The Global Digest


Indonesia set for perpetuating impunity for Munir's killing

Lawyer Munir Said Thalib

(Stockholm December 9, 2014 ) 10 years, ago, Indonesian human rights lawyer Munir Said Thalib was murdered on a flight to Amsterdam. Now it seems as if the newly elected Indonesian Government under President Joko Widodo is far from willing to initiate a new and independent investigation into Munir's killing. In a letter to the Indonesian President Joko Widodo, 18 Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award warn that "the continuing lack of accountability for Munir's killing provides a chilling reminder to human rights defenders in Indonesia that their work remains under threat."

The signatories to the letter, among them Daniel Ellsberg, Basil Fernando, Johan Galtung, Manfred Max-Neef, Raul Montenegro, Vandana Shiva and Theo van Boven, continue to demand that the President of Indonesia 1.Initiate a new, independent investigation by the police into the murder of Munir, to ensure that all perpetrators, at all levels, are brought to justice in accordance with international human rights standards, particularly, the "mastermind" behind the murder; 2.Publish the official 2005 fact finding team report into Munir's killing as a key step towards establishing the truth; and 3.Review past criminal proceedings against those accused of involvement in Munir's murder, and in particular investigate reports of witness intimidation. To read the full letter with the list of signatories, please go to

Recent developments in the case of Munir's murder: - Garuda Indonesia pilot Pollycarpus, who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison, later reduced to 14 years on appeal, was recently granted parole. - President Joko Widodo appointed A.M. Hendropriyono to a senior advisory role in his government. Hendropriyono was chief of State Intelligence Agency at the time of the killing, and admitted "command responsibility" for the murder in an interview with American journalist Allan Nairn. - Last week, National Police Chief Gen. Sutarman was reported to say that the police would not reopen the investigation of the 2004 assassination of Munir Said Thalib. See

For interviews on the matter, please contact - Haris Azhar, Coordinator of KONTRAS, a prominent Indonesian human rights defender, +6281513302342, or Sharan Srinivas, Programme and Research Manager, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, +4687020335

Background - Munir Said Thalib was murdered on September 7, 2004, while on a flight for Amsterdam. He was poisoned with arsenic and died before landing in the Netherlands. Munir was the founder of the Indonesian Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) that advocates justice for the victims of abuses committed by the state. Munir had received the Right Livelihood Award in 2000.

Bangalore Declaration

Dalit Activists

About one hundred and fifty Dalit Activists, Dalit Right workers, Dalit led NGO leaders, members of research institutions, Training Development and Human Rights organisations, leaders of faith communities and human rights activists gathered from different states of India during 5-6 December 2014, in National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC), as a ‘Two-day National Conference on ‘Response to Caste and Dalit Poverty’ and have unanimously adopted this Declaration on this 6th day of December 2014.

We declare: 1. That the definition of Dalits shall be based on untouchability; those communities and their posterities who suffered untouchability in the past are to be considered as Dalits irrespective of religion, and those communities and their ancestors or posterities who never suffered any kind of untouchability shall not be considered as Dalits. 2. That there is a positive correlation between caste and Dalit poverty; as the poverty of Dalits is due to the caste system and all the backwardness inflicted upon them by the caste system 3. That the development sector should coin right terminologies to describe caste discrimination, in the place of traditional terminologies glorifying and reinforcing caste system

4. That the Dalits in India form 1/3rd of the Global poor (444 Millions) and hence the Dalits deserve a legitimate share of 1/3rd of the global resources set apart for addressing poverty. 5. The Millennium Development Goals (MIDs) failed to achieve desired targets on Dalit poverty reduction mainly due to the fact that they completely ignored major chuck of the global poor, the Dalits who form 1/3rd of the Global Poor. 6. That the National and International Aid agencies, Governments, and the Corporate Social Responsibility of the Corporate sector must address the root cause of poverty rather than continuing and content with treatment of the symptoms of poverty

7. That the Cannon of Equity shall be followed by the aid agencies in sharing resources, specifying ‘Dalits and Caste Discrimination’ as thematic area as against inequality and other similar unrelated jargons. 8. That the aid agencies must re-define their ideas of empowerment of Dalits as change of caste discriminatory practices as against empowering people for their civic entitlements and insist on disaggregated information of stopping caste discriminatory practices in their Evaluation and Monitoring 9. That the aid agencies must follow the principle of inclusion of people and personnel from the Dalit background in their international development departments and preferably as country heads in South Asian Countries where 90% poor are Dalits and they must have Dalit Experts in their International Offices

10. The Aid agencies and International NGOs working in South Asia must review the caste composition of their partner NGOs in South Asia and their capacity to absorb the target population within its decision making circle - including who own the properties bought with aid money, who operate the bank accounts and who take the decision. 11. That the International Aid Agencies working in India should support Anti- Caste Discrimination campaigns internationally and support the Global campaign against Caste Discrimination as caste discrimination is practiced in 132 countries, including 110 countries, where South Asians have migrated like in the UK, which passed Anti- caste Discrimination laws. 12. That the Overseas Governments with their India Offices and international Aid Agencies having their Indian country offices should all have their country coordinator with Dalit background or trained in Dalit studies, as 90% of the poor in India are Dalits 13. That the resources for the development of Dalits shall be routed through the NGOs owned, managed and run by the Dalits themselves, in the place of the existing pattern that these resources are cornered by the NGOs run by the Caste Perpetrators who claim Dalits to be their target groups, and the Aid agencies must take mainly Dalit led NGOs as their partners while addressing the Dalit poverty

14. That, as the platform for Dalit led NGOs, the DALITAID India shall be accepted by the Aid agencies and Corporate Social Responsibility Departments of the Corporate bodies and shall be promoted with priority 15. That the National Model Community Development Project (NCDP) that DALITAID India has proposed and to be implemented in Odisha shall be owned by the Aid agencies, church and the Dalit led NGOs 16. That the rights of all Dalits irrespective religion for equal rights and opportunities for development shall be accepted by the Aid agencies and governments while addressing the Dalit development. 17. That the Churches in India shall be more inclusive in their approach to Dalits and ensure that Dalits get equal opportunities for inclusion in the various hierarchy of Church, leadership positions and educational and employment opportunities.

18. That the Central and State Governments in India shall take very strict measures to ensure that the Bode labour in the Textile Industry and other sectors, be abolished, where the victims are mostly Dalits 19. That the discrimination in the educational opportunities to Dalits and discrimination in educational institutions shall be addressed effectively by the government and private educational institutions run by the churches and church based institutions; and the forms caste humiliations in higher education shall be addressed seriously 20. That the Caste and Dalit Poverty shall be included the agenda of the UN Conferences on Development and in the forthcoming summit of September 2015.

AHRC grieves the death of the "people's judge"

Dec 05, 2014

Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) joins millions of Asians and others across the globe to mourn the sad demise of Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer. Aged 100, Justice Krishna Iyer passed away today at a hospital in Kerala, India. He was a member of AHRC's advisory group and was an active participant in AHRC's work in Asia, particularly concerning Sri Lanka, India, and China.

Popularly known as the Chief Justice of the people's court of India, Justice Krishna Iyer was one of the finest jurists of our times. He retired from the Supreme Court of India after having served the country during some of its most difficult times. Justice Krishna Iyer served at the Supreme Court from 1973 to 1980; this coincided with some of India’s darkest days, i.e. the emergency under the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.

While India and jurists across the globe have benefited from Justice Krishna Iyer's legal acumen, perhaps it is the people of the Indian state of Kerala that have most benefited from his legal luminance. Justice Krishna Iyer played a leading role in the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963, a law that permanently redefined Kerala's social and political landscape, ending feudalism in the state.

As a jurist, Justice Krishna Iyer played an important role in developing India's constitutional jurisprudence, particularly in terms of defining the power of the President's office. This prevented India from adopting executive presidency at a time when most countries in Asia shifted from a parliamentary form of governance to presidential rule, and the executive powers of presidents led to dictatorships.

As a judge, Justice Krishna Iyer was a people's judge. He had the wisdom and foresight to ensure that even prisoners were allowed to exercise their fundamental rights, given that it is the state's responsibility to protect these rights. Justice Krishna Iyer liberally interpreted the Constitution, expanding the horizon of the fundamental rights, particularly the right to life and freedom of movement, thereby redefining the Indian state's responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens.

