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CHRI 2012

CHRI Strategic Initiatives

COMMONWEAL TH H UMAN RIG HTS IN ITIATIVE B-117, 2 nd Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, N ew D elhi – 110017 Tel: +91-(0)11 4318 0200 Fax: +91-(0)11 2686 4688 info@humanrightsinitiative.org; www.humanrightsinitiat ive.org

C HRI Commonwealth Human Rights Initiativ e Working for the practical realisation ofhuman rights in the countries of the Commonwealth

3


THE ORIGIN OF CHRI: A MEMOIR RICHARD BOURNE

CHRI began as an idea floated at a conference in Cumberland Lodge, a residential centre in Windsor Great Park, England. The conference was called to look at the state of the Com monwealth after many African and Asian sports teams had boycotted the Edinburgh Com monwealth Games in 1986. Their protest was at the softness of the British government, led by Margaret Thatcher, on South African racism – the apartheid sy stem. At the Nassau summit the previous year she was only prepared to move a “teeny , teeny ” bit to impose sanctions on the apartheid regime.

So was the Commonwealth breaking up? Was the Commonwealth worth salvaging? The conference at Cumberland Lodge included many knowledgeable people who supported the association, but they were also critical. They realised that there was hy pocrisy among states which practised human rights abuse with little democracy – there were several one-party and military governments then – which were happy to ignore their own faults while attacking apartheid. South African propagandists pointed this out, and the Commonwealth had no convincing reply . The conference broke into small groups at one point and in one of these – which included Derek Ingram, the father of Commonwealth journalism, my self and four or five others – we put forward the case for a new initiative to promote human rights throughout the Commonwealth. We had no clear idea then how to do it, but were influenced by the example of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of 1985-6, which visited South Africa in an attempt to get talks going to end apartheid.

In the summer of 1987, with two meetings at the then Commonwealth Institute (where Derek was a long-serving governor, and I was deputy director) we fleshed out the idea and won the support of some Commonwealth bodies – initially the Commonwealth Journalists Association, the Commonwealth Trade Union Council and the Commonwealth Lawyers Associa tion. A paper went to the 1987 summit in Vancouver, calling for a Commonwealth initiative. The 1987 summit saw some tightening of the screws on white South Africa, continuing attacks on the Thatcher government by the majority of Commonwealth states, and the setting up of a special fund to assist the embattled Frelimo government in Mozambique. But there was no inter-governmental Commonwealth initiative for human rights. It was only then, with the backing of more non-governmental bodies, that we decided to set up our own Initiative. Our format, borrowed from the EPG for South Africa, was to appoint a high-level inquiry group nominated by supporting Commonwealth bodies and we were lucky to get Flora MacDonald, a former Foreign Minister of Canada, to chair it. Their report, “Put our world to rights” was published in 1991. It was a key influence on the Harare summit in that y ear, which led to the commitment to just and accountable governance, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights.

4

5


THE ORIGIN OF CHRI: A MEMOIR RICHARD BOURNE

CHRI began as an idea floated at a conference in Cumberland Lodge, a residential centre in Windsor Great Park, England. The conference was called to look at the state of the Com monwealth after many African and Asian sports teams had boycotted the Edinburgh Com monwealth Games in 1986. Their protest was at the softness of the British government, led by Margaret Thatcher, on South African racism – the apartheid sy stem. At the Nassau summit the previous year she was only prepared to move a “teeny , teeny ” bit to impose sanctions on the apartheid regime.

So was the Commonwealth breaking up? Was the Commonwealth worth salvaging? The conference at Cumberland Lodge included many knowledgeable people who supported the association, but they were also critical. They realised that there was hy pocrisy among states which practised human rights abuse with little democracy – there were several one-party and military governments then – which were happy to ignore their own faults while attacking apartheid. South African propagandists pointed this out, and the Commonwealth had no convincing reply . The conference broke into small groups at one point and in one of these – which included Derek Ingram, the father of Commonwealth journalism, my self and four or five others – we put forward the case for a new initiative to promote human rights throughout the Commonwealth. We had no clear idea then how to do it, but were influenced by the example of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of 1985-6, which visited South Africa in an attempt to get talks going to end apartheid.

In the summer of 1987, with two meetings at the then Commonwealth Institute (where Derek was a long-serving governor, and I was deputy director) we fleshed out the idea and won the support of some Commonwealth bodies – initially the Commonwealth Journalists Association, the Commonwealth Trade Union Council and the Commonwealth Lawyers Associa tion. A paper went to the 1987 summit in Vancouver, calling for a Commonwealth initiative. The 1987 summit saw some tightening of the screws on white South Africa, continuing attacks on the Thatcher government by the majority of Commonwealth states, and the setting up of a special fund to assist the embattled Frelimo government in Mozambique. But there was no inter-governmental Commonwealth initiative for human rights. It was only then, with the backing of more non-governmental bodies, that we decided to set up our own Initiative. Our format, borrowed from the EPG for South Africa, was to appoint a high-level inquiry group nominated by supporting Commonwealth bodies and we were lucky to get Flora MacDonald, a former Foreign Minister of Canada, to chair it. Their report, “Put our world to rights” was published in 1991. It was a key influence on the Harare summit in that y ear, which led to the commitment to just and accountable governance, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights.

4

5


WHAT WE DO

CHRI’s charter objectives are to achieve the practical realisation of human rights in the Commonwealth. We “believe that the promotion and protection of human rights is the responsibility of governments but that the active participation of civil society acting in concert is vital to ensuring rule of law and the realisation of human rights.” To this end, we “promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, and other internationally recognised human rights instruments.”

We realised we could not do every thing nor be everywhere in the 54 commonwealth countries. While human rights standards and accountability are set internationally , these are seldom fully realised within Commonwealth countries. Human rights are violated; we sought to find those strategic issues and way s of working that would bring about essential reforms throughout the Commonwealth through interventions at every level.

That offers a very broad mandate. The big challenge before us in 1987 was to transform these words into actions that would bring about a tangible difference to the lives of the 2.13 billion people living in its 54 countries. As an international organisation we needed to find a focus and a way of doing things that would change lives even if we could not intervene directly to repair individual injustice and suffering.

The two problems of deep-seated poverty and asy mmetries of power between ordinary citizens and the State resonated throughout the Commonwealth. We felt that any attempt to tangibly affect the lives of ordinary people would never happen without their ability to participate and hold the instruments of State to account. We advocated then that people must be guaranteed a right to access information so that they can participate effectively in all the decision-making processes which impact so critically on their life outcomes. The frailties of governance within the Commonwealth meant that concerns for the people’s right to justice too came to the fore. These two efforts of access to information and access to justice were thus intertwined from the beginning.

