Dear Friends, Colleagues and supporters in the Protection and promotion of human rights,
The National Project on Preventing Torture in India (NPPTI), supported by the European Union and the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, has been implemented by People's Watch. Operating in 47 districts across 9 States, the Project seeks the prevention and reduction of torture in India. Its efforts will culminate in mid-October with a national-level People's Tribunal on Torture, which forms the subject of this letter.
The NPPTI's fact-finding data, when extrapolated, suggest that 1.8 million people fall victim to police torture each year in India. In most of these cases, it is the vulnerable sections of the society – particularly women, religious minorities, members of lower castes, and the poor – that are targeted. Many victims fear further prosecution or retribution, and so suffer in silence.
Meanwhile, India boasts a staggering 125 statutorily created human-rights institutions. Whether through unwillingness or inability, however, these institutions are all too often unresponsive to the clear evidence of torture presented to them by victims or by organisation acting on victims' behalf.
In addition, as regards torture, India operates within a legal void. India signed the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) in 1997, but ten years later the same has not yet been ratified ; the CAT's Optional Protocols (OPCAT) remain unsigned. This deficiency was noted by a number of stakeholders during the Human Rights Council's recent Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of India, and formed a major portion of the UPR's conclusions in relation to India. At the domestic level, there is no legislative definition of torture, nor is there a law identifying torture as a crime. There is neither a system for victim and witness protection.. The Supreme Court of India has acted to condemn torture by developing jurisprudence that outlines best practices for police and other state actors, but the legislature has not responded by codifying these practices into law.
These three elements – fear among victims, institutional paralysis, and legislative inaction – have fostered the creation of a culture of impunity. Such impunity ensures that police torture remains prevalent across India.
To date, nine State-level PTTs have been held as follows:
No. of Cases Slated for Deposition
1-3 April 2008
28-29 April 2008
29-31 May 2008
9-10 June 2008
9-10 July 2008
15-16 July 2008
5-6 August 2008
12-13 August 2008
30–31 August 2008
A National-Level People's Tribunal on Torture in New Delhi on 17th October 2008 from 11AM to 9 PM at the Constitutional Club, Rafi Marg , New Delhi :
The nine State-level PTTs have laid the foundation and prepared public opinion for the staging of a national-level PTT in New Delhi on 17 October 2008.
The National PTT shall be inaugurated by Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India.
The Jury Members for this national-level PTT which also include a number of international experts shall be chaired by Justice Shivraj Patil, Former Judge Supreme Court of India and Former Acting Chair of the National Human Rights Commission of India.
Schedule of Events(See attached invitation )
This is an Invitation specially for you :
With this letter, the organisers of the NPPTI would formally like to invite you to this National-level People's Tribunal on Torture in India. We hope that you will accept this exciting opportunity to effect genuine changes that will not only help individual victims of torture but also secure the rights of all Indian citizens. Kindly do make sure that as many persons from you office do attend the NPTT sessions or any of the sessions and some of them remain throughout the day in solidarity.
We look forward to your response to this letterconfirming your participation and approximate number, and we hope that you consider the national-level PTT to be as exciting a prospect for India as we do. In the meanwhile, please feel free to contact us with any and all questions, comments, or concerns at any of the coordinates printed on the first page. ( firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile : 91-98940 25859 Sunila Singh : email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org - 9910272509 )
With warm regards,
National Director, National Project on Preventing Torture in India
Executive Director, People's Watch __._,_.___
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