As a judge, Justice Krishna Iyer played a vital role in saving the Indian Judiciary from political and executive interference; this interference had been so firmly established that many judges who served at the Supreme Court, despite their said integrity, could not diminish. This has made the Indian Judiciary exceptional in Asia, along with a three other jurisdictions: Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan. Justice Krishna Iyer will be missed in the perilous times that lie ahead for India and the region.

A Plea for Surendra Koli on the Verge of Execution

Surinder Koli

Surinder Koli, a dalit accused of murdering 18 women and children residing in Nithari village, NOIDA is facing imminent execution after his Review Petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court on 28th October 2014. While Nithari disappearances constitute the biggest and most bizarre urban crime of our times, Koli's case is an egregious miscarriage of justice where a human sacrifice is about to offered in our names to the great god of public opinion.

I. Facts 2003: An abnormally high number of women and children were reported missing from Nithari village in Sector 31 Noida.[1] These numbers attest to the fact that the phenomenon of missing children predated Koli’s arrival as a domestic servant with Moninder Singh Pandher at his bungalow D-5, Sector 31, Nithari, Noida in 2004. Numerous parents living in Nithari had reported to the police that their children had gone missing but no action was taken. Feb 2005: The prosecution case is that 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar had gone missing on 8 February. Her parents too had tried unsuccessfully to register the case with the police. March 2005: Some boys playing cricket discovered a hand in a plastic bag in the open area behind D-5. They called the police, who after seeing the hand advised them to forget about it, and no action was taken. (Annexure I evidence of PW23 and Annexure II evidence of PW24). 2006 - 07: When the issue of missing children was finally reported to the Allahabad High Court, the police were directed to investigate. Investigations commenced and Koli was arrested on 29 December 2006 and, according to the police, he led them to the same spot where the boys had found the hand 18 months ago. Nevertheless, the police claim that it was through Koli that they discovered the large number of skulls and bones in the open space at the back of D-5, and in the drain running on the main road in front of the bungalows. In January 2007 the case was transferred to the CBI who took Koli’s custody thereafter. For the next two months no additional evidence was found against Koli. What was there would not have sufficed. That there were human remains lying in the open space behind the row of bungalows was clearly known to many people in the locality, and mere knowledge of this could not lead to the inference that they were the murderers.

II. Koli’s Confession After sixty days of police custody, when no further evidence could be discovered against Koli, the CBI applied to the Magistrate to have Koli’s confession recorded (27 February 2007). They said that Koli had informed them that he wanted to confess. Koli was produced before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate who directed that before the recording of his confession (on the basis of which Koli would be eventually convicted and sentenced to death), Koli be given access to a legal aid lawyer for five minutes in open court. Thereafter Koli was produced before another Magistrate who recorded his confession (Annexure III translated copy of Koli’s confession). In this confession, Koli gave a detailed but highly repetitive account of how exactly he lured a total of 16 victims (9 female children, 2 male children and 5 adult women) into the house, killed and attempted to have sex with the inert bodies, chopped and eat their body parts, and then threw the remains at the back of the house and in the drain on the main road. In this same confession, Koli also said that he was tutored by the police to say many things, including the names of the victims, the manner of killing, etc. He also said that the police had tortured him brutally. This is the sum total of prosecution case against Koli and the evidence adduced in support of it.

(a) Invalid and Inadmissible Confession: Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act bars a confession if it appears to be have been caused by inducement, threat or promise.[2] The first legal requirement for the admissibility of a confession is that it should be a voluntary admission of guilt.[3] In this case, the confession itself states Koli was tortured and tutored. Under law, a confession has to be read as a whole, and unless the exculpatory part has been conclusively falsified by the prosecution, it cannot be ignored. It is not permissible to only rely on the incriminating part of a confession and pretend the exculpatory part does not exist. There are a large number of judgements on this point, including one by a constitutional bench of five judges.[4] The Supreme Court has also held that prolonged police custody prior to the making of a confession is sufficient to brand the confession as involuntary.[5] A confession, if it is a genuine admission of guilt must be made at the earliest point in time or else it will be presumed to be induced by torture. Koli’s confession, which is the only evidence in the case against him, is not worth the paper it is written on. It is denuded of all evidentiary value by the torture and the tutoring which require no additional proof because it is a part of the same confession which is relied on by the prosecution. There was no other evidence in this case against Koli except this so-called confession which was made after 60 days in police custody.

(b) Wrongful Reliance on the Confession and Silence of the Courts: The trial court, the High Court and the Supreme Court in the criminal appeal all relied on this confession. In all these courts it was strenuously argued that this confession had no legal evidentiary value because of the torture and the tutoring, but because there was no answer to this argument, the courts ignored it. (Annexure IV translated trial court judgement, Annexure V High Court judgement, Annexure VI Supreme Court judgement in the criminal appeal).Their judgements are conspicuously silent on this point. There is no explanation by them as to how and under what legal provision could they rely on such a confession. If this argument was addressed by the Courts, they would have to exclude the confession, and that would force them to acquit Koli. When this case was brought to the notice of Ram Jethmalani, India’s pre-eminent and most respected criminal lawyer, he immediately agreed to take it on pro bono. When he read the part of the confession where the torture and tutoring are mentioned, he closed the papers and said that nothing more was needed: the case had to be thrown out. He forcefully argued this point before the three judges of the Supreme Court in the Review Petition hearing, but to no avail. This point was also stressed in the written submissions given to the judges (Annexure VII Ram Jethmalani’s Written Submissions in the Review Petition). What is most surprising and distressing is that this bench too, in its judgement dismissing the review petition did not answer this point of how could such a confession be admissible in law. (Annexure VIII Supreme Court judgement in the Review Petition). Thus, four different courts, including two benches of the Apex Court have held Koli to be guilty without being able to answer the principle argument raised in his defence.

(c) Sensational and Incredible Confession: Besides the obvious legal point alluded to above, the confession in itself stretches our credulity. Certain aspects of the story trotted out in the confession seem clearly improbable. According to the prosecution, Koli was living in D-5 as a full time domestic servant of Pandher and his wife. The wife often travelled to Chandigarh, and during the day Pandher would be at work. But there was also another domestic servant (Maya Sarkar), a gardener and two drivers employed by Pandher who would have been in the house. All the killings took place in the drawing room of the house between 9 am and 4 pm. After each killing, Koli would strip the clothes of his victim and carry the body upstairs to a bathroom where he would proceed to chop it into small parts. Then he would leave the bathroom in that condition while he cooked and ate some of the body parts. After 3-4 hours when he would regain his composure, only then would he clean up the drawing room and bathroom. It is too much to believe that not once in any of the sixteen killings and dismemberment, when the body parts were lying scattered in the bathroom and the clothes strewn across the living room, did either Maya Sarkar, the drivers, Pandher or any visitor to the house enter the drawing room. Neither Maya Sarkar nor the gardener were examined as witnesses at the trial.

III. The WCD Report (a) The Autopsy Surgeon’s statement The confession is not the only disturbing aspect of Koli’s case. In 2007, the Ministry of Women Child Development (WCD) set up an expert committee of seasoned bureaucrats to investigate the Nithari killings. Their report is a damning indictment of the Noida Police and the CBI’s investigation, and raises serious doubts about Koli’s involvement in this case. (Annexure IX WCD Report). In paragraph 3.2 of this report, the Committee refers to the scientific information supplied by Dr.Vinod Kumar, MD, the Chief Medical Superintendent, Noida, on 10 January 2007 who had supervised the post-mortem examinations conducted on the bodies identified after assembling the bones and skulls found at the site. Dr.Vinod Kumar informed the Committee “that it was intriguing to observe that the middle part of all bodies (torsos) was missing. According to him, such missing torsos give rise to a suspicion that wrongful use of bodies for organ sale, etc could be possible. According to him, the surgical precision with which the bodies were cut also pointed to this fact. He stated that body organs of small children were also in demand as these were required for transplant for babies/ children. A body generally takes more than 3 months to start decomposing and the entire process continues for nearly 3 years. Since many of the reported cases related to children having been killed less than a year back, it is a matter for investigation as to why only bare bones were discovered. He did not favour the theory of cannibalism as it could be a ruse to divert attention from the missing parts of the bodies.” (emphasis added) In its conclusions, the WCD report casts doubt on the prosecution theory about the motive for this offence and states that having embarked on its hypothesis that Koli was the culprit, the police has not investigated the possibility of organ trade as the motive for the offence.

