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Archives for : December2017

Bhopal stands for #humanrights of marginalized communities

 

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Today, Bhopal promised to strive for human rights for all.  Hundreds of people were part of a human chain which extended from Polytechnic Square to Iqbal Maidan. People stood for the rights of all who have been historically marginalized and continue to be treated shabbily and disrespectfully. People committed themselves to the rights of women, children, men irrespective of caste, class, identity.

 

Human rights are not violated in another corner of the world.. but on a daily basis in the nooks and corners of our streets and homes. As people live their lives, toiling and striving for survival, the impoverished are rebuked and snided for their conditions, women are violated as they strive to find an equal place in the world. People are looked down upon as objects and scum. This is while the state government continues its propaganda tactics and politics of division, without seeing people as ‘humans’.

 

It has become more difficult to ensure people’s rights to life, liberty and security in the world. The state has been working to promote hatred amongst people. It is this hatred and insensitivity that came out when Shambunath Raigarh of Rajsamund killed a Muslim for his religion two days back. It was this callousness that Gandhi Nagar police personnel of Bhopal lived while Indramal Bai howled in pain burning in front of them. People have lost a sense of kinship and brotherhood. There is little that is done to prevent the violations and to create the sense of brotherhood and understanding across caste, class and gender. Making more severe punishments as giving death penalty is not going to bring an end to the problem; if it had, we would not have seen the brutal rape of the minor in Sagar just a week after the announcement of capital punishment. A change in mindset and a definite assurance of justice, however big or small is the punishment, is what matters.

 

But the struggle for justice is much more challenging when the perpetrators are of a higher caste and class. It becomes impossible when they are members of the state itself, may this be the armed forces or the police.

 

In the past five days at the dharna site, hundreds of people joined in the struggle for justice for Indramal. People stayed day and night under the open sky. But it did not bother the state. Not one official came to meet the people. Even after representatives met senior state officials, there was no real response. It is evident that the police and the administration work in collusion, even in the case of denial of justice. The DIG (Urban) had on the first day of the dharna met a small group in his office and showed his inability to meet the legitimate Constitutional demands of filing of an FIR on the same day but had promised justice for Pardhis. Today, six days later, we still wait for action against the accused. Can justice be expected when the accused comes from the same Department that is investigating the matter?

 

As we enter the 70th year of the Declaration of Human Rights, we realize that the principles enshrined in the Declaration are as important today as they were in 1948. The violations continue at each and every step. We shall continue to stand up for our own rights and those of others. 

 

Today, we leave the Roshanpura Square, disappointed with the apathy of the state but knowing there are many more people from all walks of life who are with us and can see through the hollow functioning of the state. The struggle for justice for Indramal shall continue. The struggle for making a better world, where women and the working class are treated with respect, shall continue.

 

Living the life of dignity is an integral part of human rights. Therefore on this international day of human rights, we pledge to strive for our own rights and those of others. 

 

Har Zor Zulm kee takkad mein, sangharsh hamara nara hai!

 

 

Akhil Bharatiya OBC Mahasabha, All India Democratic Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Bahujan Gondwana Party, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Bharatiya Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Bhopal Group for Information and Action, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari SanghEka, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, Shahri Mazdur Sangathan, Soochna Adhikar Manch, many more organizations and individuals

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India – Torture widespread, legal aid system unsatisfactory #HumanRights

Fourteen judges felt that wrongful convictions were a direct result of improper investigation; while 13 said that susceptibility of the criminal justice system to power, money and corruption was the main reason behind wrongful convictions.

| New Delhi |

Torture widespread, legal aid system, supreme court, sc, sc ex-judges, sc wrongful conviction, india news, indian express, indian express newsOn wrongful convictions, 43 out of the 49 respondents acknowledged the possibility and six judges denied it (Representational Image)

Torture is “rampant” in the criminal justice system and the legal aid system is unsatisfactory, 60 former Supreme Court judges have revealed according to a study that attempts to understand “judicial thought and adjudicatory processes” that govern the administration of death penalty in India. The report, ‘Matters of Judgment’ — published by the Centre on the Death Penalty at National Law University, Delhi — delves into three issues: investigative and trial processes, sentencing in death penalty cases and judicial attitudes towards death penalty.

On investigative and trial processes, the study states that 38 judges (out of 39 who responded to this question) acknowledged that “torture was rampant” in India’s criminal justice system, while one said that it does not happen at all. Twelve judges justified the use of torture, citing reasons such as an overburdened police force; and 17 of them said that torture is unacceptable and does not work. “Torture is the worst human rights violation,” a former Chief Justice of India who served as an appellate judge for 26 years is quoted in the study as saying.

On wrongful convictions, 43 out of the 49 respondents acknowledged the possibility and six judges denied it. Fourteen judges felt that wrongful convictions were a direct result of improper investigation; while 13 said that susceptibility of the criminal justice system to power, money and corruption was the main reason behind wrongful convictions.

The study says that when asked about abolition/retention of the death penalty in India, 29 former judges identified abolitionist justifications, 39 identified retentionist justifications, 14 retentionist judges took the position that there was no reason to consider abolition in India.

