Peoples’ Tribunal on Custodial Torture to be held in Varanasi

The EU-FNST-Peoples” Watch Tamil Nadu (PWTN) National Project of Preventing Torture in India and the Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) carried out a study and documentation of more than 800 cases of police torture in six districts of Uttar Pradesh state of India. Several interventions were made by the PVCHR and the EU-FNST-PWTN in various Courts and Commissions regarding these cases.

From 1996, the PVCHR is continuously voicing its concern against custodial torture. This campaign that started with the releasing of a poster against torture has documented cases and intervened in these cases with an intention to apply pressure upon the Government of India to ratify the UN Convention against Torture AND also to bring relief to the victims.
50 organisations in Uttar Pradesh were included in this process. An additional mission of this project was to pressure the Members of Legislative Assemblies and the Members of the Indian Parliament for the ratification of UN Convention against Torture. In connection with this campaign a peoples’ tribunal is being organised on 28 and 29 April, 2008 in Varanasi.
The national project was implemented in 47 districts in nine states of India. They are Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan, Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In Uttar Pradesh, with the PVCHR the project is implemented in six districts — Varanasi, Chandauli, Jaunpur, Allahabad, Sonbhadra and Mirzapur. The project also focuses on organising the local people to voice their concern against police torture and also in the process, to develop Pindra Taluk as a model Taluk in Uttar Pradesh.
In the past two years 3987 cases of police firing, custodial rape, police baton charge and fake encounters were documented from 47 districts in India by the national project. Interventions were sought in 4756 cases, including cases that were not covered directly by the project. In this year, the third year of the project, effective group advocacy against torture is going on.
The Government of India MUST ratify the UN Convention against Torture and come up with domestic legislation criminalising torture.
In addition to police brutality the issues in the judicial system in India like the delay in court process also perpetuates torture. This mostly affects the marginalised communities, particularly the members of the lower caste. Most cases in the past were not highlighted due to fear and the caste based discrimination practiced in the Indian society.
The project has organised 197 awareness programmes in the country. The PVCHR is also organising regular Folk Schools and Human Rights Street Movements in Uttar Pradesh, to encourage the victims of custodial torture to speak up and stand for their rights so as to live with dignity.
The Peoples’ Tribunal on Torture organised on 28 and 29 April, 2008 at Nav Sadhana, Tarna, Shivpur, Varanasi is the part of the project. It is expected that the tribunal will be an additional platform for the victims to come forward and share their experiences.
During the tribunal, the details of 73 cases of custodial torture will be released. It is expected that the tribunal will be an additional platform for the victims to present their cases before the public. The victims and the witnesses will be encouraged to present their testimonies during the two days.
The tribunal will be chaired by Justice Mr. R. B. Malhotra, former judge of Allahabad High Court. Mr. Shankar Sen, former Director General – National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) India, Mr. Ashok Chakravarti, former Senior Director – NHRC India, Ms. T.K Rajalakshmi, Senior Assistant Editor – Frontline Magazine, Mr. John Dayal, Chairperson – All India Catholic Union and Member – National Integration Council, Mr. Chitranjan Singh, National Secretary – Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Mr. K. K. Rai, Senior Advocate – Allahabad High Court, Mr. Ram Ashray Singh, Secretary General – PUCL Bihar, Mr. Vikas Maharaj, Sarod maestro and human rights activist, Mr. Darapuri (IPS) – former police officer and Dalit human rights activist, Ms. Sandhya, Convener – Mahila Adhikar Manch and Member Executive Council – NAFRE Peoples’ Movement, Ms. Kumkum, Deputy Director – Mahila Samakhya, Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Maheshanand Bhai, Bhumi Haqdari Morcha and tribal rights leader, Ms. Padma, Convener – Stree Adhikaar Sanghathan, National Organisation on Women Rights are the members of jury.
© 2007
(Ch. Narendra) Publication Date 26/4/2008 3:55:31 PM(IST)


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