NGOs condemn NHRC, call it ‘silent spectator’ to human rights violations

The logo for the National Human Rights Commission.
| Photo Credit: File

Hosting the 28th bi-annual APF conference at New Delhi on September 20-21 will give the NHRC a fig leaf of international legitimacy to cover up its dismal performance, the civil society groups said

Members of Indian civil society condemn the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) for acceding to the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) request to host 28th Biannual Conference in New Delhi on 20th and 21st September 2023. This happened at a time when NHRC-India has recently been deferred its Accreditation by the Sub Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).

In its edition of May 25th, The Hindu had published that for the second time in a decade, GANHRI deferred the accreditation of NHRC-India citing objections like political interference in appointments, involving police in Human Rights violations probe and poor cooperation with civil societies. The GANHRI’s letter for the same also cited lack of diversity in staff and leadership and Insufficient action to protect marginalised groups, as reasons for the deferment of the accreditation.

“This is deeply troubling as the hosting of this prestigious conference by the NHRC will not aid the important cause of human rights protection in India but only provide the NHRC a fig leaf of international legitimacy to cover up its dismal performance,” a statement from All India Network of NGOs and Individuals working with national and state Human Rights Commission (AiNNI) said.

The members of the AiNNI said that the NHRC has been silent with respect to the situation of human rights defenders in India,. They alleged that NHRC was roused from its slumber to issue notice to the state of Manipur, only after the Supreme Court initiated suo motu action on the complaint of sexual violence against members of the Kuki Zo community. Also, that the NHRC remained silent when homes of Muslims were bulldozed and has never issued a statement regarding the sexual harassment complaints by female wrestlers against a member of parliament belonging to the ruling party.

“The self-chosen role of silent spectator to human rights violations by the state has meant that the functions of the NHRC under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 are sadly under utilized. The NHRC in the past has been an intervenor before the Supreme Court in key cases of human rights violations in the Gujarat riots of 2002. However, today, in any issue of human rights violations, which have come before the Supreme Court with important ramifications, be it the abrogation of Article 370, marriage equality, hate speech or Manipur the NHRC has chosen to maintain an amoral and indeed unconstitutional silence,” the letter said.

The members of the AiNNI added that hosting of the APF conference will be an opportunity for the NHRC to further white wash its sins at global stage.

“We also call upon APF and all chairperson members of NHRIs to see through the politicization of this APF conference by one of your own members whose track record has been extremely poor . An indicator of its poor track record is the fact that the NHRC has functioned without filling in three key positions for the past nine months,” the letter added which was issued by Henri Tiphagne, National Working Secretary, AiNNI.

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