(b) Why was the WCD report suppressed? This report was in the possession of the government but was not given to Koli or to the courts. The constitutional requirement of a fair trial obliged the prosecution to disclose this report to Koli.[6] The evidence of Dr.Vinod Kumar clearly shows that this expert witness did not accept the hypothesis of cannibalism or sexual perversion which the Prosecution had introduced in Koli’s confession. This would have been a crucial factor for the consideration of the trial court in adjudicating whether or not the prosecution theory of sexual perversion and cannibalism should be believed or not. The prosecution’s reluctance to allow Dr.Vinod Kumar’s evidence to come before the courts can be seen from the fact that neither did the prosecution examine the autopsy surgeon, nor did they record his statement or even even mention him in the list of witnesses which is completely unprecedented in a murder case. The police carefully eliminated all possibility of Dr.Vinod Kumar’s views coming to the notice of Koli or his trial court lawyer. The doubt expressed by the WCD Report receives support from the fact that the very adjacent house (D-6) was occupied by a doctor (Dr. Naveen Chaudhary) who had been previously charged in a case of organ trade. This fact was deposed to by a prosecution witness himself who further stated that the Dr. Chaudhary’s house was guarded 24 hours by security guards. (Annexure X translated evidence of PW38 Cook employed in D-6). These facts were known to the Investigating Officer (Annexure X translated evidence of PW35 Investigating Officer). (c) Discrepancy in the numbers of missing children and murders attributed to Koli The Report of the Expert Committee further notes that the number of killings ascribed to Koli kept increasing with the passage of time. The Report observes as follows: “The DM stated that incidents of missing children have come to light in the specific area of Nithari village. As per the statistics provided by SSP, Noida, the number of reported cases of missing children in last two years* are as follows:

*As per the data given by SSP, Noida during the first visit of the Committee to Nithari on 04.01. 2007. Note: The number of children/ persons identified as killed by the accused was 17 as reported by the authorities on 10.1.2007" It seems that having got a scapegoat, the police quickly attributed all the unsolved cases to Koli and the number of killings done by him was increased from 11 to 17 to account for the unsolved cases of missing children. (d) Some Observations of the Report of the Expert Committee: "After going through the details of the investigation as reported by the district authorities the Committee felt that the modus operandi and the motive of the killings are not clear. The original assumption on which the police are proceeding is that it is primarily a sexual crime of a serial crime category, committed by very psychologically disturbed persons." 4.3.1. Committee’s Observations: “1. There was no type or pattern in the choice of the victims which is generally the hallmark of a serial killer. The victims were both male and female and their ages ranged from a 3 year old boy to young women. As such, the premise of it being the work of a serial killer is unclear at present.

2. The nallah in front and the back of the house are not very deep and have stagnant water. It was also not cleaned for a long period by civic authorities. Therefore, the sacks would not have flown away but remained wherever they were dropped. It is curious that no decomposition of the body took place nor was there any report of foul smells. 3. The method of disposal of the body also needs further investigation. According to what has been reported, the accused tied the skull and the bodies in sacks and dropped them in the nallah at the front and back of the house. Considering that these sacks had to be dropped from terraces in the daylight hours, it is very strange that there were no witnessesinspite of adjoining neighbouring terraces. 4. As per some medical reports, the body normally takes at least three years to decompose; as many of the deaths were as recent as 2006, the body should not have been completely decomposed. Yet, only skull and bones were found which gives rise to a lot of suspicion. Such a careless disposal of bodies where it was certain that they would be discovered in due course is strange. 5. It is also strange that the flesh of the torsos was disposed off separately from the rest of the body. In fact, this portion of the bodies has only been discovered after the thorough search carried out under CBI’s supervision.What was the motive behind action by the accused needs to be investigated. 4.3.2. Suggestions of the Committee

There are certain aspects that need to be further investigated: • The CBI should look into all angles including organ trade, sexualexploitation and other forms of crimes against women and children. • There is need to study the organ transplant records of all hospitals in NOIDA over the last few years to study the pattern and trend of these operations and tracing the donors and recipients. • As the motive, modus operandi and method of disposal of bodies are notclear, the involvement of other persons as well a larger geographical spread needs to be investigated. This is all the more important as the CBIinvestigation is discovering more new bodies spread over a larger area. • The identification of the victims is based solely on the confessions of the accused and that too from their photographs. There is no other strong evidence to prove that these children definitely met their deaths at the hands of the accused or if there is a possibility that they could be trafficked elsewhere. The fact that some of their clothes were found in the accused’s premises cannot automatically prove that they are dead. • The interrogation made by Police of the maid servant of the house, Maya Sarcar, needs also to be looked into for revelations into the activities of the accused. • The discovery of more and more bodies in the area is a cause of grave suspicion whether these crimes are the work of just two individuals or whether a larger gang is involved. The original motive as on being sexual crimes needs to be reinvestigated."

IV. The Mystery of the DNA Report The DNA report, far from providing conclusive proof of Koli’s guilt, raises many disturbing questions (Annexure XI DNA Report). It points to the fact that not all the cases of the missing children have been explained. According to the prosecution, they collected DNA samples from 18 families whose family members had gone missing. Koli allegedly confessed to killing 16 persons but body parts of 19 victims were found which seems to contradict the confession. Who killed the other 3 persons whose body parts were found? When the DNA samples of these 18 families were compared with the DNA samples extracted from the 19 bodies, only 8 matched. Eleven bodies remained unidentified. Whose were they? How is it that though Koli’s confession mentions 16 victims, all living in Nithari, 11 bodies remained unidentified and their DNA did not match with the DNA taken from the families whose children had gone missing? Where are the family members of these 11 victims whose bodies remained unidentified? V. Is RimpaHaldar Still Alive? Koli was charged in sixteen different cases. In each of the trials, the charge pertained to only one specified victim. Only one of these cases – that pertaining to Rimpa Haldar – has travelled its way through the trial and appellate process, and it is in this case that Koli’s death sentence has been upheld by the Supreme Court and his mercy petitions dismissed by the Governor and President. Immediately after Rimpa went missing, her parents tried to register a missing complaint with the police but the police refused. They then sent complaints to the National Commission for Women who issued a show cause notice to the police. Thereafter, her family received a letter supposedly from Rimpa stating that she had eloped with a boyfriend to Nepal and was now married and living there. The family took this letter to the police but were told that it had been planted by vindictive neighbours and that they should ignore it. [Annexure XII Article in Amar Ujala article dated 29.1.2007]. However, in reply to the notice issued by the National Commission for Women about the missing children, the police relied on this letter to claim that Rimpa was alive and living in Nepal. [Annexure XIII Letter in Hindi dated 14.8.2006.] After Koli’s arrest, the police claimed that the DNA from Rimpa’s parents had matched the DNA extracted from some body parts.

VI. Children Go Missing from the Area Even Now Children from that area have continued to go missing. See article linked below: VII. Who Paid the fees for Haldars’ Lawyers? During the trial, Adv. Khalid Khan appeared on behalf of Rimpa Haldar’s parents and actively participated in the proceedings. The CBI had given a clean chit to Pandher and did not file a chargesheet against him. It was on an application made by Adv. Khan that Pandher was roped into the trial, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to death. It was also on Adv. Khan’s application that the evidence against Pandher was produced and proved in court. This evidence did not amount to much, and though Pandher was convicted by the trial court, he was acquitted by the High Court. Rimpa Haldar’s father is a rickshaw puller. It is difficult to believe that he paid Adv. Khan’s fees, and one wonders who did. Who could have such a deep interest in ensuring that Pandher and Koli are convicted? After this conviction, the file on the Nithari killings would be closed forever, and no one else could then be implicated.

VIII. Whether this is a fit case for the Death Penalty Even if one believes the confession to be true, a bare reading would show that Koli needs a doctor more than a hangman. According to the confession, Koli, a person of high and rigid moral standards with no prior criminal antecedents, would get deeply disturbed on seeing his employer cavorting with multiple sex workers. He would be plagued with thoughts of ‘cut kill eat’ and despite his best efforts at controlling these thoughts, they would dominate his consciousness and take over his being. He would then be transported into some kind of automaton state where he would not know what he was doing and would have very little memory of what he had done. In this state he would lure his victims into the house, strangulate them, attempt to have sex with their inert bodies and then on failing to do so, would kill them. He would then dismember the bodies, and eat some of the body parts. Only 2-3 hours after this would his mind become calm again. By this account, Koli is a deeply disturbed and traumatised person who has himself suffered a great deal to his personality disorder. He may not be insane according to the unrealistic and archaic (1840) standards of the McNaughten Rules incorporated in section 84 IPC, but he is a very ill person. Not executing mentally ill people is a measure of a society’s evolving standards of decency.

