NHRC must be more independent, says forum

December 03, 2020 09:55 pm | Updated 09:55 pm IST - Madurai

Recollecting the tenure of National Human Rights Commission Chairperson Justice H.L. Dattu, who is demitting office, the All-India Network of NGOs and Individuals working with National and State Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI) thanked him for the services rendered.

In a letter to Mr. Dattu, AiNNI, a national forum of individuals and organisations to monitor and strengthen the functioning of human rights institutions, its national secretary Henri Tiphagne said it was Mr. Dattu who initiated the system of Special Monitors in the Commission. This opened the door for ‘civil society actors’ to engage closely with the panel. But the process which was started, stands dormant and needs a proactive approach from the Commission, the AiNNI said.

The members said they were taken aback when Mr. Dattu had stated publicly that the Commission was a ‘toothless tiger,’ which was of course true in some sense. One of its key functions was to review laws and the Commission chose not to review certain laws.

Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), National Investigation Agency Act (NIA), Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) were some of the laws which were not looked into, the members said.

While the Commission intervened in cases of serious rights violation in Kashmir, post Article 370 abrogation and custodial torture in Bhopal jail, such interventions continue to lie in a state of limbo and victims continue to long for justice.

“We expected the Commission to uphold and assert its powers in cases such as the killing of protestors in Thoothukudi, arrest of human rights defenders in Bhima Koregaon case, incarceration of protestors peacefully opposing CAA, and the plight of migrant workers. We re-assert that the NHRC belongs to the people and it always took the cause of victims of human rights violations. We always believe that it is the NHRC that serves as a model for other human rights institutions,” the AiNNI said.

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