Manipur rights panel dysfunctional since 2010

Ten states rights commissions are without full-fledged chairpersons

trithesh

Trithesh Nandan | March 26, 2013



Even as the human rights situation in Manipur has taken a turn for the worse in the recent years, the state human rights commission has been without a chairperson and thus dysfunctional since May 2010.

“The state human rights body is presently in the defunct state. It is duty of the state to appoint a chairperson and member/s and make the organisation functional but nothing is happening on this front,” says a top official who did not wish to be named.

Jinine Laishramcha, convenor, NE Human Rights Defenders Committee (NEHRDC), an organisation working for the betterment of human rights in the state, said, “Without a chairperson and a member in the body, there is only immunity and impunity to the perpetrators of human right violators in Manipur, especially the security forces.”

According to Laishramcha, there have been 28 incidents of extrajudicial executions involving 36 victims from January to November 2012.

However, there is growing pressure on the state government from civil society groups to make the rights panel functional again. “The human rights scenario is not improving and the government response is questionable in this sense,” says Laishramcha, whose petition in 2005 forced the state to appoint a chairperson and a member to the panel. The chairperson and the member retired in 2010.

“Without a proper space for complaining about state atrocities, it will only prolong the agony and trauma among the numerous victims’ families and will retain its negative socio-economy impact on society in general,” adds Laishramcha.

Meanwhile, the situation elsewhere in the country is not very encouraging either. The latest report of the Human Rights Watch took a grim view of it. (Link: http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/india?page=3) Its world report 2013 pointed to abuses by the government and security forces in India’s conflict-torn areas such as Jammu & Kashmir and the northeast.

In Jammu & Kashmir, the state human rights commission is working without a full-fledged chairperson since 2011. “The organisation is functional. (But) without a full-fledged chairperson, it affects organisation’s work. There is need for a full-fledged chairperson,” says an official of the Jammu & Kashmir human rights commission.

Out of 23 states with rights panels, five (Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra) don’t have chairpersons at all, while five others (Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha) are working under acting chairpersons.

The worst case is that of Himachal Pradesh, where the panel has been without a chairperson since 2005, and is non-functional.

“Actually, there is no concern or commitment from the states to create proper human rights commission,” says Suhas Chakma, director of the Delhi-based think tank Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR).

In Madhya Pradesh 13,000 rights-related complaints are received a year –75 percent of which are against the state police, there has been no chairperson at the human rights commission since August 14, 2010. In Karnataka, the rights commission has been without a chairperson since July 25, 2012.

“The different state governments do not want to empower the state human right commissions. In the states where this body exists, it is just in signboard,” says Chakma.

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