IX. Is it in the interests of justice to execute Koli now? Only one case is complete. The other 15 are pending at the trial or the High Court. Much of the evidence is common: Koli's confession, seizures of bones, skeletons, etc. If Koli is allowed a trial in the other cases, he may be able to prove that the confession was forced or false. He will also have an opportunity to bring on record the views of Dr.Vinod Kumar who conducted the autopsies and who opined that this was not the work of a sexually crazed serial killer but of organ traders who had severed the bodies with ‘surgical precision’. He may also be able to prove that the investigation was dishonest, or that some of the victims are not dead. He may even be able to show through medical evidence that he suffers from a mental / personality disorder that constitutes a powerful mitigating circumstance in favour of life imprisonment over the death penalty. Even if he cannot prove this, he is entitled to a chance, since he is effectively being condemned for all these killings though technically only one has been proved. It would not be fair or just to hang a man for 18 killings when only one has been proved. Moreover, even the families of the victims are entitled to have a judicial verdict on who killed their family members. They are entitled to know the truth and obtain closure. If Koli is hanged now, the trials concerning the remaining 17 victims will have to be aborted. [Annexure XIV Chart of Pending Cases] Koli was represented on very poorly paid legal aid throughout the proceedings. A legal aid lawyer gets about Rs. 2000 each for a trial, murder appeal and Supreme Court petition. It is highly unlikely that his Supreme Court appointed amicus curiae even wrote to, sought instructions from or met with Koli. No evidence by way of defence, mitigation, medical opinion was led on his behalf.

X. Conclusion There is an acute need to bring these facts out in the public domain. There is public hysteria baying for Koli's blood, and we need to create a counter current in the popular media on this issue. These highlighted aspects of Koli's case affront due process and fair trial rights. Will we sit quiet while somebody is executed in our names on the basis of nothing more than a coerced confession especially when a government appointed committee puts out an alternative explanation as a cause of crime and the same remains un-rebutted and unexplored till date? I have always said that cases where the death penalty has been imposed are those where one sees the most flagrant violations of fairness, procedure and our notions of justice, and Koli's case shows this very blatantly. I would urge you to write about Koli’s case and disseminate this email as widely as possible so that people know who is being hanged in their names and on what basis.

NAPM's 10th Biennial National Convention Ends in Pune

NAPM's 10th Biennial National Convention

New Delhi, October 3 : In the backdrop of brutal murder of three members of a Dalit family in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district; recent communal violence and frenzy in Delhi ahead of by- elections (as seen as part of strategy of BJP in election bound states); and significant dilutions and proposed amendments in land and environmental laws to facilitate corporate loot of natural resources; and move to amend NREGA, labour laws, RTIs etc., NAPM's 10th biennial convention ended on November 2nd at historic Rashtra Seva Dal campus in Pune.

The Convention was attended by over 1000 persons from 18 states and marked 20 year long journey of NAPM against neo-liberal economic policies, religious fundamentalism, patriarchy and casteism. The Convention ended with a call for united action by the secular, socialist and progressive forces to combat the rising fundamentalist and fascist forces in the country today. The draft 'Pune Declaration', read out at the Convention noted that, “The fundamental character of our Constitution is sought to be beaten out of shape and the very social fabric of our society is sought to be destroyed to perpetuate rule by a fundamentalist-religious-corporate cabal. Our journey to establish a democratic socialist politics in this country faces major challenges today as the crisis of capitalism in developed world is looking for new markets and hobnobbing with the corporate and political elite of our country to establish crony capitalism here. In last twenty years two major political camps (UPA and NDA) have come in unison to implement the agenda of neo-liberal capitalism and most of the political parties have come to accept that. This needs to change and only people's movements in collaboration with other political forces can do that.” [an abstract from the Pune Declaration to be finalised and circulated] Significant Resolutions Passed

The Convention passed the following resolutions : condemning and demanding punishment for those responsible for the atrocities against dalits and adivasis and bring changes in SC/ST Act making it more effective; demanding punishment for murderers of Mohsin Sheikh and Narendra Dabholkar; Centre to stop immediately the increase in height of Sardar Sarovar Dam and also stop illegal construction of Statue of Unity without statutory clearances; government must take action against illegal land grab by thermal power plants in Eastern MP and other places; need for protection for RTI activists and punishment to those responsible for death of several RTIS activists in past many years and enact Whistleblowers Protection Act soo; stop illegal evictions in cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and implement Rajiv Awas Yojana; ensure fair prices for farm produce and appropriate compensation to farmers for crop failure due to natural disasters; social security for migrant and unorganized sector workers and roll back changes to labour laws derecognising right to form union and promoting hire and fire practices; rolling back of significant change in labour laws, land laws, state highway act and halting of illegal mining in Rajasthan; Stop amendments to the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act in Jharkhand; withdraw false cases against journalists in rural areas of Madhya Pradesh; withdraw field trial of GM cops at Rahuri Krishi Visyapeeth in Maharashtra; implement Prohibition Act of 1956 in Orissa and ensure prohibition across the country; cancel proposed dam on Painganga river in Yavatmal and many others.

National Fishworkers Forum in a resolution demanded enactment of 'Fishers Rights Act' on line of Forest Rights Act, strict implementation of CRZ notification and enactment of CRZ Act to ensure stopping illegal constructions, rampant violations in name of creating infrastructure for tourism promotion and a large number of thermal & nuclear power plants and PCPIRs alongside the coast of India. The Convention also demanded that Indian government initiate steps to withdraw death sentence awarded to five fishermen from Tamilnadu in Sri Lanka and ensure immediate release. The Convention condemned large scale land grab by Indian corporations in African countries and committing of human rights violations in garb of business promotion and trade. The Convention expressed solidarity with the ongoing, 'Standing Struggle' of Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha in front of Kerala Secretariat for last 120 days demanding land rights and their right to dignified livelihood. The Convention demanded withdrawal of 'coal ordinance' which is in complete violation of the recommendation of the SC judgment canceling the licenses given to many corporate houses. It also demanded that government must recover huge loans given by the public sector banks to these corporations, who must not be allowed to default, nor be sanctioned new loans or allotted new coal blocks.

Forthcoming Actions, Events, Conventions and Programmes A number of actions and programmes were finalised after intensive discussion over the course of three days in 15 thematic group discussions and plenary sessions. It was decided that, NAPM would mobilise for the massive convergence of people's movements on December 2nd in Delhi protesting move by NDA government to amend the Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement and Rehabilitation and Transparency in Acquisition Act, 2013, NREGA, RTI Act, Forest Rights Act, NGT Act, EIA & CRZ Notification, labour laws and so on. Rally would demand implementation of the National Food Security Act, new Land Act, NREGA, Rajeev Awas Yojana in its current form and enactment of laws to ensure decent pension to all; hold programmes across the country opposing changes to new land act before the commencement of Winter Session of Parliament; participate in the Coastal yatra from Mangalore to Trivandrum starting from November 21st organised by National Fishworkers Forum; support public hearing on domestic workers in Delhi on November 11; participate in 30th anniversary programmes organised by Bhopal gas disaster survivors; join ongoing rashtriya shiksha yatra demanding education for all and common schooling system; join 24th November porgramme by Maharashtra organisations at Chaitya Bhumi to defend democratic principles and rights enshrined in Constitution; campaign against GM field trails in Maharashtra; join ongoing 100 days foot march demanding prohibition in Tamilnadu; participate and support 29-30 November national convention in defence of democracy in Dhinkia, Orissa; join Janjagran rally on January 30, 2015 in Odisha demanding implementation of Prohibition Act 1956;

Join Repeal AFSPA yatra organised by Save Sharmila Solidarity campaign; take part in religious harmony yatra and programmes organised by Khudai Khidmatgar participate and support many other events and programmes to be organised by affiliated organisations and fraternal networks. Organise regional and national meeting on Industrial Corridors and start campaigns to protect agricultural land and conserve environment; organise a national tribunal on atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis; 3 day national convention on violence and discrimination against women and sexual minorities. Organise five regional and one national level yuva shivirs in coming year with specific focus on political training of youths and establish Janvikas Kendras in each of the regions Activate in next six months working groups on key issues concerning people's movements, as was decided at Thrissur Convention in 2012. organise 'Lawyers for Social Justice' programme in every major states and constitute lawyers team to support ongoing struggles and fight fabricated cases against activists; organise regional and national meetings on electoral reforms to push for proportional representation system; establish a working group on finance to ensure greater accountability and transparency on Indian banks development and infrastructure funding; work to create effective channels of communications to increase outreach and dialogue with its membership and public at large using all existing forms of communications (old and new both) and cultural expressions.