The merest glance around the Commonwealth found much wanting: two-thirds of the Commonwealth lived on under $2 a day . Still today , 63 per cent of the world’s poor live in Commonwealth countries. We believe the presence of so much poverty is not an inevitable condition but a clear sign of bad governance. Too many governments ignore their people’s wants and needs, keep them uninformed, excluded and distant from justice, restrict freedoms and govern without being brought to book for their actions. As an organisation, the inter-governmental Commonwealth too, has been shy of holding its members to the soaring standards set for itself.

CHRI recognised that while there was a lot wrong, the Commonwealth holds the building blocks for a better tomorrow. There is plenty of good practice and a deal of willing assistance available that could change ground realities. A legacy of shared language and experience, familiar modes of governance, historic connections, a common legal architecture and engaged citizens make it easy to create a discourse between countries, share good practice and build solidarity among active citizens and responsible governments.

This remains true today .

Over the years, these consultations and our own experience convinced us of the value of focussing our energies on two major areas – access to justice and access to information – while at the same time, leaving ourselves open to respond to sudden crises. This allows us an ever-deepening programme of work in seminal areas, valuable to hum an rights concerns in all countries, while being flexible enough to respond to unexpected issues of concern.

We knew we could use international and national venues and opportunities to press for in-country reform by making problems visible (through media initiatives), offering solutions (especially on the policy level), building platforms and networks for dialogue, and building capacity . Our vision to establish ourselves as a global South-based NGO, which is international in its work and vision has over the y ears come to fruition. The difficulty in achieving this recognition cannot be taken lightly ; it has required twice the purposefulness of any NGO based in the North to establish credibility and overcome the perception that if based in India, an NGO can only be capable of being a regional body , not truly an international human rights organisation. Our acceptance as a human rights organisation in disparate locations of the Commonwealth bears witness to the growth we have undergone over the last 25 y ears. Today , CHRI has its headquarters in New Delhi, and offices in London and Accra; we are accredited to the Commonwealth; we attained special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the UN in 2005 and observer status at the ACPHR in 2002; we helped found the Usalama Reforms Forum in East Africa and the Right to Information network, SARTIAN, in South Asia; we serve as secretariat for NIPSA (Network for Improved Policing in South Asia); collaborate with HURINET-u and APCOF in Africa; have sent fact finding missions to Nigeria in 1995, Zambia in 96 and Fiji in 2002; have a presence as RTI experts in South Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean; have an active police programme in South Asia, East and West Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean; and a localised prisons programme in India. Even so, these are only a few of the broad range of networks and associations we are a part of and only a fraction of the work that we have undertaken over the last 25 y ears. Over the course of this annual report, we strive to review what we have done, celebrate our successes, while recognising how much further we still have left to go.


WHAT WE DO

CHRI’s charter objectives are to achieve the practical realisation of human rights in the Commonwealth. We “believe that the promotion and protection of human rights is the responsibility of governments but that the active participation of civil society acting in concert is vital to ensuring rule of law and the realisation of human rights.” To this end, we “promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, and other internationally recognised human rights instruments.”

We realised we could not do every thing nor be everywhere in the 54 commonwealth countries. While human rights standards and accountability are set internationally , these are seldom fully realised within Commonwealth countries. Human rights are violated; we sought to find those strategic issues and way s of working that would bring about essential reforms throughout the Commonwealth through interventions at every level.

That offers a very broad mandate. The big challenge before us in 1987 was to transform these words into actions that would bring about a tangible difference to the lives of the 2.13 billion people living in its 54 countries. As an international organisation we needed to find a focus and a way of doing things that would change lives even if we could not intervene directly to repair individual injustice and suffering.

The two problems of deep-seated poverty and asy mmetries of power between ordinary citizens and the State resonated throughout the Commonwealth. We felt that any attempt to tangibly affect the lives of ordinary people would never happen without their ability to participate and hold the instruments of State to account. We advocated then that people must be guaranteed a right to access information so that they can participate effectively in all the decision-making processes which impact so critically on their life outcomes. The frailties of governance within the Commonwealth meant that concerns for the people’s right to justice too came to the fore. These two efforts of access to information and access to justice were thus intertwined from the beginning.

The merest glance around the Commonwealth found much wanting: two-thirds of the Commonwealth lived on under $2 a day . Still today , 63 per cent of the world’s poor live in Commonwealth countries. We believe the presence of so much poverty is not an inevitable condition but a clear sign of bad governance. Too many governments ignore their people’s wants and needs, keep them uninformed, excluded and distant from justice, restrict freedoms and govern without being brought to book for their actions. As an organisation, the inter-governmental Commonwealth too, has been shy of holding its members to the soaring standards set for itself.

CHRI recognised that while there was a lot wrong, the Commonwealth holds the building blocks for a better tomorrow. There is plenty of good practice and a deal of willing assistance available that could change ground realities. A legacy of shared language and experience, familiar modes of governance, historic connections, a common legal architecture and engaged citizens make it easy to create a discourse between countries, share good practice and build solidarity among active citizens and responsible governments.

This remains true today .

Over the years, these consultations and our own experience convinced us of the value of focussing our energies on two major areas – access to justice and access to information – while at the same time, leaving ourselves open to respond to sudden crises. This allows us an ever-deepening programme of work in seminal areas, valuable to hum an rights concerns in all countries, while being flexible enough to respond to unexpected issues of concern.

We knew we could use international and national venues and opportunities to press for in-country reform by making problems visible (through media initiatives), offering solutions (especially on the policy level), building platforms and networks for dialogue, and building capacity . Our vision to establish ourselves as a global South-based NGO, which is international in its work and vision has over the y ears come to fruition. The difficulty in achieving this recognition cannot be taken lightly ; it has required twice the purposefulness of any NGO based in the North to establish credibility and overcome the perception that if based in India, an NGO can only be capable of being a regional body , not truly an international human rights organisation. Our acceptance as a human rights organisation in disparate locations of the Commonwealth bears witness to the growth we have undergone over the last 25 y ears. Today , CHRI has its headquarters in New Delhi, and offices in London and Accra; we are accredited to the Commonwealth; we attained special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the UN in 2005 and observer status at the ACPHR in 2002; we helped found the Usalama Reforms Forum in East Africa and the Right to Information network, SARTIAN, in South Asia; we serve as secretariat for NIPSA (Network for Improved Policing in South Asia); collaborate with HURINET-u and APCOF in Africa; have sent fact finding missions to Nigeria in 1995, Zambia in 96 and Fiji in 2002; have a presence as RTI experts in South Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean; have an active police programme in South Asia, East and West Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean; and a localised prisons programme in India. Even so, these are only a few of the broad range of networks and associations we are a part of and only a fraction of the work that we have undertaken over the last 25 y ears. Over the course of this annual report, we strive to review what we have done, celebrate our successes, while recognising how much further we still have left to go.


