The following is a report from Henri Tiphagne, Director, People’s Watch, on the work of the People’s Tribunals constituted as part of the National Project in Preventing Torture
You would have all received details of the series of People’s Tribunals on Torture that People's Watch is organizing under its National Project on Preventing Torture in India being supported by the European Union and Friedrich Nauman Stiftung and being implemented in 9 States in the country namely West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and covering 47 districts in these 9 States.
The project which is in its 3rd year of its implementation, is organizing State level People’s Tribunals on Torture (PTT) and the last one which has been completed was held between 29th and 31st May, 2008. The PTT mentioned above considered 260 cases in all covering in 5 different sessions involving Jury panel comprising:
Justice. H. Suresh, Chairperson of the Jury panel, Former Judge, High Court of Bombay
Dr. S. Balaraman, Former Acting Chairperson, State Human Rights Commission, Kerala
Dr. V. Vasanthi Devi, Chair Person, Institute of Human Rights Education, Former Chair Person, Tamilnadu, State Commission for Women, Former Vice Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University
Dr. Markandan, Former Vice Chancellor, Gandhi Gram Rural University,
Mr. V. Karuppan, I.A.S.(Retd), Convenor of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights
Mr. Tapan Kumar Bose, Secretary General & Trustee, South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Nepal
Dr. R. Senthil , Member of Parliament ( Could not attend )
Mr. S.K. Karventhan, Member of Parliament, Former Vice Chairman of Bar Council of India . ( Could not attend )
Mr. Ashok Chakrabati, Former Senior Director, National Human Rights Commission.
Mr. Ossie Fernandez, Director, Human Rights Foundation, Chennai
Dr. Kalpana Kannabeeran, Professor, NALSAR University of Law , Hydrabad
Dr. K. Mathiharan, Director, Institute of Legal Medicine.
Dr. K.S. Ravindran, Madurai
Ms. Ajeetha, Advocate, Chennai
Mr. Ravikumar, M.L.A. ( Could not attend )
Ms. Vahida Nainar, Ex- Adjunct Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law , Newyork.
Ms. Saumya Uma, Advocate & Coordinator, International Criminal Court- India Campaign
Ms. Priya Pillai, Law Researcher, Bangalore
Dr. K. Senthilathiban, Director, Sparks , Chennai
The speciality of this PTT is that it was not confined only within the venue, but it was carried out on the 29th and 30th night through a series of 17 different public meetings – 8 on the first day i.e., 29th and 9 on the second day i.e. 30th May, 2008 in which the above mentioned Jury members along with 20 other local Jury members participated and patiently heard the cases in full view and participation of the public.
We cannot have better evidence of police brutality than the event that took place during the PTT. The victims who had come to depose were picked up by the police in the night without any procedures for arrest being followed. Thereafter, a police party in mufti was found to be standing outside the premises of Fatima College , the venue of the PTT and the same persons did further resort to illegal arrest when the participants apprehended them and brought them over to Justice H. Suresh for a discussion. This resulted in injuries caused by the police using the ‘handcuffs’ they had in their hands and while the cases were registered against policemen, the Madurai City police also registered false cases against Mr. Henri Tiphagne, the National Director of the NPPTI , Executive Director of People's Watch and the Member of the National Core Group on NGOs of the National Human Rights Commission of India.
The details of the entire PTT are available for you at the website of People's Watch www.pwtn.org along with photographs – they can be viewed at www.pwtn.org/euptttn. html. We are sending you attached a detailed note of what exactly happened. We would be extremely happy if you could kindly take up the matter with the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture as well as any other authorities whom you deem fit.
The National authorities to whom the mail should go are
a) That you send complaints to the Chairperson and Members of the NHRC
Hon'ble Justice Shri S. Rajendra Babu Chairperson 91-11-23382514 (O)
Hon'ble Justice Shri Govind Prasad Mathur Member 91-11-23387328(O)
Hon'ble Sri Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao Member 91-11-23385069 (O)
Shri R.S. Kalha Member 91-11-23387244(O)
Shri P.C.Sharma Member 91-11-23382432(O)
b) That you send complaints to the Chairperson of the State Human Rights Commission - Justice A.S.Venkatachalamoorthy, Chairperson, State Human Rights Commission, Thiruvarangam, 143, P.S. Kumarasamy Raja Salai (Greenways Road), Chennai 600 0028. Ph: 01-44-24951484, Fax; 91-44-24951484, E.mail: email@example.com
c) That you send complaints to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu:
Dr. M.Karunanidhi, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009 - firstname.lastname@example.org
d) That you send complaints to the Chief Secretary to the Govt. of Tamil Nadu: Mr. L. K. Tripathy, IAS, Chief Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu, Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009 – email@example.com
e) That you send complaints to the Home Secretary to the Govt. of Tamil Nadu Ms. S. Malathi, Home Secretary to the Govt. of Tamil Nadu, Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009; Fx: 044 – 25670596 E.Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
f) That you send complaints to the Special Secretary to the Public (Law & Order) Department
g) That you send complaints to the Director General of Police, Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, Chennai 600 004 – Please go to the website www.tnpolice.gov.in in that the home page you have a section on mail.
h) That you send complaints to the Commissioner of Police, Madurai the mail ID of email@example.com
I do hope you will provide us your fullest solidarity on this issue of Human Rights Defenders being targeted during the PTT was conducted which is supported by the European Union.
We wish to bring to your kind attention that we have completed such Peoples’ Tribunals in Kerala and Uttar Pradesh in the month of April. We intend to carry it out in Kolkatta (West Bengal) on 9th and 10th June, in Patna (Bihar) on 9th and 10th July, in Ajmer (Rajasthan) on 15th and 16th July, in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) on 22nd and 23rd July, in Bhuvaneshwar (Orissa) on 5th and 6th August and in Bangalore (Karnataka) on 12th and 13th August, 2008. All these State level PTTs will then be followed by a National People’s Tribunal in Delhi in the month of October, 2008. We do hope that you will take the liberty of taking up this issue with all concerned authorities with due vigour, speed and solidarity. I would greatly appreciate if a copy of your communications also be duly marked to me for information and further action.
Thanks and regards,