Human Rights

Thanks to Indian clout, NHRC retains A status

The Accreditation Sub Committee of the ICC in its meet in Geneva during 23-27 May has permitted the National Human Rights Commission to retain it’s A status despite opposition from NGOs in the country.

During the process of its accreditation NHRC witnessed protest from NGOs within the country. To some extent there was a possibility that the UN may downgrade the status of National Human Rights Commission in India from being participant to observer. For the first time in its 18 years history as a rights watchdog, the possibility of being downgraded from A status to B status was considered.

The NGOs under the aegis of All India Network of NGOs and individuals working for Human rights Institutions at various levels had raised a question mark on the effectiveness of NHRC that too when National Human Rights Commission looked forward for re-accreditation before the International Co-ordination Committee of National Human Rights Institutions in Geneva. NHRC in its clarification had issued a press note on 26 April that such a report was issued only to mislead and distort the facts. NHRC Spokesman Gauri Pradhan, who participated in the recent annual meet of ICC in Geneva, said in an interview that the accreditation committee will not downgrade NHRC because of its performance and the kind of solidarity expressed by civil society for it. Pradhan further said, “We argued that NHRC is still one of the powerful and active rights watchdogs in the whole South Asia region. There are some minor problems, such as staffing and administration, which will be resolved shortly. Civil society groups and human rights defenders, including the OHCHR-Nepal, had also strongly appealed to the ICC in defence of NHRC’s A status.”

According to the NHRC, the ICC Sub-Committee praised its efforts in holding talks with the deemed members during the Statutory Commission meetings to address issues pertaining to women’s rights, minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The NHRC said, “The ICC has also been informed that the NHRC has extensive formal cooperation with its core groups and expert groups of different stakeholders, including NGOs on many issues of human rights. The Commission has already responded to the ICC that the appointments of the Chairperson and members to the Commission are made by the President of India and this process is considered as the most transparent process of appointment of Chairperson and members of the NHRC’s in the world.”

The ground on which it was presumed that the NHRC may be downgraded were of the corruption charges against its chairman KG Balakrishnan. NHRC’s in-effectiveness in the case of human rights activist Binayak Sen’s sedition case was also questioned by All India Network of NGOs and Individuals (AINNI).  The NHRC of India was established in the year 1993. It is expected of the NHRC to become a role model for the human rights institutionS at all levels in the country.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 July 2011 on page no. 11

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