“Death penalty has to be retained because the law is still there. It is up to Parliament to take it away but according to me it would be too dangerous to abolish the death penalty as I say there are many kinds of criminals, some of them are bloodthirsty and cannot be reformed,” a judge was quoted as saying. According to the study, not a single judge found the legal aid system satisfactory. It states that 14 judges acknowledged that poor legal representation disproportionately impacts the poor.

“I’m worried about unmerited convictions… A criminal jurisprudence can afford to have a guilty person escape but not have an innocent person proven guilty,” a judge is quoted in the report. On sentencing in death penalty cases, the report says that “some judges” felt that “rape and murder of a minor” would fall in the “category” of the rarest of rare, others felt the requirements of the “rarest of rare doctrine would be satisfied on the existence of certain aggravating circumstances such as the number or nature of the victims”.

The report says, “It was evident that there existed no uniform understanding of the requirements of the ‘rarest of rare’ doctrine and this gave rise to serious concerns of judge-centric sentencing.

Torture widespread, legal aid system unsatisfactory: SC ex-judges in study

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India – #Aadhaar has made me an orphan of our democracy

 

Hello. My name is Rajesh Mehar. I am a law-abiding citizen of India. Wait. Actually, I am not so sure anymore.
Until 1 April of 2017, I was a good citizen. You could even have called me an Adarsh Citizen. I paid my taxes on time, did not participate in cash transactions if other alternatives were available, did not hoard cash or have undisclosed income, did not use unregistered mobile phone SIM cards, did not claim subsidies surreptitiously, and definitely did not resort to legal action against my own country.
But since 1 April 2017, it has all been coming apart. I have not been able to file my Income Tax returns despite wanting and trying to. My bank accounts are most likely to become non-operational at the end of this month and I will be forced to transact only in cash. I will not be able to receive a salary, declare my income, or participate in the economy legally. My mobile phone connection will be blocked in February 2018, and I may need to borrow a SIM card and impersonate someone else. I still do not plan to claim any subsidies, but I most definitely plan legal action against my government.
All of this has happened only because of one powerful force in my life. No, not my faadhaar, not my maadhaar, but Aadhaar. My name is Rajesh Mehar. I do not have Aadhaar and I am an orphan of our democracy.
But why? What am I hiding?
Several friends have laughed at my stubbornness. Why don’t you want to get Aadhaar? What are you hiding? Don’t you know Aadhaar is stopping many illegal practices? If you can give your fingerprints to the US Consulate for a visa, why can’t you give your biometrics to our government? Do you hate our Prime Minister?
I have been thinking about these questions without scepticism and formulating my honest answers. It makes sense to start in reverse order.
No, I do not hate our Prime Minister. I disagree with him on many counts, and I think he has made some grievous mistakes along the way, but I like him as much as I like any other political leader from any other party. And that is NOT why I have not got my Aadhaar.
Yes, I have obtained a visa and travelled to other countries and I have submitted my fingerprints in the process. However, I did so feeling powerless, criminalised, and disenfranchised every moment of that process. I did so knowing that I would go back to the welcoming, safe bosom of my country at the end of the ordeal. Now to feel the same way about the land I was born in makes me sad beyond description. I feel like a crying child, beaten and abused outside, coming back home to discover that my parents had gone mad and I was to be beaten and abused at home too.
No, Aadhaar has not stopped criminal activities and illegal practices, or even reduced them. In fact, criminals are using Aadhaar, and common citizens’ lack of understanding about it, to perpetrate crimes and continue illegal practices. The government themselves have leaked citizens’ private information, even the President’s office has. Sometimes, private information has been leaked through obscure websites that nobody knows about, like Zambo dot in. Using Aadhaar, common citizens’ money has been redirected without their knowledge, or cheated out of them again and again and again and again. In fact, criminals have even managed to make fake Aadhaars and the initial promise of weeding out fake claimants of government subsidies and entitlements is also now broken.
Are there safeguards?
But my friends are not idiots. “Arre, but it will never happen to you yaar. The government has made sure that there are safeguards. Even if anything goes wrong, you will be able to get redressal,” they say. Well, no.
Aadhaar was created by a team of technologists who have since left Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the parent organisation, to create other companies that will profit from the Aadhaar ecosystem. This is a troubling conflict of interest, and at least one person connected to ‘monetising Aadhaar’ has been publicly outed as an online troll, creating multiple accounts to badger and discredit critics of Aadhaar. Some people who created the Aadhaar technology are acknowledged to be volunteers! Would I have my broken tap fixed by a volunteer plumber? Would I give my cellphone to have its shattered touch screen repaired by a volunteer technician? Then how can we accept that a mission critical national identity project was developed by volunteer technologists?
If by chance, your or my Aadhaar number is made public, it can never be changed. And unfortunately, you and I are stuck with the same fingers and irises for the rest of our lives. Despite this irrevocable loss in case of a breach, there is no easy complaint system for Aadhaar-related fraud. You can call the Aadhaar customer service call centre, which, by the way, people are having trouble finding. Or it can be reached sometimes but the ‘system doesn’t work’. And of course, no court can allow any legal action connected with Aadhaar except if the legal action is initiated by UIDAI itself.
So, if you or I have an Aadhaar related problem, what is the best way out? Many citizens have taken to using Twitter, a public social media platform owned by an American company, to get through to UIDAI. Moreover, UIDAI themselves encourage us to reveal our Aadhaar number by ‘Private Message’ to air our grievance via this website, which is legally bound to divulge information on the platform to American security agencies. Excellent.
Why is it compulsory?
Nobody knows why Aadhaar is mandatory. Or even if it is mandatory. You can choose not to have an Aadhaar as long as you do not need a bank account, a mobile phone connectionincome tax returnsschool admissionsmedical care, and a host of other optional items. Our Prime Minister himself had opposed Aadhaar vehemently. UIDAI itself petitioned the Supreme Court that Aadhaar should not be made mandatory. So, why is it mandatory? Nobody knows.
Orphaned by Democracy
Indian citizens are constitutionally blessed with three parents for support, one more than the average child gets allocated. These three parents are the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Citizenry have tried to tell these three parents that they are being abused. Unfortunately, these parents have orphaned us. The first parent, our legislature, passed the Aadhaar related legislation as a money bill, which means it did not get debated in the Rajya Sabha at all. The second parent, our executive, has been indirectly making Aadhaar mandatory by making it compulsory to link it to several other services. There is no option for those who do not have Aadhaar or those who do not want to link it. Our last resort, our judiciary, has been patiently wearing down our complaints by not substantially hearing the several Aadhaar related matters before it for the last two and a half years.
So, bereft of any parental support, here I stand.
Thank you for listening to my story. I am Rajesh Mehar, a law abiding citizen of India until the next Aadhaar linking deadline. I am now an orphan of our democracy. Will civil society adopt me?
(Rajesh Mehar is a father of two beautiful children and also works for an IT company. He does not have Aadhaar yet.)