1987

1990

1995

1 9 9 6

Report t o CHOGM: „Put Our Wor ld t o Rights‟

CHRI founded in London, UK

1 9 9 3

2010

2012

Received Special Consulta tive Status at the UN

Report t o CHOGM: „Over a B arre l‟

Report to CHOGM: „The Right to a Cultu re of Tole rance‟

CHRI moves to New Delhi, India

2005

2000

2 0 0 1

2 0 0 3

Human Rights Advocacy programme renamed „Strategic Initiatives Prog ramme‟

Report to CHOGM: „Police Acco untability: Too Important to Neglect, too Urgent to Delay‟

2 0 0 9

Fact Finding Miss ion: Zambia

Maja Daruwala appointed as Directo r

Program priorities decided: Police, Prisons, Right to info rmation and Human Rights Advocacy

Opened regiona l Africa Office in Accra, Ghana

2 0 0 2

Report to CHOGM: „Open Sesame‟

Report to CHOGM: The Poverty Report

Report to CHOGM: „Act Right No w‟

Fact Finding Miss ion: Nigeria

Report to CHOGM: „Rights do Matter‟

MOMENTS OF CHANGE

Report to CHOGM: „Silencing the Defenders‟

Separate Police and Prison Reform programmes established

2 0 0 7

2 0 1 1

Report to CHOGM: „A Partnersh ip for Human Righ ts‟

Report to CHOGM: „Stamping out Rights‟ Received Observer Status at the ACPHR

Fact Finding Miss ions: Fiji and S ierra Leone

CHRI TURNS 25!


1987

1990

1995

1 9 9 6

Report t o CHOGM: „Put Our Wor ld t o Rights‟

CHRI founded in London, UK

1 9 9 3

2010

2012

Received Special Consulta tive Status at the UN

Report t o CHOGM: „Over a B arre l‟

Report to CHOGM: „The Right to a Cultu re of Tole rance‟

CHRI moves to New Delhi, India

2005

2000

2 0 0 1

2 0 0 3

Human Rights Advocacy programme renamed „Strategic Initiatives Prog ramme‟

Report to CHOGM: „Police Acco untability: Too Important to Neglect, too Urgent to Delay‟

2 0 0 9

Fact Finding Miss ion: Zambia

Maja Daruwala appointed as Directo r

Program priorities decided: Police, Prisons, Right to info rmation and Human Rights Advocacy

Opened regiona l Africa Office in Accra, Ghana

2 0 0 2

Report to CHOGM: „Open Sesame‟

Report to CHOGM: The Poverty Report

Report to CHOGM: „Act Right No w‟

Fact Finding Miss ion: Nigeria

Report to CHOGM: „Rights do Matter‟

MOMENTS OF CHANGE

Report to CHOGM: „Silencing the Defenders‟

Separate Police and Prison Reform programmes established

2 0 0 7

2 0 1 1

Report to CHOGM: „A Partnersh ip for Human Righ ts‟

Report to CHOGM: „Stamping out Rights‟ Received Observer Status at the ACPHR

Fact Finding Miss ions: Fiji and S ierra Leone

CHRI TURNS 25!


GOVERNANCE International Advisory Commission

Headquarters: Delhi, India

Executive Committee: UK

Executive Committee: India

Executive Committee: Ghana

Director

For its governance, CHRI has an International Advisory Commission comprising eminent people from across the Commonwealth. It sets policy directions for all the offices. Each office has its own Executive Committee that oversees the day -to-day implementation of programme directions. For cohesion, the Chairs of the Executive Committees also sit on the International Advisory Comm ission. The Executive Director is the CEO in charge of all the offices and programmes. At its headquarters, CHRI’s overall work is organised into programme units each with its own coordinator: access to information, access to justice comprising policing a nd prison reform, and the strategic interventions program. A media and outreach unit complements their work and a coordinator planning works across offices to ensure cohesion and due diligence, while the administrative manager backstops all programme activity and the finance manager oversees all accounting matters along with external auditors. These arrangements are mirrored in the Africa office as suitable to its size


GOVERNANCE International Advisory Commission

Headquarters: Delhi, India

Executive Committee: UK

Executive Committee: India

Executive Committee: Ghana

Director

For its governance, CHRI has an International Advisory Commission comprising eminent people from across the Commonwealth. It sets policy directions for all the offices. Each office has its own Executive Committee that oversees the day -to-day implementation of programme directions. For cohesion, the Chairs of the Executive Committees also sit on the International Advisory Comm ission. The Executive Director is the CEO in charge of all the offices and programmes. At its headquarters, CHRI’s overall work is organised into programme units each with its own coordinator: access to information, access to justice comprising policing a nd prison reform, and the strategic interventions program. A media and outreach unit complements their work and a coordinator planning works across offices to ensure cohesion and due diligence, while the administrative manager backstops all programme activity and the finance manager oversees all accounting matters along with external auditors. These arrangements are mirrored in the Africa office as suitable to its size


OUR OFFICES HEADQUARTERS: DELHI, INDIA In 1993 CHRI was established in New Delhi. The initial plan was to move the CHRI secretariat every five y ears in order to deepen expertise on all regions of the Commonwealth. Once the logistical difficulties of frequent moves became clear, the plan was quickly abandoned and CHRI could begin to establish its roots as an international organisation in the global South. This was the area that needed most focus. Although this move was a radical thought for the time, it is now apparent that it was a successful one. Our position in the global South has allowed us access to, and primary contact with, local partners. Today , CHRI is a well-established and well-known organisation. From the New Delhi office, we coordinate activities out of Accra and London; as we advocate for and promote awareness of human rights violations in all Commonwealth countries. Our primary mandate is to promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Principles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments and declarations made by the Commonwealth Heads of Government, as well as domestic instruments supporting human rights in the Commonwealth. This mandate permits us to make strategic interventions even as we retain a steady focus specifically on Access to Information and Access to Justice.

LIAISON OFFICE: LONDON, UK The London Office has played a vital role since CHRI’s inception. Owing to its strategic position, it acts as a liaison between the Headquarters in New Delhi, the Africa Office in Accra and the UK government and official Commonwealth bodies, such as the Secretariat and the Human Rights Unit. It play s a significant role in our international advocacy programmes. The Office has play ed a vital role in raising CHRI’s profile in the global North and Western hemisphere, as well as securing funding as a registered UK charity . The overseas territories project has built capacity for human rights within the Caribbean, the Pacific and South Atlantic; examine the Commonwealth's Media Freedom laws and have advocated for the repeal of legislation criminalising the Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community .

