PUCL, December 2003

Resolutions of the first Tamil Nadu state conference of human rights defenders

Date: November 28, 2003
Venue: College House, Town Hall Road, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Conference jointly organised by:
- Social Action Movement
- Women’s Movement Against Poverty and Violence – Tamil Nadu
- Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Social Development
- Human Rights Forum for Dalit Liberation
- People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry
- Tribal Association for 5th Schedule Campaign
- Dalit Advocates Association – Tamil Nadu
- Federation of Consumer Organisations – Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry
- Human Rights Advocacy & Research Foundation (HRF)
- SOCO Trust
- People’s Watch –Tamil Nadu

The First State Level Conference of Human Rights Defenders comprising delegates from all over Tamilnadu and mainly comprising human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations on 28th November 2003 convened at College House, Madurai passed the following resolutions:

  1. That the Government of India and the Government of Tamilnadu duly recognize that every grass root activist working for the protection of the rights of children, women, dalits, minorities, tribals, slum dwellers, fisherfolk, unorganized and organized labour, agricultural labour, farmers, sexual minorities, persons suffering from HIV AIDS and persons working to promote the right to education, health. housing, safe environment, food, water, land and common property resources as well as all civil and political rights, of those resisting war and fascism, Globalisation, WTO, IMF - World Bank Projects and Conditionalities, Transnational Corporations and Mega Infrastructural Projects - are human rights defenders and take all necessary steps to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms and undertake to guarantee that all persons under its jurisdiction individually and in association with others are able to enjoy all these rights and freedoms in practice as mandated in Art 2 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders; called the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect Universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms (General Assembly Resolution No. 1985/112 of 14th March 1985).

  2. That this conference condemns the “police raid” under the pretext of a “search” for two accused in a dacoity case of the premises of People’s Watch – Tamilnadu and demands that suitable action be initiated by the Government against the DIG of Police Madurai, Mr.Vijayakumar IPS and the Superintendent of Police Virudunagar Mr.Ravi IPS since this was initiated under their own personal directions ; the conference also strongly condemns the actions of the functionaries of the state by registering false cases, arbitrary arrests of persons, refusing permissions for public meetings and demonstrations, illegal detention and torture etc against numerous human rights defenders in Tamilnadu and calls for the immediate halt to such illegal actions;

  3. That the organizers of this Conference resolve to constitute a state Human Rights Defenders desk which will receive information about violations of the UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders in Tamil Nadu, verify the same, collate this into a report and take all necessary steps both with the Government of Tamil Nadu and Government of India ,National and State Human Rights Institutions and the United Nations Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders to protect all human rights defenders;

  4. That the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu immediately requests the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court to appoint a sitting Judge of the Madras High Court to inquire on a permanent basis into any complaints of harassment of Human Rights Defenders in Tamilnadu, make necessary recommendations in each of the complaints and make public the report of the said inquiry;

  5. That all District Collectors, District Superintendents of Police, all divisional police and revenue officials as well as all state level officers of departments be immediately required to provide all human rights fact finding missions / teams all necessary assistance and information related to the subject matters of the investigations as guaranteed under Article 6 of the UN Human Rights Defenders Declaration;

  6. That all National / State Human Rights Institutions in the light of the onslaught of violations that human rights defenders are forced to face throughout the country, immediately constitute a Special desk to enquire and provide protection to human rights defenders;

  7. That all National / State Human Rights Institutions ensure that in all collaborative efforts that they undertake with civil society organizations and human rights defenders, as well as persons who prefer complaints to them, that each of these individuals as well as organizations are provided adequate protection after a program and that immediate action is initiated against officials responsible for threats and intimidations, direct or covert, on these persons after the collaborative efforts are accomplished;

  8. That the National Commission for Women and the Tamilnadu State Commission for Women which conducted three Public Hearings in Tamilnadu, on 27th October at Virudunagar , on 28th at Madurai and 29th in Chennai ensure that all the cases taken up during the three public hearings are duly protected from any further threats, intimidations, inducements etc, from any law enforcement officials or any other government functionaries, direct or indirect and that each, of the cases are followed-up within a period of three months so as to ensure that the victims are provided speed justice;

  9. That the National Human Rights Commission immediately takes steps to publish and make widely available the full text of the UN Human Rights Defenders Declaration in English as well as all regional languages as mandated in Art 14(a) of the UN Declaration;

  10. That in view of the increasing attacks on human rights defenders throughout India, this conference calls upon Ms.Hina Jilani, the Special Representative of UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders to undertake a visit to India to inquire into these cases and in order to sensitize the Government to protect the rights of human rights defenders;

  11. That the Government of Tamilnadu:
    a. take immediate steps to appoint a Chairperson and two Members to the State Human Rights Commission (which have remained vacant now for more than two years)
    b. take immediate steps to enact provisions for providing statutory powers both to the Tamilnadu State Commission for Women and the State Commission for Minorities as mandated under Art 14(3) of the UN Human Rights Defenders’ Declaration;

  12. That the Government of Tamilnadu ensure that suitable amendments are introduced to Sec 144 (old) Sec151 (new) of the Tamilnadu Police Standing Orders so that whenever inquiries are ordered and conducted by RDOs/ Sub Collectors into human rights violations by functionaries of the State , they are time bound, their reports are made public and that relevant legal actions are initiated without any delay whatsoever;

  13. That in all cases of human rights violations just and adequate reparation for the victims must be paid with the state taking full responsibility for the same and all provisions of law especially Sec 197 CrPC that provide impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations be repealed.

  14. That since Article 13 of the UN Human Rights Defenders Declaration states that everyone has the right to solicit, receive and utilize resources for the express purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Government of India which is contemplating changes to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act take note of these provisions in any proposed amendments to the FCRA;

  15. That since some of the persons killed in encounters in Tamilnadu are human rights defenders and the fact that very encounter killings by the police are not only contrary to law but in each of these cases the directions of the NHRC that after the occurrence of an encounter killing takes place each of these cases have to be inquired by a special police team after the registration of a special FIR against the police have not been carried out by the Government so far, this conference resolves to demand the Government of Tamilnadu take steps to immediately halt the illegal practice of encounter killings and require that the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Raman to inquire into the killing of Venkatesa Pannaiyar in Chennai be expanded to include all the 48 encounter killings that have taken place in Tamilnadu since 1998;

  16. That since many of the persons in judicial custody in Tamilnadu under POTA are human rights defenders, this conference calls upon the Government of India to immediately withdraw POTA which is contrary to all established international standards including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and drop all pending charges under POTA against all persons;

  17. That this conference calls upon the Government of Tamilnadu to immediately ensure the implementation of the Supreme Court relating to arrest / detention in DK Basu Vs State of West Bengal and calls upon the Chief Justice of Madras High Court to initiate suo moto contempt proceedings in all cases where these directions are not adhered to even 7 years of the judgement;

  18. That Sec. 151 CrPC 7(1) (a) CrPC Amendment and Sec. 41 of the Madras City Police Act sanctioning Preventive Arrest be repealed immediately as it is unconstitutional and is most often used against human rights defenders.

  19. That all detention laws including National Security Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, ESMA, TESMA, The TamilNadu (Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Forest Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Slum Grabbers) Act of 1982 must be repealed.

  20. That all human rights defenders in Tamilnadu observe 5th November 2003, as a day of solidarity with Human Rights Defenders .



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