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If Human Stand Up For Rights Today #HumanRightsDay

Fr CEDRIC PRAKASH SJ


 It is December 10th: ‘Human Rights Day’ once again.

This year the day is extra-special as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein puts it, “Next year – on 10 December 2018 – we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and this year’s Human Rights Day on Sunday marks the beginning of a year-long 70th anniversary commemoration. It will also, I hope, be a year of intense and profound reflection on the continuing and vital importance of each and every one of the 30 articles contained in this extraordinary document.”

The UDHR certainly needs to be celebrated; most countries in the world have acknowledged its intrinsic value and are signatories of this path-breaking document, which has been translated into five hundred languages. Sadly, the bitter truth is that in several countries of the world ‘human rights’ continue to remain on paper today, just empty platitudes. The poor and the marginalized, the vulnerable and the minorities, the differently-abled and those of different sexual orientation, the refugees and the displaced- are deprived and denied of their legitimate rights.

Zeid in his statement for Human Rights Day emphatically states “values enshrined in Universal Declaration of Human Rights under assault, must be defended” He goes on to elaborate, “the universality of rights is being contested across much of the world. It is under broad assault from terrorists, authoritarian leaders and populists who seem only too willing to sacrifice, in varying degrees, the rights of others, for the sake of power. Their combined influence has grown at the expense of liberal democratic order, peace and justice. We see mounting cruelties and crimes being perpetrated in conflicts across the world; an antagonistic nationalism on the rise, with surging levels of racism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination taking root, even in countries which had grown complacent in the belief these were problems of the past, rather than ones that could all too easily re-emerge and reassert themselves.”

Even a cursory survey of some of the major countries of the world will make one realise how bad the situation is with regard to human rights. ‘Populism’ seems to thrive in several countries: the rhetoric of the so-called ‘leaders’ is highly discriminatory and divisive. They thrive on a language which is filled with venom and hate. These pander to a kind of a pseudo ‘nationalism’-have no qualms of conscience to incite mob violence and killing. At the receiving end most often are ordinary citizens: most often poor and innocent. Political one –upmanship has become the order of the day. The sole aim of powerful vested interests is to control the lives and destinies of others- at any cost, particularly by violating the rights of others.

Many of the world’s leaders blatantly deny the fundamental truth of Article 1 of the UDHR which states that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; they defy their forbears’ promise ‘to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.’” Some of them like Maduro in Venezuela, Duterte in the Philippines, Modi in India, and Trump in the US- are some textbook examples. There are several more all over Asia, Africa, Americas and even in Europe that care two hoots for the legitimate rights of their people. Death penalty still exists in several countries. The profiteering military-industrial complex with total support from unscrupulous politicians will do anything to keep wars and conflicts on – in several parts of the world.

The rights of women and children are systematically denigrated everywhere. Millions of them across the globe are ensnared by human traffickers. Children are made to work for long hours in hazardous occupations in the sweat-shops of Turkey, China and many other countries. Those who publicly profess a different sexual orientation are in some countries hounded and even killed. Freedom of Religion is another major casualty: majoritarianism seems to be an ‘in’ thing and those who belong to minority religions are at the receiving end of a brutal society: the Ahmadis in Pakistan, the Yazidis in Iraq are some glaring examples of people being persecuted for their religious beliefs. Christians and Muslims continue to be at the receiving end with regular attacks from right-wing Hindu outfits with an apparent support from the ruling political dispensation.