AFRICA OFFICE: ACCRA, GHANA As the Headquarters in India began to stabilise itself, the governing boards of CHRI decided tocreate an office in Africa to pay greater attention to the 15 Commonwealth countries in Africa. The office was set up in 2001 in Ghana, a stable, democratic and increasingly influential African Commonwealth country , where there was also a welcome for the initiative. CHRI’s Africa Office follows the same mandate and focus areas as the Headquarters, and mirrors the same patterns of progression in its work. As it slowly too k root in Ghana, the office had to deal with similar dilemmas as the office in India had: to balance its role as an international organisation comprising a wide geographical mandate with the expectations from a human rights organisation within Ghana itself. The office used this situation to develop and deepen its expertise and advocacy on focus issues in Ghana, while furthering its larger mandate through strategic interventions and campaigns. To extend CHRI’s reach in Africa, the work of the Africa Office is complemented from Headquarters, especially on policing in East Africa and at the UNHRC.The Africa Office has observer status at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. CH RI is a key member of the steering committee and the secretariat for the Right to Information coalition in Ghana. We continue our efforts in raising awareness of the embedded constitutional right to access information. We have had several successes with advocacy efforts against instant justice, against police brutality and against extrajudicial killings in the Gambia. We set up public-police forums and justice centres, which reduced the number of wrongful arrests. We work on minority rights, particularly on disability and mental health, advocating for the rights of a marginalised group. Today the office has eight staff, ably supported by interns and volunteers from around the world. Its work focuses on Access to Justice, Access to Information and strategic interventions to promote human rights in Africa.


OUR OFFICES HEADQUARTERS: DELHI, INDIA In 1993 CHRI was established in New Delhi. The initial plan was to move the CHRI secretariat every five y ears in order to deepen expertise on all regions of the Commonwealth. Once the logistical difficulties of frequent moves became clear, the plan was quickly abandoned and CHRI could begin to establish its roots as an international organisation in the global South. This was the area that needed most focus. Although this move was a radical thought for the time, it is now apparent that it was a successful one. Our position in the global South has allowed us access to, and primary contact with, local partners. Today , CHRI is a well-established and well-known organisation. From the New Delhi office, we coordinate activities out of Accra and London; as we advocate for and promote awareness of human rights violations in all Commonwealth countries. Our primary mandate is to promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Principles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments and declarations made by the Commonwealth Heads of Government, as well as domestic instruments supporting human rights in the Commonwealth. This mandate permits us to make strategic interventions even as we retain a steady focus specifically on Access to Information and Access to Justice.

LIAISON OFFICE: LONDON, UK The London Office has played a vital role since CHRI’s inception. Owing to its strategic position, it acts as a liaison between the Headquarters in New Delhi, the Africa Office in Accra and the UK government and official Commonwealth bodies, such as the Secretariat and the Human Rights Unit. It play s a significant role in our international advocacy programmes. The Office has play ed a vital role in raising CHRI’s profile in the global North and Western hemisphere, as well as securing funding as a registered UK charity . The overseas territories project has built capacity for human rights within the Caribbean, the Pacific and South Atlantic; examine the Commonwealth's Media Freedom laws and have advocated for the repeal of legislation criminalising the Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community .

AFRICA OFFICE: ACCRA, GHANA As the Headquarters in India began to stabilise itself, the governing boards of CHRI decided tocreate an office in Africa to pay greater attention to the 15 Commonwealth countries in Africa. The office was set up in 2001 in Ghana, a stable, democratic and increasingly influential African Commonwealth country , where there was also a welcome for the initiative. CHRI’s Africa Office follows the same mandate and focus areas as the Headquarters, and mirrors the same patterns of progression in its work. As it slowly too k root in Ghana, the office had to deal with similar dilemmas as the office in India had: to balance its role as an international organisation comprising a wide geographical mandate with the expectations from a human rights organisation within Ghana itself. The office used this situation to develop and deepen its expertise and advocacy on focus issues in Ghana, while furthering its larger mandate through strategic interventions and campaigns. To extend CHRI’s reach in Africa, the work of the Africa Office is complemented from Headquarters, especially on policing in East Africa and at the UNHRC.The Africa Office has observer status at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. CH RI is a key member of the steering committee and the secretariat for the Right to Information coalition in Ghana. We continue our efforts in raising awareness of the embedded constitutional right to access information. We have had several successes with advocacy efforts against instant justice, against police brutality and against extrajudicial killings in the Gambia. We set up public-police forums and justice centres, which reduced the number of wrongful arrests. We work on minority rights, particularly on disability and mental health, advocating for the rights of a marginalised group. Today the office has eight staff, ably supported by interns and volunteers from around the world. Its work focuses on Access to Justice, Access to Information and strategic interventions to promote human rights in Africa.


“THE COMMONWEALTH MUST BE ABOUT HUMA N RIGHTS OR IT IS ABOUT NOTHING AT ALL”

STRATEGIC I NITIA TIVES

The Commonwealth has now existed for over 60 years, where it was agreed that all member countries would be “ freely and equally associated”. As the outcome of a shared legacy of colonialism, Member countries came to the idea that a shared partnership between countries who suffer the same anatomical problems could be solved by agreeing on common values of human rights, democracy, freedom, peace, the rule of law and opportunity.

COMMONWEALTH PEOPLES FORUM With the Commonwealth worried about its own relevance, the Eminent P ersons Group (EPG) was established at the 2009 CHOGM in an attempt to break new ground on attempts to sharpen its impact, strengthen networks and raise the profile of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the group prepared a report to be discussed at CHOGM, without giving it enough time; hence it was not discussed at length and many of its recommendations were disregarded. Of a total of 106 recommendations, only the first two were discussed at length, concluding in a decision to adopt a “ Charter of the Commonwealth”, a further 30 were adopted without reservation, 43 were handed over to a Task Force for consideration, 12 would be subject to financial considerations and 11 were deemed inappropriate. With only 15 months left till the next CHOGM, the Commonwealth must now adapt.

EMINENT PERSONS GROUP

But, this decade sees it struggling for relevance. P erceptions towards the entity as a whole are tarred with suspicion, skepticism and often indifference. CHRI has repeatedly stated that in a multi-polar world with myriad regional, military and economic alliances, the Commonwealth must be about human rights or it is about nothing at all. Over the years, CHRI took several strategic initiatives on a broad spectrum of issues that fall outside its two major focuses of Access to Justice and Access to Information. Each has had an important part to play in furthering human rights within Me mber States and within the association itself – in not prompting its own institutional will and capacity to address the many challenges to human rights that exist in the association.