Constitution of New National Committee

10th biennial National Convention also reconstituted the National Committee, comprising of Advisers, National Conveners and National Organisers. The new team has the following members : Advisers : Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Dr. B.D. Sharma, Dr. Binayak Sen, P Chennaiah, Geetha Ramakrishnan, Sister Celia, Anand Mazgaonkar and Dr. Sandeep Pandey National Conveners : Prafulla Samantara & Lingraj Azad (Odisha), Dr. Sunilam (Madhya Pradesh), Gabriele Dietrich (Tamilnadu), Suniti S R (Maharashtra), Arundhati Dhuru (Uttara Pradesh), Sujato Bhadra & Amitava Mitra (West Bengal), Dayamani Barla (Jharkhand), C R Neelakandan (Kerala), Ramakrishnam Raju (Andhra Pradesh), Kamayani Swami & Mahendra Yadav (Bihar), Krishnakant (Gujarat), Kailash Meena (Rajasthan), Rajendra Ravi & Madhuresh Kumar (Delhi), Rukmini V P (Karnataka) and Faisal Khan (Haryana). Gurwant Singh and Ko Sugumaran will be contact points for the state of Punjab and Pondicherry respectively. National Organisers : The newly constituted National Conveners Team also appointed Meera (Madhya Pradesh), Kanika Sharma (Delhi) and Jabar Singh (Uttarakhand) as national organisers. National Committee will co-opt more members in its next meetings to ensure broader regional, community, religious and thematic representations to be able to respond to the new challenges and implement the programmes as decided. A Jan Sahyogi manch consisting of eminent supporters and professionals will be created who would support the various initiatives and programmes of the alliance.

Medha Patkar, thanked the outgoing national convening team and while congratulating the new team said that “in the next two years we must strive to put halt to the corporate plunder of land, water, forests, minerals, fightback brazen attack on secular and plural framework of society, on freedom of expression and criminalisation of dissent, and arrest the growth of fundamentalist forces and rising violence against dalits, adivasis, women and minorities. There is a growing need to work for bringing credible political and electoral reforms to break the increased hegemony of business over politics and ensure proportionate representation to various sections and communities and work for building alternative politics in the country.” She also added that NAPM must continue to support the genuine efforts for building a political alternative in the country towards achieving the goal of democratic socialist republic. She expressed her hope that new team will carry forward the mandate given to it by this convention in all its earnestness. Lastly, new convening team and NAPM Maharashtra thanked all the youth volunteers and members of people's movements, its supporters and workers who managed the venue, residences, meeting places etc. It also expressed its gratitude to the members of the fraternal alliances - National Fishworkers Forum, National Campaign for People's Right to Information, All India Forum on Right to Education, New Trade Union Initiative, Right to Food Campaign, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Samajwadi Samagam, Jan Sawasthya Abhiyan, PIPFPD, PSAARC and others who attended the convention and helped chart future programmes and stratgies. The convention ended with the songs of freedom and hope from Kabir Kala Manch, Salsabeel School children and others.

With Warm Regards, M.Ilango Ex. M.L.A. Chairperson , National Fishworkers' Forum (NFF), Member, Co-Ordination Committee of World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP), #1, Ingasi Maistry Street , Pondicherry - 605001 , INDIA. Mobile: 09345455122 , 08148155122 ; Resi: 0413 - 2221140

An Appeal for Voluntary Contribution to PMARC for Dalits Media Advocacy!

Peoples Media Advocacy and Resources Centre- PMARC

Dear Friends Greetings from PMARC!

It is very alerting situation before PMARC & whole initiative of “Dalits Media Advocacy” which compelled us to write you all for your voluntary contribution. Saving Dalits Media Advocacy initiative is our collective responsibility. PMARC is only platform across the country which has initiated Dalit Media Advocacy exclusively. Without support from you all, civil society, empowered section of Dalits, Dalits national & International networks & platform it is not possible for us to continue our intervention further. It is responsibility of each one of us as an individual to take up this challenge and do as maximum possible from your end. We are appealing you all and each one personally, individually & organizationally for voluntary support/ contribution of funds to Peoples Media Advocacy & Resources Centre- PMARC as it is suffering acute crises of resources. You all may know that since its inception on 2007, PMARC is working fully as volunteer organization without any outside support or project. No time is left out. It is already too late!

Now we are overburdened with responsibility due to unlimited expectation and huge debt which is compelling us to step down all our Dalits Media Advocacy related activities! So far we were managing all our activities from our own hard earned working funds generated from small media related assignments. In our journey of about eight years PMARC has emerged as a premium and exclusive platform which is working on the issue of “Dalits Media Advocacy” to create awareness and to sensitize mainstream media and civil society on Dalits issues and their concerns. Our first media intervention was daily news monitoring and dissemination through our powerful E Group “Dalit Media Watch" we have reached more than 3.5 lakh people across the world covering members from more than 72 countries. We have around 25 thousand members in our E group along with 200 E groups are direct member in our group. Since2007 we have disseminated 350 news updates average per year which is a significant intervention with strong consistency. Our news updates are regularly monitored by most of the National Commissions including NHRC of India which has registered more than 4000 cases based on our news updates. Many more universities national & International, researchers, national & International human rights commissions, organizations are using our data base.

PMARC has become a core resources center for journalists from mainstream media and intellectuals and we are facilitating them on regular basis. From last four years PMARC has made more than 100 short profile base documentary films on Dalit activists focused on their success, challenges and lacunas before them as part of our “DALIT SPEAKS !” series. We have made documentaries for Dalit movements and organization voluntarily. We have also provided informal orientation on Dalits Media Advocacy to 150 small Dalit grass root activist/ leaders over eight years. During last eight years PMARC has developed a small resources center, a small highly professional team with an audio video setup& crew. We have also developed a network of media associates volunteer across the country on Dalits Media Advocacy.

Now we are facing challenges on five fronts: 1. To run our office (Rent Rs. 10,000 per month) 2. Our communication & Internet expense (Rs.15, 000 per month). 3. Travel for our team (Rs. 25,000 per month) 4. For office automations and website/ portal expense. 5. Honorarium for four member fulltime volunteers team.

Dear Friends! It is our collective responsibility to support and promote Dalits Media Advocacy. We appeal to you all and each one personally, individually & organizationally for voluntary support/ contribution to PMARC as it is the only platform addressing the issues of Dalits Media Advocacy which is facing acute crisis of resources. Your any form or level of support (minimum or maximum) will strengthen, encourage and motivate us for moving forward. Please do forward/ share this appeal with your friends and within network and organization to support our initiative. You could transfer funds by RTGS or send your Cheque / DD to our office at address given below. We will release acknowledgement list after some time in public. Now our both accounts are working properly.

Our Account Details : PEOPLES MEDIA ADVOCACY & RESOURCES CENTRE-PMARC A/C NO. 0302010179713 United Bank of India IFSC code: UTBI0HZG509 HAZRATGANJ, Lucknow (UP) INDIA


Our Office Add: ARUN KHOTE, Chief Executive PEOPLES MEDIA ADVOCACY & RESOURCES CENTRE-PMARC 4A/98, VISHAL KHAND-4, GOMTINAGAR LUCKNOW-226010 (UP) INDIA Mob: 91#7703047590 / 91#7785009089

With Great Hope! (ARUN KHOTE) Chief Executive PMARC 91#7703047590

HONG KONG: Concern about the use of police excessive force and abuse

Image courtesy: Occupy Central with Love and Peace

(Hong Kong, October15, 2014) The Asian Human Rights Commission expressed shock and sadness at the use of police excessive force/abuse as shown in amateur video footage now available to the public on YouTube. It is apparent that the arrested person was taken to a place away from others for the purpose of being beaten by police officers. Meanwhile, a concerned group has established a dedicated hotline for witnesses or victims of police excessive force and abuse during the peaceful demonstrations by students and other pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong. The Hotline number is 9167 7091

The use of excessive force and abuse of power on peaceful demonstrators greatly damages the image of the police as well as the civil administration in Hong Kong. Under international law, and the laws of Hong Kong, the use of such excessive force is illegal and is not permitted under any circumstances. In legal terms the proper term for such use of excessive force is ‘torture’. The use of torture is a serious crime in Hong Kong, carrying a sentence of life imprisonment against anyone who has been convicted of having committed such an offence.