Refugees, migrants and the displaced are not granted their legitimate rights – as the world continues to come to grips with the biggest humanitarian crises in recent times. Millions have fled parts of Africa, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen in recent times due to war and persecution. Growing xenophobia, jingoism, exclusiveness on the part of the host communities has made it very difficult for them. The Rohingya people of Myanmar have faced immense suffering in recent months. More than 620,000 of them have today sought refuge in Bangladesh. The Indian Government in a highly unacceptable act is not prepared to take in the Rohingya refugees.

Pope Francis was recently in Myanmar. In a major address to the authorities and diplomatic corps there on 28 November he said, “Indeed, the arduous process of peacebuilding and national reconciliation can only advance through a commitment to justice and respect for human rights. The wisdom of the ancients defined justice precisely as a steadfast will to give each person his due, while the prophets of old saw justice as the basis of all true and lasting peace. These insights, confirmed by the tragic experience of two world wars, led to the establishment of the United Nations and the universal declaration of human rights as the basis for the international community’s efforts to promote justice, peace and human development worldwide, and to resolve conflicts through dialogue, not the use of force…The future of Myanmar must be peace, a peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity, respect for the rule of law, and respect for a democratic order that enables each individual and every group – none excluded – to offer its legitimate contribution to the common good” .Important points worth reflecting and acting upon- by all, very especially those in power and authority

In the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on 30 November launched a new, contextual and interactive website www.standup4humanrights.org. Zeid makes a passionate plea to all “Ultimately it is up to us, to ‘we the people,’ for whom this Declaration was written. It is up to me; to you; to everyone in every city, province and country where there is still space to express thoughts, participate in decisions, raise one’s voice. We need to act to promote peace, fight back against discrimination, and to uphold justice. We must organize and mobilise in defence of human decency, in defence of a better common future. We must not stand by, bewildered, as the post-World War II system of values unravels around us. We must take a robust and determined stand: by resolutely supporting the human rights of others, we also stand up for our own rights and those of generations to come.”

An unequivocal call to stand up for human rights today!

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Justice for all in the land of the free?

A global outlier in criminal justice, the US undermines itself on the world stage when it engages in human rights abuses against its prisoners,write Love and Das [Reuters]
A global outlier in criminal justice, the US undermines itself on the world stage when it engages in human rights abuses against its prisoners,write Love and Das [Reuters]

On this day 69 years ago the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, sketching the foundation of human rights law. Led by Eleanor Roosevelt, the United States played a critical role in bringing 48 nations together to enumerate a set of core individual rights and freedoms that we all reference to this day.

Unfortunately today the US struggles to live up to these ideals it helped create. The punitive nature of American criminal justice deserves international censure. The US has emerged as the global capital of mass incarceration, and its sentencing laws must be examined.

Although it calls itself the “land of the free,” the US maintains a draconian sentencing scheme, sending more people to prison than any other nation. While it touts its own human rights record and lectures other nations on their human rights shortcomings, its voracious appetite for life sentences without parole is an embarrassment that fails to live up to the lofty rhetoric of the US Constitution, and falls far short of international standards.

The sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or LWOP, is just as the term implies. A person will remain behind bars for the rest of his or her life and until death, without any hope of release from prison. A cruel form of punishment often referred to as “the other death penalty,” LWOP violates international human rights norms.

Violating human dignity

William W. Berry III of the University of Mississippi noted, human rights law is based on the concept of human dignity (pdf). Both the preamble of the Charter of the UN, and Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reinforce this concept.

Similarly, the US Supreme Court has said the basic concept underlying the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution – which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments” – is nothing less than the dignity of man. While the State has the power to punish, the Amendment stands to assure that this power is exercised within the limits of civilised standards. As Berry notes, LWOP – as a “one-time decision” and “death-in-custody sentence” – violates the human dignity of the condemned (pdf), the high court’s decisions notwithstanding. A final and total condemnation of a person, LWOP sentencing is problematic because there is no way of knowing if there is proportionality in the sentence, it does not allow for rehabilitation and does not account for changes in the offender’s danger to society over time.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the goal of the treatment of prisoners is reformation and social rehabilitation: “Life-sentence prisoners should be eligible for release into society once they have served a sufficient period of time in custody to mark the seriousness of their offences (pdf)”.

The imposition of LWOP in the US is a violation of a number of UN human rights conventions, of which the country is a signatory, but often neglects to follow.

Racial discrimination in sentencing

For example, racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately receive LWOP sentences (pdf), a violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), or the Race Convention. While African Americans are 13 percent of the population, they were 28.3 percent of prisoners serving life sentences as of 2009, 56.4 percent of those sentenced to LWOP, and 56.1 percent of juveniles serving LWOP (JLWOP), according to the ACLU (pdf).

Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, noted the US is the only country to continue the practice of JLWOP. Many lifers serve their sentences in solitary confinement – isolation for at least 22 hours a day – which is a form of torture (pdf) under the UN Torture Convention.