The Commonwealth Peoples Forum, operational since 1997, is held in the run-up to each biennial CHOGM, bringing together civil society representatives from around the world, in the single biggest opportunity for civil society to engage with the Commonwealth, to discuss and debate key global development issues. A series of consultations with civil society culminate in a Civil Society Statement, which is presented to Commonwealth leaders in the run-up to CHOGM. In 2009, CHRI took the lead on the human rights assembly , which later changed format in 2011 to two meetings instead of one large forum.


“THE COMMONWEALTH MUST BE ABOUT HUMA N RIGHTS OR IT IS ABOUT NOTHING AT ALL”

STRATEGIC I NITIA TIVES

The Commonwealth has now existed for over 60 years, where it was agreed that all member countries would be “ freely and equally associated”. As the outcome of a shared legacy of colonialism, Member countries came to the idea that a shared partnership between countries who suffer the same anatomical problems could be solved by agreeing on common values of human rights, democracy, freedom, peace, the rule of law and opportunity.

COMMONWEALTH PEOPLES FORUM With the Commonwealth worried about its own relevance, the Eminent P ersons Group (EPG) was established at the 2009 CHOGM in an attempt to break new ground on attempts to sharpen its impact, strengthen networks and raise the profile of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the group prepared a report to be discussed at CHOGM, without giving it enough time; hence it was not discussed at length and many of its recommendations were disregarded. Of a total of 106 recommendations, only the first two were discussed at length, concluding in a decision to adopt a “ Charter of the Commonwealth”, a further 30 were adopted without reservation, 43 were handed over to a Task Force for consideration, 12 would be subject to financial considerations and 11 were deemed inappropriate. With only 15 months left till the next CHOGM, the Commonwealth must now adapt.

EMINENT PERSONS GROUP

But, this decade sees it struggling for relevance. P erceptions towards the entity as a whole are tarred with suspicion, skepticism and often indifference. CHRI has repeatedly stated that in a multi-polar world with myriad regional, military and economic alliances, the Commonwealth must be about human rights or it is about nothing at all. Over the years, CHRI took several strategic initiatives on a broad spectrum of issues that fall outside its two major focuses of Access to Justice and Access to Information. Each has had an important part to play in furthering human rights within Me mber States and within the association itself – in not prompting its own institutional will and capacity to address the many challenges to human rights that exist in the association.

The Commonwealth Peoples Forum, operational since 1997, is held in the run-up to each biennial CHOGM, bringing together civil society representatives from around the world, in the single biggest opportunity for civil society to engage with the Commonwealth, to discuss and debate key global development issues. A series of consultations with civil society culminate in a Civil Society Statement, which is presented to Commonwealth leaders in the run-up to CHOGM. In 2009, CHRI took the lead on the human rights assembly , which later changed format in 2011 to two meetings instead of one large forum.


W WO OR RLLD D LLEEA AD DEER RSS A ATT TTH HEE C CO OM MM MO OW WN NW WEEA ALLTTH H

After the 2009 humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, the Commonwealth Heads of Government deferred proposals to hold the 2011 CHOGM in the country . Despite little human rights progress between 2009 and 2012, the 2013 CHOGM is now scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka. A Panel of Experts appointed by the UN Secretary -General recently found several allegations of humanitarian law violations. This view was also echoed by several UN experts, such as successive UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial killings. Several well-known human rights groups also reported that many human rights abuses continue within the country even today . Many experts, including the UN Secretary General’s Panel of experts have found Sri Lanka’s domestic enquiries into allegations to be wanting in impartiality , even as Sri Lanka refuses to accept demands for international investigations by these experts. In this context, CHRI has joined several civil society groups to urge that Sri Lanka is not an appropriate host for CHOGM, especially as the Commonwealth is try ing to strengthen itself and its stature. A number of conditions must be met by the government to improve the human rights situation in the country if Sri Lanka wishes to hold a future CHOGM.

“THE MOST CONTOVERSIAL OF THEM ALL”

Image Credit: Annaliese McDonough/ Commonwealth Secretariat

Every two y ears Commonwealth leaders meet at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and agree on collective policies and initiatives. CHOGMs act as the principal policy and decisionmaking forum to guide the strategic direction of the association. They are organised by the host nation in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat. Before each CHOGM, CHRI produces a biennial report which focuses in-depth on one particular issue; a way to look at the Commonwealth through a human rights lens. Many of CHRI’s projects and initiatives come out of the findings of these reports. CHRI uses these reports to lobby the Heads of Governments at these meetings to focus on the shortfalls and challenges that exist in Commonwealth countries in the realm of human rights. The reports serve to highlight Gaps. Earlier reports have ranged from a human rights approach to poverty , looking at the Right to Information, Police Accountability , Terrorism, Human Rights Defenders, and most recently , at the relationship between National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society Groups. These are major components of CHRI’s advocacy work.


W WO OR RLLD D LLEEA AD DEER RSS A ATT TTH HEE C CO OM MM MO OW WN NW WEEA ALLTTH H

After the 2009 humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, the Commonwealth Heads of Government deferred proposals to hold the 2011 CHOGM in the country . Despite little human rights progress between 2009 and 2012, the 2013 CHOGM is now scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka. A Panel of Experts appointed by the UN Secretary -General recently found several allegations of humanitarian law violations. This view was also echoed by several UN experts, such as successive UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial killings. Several well-known human rights groups also reported that many human rights abuses continue within the country even today . Many experts, including the UN Secretary General’s Panel of experts have found Sri Lanka’s domestic enquiries into allegations to be wanting in impartiality , even as Sri Lanka refuses to accept demands for international investigations by these experts. In this context, CHRI has joined several civil society groups to urge that Sri Lanka is not an appropriate host for CHOGM, especially as the Commonwealth is try ing to strengthen itself and its stature. A number of conditions must be met by the government to improve the human rights situation in the country if Sri Lanka wishes to hold a future CHOGM.

“THE MOST CONTOVERSIAL OF THEM ALL”

Image Credit: Annaliese McDonough/ Commonwealth Secretariat

Every two y ears Commonwealth leaders meet at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and agree on collective policies and initiatives. CHOGMs act as the principal policy and decisionmaking forum to guide the strategic direction of the association. They are organised by the host nation in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat. Before each CHOGM, CHRI produces a biennial report which focuses in-depth on one particular issue; a way to look at the Commonwealth through a human rights lens. Many of CHRI’s projects and initiatives come out of the findings of these reports. CHRI uses these reports to lobby the Heads of Governments at these meetings to focus on the shortfalls and challenges that exist in Commonwealth countries in the realm of human rights. The reports serve to highlight Gaps. Earlier reports have ranged from a human rights approach to poverty , looking at the Right to Information, Police Accountability , Terrorism, Human Rights Defenders, and most recently , at the relationship between National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society Groups. These are major components of CHRI’s advocacy work.


