Conference NHRIs Of Asia Pacific

Murmu To Inaugurate Conference Of NHRIs Of Asia Pacific On Sept 20

President Droupadi Murmu will inaugurate the Biennial Conference of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) of Asia Pacific on September 20, 2023, in New Delhi, an official statement issued by NHRC said on Thursday. 

The conference is being organized by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), India, in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) on September 20-21, 2023. The Asia Pacific Forum will also hold its 28th Annual General Meeting on September 20, 2023, to discuss the issues of common interest to member countries.

NHRC said that more than 1,300 delegates from India and abroad are likely to participate in the conference. 

“The conference will be attended by Heads, members and senior officials of the National Human Rights Institutions of 23 countries and 5 observer countries along with representatives from the Union and state governments, State Human Rights Commissions, Special Rapporteurs, Monitors, various institutions involved in the protection and promotion of human rights in the country, members of civil society and NGOs, human right defenders, lawyers, jurists, academicians, diplomats, representatives of UN agencies, academic institutions, etc. Earlier, in 2002 and 2014, such an AGM of Asia Pacific Forum and conference was held in India,” an official statement said. 

“On 21st September 2023, the Biennial Conference will mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UNDHR). It will also celebrate 30 years of National Human Rights Institutions and the Paris Principles, with a sub-theme on the environment and climate change,” it added. 

During the conference, three plenary sessions on the themes ‘Setting the Scene-30 Years of Promoting and Protecting Human Rights across Asia and the Pacific’; ‘Advancing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its Promise of Freedom, Equality, and Justice for All’; and ‘The role of NHRIs in responding to and mitigating the human rights impacts of climate change-national, regional, and international actions’, will be held.

NHRC said that the Biennial Conference also aims to provide an opportunity for sharing good practices to support communities to respond to human rights impacted by climate change.

A separate session on ‘Business and Human Rights’ will also be held in partnership with UNDP, which will be attended by the representatives of business and industry, workers’ organizations and associations, various ministries, departments, statutory organizations, UN agencies, human rights defenders, NGOs, etc. In this session issues related to the human rights of workers in various businesses and professions will be discussed.    

The APF is one of the four regional NHRI networks, including Africa, NANHRI; Americas, RINDHCA; and Europe, ENNHRI, part of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).

The NHRC, India, has been a valued partner of the APF as an independent and autonomous ‘A’ status NHRI, fully compliant with the Paris Principles. The year also marks 30 years of the existence of NHRC, India. (ANI)

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Police Encounter II

Police Encounter II – ‘Are Cops Above Law?'

Chirchita village in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, have decided to boycott the next elections. Reason: they want justice for Karamvir Singh’s family who lost their son Sumit to a ‘police encounter’ in Noida. The 22-year-old youth was mistaken by a police party for a gangster going by the same name, tortured and then allegedly silenced. The family approached the National Human Rights Commission and have dragged UP police to court for a ‘state-sponsored murder’. Karamvir recounts the events that led to an upheaval in his village:   My son, Sumit was a simple 22-year-old boy. He did not have too many big dreams. While many youngsters from our village joined the armed forces, Sumit just wanted to stay back and work on the farm. On September 30, 2017, I sent Sumit to the nearby market to buy pesticides.

That was the last time we saw him alive. He came back home, lifeless, wrapped in a shroud. His body punctured with bullets. Sumit was abducted from a tea-stall in the local market. Locals, who were present in the market that evening told us that a white SUV stopped there and five strongly-built men walked out. They approached Sumit, asked his name, and pulled him inside the car. The wait seemed endless. There was no news for the next few days.

Then on October 2, we were told to give Rs 3.5 Lakh to the Noida police for a ‘challan’. And then they would let him go. However, the police refused to let him go. We heard rumours that Sumit was soon to be killed in an encounter. Shocked and scared we reached out for every possible person/ organization for help –the UP DIG, National Human Rights Commission and the chief minister’s office -but to no avail.

On the night of October 3, I lost my son to a fake encounter. The concocted story seemed straight from a badly-made Bollywood thriller. Sumit, along with three others, ‘robbed a bank’ and was trying to escape in a car when the encounter took place. While the others easily managed to escape the wrath of the very efficient UP police, Sumit was killed in an exchange of fire.

The police claimed to have found some weapons, but in their account, there is no mention of the cash that my son and his ‘gang’ had looted. There are several burning questions demand answers. My son had never ventured out of the village, yet the UP Police claim that he had 12 criminal cases against him in Noida! Eyewitnesses, who saw Sumit being forced into the car, came running to us when they read about the ‘encounter’ and saw Sumit’s photo in the newspaper.

The UP police will never admit this, but they mistook my son for someone else. There is another youth of the same name, in his mid-thirties who has many cases against his name and is absconding since 2011. My son lost his life because the police thought he was a dreaded gangster of the same name. Any admission to this huge faux pas will leave the police red-faced. It has almost been a year since Sumit’s state-sponsored murder.

Life at home has changed. A dull silence prevails. The air is filled with paranoia. We do not let our younger son Praveen venture out after sunset.   There have been two Maha panchayats in our village with senior political leaders in attendance. Even the late BJP MP Hukum Singh attended one of them and with his help, we approached the National Human Rights Commission. After an inquiry, the NHRC has issued a notice to the UP government and police.

The hearing of our case at the High Court will be coming up soon. Another maha-panchayat is scheduled to be held in October. We have full faith in the judiciary and our well-wishers, who have been a pillar of support. We keep getting calls from unknown numbers and offered an obscene amount of money for settling the case.  But we are adamant.

We want justice for our son. We will continue to demand justice from the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister, or else, we will boycott the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha polls. A khaki uniform doesn’t absolve the police of their crimes.