The explosion of people doing time for life has been more about locking up black and brown bodies than deterring crime.

The European Court of Human Rights has found that life sentences with no hope of release raise issues under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The court ruled that a whole life sentence must allow for reducibility (pdf) if a prisoner has been rehabilitated and continued detention is no longer justifiable.

In practice, more than 50,000 prisoners are serving life without parole today. That’s one in every 28 prisoners. One quarter of those serving life or virtual life sentences will never have an opportunity for parole.

Most doing life without parole were convicted of violent crimes. Others were not. There are more than 3,000 nonviolent LWOP offenders as young as eighteen. Offenses like stealing a $159 jacket or selling cannabis are costing lives. Sixty-five percent of these nonviolent offenders are African American. In nine states, African Americans make up two-thirds of those serving life without parole.

The surge in life without parole sentencing is staggering. LWOP rolls quadrupled nationwide from 1992 to 2012, from 12,453 to 49,081(pdf). That rate of growth is almost four times the percentage rise in people serving parole-eligible sentences.

The explosion of people doing time for life has been more about locking up black and brown bodies than deterring crime. Violent crime has been on the decline for decades, yet in states such as California, Florida, and Virginia LWOP prison populations exploded since 2003. California’s violent crime decreased by 26.4 percent yet their LWOP count grew by 281.6 percent. California has made progress reversing its tough-on-crime past, yet they’ve thrown the book and then some for many of their prisoners to this day.

Finally, despite progress being made in the area of juvenile justice, the US is still an outlier. In 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama it’s unconstitutional to sentence kids for life without parole. Today, however, approximately 2,100 people remain in prison for crimes they committed as children.

To give up on rehabilitating individuals attacks a core tenet of criminal justice in a functioning democracy.

Even in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court halting harsh sentencing of minors, the US continues to wrestle with the impacts of degrading sentencing. Legislators and prosecutors for too long have cast Black and Latino American children as young as 14 as irredeemable super-predators, charging, prosecuting, convicting and sentencing children as if they were adults. Most of these children, of course, sprung out of traumatic environments, poor mental health access and sometimes abusive households.

Many LWOP offenders grew out of over-policed under-resourced communities hollowed-out after years of divestment and systematic discrimination to access decent housing, education and employment. To give up on rehabilitating individuals attacks a core tenet of criminal justice in a functioning democracy. The system should not simply punish but be a place for mercy and change, a set of rules for offenders to reflect, repair and heal.

A global outlier in criminal justice, the US undermines itself on the world stage when it engages in human rights abuses against its prisoners. The nation will remain ill-equipped to serve as a human rights leader and role model as long as it ignores international standards regarding life sentences. The US must do much better, which means implementing sentencing laws that uphold human dignity and facilitate rehabilitation, rather than encouraging punitive measures that embrace cruelty and retribution for its own sake.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/justice-land-free-171209102130036.html

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India – Stop this project for ‘unlimited government’ now! #Aadhaar

Biometric databases have given birth to gnawing present and future civil liberties and civil rights concerns. The history of biometric profiling, going back to at least the 19th century, is a history of violence and repression. A stolen password can be changed, stolen fingerprints cannot be.

Biometric identification is an invitation to violence. A motorist in Germany had a finger chopped off by thieves seeking to steal his exotic car, which used a fingerprint reader instead of a door-lock. As The Economist noted in 2010 in an article on the fallibility of biometric identification, “Keeping evildoers out is no simple screening matter”, contrary to the belief of the proponents of the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) for the Aadhaar numbers.

As per Section 2(g) of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, “biometric information means photograph, fingerprint, iris scan, or such other biological attributes of an individual as may be specified by regulations.” The reference to “such other biological attributes” makes it clear that voice sample and DNA profiling may come under its ambit in the future. It is noteworthy that the Human DNA Profiling Bill, 2015, aimed at regulating the use of DNA analysis and to establish a National DNA Data Bank. The definition of biometric information in the Aadhaar Act seems to make the proposed Human DNA Profiling Bill redundant.

It is germane to recall that the Task Force for preparation of Policy Document on Identity and Access Management under the National e-Governance Programme (NeGP), which submitted a report in April 2007 that revealed Project Unique ID (UID) “to create a central database of resident information and assign a Unique Identification number to each such resident…in the country…”, was already under implementation long before the arrival of Nandan Nilekani in July 2009 as chairman of the UIDAI. This report defined biometrics and made one of the earliest references to “biometric authentication”.

Biometric identification and authentication is the foundation on which the entire CIDR of Aadhaar project has been erected. But proponents of the project feign ignorance about a five-year study, Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities, published in September 2010 by the National Research Council in Washington, DC, which concluded that biometric identification and recognition is “inherently fallible” like the discredited science of Eugenics.

Indians under US surveillance

Former electronics and IT secretary J Satyanarayana, currently part-time chairman of UIDAI, was a member of the Task Force, which included 34 other members, including 11 technology solutions providers, mostly giant US corporations.