R RE EA AC CH HIIN NG GO OU UT T//C CO ON NN NE EC CT TIIN NG GP PE EO OP PLLE E CHRI strategically engages with regional and international bodies including the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Ministerial Ac tion Group, the UN Human Rights Council, and the African Commission. Ongoing initiatives include: reporting biennially on critical and current issues at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM); mounting fact finding missions to countries; reviewing the performance of Commonwealth countries as members of the Human Rights Commission; making submissions to the UN before country reviews at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR); building civil society capacity to examine, report on and bring the UPR process back to their countries; pressing the Com monwealth to strengthen its institutional commitment to human rights in light of its own strong declarations on human rights; advocating for stronger response mechanisms within the association when nations violate the human rights of their citizens as well as when they fall below declared human rights standards; and advocating for stronger monitoring and response mechanisms to stem human rights violations.

P PR RIIV VA ATTE EA AC CT TS S IIN NT TH HE E P PU UB BLLIIC CE EY YE E The LGBTI community faces sy stematic persecution in many Commonwealth states and is often subject to arbitrary arrest, harassment and discrimination. Colonial era laws criminalising sodomy are in force in several states and these laws are the basis of both formal and informal sy stems of discrimination. CHRI is currently involved with critiquing laws and attitudes within the Commonwealth regarding LGBTI advocates and supporting their fight against discrimination. We advocate for the repeal of legislation that criminalises private acts between consenting adults. We recently commented on Nigeria’s draft same-sex marriage bill; we draw attention to States’ human rights obligations as promised by them in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), recently examining Pakistan, Zambia and Ghana; we advocated for LGBTI rights at the UN Human Rights Council, which led to a resolution for the High Commissioner of Human Rights to undertake a report on discrimination towards people based on their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. CHRI was part of a select number of NGOs that gave an oral statement in a panel debate based on the report.


R RE EA AC CH HIIN NG GO OU UT T//C CO ON NN NE EC CT TIIN NG GP PE EO OP PLLE E CHRI strategically engages with regional and international bodies including the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Ministerial Ac tion Group, the UN Human Rights Council, and the African Commission. Ongoing initiatives include: reporting biennially on critical and current issues at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM); mounting fact finding missions to countries; reviewing the performance of Commonwealth countries as members of the Human Rights Commission; making submissions to the UN before country reviews at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR); building civil society capacity to examine, report on and bring the UPR process back to their countries; pressing the Com monwealth to strengthen its institutional commitment to human rights in light of its own strong declarations on human rights; advocating for stronger response mechanisms within the association when nations violate the human rights of their citizens as well as when they fall below declared human rights standards; and advocating for stronger monitoring and response mechanisms to stem human rights violations.

P PR RIIV VA ATTE EA AC CT TS S IIN NT TH HE E P PU UB BLLIIC CE EY YE E The LGBTI community faces sy stematic persecution in many Commonwealth states and is often subject to arbitrary arrest, harassment and discrimination. Colonial era laws criminalising sodomy are in force in several states and these laws are the basis of both formal and informal sy stems of discrimination. CHRI is currently involved with critiquing laws and attitudes within the Commonwealth regarding LGBTI advocates and supporting their fight against discrimination. We advocate for the repeal of legislation that criminalises private acts between consenting adults. We recently commented on Nigeria’s draft same-sex marriage bill; we draw attention to States’ human rights obligations as promised by them in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), recently examining Pakistan, Zambia and Ghana; we advocated for LGBTI rights at the UN Human Rights Council, which led to a resolution for the High Commissioner of Human Rights to undertake a report on discrimination towards people based on their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. CHRI was part of a select number of NGOs that gave an oral statement in a panel debate based on the report.


CHRI AND THE COMMONWEALTH AT THE UN CHRI was granted Special Consultative Status at the UN in 2005. As a trusted partner, we often act as resource persons for several UN agencies.

HELPING OUT In CHRI’s niche area of experience, we have become resource persons working across the Commonwealth, helping build capacity and give technical training to members of civil society . CHRI also contributed to the publication of two Commonwealth Secretar iat UPR bestpractice guides for civil society , National Human Rights Institutions and Governments. We have resourced Caribbean, African and Asia-pacific regional training.

EASIER SAID THAN DONE PRE-ELECTION PLEDGES 2010: Mauritius: “Mauritius committed to uphold the primacy of democracy and good governance, to promote its citizens’ human rights and to strengthen national institutions with a mandate to protect and promote human rights.” Nigeria: “It notably committed itself to full cooperation with the Special Procedures of the Council and pledged to maintain an open door policy for all UN human rights inspectors, rapporteurs and representatives carry ing out their mandates.”

Since 2006, when the Human Rights Council came into being, several Commonwealth countries have been voted on to it. As they vie for a seat, each makes several commitments before the election. Though broad and vague, the pre-election pledges provide a benchmark against which to judge future in-country trends, political will and honest performance. CHRI’s Easier Said than Done, periodically examines voting records and statements, and provides a summary of the domestic human rights situation in each country . In addition to this, is an overview of the Com monwealth’s collective behaviour as a grouping within the Council.

As the only comprehensive publication of its Kind, Easier Said than Done provides a useful reference guide for diplomats, NGOs, NHRIs, intergovernmental organisations and does influence the voting behaviour. In the past, the scrutiny created sharp exchanges between UN missions and their capitals about how to vote at the Council.

Easier Said than Done: 2010 FOUND… “Although South Africa’s Constitution is among the most progressive in the world on LGBT rights, discrimination and violence targeted at the LGBT community were frequent and brutal. Furthermore, women of all sexual orientations faced an extremely high risk of rape and there were concerns that South Africa’s leaders harboured attitudes towards women that were inconsistent with the country ’s human rights obligations. South Africa reportedly also had the highest number of documented cases of child rape in the world.”

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW The Universal Period Review (UPR) is a peer-review mechanism that sees the human rights situation of each UN Member State reviewed by the UN Human Rights every four and a half y ears. States present the actions they have taken to improve their human rights situations and fulfil their human rights obligations. Their peers offer recommendations which may be accepted or rejected. The next cy cle offers the opportunity to compare promise with performance. Each review is based on three reports – one which is submitted by the country itself, one which is a summation of reports by other UN bodies, and a third which consists of submissions from civil society . CHRI has used this space to make submissions and oral statements during the reviews of 13 Commonwealth countries.