The Hong Kong administrative authorities and the legal authorities should immediately conduct investigations into allegations of excessive use of force by the police or any other person acting under the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of, a public official or any other persons acting in an official capacity. All those who have engaged in such acts should be arrested and brought before the law as early as possible.

Acts of using excessive force, unless immediately stopped could spread and be used on a wide scale. Therefore, it is the duty of the authorities to act as urgently as possible to bring the perpetrators of this crime before the courts and immediately initiate the prosecution of such offenders. The Asian Human Rights Commission offers sympathies and support to the victims of such excessive force and abuse of police powers.

Govt accepts no records of 475 clinical trials in ongoing case of illegal drug trials in SC

October 8th, 2014 , New Delhi/ Indore : The writ petition filed by Swasthya Adhikar Manch in February 2012, came up for 10th hearing today before the three judge bench of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice H.L Dattu, Justice S.A Bobde and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre heard the matter. In the last hearing, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had directed the Petitioners to file an reply affidavit based on a comprehensive affidavit filed by Secretary Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in respect to the petitioners objection with regard to non-compliance of previous orders dated 21.10.2013 and 10.03.2013 on different aspects concerning Clinical trials of New Chemical Entities.

The petitioners Swasthya Adhikar manch (SAM) filed its response to the reply filed by MOHFW. In the response SAM has stated that Ministry has not given complete information about 17778 (3458 deaths and 14320 SAEs) which has taken place from January 2005 to December 2013 except stating that in 89 cases compensation has been paid. The Ministry has, however, not disclosed the names of persons who have died and to whom compensation has been paid. Between January 2005 to December 2013, 14320 SAEs and 3458 death have occurred, but no particulars of persons have been provided. The Ministry has also not given any detail of payment of compensation paid to the SAEs. The MOHFW has contended that there were no rules regarding compensation, therefore compensation has not been paid.

The petitioner Swasthya Adhikar Manch has seriously questioned the said stand taken by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW). The petitioner also mentioned in its response that, out of 475 NCEs of, which clinical trials had taken place between January 2005 to December 2012, neither the details of 17 NCEs which have been approved nor the details of remaining 458 have been provided. Response of ministry is that, they do not have any records of 475 clinical trials. This fact speaks volumes about causal and negligent manner in which ministry was acting. Further it also shows that DCGI was functioning in collusion with drug industries. The petitioner has also pointed out that the three parameters namely, risk versus benefits, innovations versus existing therapy and unmet need to the Indian population have not been followed in letter and spirit both by technical committee and apex committee. In a routine way the technical committee had approved 76 clinical trials out of 78 NCEs plus 43 fresh proposals, a total 119 trials in its sixteenth meeting on 10th July 2014 within few hours. It is incomprehensible that the detailed parameters of 78 NCEs could have been analyzed scientifically in one day. The approval granted by technical committee was only an eyewash. Further, the said Technical Committee includes a member – Prof. Ranjit Roy Chaudhary, who has conflict of interest as he is responsible as head of Apollo Hospital's Education and Research Foundation (AHERF) for conducting over 300 global clinical trials. It is also important that Dr. Jagdish Prasad, who is Chairman of the Technical Committee is also a member of the Apex Committee and, therefore, compromises with the independent evaluation by the Apex Committee. The Apex Committee has simply followed what the Technical Committee has decided without independent application of mind.

The MOHFW has also not given details of deaths and SAEs of Bhopal gas victims. The Govt. of Madhya Pradesh has also not taken any concrete action on unethical clinical trials done in M.Y hospital of Indore despite the departmental enquiry ordered by Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh dated 17th February 2012. The bench of Supreme Court observed that matter requires detailed hearing and hence fixed it in second week of January 2015 on a non-miscellaneous day for final hearing. Sanjay Parikh appeared for Swasthya Adhikar Manch. He also represented the Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) and the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangarsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS) who are interveners in this case. Swasthya Adhikar Manch has been emphasizing that the clinical trial of NCEs is not in public interest or in the interest of the country and that the trials vis-a-vis NCEs have been conducted without following the prescribed procedure and in collusion with the drug companies.

AmulyaNidhi (9891631358/09425311547/) Chinmay Mishra (9893278855) - SAM Dattatraya Taras - Drug Trial Peedit Sangh - 9765410491 N.D.Jayaprakash (9968014630) - BGPSSS, Abdul Jabbar (9406511720) - BGPMUS Visit -

High Level Committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change walks out of Public Consultation in Bangalore

Mr. T. S. R. Subramanian

The High Level Committee headed by Mr. T. S. R. Subramanian, former Union Cabinet Secretary, constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change to review environment, pollution control and forest conservation laws, invited the public at large for a consultation between 12 and 1.30 pm today (27th September) at Vikas Soudha, the high security office complex of the Government of Karnataka. Advertisements to this effect had been issued by the Karnataka Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment in various newspapers on 21st September 2014, followed up by various press releases inviting the public to interact with the Committee. When various individuals and representatives of public interest environmental and social action groups turned up for the meeting, the police prevented their entry at the gates. It was only following a spot protest that the police consented to allow them to participate in the consultation. Despite this indignifying experience, all who gathered proceeded to the meeting hall with the intent of engaging with the High Level Committee.

The meeting commenced with introductory remarks by the Chairperson Mr. Subramanian. Broadly, he shared that the intent of the Committee was to hear views from across India on the type and nature of changes that were required in the environmental and forest protection laws. He stated that the Committee had the mandate of the Government to propose necessary changes that would help improve the quality of life and environment. But he said the need to ensure develop was primary, as the country was very poor (over 80% were poor he claimed) and thereby it is found essential to streamline environmental clearance processes that thwarted growth. Mr. Subramanian also shared that it was a matter of concern to the Government that several development projects were getting mired in litigation on environmental grounds, leading to needless delays. Concluding his introductory remarks he shared that the Committee is not in any manner guided by the Ministry and their recommendatory report would be submitted to the Union Government. The Committee's proceeding, he clarified, were not open to the public, unless the committee decided to engage with the public. Responding to a question, Mr. Subramanian said that nothing that was submitted to the Committee would be shared with anybody, and that only the report would be submitted to the Government. Mr. Subramanian also said that the Ministry never proposed a public consultation exercise, but he had suggested this should take place.

Mr. K. N. Bhat, Senior Advocate and a member of the Committee, shared that there were a variety of submissions the Committee had received and each of this would be considered. He aired that environment and development should go side by side and the objectives of the laws if not found sufficient to address current needs, need for their review exists. The industry in particular, he said, had raised concerns over delays in environmental and forest clearances when the Committee met with them. On these introductory notes Mr. Subramanian asked the members of the public to suggest changes to the existing environmental law framework. Officials assisting the Committee did not provide any rationale for the Ministry proposing changes to existing laws. The Committee also did not have any procedure, excepting online submissions of opinions on the Ministry's website (limited to 1000 words). When the turn of the public came, a submission was made by the Karnataka Planters Association about procedural difficulties in securing forest clearance and conforming with pollution control norms, and sought amendments for the benefit of plantations. Thereafter, Mr. A. C. F. Anand, an RTI Activist, suggested that all environmental laws must be translated so that it would be understood by all and thus the compliance rates improved.

Speaking next, Mr. Leo F. Saldanha of Environment Support Group requested the Committee to address the basis for its functioning, and whethere the TOR constituting the Committee was sufficient for such a massive and onerous task that involved fundamentally reviewing all environmental laws that were intricately linked to Right to Life, Clean Environment and Livelihoods. He sought to know what it meant, as is main TOR, “"(t)o recomment specific amendments needed in each of these Acts so as to bring them in line with current requirements to meet objectives". Mr. Subramanian responded that neither he nor any other members of the Committee were influenced by the TOR in any manner and that they worked per their own understanding of the mandate given to them by the Government. But when Saldanha pressed to know how a Committee consisting of high ranking former civil servants, a former Judge and a Senior Advocate could at all have agreed to such vague terms, Mr. Subramanian reacted dismissively. He claimed that this was a non-substantive issue and sought to move on to hear others. Saldanha argued that it is disturbing that Mr. Subramanian unilaterally rules a legitimate concern over vague and weak TORs as being of trivial concern, when, in fact, it would have been fit and proper for the Committee to have first explained in the interest of public accountability and transparency how they found the terms rationale and acceptable to them. And in case the terms were acceptable, then the High Level Committee, unshackled as it were by the bureaucratic norms of the Ministry, could have provided a clear note on the nature of the reforms being considered and also explicated on the procedure of consulting and receiving criticisms from various sectors, peoples, regions, geographies, etc.