Asked about surveillance by the US National Security Agency on Indians by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, Satyanarayana said, “We have been assured that whatever data has been gathered by them for surveillance relates only to metadata…which is, the origin of the message and the receiving point, the destination and the route through which it has gone, but not the actual content itself…we expressed that any incursion into the content will not be tolerated…”

In effect, the Government of India has formally told the US government that India has no problem if American agencies conduct surveillance of Indian citizens for metadata. It must be remembered that the idea of UID was incubated in Satyanarayana’s very department. Contract agreements accessed through RTI reveal unequivocally that sensitive personal data of Indians have been handed over to transnational private companies like Accenture, Safran Group and Ernst & Young.

No recourse for individuals

The powers of the UIDAI include the power of “omitting and deactivating an Aadhaar number and information relating thereto…” Read with the government’s directives to make Aadhaar mandatory for any and every government service or benefit, in effect, the Aadhaar Act has empowered the central government to cause “civil death” – or the loss of all civil rights — of anyone for any reason.

Worse, as per Section 47(1) of the Aadhaar Act, “No court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act, save on a complaint made by the Authority or any officer or person authorised by it.” This takes away the right of citizens to move any court for the enforcement of the rights conferred by Articles 14, 21 and 22 of the Constitution. In effect, individuals have no recourse to the law on matters relating to the misuse or abuse of one’s Aadhaar by the UIDAI or any other agency, unless the UIDAI itself lodges a complaint!

Such provisions were forced on citizens – illegally, of course – only during Emergency, when a Presidential Order declared that “the right of any person (including a foreigner) to move any court for the enforcement of the rights conferred by Articles 14, 21 and 22 of the Constitution and all proceedings pending in any court for the enforcement of the above-mentioned rights shall remain suspended…”

That order came in handy for Sanjay Gandhi to assault Indian citizens, using State machinery and authority to forcibly sterilise thousands of men during Emergency. The Indian resident is once again under attack through indiscriminate biometric profiling. Such a project, which is aimed at creating an unlimited government, not limited by the Constitution, must be abandoned forthwith in the supreme public interest.

(The writer is a public policy and law
researcher and convener of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties)

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/647322/stop-project-unlimited-government-now.html

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Mark Tully- What’s the problem with #Aadhaar ?

The problem with Aadhaar cards is the way they are being pushed by the State

I have my own evidence of biometric aadhaar recognition’s fragility. When I went to obtain my card my fingerprints failed to register.

Responding to recent starvation deaths in Jharkhand the central government has now asked the states to see that people get their rations even if their aadhaar cards don’t work(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

I have just received a copy of this year’s lecture in honour of the outstanding civil servant Lalit Doshi given by Kaushik Basu who was Chief Economic Advisor to the government of India at the finance ministry. In the lecture he says “A sudden digitalisation in an emerging economy like ours will be devastating for the poor”. This is what seems to be happening with the Aadhaar-based biometric card authentication which the economist Jean Dreze says is “being pushed relentlessly by the central government.”

Jean is teaching at Ranchi University. He calls his research in the villages of Jharkhand and elsewhere “action-oriented research or research for action”. When I met him in Ranchi a week or so ago he shared with me some recent research showing that compulsory biometric authentication was excluding marginalised people from security nets they were entitled too. This was particularly true of the rations they should receive from the PDS, the Public Distribution System. He showed me a series of videoed incidents in which people who had been refused rations because biometric machines failed to read their fingerprints, machines did not work because the Internet was down, or there was no electricity. In one incident the PDS recognition machine was hanging from a Jamun tree in the hope that it might receive a signal there.

I have my own evidence of biometric aadhaar recognition’s fragility. When I went to obtain my card my fingerprints failed to register. Fortunately I went to a small travel agency where the owner was anxious to earn the Rs 300 I was to pay him so he persevered, assuring me that it often took time to get an impression from old people because their fingertips were worn away. Eventually in frustration he grabbed my hand and started rubbing my fingers in his hair. Lo and behold an impression faint, but visible enough to get a card, appeared. Exactly how faint I discovered when I had to be biometrically recognised to buy a new mobile. It took more than ten minutes and countless attempts for my fingerprints to register. Once again the shopkeeper persevered patiently because he wanted my money, but at the time I wondered whether elderly poor people facing biometric difficulties would be treated patiently by PDS shop owners. In the videos I saw they were not.

Before I met Jean I had spent two days in tribal villages surrounding Hazaribagh less than two hours by road from Jhansi. There I found that the aadhaar card was being pushed vigorously. A retired carpenter who had spent his working life in Mumbai said to me, “The aadhar card is good, corruption is less, but now you can’t get anything from the government if you don’t have a card.” When I asked whether there were people who couldn’t get cards he replied, “Yes there are many people.” The carpenter was reluctant to give me his name explaining with a sheepish smile, “I am the BJP booth-in-charge for this village”.

In another village a retired schoolmaster had no hesitation in identifying himself as Laxmi Narayan Mehto and criticising the aadhar card. He said “You need the aadhar card for everything but the problem here is that we don’t remember exactly when we were born and often we guess differently on different documents, so the date on a ration card may not be he same as the date on a ration card.” Then pointing to the child holding his hand he said “It will be all right when he grows up because children’s births are registered today.”