WHAT CHRI DID During the first cycle, and over the first two sessions of the second cy cle, which began in June 2012, CHRI made UPR submissions for Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canada, Ghana, India, Malay sia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Pakistan Rwanda, South Africa, United Kingdom and Zambia. For example, among other things, CHRI’s second submission on Ghana said:

HRCNET There is enormous scope for expansion and intensification of our engagement at the HRC in the future, building on the strong foundation as an active member of the Human Rights Council Network (HRCNet), an informal, cross-regional network of CSOs committed to the strengthening of the Human Rights Council as a more effective body to address human rights violations, and to protect and promote human rights worldwide.

“During Ghana’s first UPR in 2008, Canada recommended that it “pass the Freedom of Information Bill…” Ghana responded by say ing that it shared the view that the bill was important and intended to consolidate democracy , and that it was “with this mind that the Right to Informa tion Bill was being prepared within the framework of ongoing consultations with relevant stakeholders”. Four years later, the current government has not passed the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, despite calling for its passage in its campaign manifesto in 2008 and continuing to express commitment to pass the bill since elected.


CHRI AND THE COMMONWEALTH AT THE UN CHRI was granted Special Consultative Status at the UN in 2005. As a trusted partner, we often act as resource persons for several UN agencies.

HELPING OUT In CHRI’s niche area of experience, we have become resource persons working across the Commonwealth, helping build capacity and give technical training to members of civil society . CHRI also contributed to the publication of two Commonwealth Secretar iat UPR bestpractice guides for civil society , National Human Rights Institutions and Governments. We have resourced Caribbean, African and Asia-pacific regional training.

EASIER SAID THAN DONE PRE-ELECTION PLEDGES 2010: Mauritius: “Mauritius committed to uphold the primacy of democracy and good governance, to promote its citizens’ human rights and to strengthen national institutions with a mandate to protect and promote human rights.” Nigeria: “It notably committed itself to full cooperation with the Special Procedures of the Council and pledged to maintain an open door policy for all UN human rights inspectors, rapporteurs and representatives carry ing out their mandates.”

Since 2006, when the Human Rights Council came into being, several Commonwealth countries have been voted on to it. As they vie for a seat, each makes several commitments before the election. Though broad and vague, the pre-election pledges provide a benchmark against which to judge future in-country trends, political will and honest performance. CHRI’s Easier Said than Done, periodically examines voting records and statements, and provides a summary of the domestic human rights situation in each country . In addition to this, is an overview of the Com monwealth’s collective behaviour as a grouping within the Council.

As the only comprehensive publication of its Kind, Easier Said than Done provides a useful reference guide for diplomats, NGOs, NHRIs, intergovernmental organisations and does influence the voting behaviour. In the past, the scrutiny created sharp exchanges between UN missions and their capitals about how to vote at the Council.

Easier Said than Done: 2010 FOUND… “Although South Africa’s Constitution is among the most progressive in the world on LGBT rights, discrimination and violence targeted at the LGBT community were frequent and brutal. Furthermore, women of all sexual orientations faced an extremely high risk of rape and there were concerns that South Africa’s leaders harboured attitudes towards women that were inconsistent with the country ’s human rights obligations. South Africa reportedly also had the highest number of documented cases of child rape in the world.”

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW The Universal Period Review (UPR) is a peer-review mechanism that sees the human rights situation of each UN Member State reviewed by the UN Human Rights every four and a half y ears. States present the actions they have taken to improve their human rights situations and fulfil their human rights obligations. Their peers offer recommendations which may be accepted or rejected. The next cy cle offers the opportunity to compare promise with performance. Each review is based on three reports – one which is submitted by the country itself, one which is a summation of reports by other UN bodies, and a third which consists of submissions from civil society . CHRI has used this space to make submissions and oral statements during the reviews of 13 Commonwealth countries.

WHAT CHRI DID During the first cycle, and over the first two sessions of the second cy cle, which began in June 2012, CHRI made UPR submissions for Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canada, Ghana, India, Malay sia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Pakistan Rwanda, South Africa, United Kingdom and Zambia. For example, among other things, CHRI’s second submission on Ghana said:

HRCNET There is enormous scope for expansion and intensification of our engagement at the HRC in the future, building on the strong foundation as an active member of the Human Rights Council Network (HRCNet), an informal, cross-regional network of CSOs committed to the strengthening of the Human Rights Council as a more effective body to address human rights violations, and to protect and promote human rights worldwide.

“During Ghana’s first UPR in 2008, Canada recommended that it “pass the Freedom of Information Bill…” Ghana responded by say ing that it shared the view that the bill was important and intended to consolidate democracy , and that it was “with this mind that the Right to Informa tion Bill was being prepared within the framework of ongoing consultations with relevant stakeholders”. Four years later, the current government has not passed the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, despite calling for its passage in its campaign manifesto in 2008 and continuing to express commitment to pass the bill since elected.


PROTECTING HUMA N RIGHTS DEFENDERS Kenya was under severe scrutiny, and defensively in denial of the strong indictment of police and state in the violence that followed the 2007 contested elections. The situation in Kenya was unstable, volatile and violent. In 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Philip Alston, presented a particularly damning analysis of extrajudicial killings in Kenya, which was strongly opposed to by the Kenyan government. The effects of his analysis were far-re aching and dangerous.

Kenya’s UPR review c ame on the heels of this damning report, which indicted the police and the government for the proliferation of these killings. There was international outrage, when, subsequent to the Special Rapporteurs’ visit to the country, two wellknown human rights defenders, Oscar Kingara and John Olulu of the Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic, were killed presumably for being in touch with him. There w ere death threa ts to many other prominent me mbers of Kenyan civil society and widespread protests at the police action which resulted in the death of at least one police officer and several civilians. The government delegation refused to accept the report and were aggressive in their denial.

In a pioneering effort for CHRI, its delegation to the UN Human Rights Council included partners it was working with on police accountability in Kenya. One of them, a well -known human rights defender Sa muel Mohochi, found his family me mbers threat ened while he was away , but unlike, others was not physically harmed.

In response to Alston’s report, the Kenyan government sent a strong delegation from both the government in power and opposition parties. CHRI advocated for reform of the police, greater accountability

and reinforced the need to acknowledge the truth of the Rapporteur’s analysis. Unable to reconcile their diffe rences, the Kenyan delegation had no choice but to accept the embarrassing report. The turnaround in the Kenyan government’s position on extrajudicial killings, with an official a cknowledgement, made for a ve ry successful outcome. The Kenyan delegation also publicly committed to addressing the underlying causes of extrajudicial killing (including lack of rights-based training for office rs and weak accountability structures) as part of the President’s current Police Reform Task Force.

CHRI’s efforts we re a ground -breaking attempt to promote dialogue on Kenyan and East African police re form at an international forum. Raising pressure at the Council, CHRI highlighted the need for the UN to protect human rights defenders. For all three of the CHRI delegates from A fric a, it was a first att empt to engage with the UNHRC and pressure the national government at the UNHRC, and both reported on its fruitfulness.