Mr. Vinay Sreenivasa of Alternative Law Forum submitted that the process by which the Committee was conducting the consultation was rather opaque. The vague TOR and the fact that the Committee was constituted by a Government that sought to belittle the importance of the National Wildlife Board and rush pet projects through the clearance mechanism, seemed to suggest the entire exercise appeared to be merely ritualistic. Ms. Aruna Chandrasekhar of Amnesty International - India sought to know what specific amendments were being proposed or demanded by industry/corporate sectors, and requested the Committee put it all out. But Mr. Subramanian waved away this request too. Prof. Puttuswamy wanted to know how a High Level Committee sought to improve environmental laws when notifications of Ministry were being issued to dilute the laws. To which Mr. Subramanian responded saying he is not a “Postman” for the Ministry. Ms. Priti Rao, meanwhile, asked for decentralised solid waste management. Mr. Vijayan Menon shared that even though he was not an official, he had walked into the Committee's immediately preceding engagement with Government officials where a clear set of amendments were being proposed. He expressed surprise that this presentation was not being made for the benefit of the general public.

Ms. Bhargavi Rao of Environment Support Group wanted to know how law could be reformed when forest officials are unaware of biodiversity protection laws that had been passed over two decades ago and asserted that this rushed exercise in reviewing environmental laws had all the trappings of making light of people's fundamental rights and concerns. Justice A. K. Srivatsav (Retd. Judge of the Delhi High Court) and a Member of the High Level Committee stated at this juncture that the public must have confidence in a Committee in which a senior retired Judge is a member. By which time Mr. Subramanian had remarked several times that the public was wasting the Committee's time and there was no point continuing with this procedure. Several who had gathered protested such an assessment by the Chairman of the High Level Committee. Mr. Srinivas of Mavallipura sought to speak, saying he represents a community impacted by mal-development and waste dumping in his village, and he too was brushed aside. At this point, Mr. Subramanian got up and said “We will end the joke here!” and walked out. He was followed by the rest of the Committee.

When Mr. Subramanian walked out, it was 1 pm. Members of the common public who had travelled great distances to engage with the Committee protested Mr. Subramanian taking them for granted and dismissing their views as of trivial concern. They demanded that the Committee return to hear the public and as advertised remained in the Hall till 1.30 pm. Neither did the High Level Committee return, nor did any official of the Ministry of Environment and Forests or Karnataka Environment Department come back to explain to the public why the High Level Committee had behaved in this manner. In fact, throughout the engagement with the public, not one Karnataka Government official was present in the Hall. The undersigned are deeply disturbed by the manner in which the T. S. R. Subramanian headed High Level Committee has treated this public consultation process. The undersigned demand that the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change call off this exercise as it has all the markings of being a ritual exercise. In its place the undersigned demand that the Ministry must constitute a Committee that has a clear rationale for reform and Terms of Reference that are democratic, consultative and transparent. In particular, the following demands are made:

Environment Ministry must first come out with a White Paper discussing the nature of the reforms that it proposes in environmental, forest conservation and pollution control laws. On the basis of such a Paper, an accessible Committee must be constituted that would hear peoples responses across the biologically, culturally and linguistically diverse country and also from various sectors equally. The membership of the Committee should be so constituted that it would reflect diverse concerns and sectos, and in particular ensure that members conversant with tribal and human rights, environmental management, conservation biologists, biodiversity, risk assessment, planning, etc., and not merely ex-bureaucrats or members of the legal fraternity were included Particularly important is the need to ensure there is adequate representation of women on the High Level Committee, which presently is constituted only of men.

The process of the consultation to be followed has to be meaningful and conform with Principle of Prior and Informed Consent, even if this is not a consenting process. The timeline for the Consultation mechanism for such a critical review has to be reasonable as laws sought to amended, or tweaked, fundamentally affect theRight to Life and Livelihoods, and Right to Clean Environment. The entire process has to be transparent, all meetings must be recorded publicly, none of the deliberations must be in camera (as it appears to be the case now), and all proceedings, submissions, minutes and reports must be in the public domain. Adequate facilities must be made to ensure that anyone interested can participated with dignity and without being inhibited by language or geographical location. To ensure this, the process must be devolved by enlisting the support of State and Local Governments.

Signatories: Mr. Leo Saldanha; Environment Support Group, Cell: 9448377403 Mr. Vinay Sreenivasa; Alternative Law Forum. Cell: 9880595032 Ms. Bhargavi Rao; Environment Support Group; Cell: 9448377401 Ms. Aarthi Sridhar; Dakshin Foundation, Cell: 9900113216 Mr. Vijayan Menon; Mr. Davis Thomas; Environment Support Group; Cell: 9036180914 Ms. Swapna; Ms. Priti Rao; Ms. Padma Ashok; Save Tiger, Mr. Ashok Hallur; Mr. Rajeev Mankotia; Mr. Sandesh Udyawar; Ms. Marianne Manuel; Dakshin Foundation, Ms. Shivani Shah; Greenpeace; Mr. Sohan Pavulari; Ms. Sangeetha Kadur; Mr. Bhaskar Bhatt; Mr. Rohan Kini; Mr. K.N. Somashekar; Mr. A.C.F. Anand; Ms. Shashikala Iyer; Environment Support Group; Mr. Leon Louis; Environment Support Group; Mr. Mallesh K.R; Environment Support Group;

Press Statement on Mr. Nariman's Speech on "Minorities at Cross Roads"

Sep 15, 2014

Fali S. Nariman

CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development (CBCI-OJPD) sees in Mr. Fali S Nariman’s speech a ray of hope for a secure future of minorities in India. At the very outset, the CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development congratulates on his brave words and on his choice “to be unpopular than to be untruthful.” Mr. Nariman’s speech Minorities at Cross Roads: Comments on Judicial Pronouncements, on 12 September 2014, has indeed nurtured new hopes in the hearts of the minority communities in India. Citing from history instances of ‘forceful suppression and eradication’, ‘coercive or hostile toleration’, and ‘voluntary or involuntary assimilation or absorption’ Mr. Nariman has commended the Constitution of India for having consciously adopted – true to Indian ethos –Affirmative action for protection and preservation as the only tenable and viable way for the protection of minorities and their rights and freedoms the true.

The JPD Office appreciates Mr. Nariman for holding the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) guilty of keeping minorities “at the cross-roads” today by its failure to take effective steps to protect them. Further, He has also urged NCM to issue Press Statements or file criminal complaints regarding diatribes against minorities. Another option that he placed before NCM is to initiate Court processes against whoever indulges in hate speech or vilification of minorities. Mr. Nariman has reiterated in his speech the sacred obligation of protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of minorities. To buttress his point he quoted Chief Justice S.R. Das who had said in 1959 in his peroration to the judgment regarding Kerala Education Bill: “Our Constitution accordingly recognises our sacred obligation to the minorities.”

Laudable indeed is Mr Nariman’s effort to drive home a salient point, which he ably does by quoting Justice Venkatarama Aiyar, one of the Judges on the bench that gave its verdict in the Kerala Education Bill case: “But what is the policy behind Art.30(1)? As I conceive it, it is that it should not be in the power of the majority in a State to destroy or to impair the rights of the minorities, religious or linguistic. CBCI-OJPD agrees with Mr. Nariman when he says: “Minority rights are still regarded by the Courts as fundamental rights”. Further, the CBCI Office equally endorses his proposal both to the minority community that it endeavour “to carry the majority with it” and to the majority that it “instil a sense of confidence in the minorities”.