Responding to recent starvation deaths in Jharkhand the central government has now asked the states to see that people get their rations even if their aadhaar cards don’t work. But in March the chief secretary of Jharkhand had ordered all ration cards without aadhaar cards to be cancelled.

The problem with aadhaar cards seems to me that the scheme is being pushed ahead suddenly with results that are devastating for many poor people. This is not a criticism of the aadhaar scheme but of the zeal with which it is being pushed — a zeal which whatever the central government or state governments says is creating the impression in the field that having a card and fingertips which are not worn down is compulsory.

HT

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Zaira Wasim  molestation: Cops record Dangal actor’s statement #Vaw

Cops in Mumbai recorded Dangal actor Zaira Wasim’s statement as they begun an investigation into her allegation that a male co-passenger harassed and molested her during a Delhi-Mumbai flight.

by Dev Goswami
Zaira Wasim in a distressing Instagram video claimed she was harrased and molested by a male passenger on a flight (File pic)Zaira Wasim in a distressing Instagram video claimed she was harrased and molested by a male passenger on a flight (File pic)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Crew noticed something amiss only during final descent of flight: Vistara
  • Zaira began yelling at the man only after flight started landing: Vistara sources
  • The Dangal star narrated a horrifying ordeal of a man molesting her mid-flight.

The Mumbai Police has begun its investigation into the alleged molestation of Dangal star Zaira Wasim. Cops have recoreded Wasim’s statement in Mumbai, where she landed after her harrowing flight during which, she alleges, a male passenger rubbed his foot along her neck and back.

Wasim revealed her distressing experience in a series of Instagram videos – one shot during the flight, during which the man’s foot can be seen next to Zaira, and the other at the Mumbai aiport in which the teary-eyed teen actor asks, “Who is going to help us Girls? If we don’t help ourselves, nobody will come ahead.”

Cops from the Mumbai Police have spoken to the actress, recorded her statement and have prepared a list of passengers sitting next to Zaira on the Vistara Delhi-Mumbai flight during which the alleged incident took place.

The airline has provided details of the man in the question and policemen intend to question him, as well as other passengers, soon, sources within the force said.

Statements of the crew members on the flight too will be recorded.

Zaira Wasim recounted her in-flight ordeal in an Instagram video (Screengrab)

One of the most intriguing questions arising from the shocking story is why the cabin crew, usually trained to handle inappropriate passenger behaviour, did not react.

Zaira’s manager Tuhin Mishra earlier said the teen actor had raised an alarm but the cabin crew failed to take any action. Sources within Vistara, while admitting the cabin crew did not act until much later said it was because Zaira raised the alarm only after the flight started descending.

According to protocol, everybody, including passengers and flight crew, must remain strapped to their seats while a flight is landing. Zaira, in her story, did not specify when exactly the male passenger seated behind her began touching her with his foot and rubbing it on her neck and back.

Soon after the Zaira’s Instagram posts narrating the ordeal, Visatra released a statement saying it was “aware” of incident and was carrying out “a detailed investigation”.

“We are talking to our crew who were serving Ms. Wasim to understand the incident at greater length, and reaching out to fellow passengers as well. We will support Ms. Wasim in every way required and also if she decides to report the matter to the police,” the airline said.

Official Statement: Update #2

“It appears crew only became aware of something amiss during final descent when they were seated for landing. Further details will come from the investigation which is currently ongoing in full force,” the airline added, before apologising to Zaira for what she had experienced. “We have zero tolerance for such behaviour.”

‘CREW COULD NOT ACT’

Meanwhile, sources within the airline said the Dangal actor began yelling at the man in question only once the Vistara flight started descending and was on the final landing path.

At that moment all crew members were “seated in their seats” and “couldn’t move because it is mandatory to have no movement during the final phase of the flight as seat belts are on,” one of the source said.

Once the flight landed, the crew was told about what had happened with Zaira. The crew asked the teen actor and her mother whether they wanted to file a complaint, but they, the sources said, “denied”.

Vistara is yet to contact the male passenger whom Zaira accused of molesting her but has summoned the entire cabin crew for an inquiry, the sources further added.

The last part of the Vistara sources’ version, that Zaira and her mother did not want to file a complaint, was denied by the actor’s manager Tuhin Mishra even as Mumbai Police, which has taken cognizance of the matter, reached the her hotel to record her statement.

Police officials said Zaira has asked for some time to give her statement and the cops have posted a lady officer at the Hyatt hotel, where the actor is staying, to record her version of the events. Police will be in a better position once the Zaira gives her statement, officials said.

National Commission for Women (NCW) has taken cognise of the reports and they will be calling the airlines to get details of what transpired and action taken by them in the matter.

State Women Commission will also write a letter to DGCA, Airlines and Maharashtra Police to investigate the matter.

