Amnesty International India organises a two-day event to take up human rights issues from the region"SAARC is the only regional platform we have and human rights do not form part of its agenda though rights violations are rampant in the SAARC world," says Amnesty International India's Director Mukul Sharma. With the 14th SAARC Summit being organised in New Delhi on April 3 and 4, Amnesty is looking at an opportunity to bring the topic to the notice of the heads of the SAARC nations "to provide a clear guide to the human and peoples' rights agenda under the SAARC". The effort comes in the form of a "Human Rights Assembly" and an "Awareness Generation Week" being organised in the Capital. The two-day assembly takes place at the India International Centre this Sunday and Monday (April 1 and 2) with over 30 invited speakers to address various topics like security laws, doing business with human rights, violence against women in South Asia and abolishing the death penalty in the region.
Global trends"We will look at a wide gamut of issues like global trends in security laws and their impact on human rights, to whom are corporations accountable, sexuality and violence in South Asia, can the Indian state do away with clemency, etc," adds Sharma. As part of the Week, Amnesty has also been releasing reports on rights violations in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China and also USA. While this Thursday, it will release a report on undermining freedom of expression in China, Friday will see an account on USA's conduct in Guantanamo.With India missing from its report card, Sharma has this to say, "We have done a lot of survey on India. At present, we are compiling a report on Nandigram". He points out that both European Union and African Union have human rights issues on their agenda while SAARC doesn't have any platform to address rights violations. "More than EU, look at Africa. They have African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and also a Court of Justice. South Asia doesn't have an equivalent to talk about. Also, not all countries have their human rights commissions," he says, adding, "In this context, we feel that SAARC needs a paradigm shift."
SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY