us be mindful of one another's rights and not let torture defeat our society. Concluding with the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

"You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind"

PVCHR: The Saga of Torture in Kashmir

PVCHR: The Saga of Torture in Kashmir: The Kashmir issue has been fest...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

H.E. Mr. Pavel Svitil Chargé d'affaires, European Union Delegation to India speech in the in the inaugural session, “Testimonial campaign contribute to eliminate impunity for perpetrators of torture in India” on 12 July, 2012 at India Habitat Center


National Consultation

"Testimonial Campaign contributes to eliminate impunity for perpetrator of Torture in India"



Organised by EU Funded Project

"Reducing police torture against Muslim Grass – root level by engaging and strengthening Human Rights Institutions in India", implemented by Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)



12 July 2012, Magnolia Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi






Address by

H.E. Mr. Pavel Svitil

Chargé d'affaires, European Union Delegation to India



Honourable Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission,
Distinguished Guests on the Dais,

Ladies and gentlemen,


It is indeed an honour and a pleasure to be here today at the 'National Consultation on Testimonial therapy to eliminate impunity for perpetrators of Torture in India', which is being organised by the Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, as part of the EU funded project "Reducing police torture against muslims at the grassroot level by engaging and strengthening Human Rights Institutions in India"


Let me begin by saying that I commend PVCHR for its courage in tackling a serious and sensitive issue such as Torture.

The French writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said: "The purpose of torture is not only the extortion of confession, of betrayal: the victim must disgrace himself, by his screams and his submission, like a human animal - in the eyes of everybody and in his own eyes. He who yields under torture is not only to be made to talk, but is also to be marked as sub-human."


This quote captures very well the extent to which victims of torture are marked forever by the inhuman treatment they are put through. Yet torture is not only a tragedy for the victims, it is also degrading for those who perpetrate it, and to societies which tolerate such outrage.


Freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is an inalienable human right. The prohibition of torture is a basic principle of international human rights law. This prohibition is absolute and allows no exception. And yet, even today, torture continues to be practiced by many countries across the world, not just in conflict situations, but even in situations of peace.


The prevention and eradication of all forms of torture and ill-treatment worldwide represents one of the main objectives of the EU human rights policy. Similarly our support goes to the rehabilitation of victims of torture. The signature and ratification by all States of the UN Convention Against Torture and of its Optional Protocol (establishing an international inspection system for detention facilities) is a very important part of our policy to abolish torture worldwide. The EU hence welcomes the recent ratification of the Optional Protocol by Turkey, the Philippines, Mauritania, Venezuela, Cape Verde, Tunisia, and Panama.


As recently as 19 December 2011, the UN General Assembly, in its Resolution 66/150, has condemned all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including through intimidation, which are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever and can thus never be justified. The EU fully supports this and calls upon all States to implement fully the absolute and non-derogable prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The EU has a general framework for action in the context of its external affairs both at the bilateral level with individual countries and in multilateral fora such as the UN. They are called Guidelines on Torture and were adopted in 2001 and updated just some days ago. You will find them on our website. The EU Guidelines give us a wide range of instruments to raise the issue of torture. They foresee the use of all available tools of diplomacy and cooperation to reach the EU objectives, most notably: through political dialogue, diplomatic representations and financial assistance under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. We are hence raising the issue of torture systematically with our partner countries. No individual country or group of countries is left out.


Through funding at national and EU level, the EU is a leading source of financial support to organisations that provide medical, social, legal or other assistance to many men, women, and children who are victims of torture, to restore their health and dignity as human beings.


Over the last 5 years, an average of € 12 million (Rs. 85 crore) per year has been allocated, globally, by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights to funding anti-torture projects. Between 2007-10, the EIDHR funded, indicatively, 80 projects around the world in the field of torture prevention and victim rehabilitation. For 2011-2013, the EIDHR allocated almost € 38 million (Rs. 270 crore) to support civil society organisations around the world to implement anti- torture actions (i. e. € 12.5 million, Rs. 88 crores per year).


On 1st June, the EU launched a new call for proposals focused on "Fighting impunity" which is dedicated to supporting civil society actions against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The total amount of the call for anti-torture projects is over 16. million euros. Organisations interested to apply for funding can download the application forms and call guidelines from our website, but the deadline for submission of concept notes is the 20th of July, not much time left now.


In India, the EU is also providing support to NGOs for actions related to prevention of torture and rehabilitation of torture victims. Since 2006, we have spent more than € 2.6 million. (Rs. 19 crore) to support a number of projects that have focused on prevention of torture through awareness-raising and advocacy; improving health and dignity of torture victims; and reducing the incidence of torture by police among certain communities. Research on torture practices, legal reform, legal support for victims, and legislative lobbying are at the very heart of these projects, as are capacity-building effort for human rights defenders and for strengthening the institutional framework. The project funded through PVCHR is one such initiative.


I would like to take this opportunity to commend the unrelenting efforts of the many NGOs and individuals who have been working tirelessly towards preventing torture and alleviating the suffering of victims, as well as mobilizing public opinion.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is said that charity begins at home, so the EU adopted measures taking the lead in the fight against torture and ill-treatment continues. The absolute ban on torture and ill-treatment enshrined in core UN human rights conventions is reflected in the Charter on Fundamental Rights of the EU. All EU Member States have ratified the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which provides for visits to places of detention (including prisons, police stations, army barracks, and psychiatric hospitals) by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture. All reports of visits are made public. 


The establishment of the national and international monitoring mechanisms under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture provides an additional layer of scrutiny. Out of 27 Member States, so far 16 have ratified the Protocol and 7 others have signed it.


At the level of the European Union, specific legislation lays down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers, and obliges Member States to ensure that victims of torture receive the necessary care.


As the largest trading actor in the world, the EU tries to prevent the use, production and trade of any equipment designed to inflict torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Specific legislation on trade in goods which could be used for capital punishment or torture prohibits the export and import of those goods. This represents a first attempt at regional level to introduce such a ban and the EU hopes that other states in the world will introduce similar legislation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,


India has signed the Convention Against Torture in 1997. This was the first step, the next one a ratification of both the Convention and its Optional Protocol is still pending. The ratification was one of the major issues discussed during the Universal Periodic Review of India at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in May this year, witnessing the international attention on the issue.


On 26 June, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the EU Delegation organised a public event with illustrious speakers, including Union Law Minister Shri Salman Khurshid. On this occasion Minister Khurshid publicly pledged to take up the issue of the Prevention of Torture Bill with the Home Minister and the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.


The expected adoption of the Prevention of Torture Bill would be a further testimony of India's engagement against Torture. The debates the Bill has generated since its introduction in Parliament in 2010 manifest the vibrancy of India's attachment to one of the founding pillars of international human rights law.

We should also not forget that human rights activists and defenders are often operating in very difficult circumstances. Their vital work contributes to the development of societies in which the human rights of all will be respected. In this respect, I would like to congratulate the Peoples' Vigilance Committee for Human Rights and other organizations associated with this project, for the good work that they have been doing in this field, with great courage and heart.

On my own behalf, and on behalf of the European Union, I wish PVCHR and its partners all the best in their endeavours, and hope that they will succeed in their objective to increase public awareness and state accountability towards torture, and more important, ensure the restoration of dignity to victims of torture.

 Thank you, and I wish you all the best for the next two days of consultation