“Vistara hasn’t sensitized their crew to take action against men torturing women on the flight. I am taking suo moto cognizance of this & giving notice to Vistara. Also, a copy to DGP Maharashtra to act against Vistara Airlines. I would like to tell Vistara that if they have zero tolerance why they have not named this person till now. Naming them is very very important. We would like to tell Zaira that we are there to help her out in any way we can,” NCW Chairperson, Rekha Sharma said condemning the harrowing incident

– Nagarjun Dwarkanath in Bengaluru contributed to this report

WATCH | Dangal actress Zaira Wasim allegedly molested on flight 

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Woman assaulted, paraded in Delhi by liquor mafia #WTFnews

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The victim has alleged her attackers were women involved in the illicit liquor trade
  • Police said the victim was a member of the Nasha Mukti Panchayat in the area and had assisted them at times in curbing the sale of illegal liquor in the slums

Representative image.

Woman assaulted, paraded in Delhi by liquor mafia

NEW DELHI: A 33-year-old woman was allegedly attacked with iron rods, dragged out of a house where she tried to seek refuge and her clothes ripped apart before being paraded in the lanes of a JJ colony by a group of women in Narela on Thursday. The woman, a volunteer with the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), had been instrumental in getting a raid conducted on sale of illicit liquor in Narela on Wednesday.

The victim — mother of four children — has alleged her attackers were women involved in the illicit liquor trade. She has been admitted to a government hospital in central Delhi after being shifted from a local one.

The police, which has taken cognisance of the incident, said the victim was a member of the Nasha Mukti Panchayat in the area and had assisted them at times in curbing the sale of illegal liquor in the slums. However, the police denied that the victim was paraded naked, saying that her clothes may have got torned in the scuffle.

An angry DCW chairperson, Swati Jaihind, took to twitter to condemn the attack. She said the young woman had spoken out against sale of liquor illegally from a house in the area at a mahila panchayat organised by the commission in Narela on Wednesday. She then led the police, along with Jaihind, to the house where the team seized over 300 liquor and beer bottles.

Two videos and photographs shared by the DCW chief on twitter show the woman sharing her concern about illegal sale of liquor and then later crying inconsolably as she narrates her ordeal.

The woman’s mother-in-law told TOI that her daughter-in-law was in pain and had fainted in hospital. “My daughter-in-law was attacked brutally by some women who first followed her and then beat her up, tore her clothes and paraded her around. This is shocking,” she sobbed.

Jaihind had tweeteed: “A brave lady beaten and paraded naked in Delhi by liquor mafia, her video is made~all coz she dared to raise her voice against crime and helped DCW catch people selling illegal liquor in their home at 50 m from police chowki. Is there any law and order in Delhi? Shame @DelhiPolice”

Later, she issued summons to deputy commissioner of police (Rohini district) in the matter which pertains to Begumpur police station. The DCP has been asked to appear in person before the commission on December 12 or face action.

“In a most unfortunate and shocking development, one woman who gave inputs to the commission during the inspection was today attacked by a large mob of over 25 of these criminals and assaulted with iron rods. Her clothes were torn and she was paraded naked in the area and the entire incident was filmed and the video was allegedly shared in the area by these criminals,” said the summons. Jaihind has accused the police of not taking action to protect the woman and even accused it of “active connivance”.

DCW has sought an ATR, along with an FIR registered in the case of the attack on the woman and in the matter of liquor being sold illegally. DCP (Rohini) Rajneesh Gupta said the the attackers were women of the Sansi community. He said an FIR had been registered and efforts were on to arrest the accused women. The police said that the main accused, Asha, and her husband, Rakesh, have a criminal record and they had attacked the victim earlier as well. “Rakesh has 21 cases of bootlegging registered against him while his wife has around nine cases,” a police officer said.

In Video: Delhi: Woman whistleblower assaulted by locals for helping cops to bust illegal liquor sale

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Dengue death: Victim’s father files police complaint against Fortis

Dengue death: Victim’s father files police complaint against Fortis

Jayant Singh, father of seven-year-old girl, who died of dengue in Fortis Hospital.

Gurgaon, December 10

The father of a 7-year-old girl, who died of dengue at Fortis Hospital here, has filed a police complaint against the hospital group, but no FIR has been registered in the case, the police said on Sunday.

 

“The father of the deceased child filed the complaint at Sushant Lok police station on Friday,” SHO Gaurav Phogat said.

“But we have not filed an FIR yet as a preliminary investigation is on in the matter. We are waiting for an official copy of the inquiry report on the matter by a government panel,” he said.

 

In his complaint, Jayant Singh, urged the police to register the FIR for “culpable homicide” owing to criminal negligence against Fortis Hospital, Gurgaon, and also, forgery and destruction of evidence by the hospital management and doctors.

Singh held that the hospital was “criminally negligent in the course of his daughter’s treatment”.

He accused 18 persons, including chairman, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, executive vice-chairman, Fortis Healthcare, and nine doctors, for his daughter’s death.

Singh also alleged in the complaint that the hospital forged the parents’ signatures in “crucial and important treatment-related documents, that is, consent forms”.

Fortis Healthcare, however, maintained that they were “yet to receive any formal complaint”. PTIhttp://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/dengue-death-victim-s-father-files-police-complaint-against-fortis/511130.html

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