Rev Dr Charles Irudayam Executive Secretary CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development New Delhi – 11000

THAILAND: Joint statement on the threats to the Wang Saphung community

Aug 30, 2014

Thai Army

Protection International and the Asian Human Rights Commission are seriously concerned about the Royal Thai Army’s latest intervention in the conflict between the Wang Saphung community in Loei Province with a neighbouring gold and copper mine. On Monday, 25 August, the Wang Saphung community organization, the Khon Rak Ban Kerd Group (KBRK), invited community members to take part in a campaign in the village on the following day. This activity was aimed at restating the KBRK’s community-based support at a time when KBRK members are facing judicial harassment and death threats. Yet, at 6:00 am on Tuesday, 26 August, the Army came out of their camp which had been set-up in the village temple, and went to confiscate the audio sound system belonging to Mr. Samai Pakmee, who is village headman of the most affected village in Wang Saphung.

Furthermore, soldiers told Mr. Samai that, “If you still have your campaign walk today, we will use martial law to arrest you.” We see this latest intervention as a concrete example of the Army’s agenda to quell the KBRK’s persistent campaign for community rights. The Wang Saphung community has made many sacrifices and demonstrated tremendous perseverance in their campaign against the copper mine and its nefarious consequences on the community’s well-being. The community has had to mobilise its own assets (i.e., travel to the Land Registration Office for valuation of their land titles) to pay for bail, as the Ministry of Justice has not yet provided support from the Justice Fund for the Wang Saphung community members facing trial, even though 3 months have passed since they applied for the funding. The community attended an Army-led reconciliation meeting with mining company representatives who simply rejected all the proposals made by the KBRK members. Following this meeting, the community was faced with incomplete media reports stating that the negotiations had come close to an agreement; the KBRK again went through great lengths to correct these media reports by organising its own press conference. Furthermore, despite the death threats and constant Army surveillance, the KBRK perseveres in organising awareness- and support-raising activities within their own community. The villagers as a whole continue their daily economic sacrifices as they forego rubber-tapping to support their community-based campaign. And yet, the Army invokes martial law at 6:00am, bringing all the community’s latest efforts to confront a new obstacle: the Army.

We are gravely concerned that the Army’s suppression of the community’s efforts to mobilise will exacerbate an already tense situation. Moreover, the community finds itself unjustifiably disabled from conducting activities to demonstrate their crucial support for the KBRK at a time when its leading members are facing numerous impediments to their work. If the community is prevented from rallying internal support for its own campaign, the community will find it impossible to demonstrate its continued opposition to the mining company and to counter continuing media speculation that the conflict is soon to be resolved. Preventing the Wang Saphung community from self-organising internal meetings disempowers the KBRK, and the community as a whole.

Therefore we demand that the Royal Thai Army: Refrain from intimidation, harassment or any actions that prevent the KRBK from organising activities to defend their community rights and to continue their community’s campaign; Coordinate with the Royal Thai Police, National Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Interior and other relevant authorities to conduct an investigation into both the 15 May attack and surrounding irregularities which facilitated the attack’s circumstances in order to hold those responsible to account; and Promote diffusion of tensions by allowing the most vulnerable party in this conflict – the community – to organise support for proposals and activities which work towards a durable resolution of the conflict.

We demand that the Ministry of Justice: Ensure that its Department of Rights and Liberties is working with the Wang Saphung community to establish preventive security measures for community leaders under death threat, as already requested by the community; and Immediately provide support from the Justice Fund to all Wang Saphung community members who are facing trials.

Drop trumped-up charges against human rights defenders Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Nguyen Van Minh

Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Nguyen Van Minh

PARIS-GENEVA, August 25, 2014 (Observatory & VCHR) - The Vietnamese Government must drop all charges against human rights defenders Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Nguyen Van Minh and immediately release them, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture - OMCT) together with the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) said today. On August 26, 2014 at 7:30 am, Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang, 50, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, 28, and Mr. Nguyen Van Minh, 34, will appear at the Dong Thap Provincial People’s Court. They are currently detained in An Binh Commune, Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province. The three are charged under Article 245, paragraph 2, of the Criminal Code for “causing public disorder”. If convicted, they face between two and seven years in prison.

“The harassment, arbitrary arrest, and unjust prosecution of Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, and Nguyen Van Minh follow an all-too-familiar script that illustrates Viet Nam’s failure to comply with its international human rights obligations”, said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. “The international community must increase pressure on Viet Nam to obtain the release of Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Nguyen Van Minh as well as of the dozens of human rights defenders who remain incarcerated”, OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock urged.

On February 11, 2014, police in Lap Vo District, Dong Thap Province, severely beat Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang and arbitrarily detained her along with 20 other activists, including bloggers, members of the Hoa Hao Buddhist sect, and former political prisoners, as they were travelling from Ho Chi Minh City to Dong Thap Province to visit former political prisoner Nguyen Bac Truyen and his wife. Two days earlier, police had raided the couple’s home and taken Truyen into custody. Eighteen of the 21 arrested were released on February 12. However, Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Mr. Nguyen Van Minh remained in detention. The three are known for their peaceful human rights activities, calling in particular for religious freedom, the release of political prisoners, and for support to victims of land confiscation.

On March 10, 2014, police in Lap Vo District summoned five members of the group to try and force them to sign false statements that would corroborate the charges against Bui Thi Minh Hang. Despite the police coercion, the five refused to sign the fabricated statements. “The Vietnamese Government has, once again, resorted to trumped-up criminal charges to crack down on human rights defenders. For the second time in less than three years, authorities have accused Bui Thi Minh Hang of ‘causing public disorder’”, said VCHR President Vo Van Ai. “This shows that the Vietnamese Government has not changed its ways and Hanoi’s repression of human rights defenders continues unabated - despite much rhetoric to the contrary in international fora”, he added.

In the past, Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang was harassed for posting information on human rights violations in Viet Nam online, staging peaceful demonstrations to protest arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, and providing support for victims of land confiscation. On November 27, 2011, police in Ho Chi Minh City arrested her on charges of “causing public disorder” for participating in a protest against the arrests of peaceful protesters in Hanoi earlier that morning. The next day, the Hanoi People’s Committee condemned her to a two-year administrative detention in the notorious Thanh Ha “rehabilitation camp” in Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, under Ordinance 44, which allows for detention without trial. Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang was released in June 2012 following international pressure.

For more information, please contact: - VCHR: Penelope Faulkner (Vietnamese/English) - Tel: +33 1 45 98 30 85 - FIDH: Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66 88 6117722 (Bangkok) / Audrey Couprie (French/English/Spanish) - Tel: +33 6 48 05 91 57 (Paris) / Arthur Manet (French/English/Spanish) - Tel: +33 6 72 28 42 94 (Paris) - OMCT: Delphine Reculeau / Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui (French/English/Spanish) - Tel: +41 22 809 49 39 (Geneva)

Environmental Justice Sunday on 17 August

Poster of enviromental justice

Greetings of peace!

St. John Paul II said: “An education in ecological responsibility is urgent: responsibility for oneself, for others, and for the earth.” In affirmation and fulfilment of St. John Paul II’s suggestion, the CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development (CBCI-OJPD) has chosen Environmental Justice as the theme of Justice Sunday that will be observed on 17 August, coming Sunday by Catholic Church in India.

Over the last few decades, popes have raised enough caution about the perils related to environmental degradation and destruction. Already in 1971, Pope Paul VI warned: “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation.” St. John Paul II, in his Peace Day Message 1990, reiterated that the ecological crisis is a common responsibility and a moral problem. Pope Francis calls environmental exploitation a sin of modern times. While urging the world to safeguard Creation, Pope Francis rightly cautions us: “Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this! …Creation never forgives!”

Environmental crisis is rising to a crescendo in India too. Some of the unmistakable signs of the environmental crisis are the most recent Orissa floods that have affected millions of people and the June 2013 floods and landslides in Uttarkhand. Experts aver that these natural disasters are manmade; only the construction of too many dams in Uttarkhand and the indiscriminate felling of trees, large-scale destruction of mangroves and the wanton mining activities in Orissa are to be blamed for such crisis.

Hence CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development (CBCI-OJPD) proposes ecological responsibility and environmental justice as suitable and effective remedies to the crisis. It has also brought out an educative material, in English and Hindi, that will help the congregations understand that illegal mining, deforestation, some mega projects, pollution of water, air and land are destructive of ecology. It is also hoped that the Justice Sunday observance this year will foster in the faithful an enduring commitment to environmental justice and enable them to stand in solidarity with all the climate refugees as well as environmental activists.

Let us do the best we can to safeguard and save the only one home that we all have: the planet earth. Kindly see the attached files for further reading and information. May I reguest you to publish this news in your esteemed journals and e-news letters.

Thanking you for your cooperation, Rev Dr Charles Irudayam Executive Secretary CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development New Delhi, India

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