According to recent information fro m partners on the ground, the UNHRC advocacy and internationalisation of police reforms and extrajudicial killings in Kenya led to the Kenya Police Force engaging with CHRI,African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum and the Kenya National Commission on Human Right on their project to develop common standards for policing in the region. In July 2009,representatives of APCOF met with the Kenya Police Force who committed to providing an expert review on the draft standards and to participate in a regional conference to launch the report.


PROTECTING HUMA N RIGHTS DEFENDERS Kenya was under severe scrutiny, and defensively in denial of the strong indictment of police and state in the violence that followed the 2007 contested elections. The situation in Kenya was unstable, volatile and violent. In 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Philip Alston, presented a particularly damning analysis of extrajudicial killings in Kenya, which was strongly opposed to by the Kenyan government. The effects of his analysis were far-re aching and dangerous.

Kenya’s UPR review c ame on the heels of this damning report, which indicted the police and the government for the proliferation of these killings. There was international outrage, when, subsequent to the Special Rapporteurs’ visit to the country, two wellknown human rights defenders, Oscar Kingara and John Olulu of the Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic, were killed presumably for being in touch with him. There w ere death threa ts to many other prominent me mbers of Kenyan civil society and widespread protests at the police action which resulted in the death of at least one police officer and several civilians. The government delegation refused to accept the report and were aggressive in their denial.

In a pioneering effort for CHRI, its delegation to the UN Human Rights Council included partners it was working with on police accountability in Kenya. One of them, a well -known human rights defender Sa muel Mohochi, found his family me mbers threat ened while he was away , but unlike, others was not physically harmed.

In response to Alston’s report, the Kenyan government sent a strong delegation from both the government in power and opposition parties. CHRI advocated for reform of the police, greater accountability

and reinforced the need to acknowledge the truth of the Rapporteur’s analysis. Unable to reconcile their diffe rences, the Kenyan delegation had no choice but to accept the embarrassing report. The turnaround in the Kenyan government’s position on extrajudicial killings, with an official a cknowledgement, made for a ve ry successful outcome. The Kenyan delegation also publicly committed to addressing the underlying causes of extrajudicial killing (including lack of rights-based training for office rs and weak accountability structures) as part of the President’s current Police Reform Task Force.

CHRI’s efforts we re a ground -breaking attempt to promote dialogue on Kenyan and East African police re form at an international forum. Raising pressure at the Council, CHRI highlighted the need for the UN to protect human rights defenders. For all three of the CHRI delegates from A fric a, it was a first att empt to engage with the UNHRC and pressure the national government at the UNHRC, and both reported on its fruitfulness.

According to recent information fro m partners on the ground, the UNHRC advocacy and internationalisation of police reforms and extrajudicial killings in Kenya led to the Kenya Police Force engaging with CHRI,African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum and the Kenya National Commission on Human Right on their project to develop common standards for policing in the region. In July 2009,representatives of APCOF met with the Kenya Police Force who committed to providing an expert review on the draft standards and to participate in a regional conference to launch the report.


CHRI AT THE AFRICA UNION Advocacy on Extrajudicial Killings in the Gambia In 2005, a group of approximately 50 Africans attempting to travel to Europe were detained by Gam bian naval authorities without being charged, violently murdered and the bodies indiscriminately dumped along the Gambian coast. These unresolved extrajudicial killings and disappearances, caused a public outcry and y et, no attempt has been made to put the perpetrators to account, despite calls from human rights defenders, such as CHRI Africa, to investigate the circumstances and prosecute the perpetrators.

out of the African Human Rights Commission, but it remains pending. A different NGO sent out a report detailing attempts to dismiss the case, which were clearly orchestrated by the Gam bian government. CHRI filed a complaint with the Commission. The Commission used delay ing tactics to ignore CHRI’s submissions to it: sending an email at each session to say our communication was not considered, but would be at the next session. In 2011, the Gambian government was still attempting to get the case thrown out. There was a settlement between the two governments, following a UN investigative panel. $500,000 was paid by the Gambian government, however, there are worries about this money owing to allegations of corruption.

CHRI went on a fact finding mission in 2007 to meet the victims’ families, whose palpable frustration showed the government’s lack of effort to find their missing relatives. CHRI met Martin Kyere, a Ghanaian survivor, who gave an account of the events, the officials in charge of the atrocities, and the brutalisation of the immigrants, providing a witness account against the perpetrators, high-ranking officials in the Gambian government.

We teamed up with Africa Legal Aid, to establish the Gambian Task Force with the aim to raise public awareness and promote global sensitisation on the inhuman activities occurring in The Gambia, and sanctioned by the government. In 2007, the Task Force filed a complaint against the Gambian government at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. The Task Force further reported the incident to other international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court and the Commonwealth Secretariat who have pledged their support in attaining justice for the victims.

CHRI collaborated with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to create an opportunity for him to respond to their concerns regarding the investigation process, and explain the government’s actions. Even so, the government continues attempts to get the case kicked

Taking on the President CHRI campaigned to prevent the President of The Gambia attending the 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting after he made clear and equivocal threats to kill human rights defenders. The press and electronic media carried over a hundred mentions of CHRI’s position and protest. The President was then absent from the meeting in Trinidad and Tobago, leading to wide debate on human rights compliance at the Commonwealth. Image Credit: Embassy of Equatorial Guinea


CHRI AT THE AFRICA UNION Advocacy on Extrajudicial Killings in the Gambia In 2005, a group of approximately 50 Africans attempting to travel to Europe were detained by Gam bian naval authorities without being charged, violently murdered and the bodies indiscriminately dumped along the Gambian coast. These unresolved extrajudicial killings and disappearances, caused a public outcry and y et, no attempt has been made to put the perpetrators to account, despite calls from human rights defenders, such as CHRI Africa, to investigate the circumstances and prosecute the perpetrators.

out of the African Human Rights Commission, but it remains pending. A different NGO sent out a report detailing attempts to dismiss the case, which were clearly orchestrated by the Gam bian government. CHRI filed a complaint with the Commission. The Commission used delay ing tactics to ignore CHRI’s submissions to it: sending an email at each session to say our communication was not considered, but would be at the next session. In 2011, the Gambian government was still attempting to get the case thrown out. There was a settlement between the two governments, following a UN investigative panel. $500,000 was paid by the Gambian government, however, there are worries about this money owing to allegations of corruption.

CHRI went on a fact finding mission in 2007 to meet the victims’ families, whose palpable frustration showed the government’s lack of effort to find their missing relatives. CHRI met Martin Kyere, a Ghanaian survivor, who gave an account of the events, the officials in charge of the atrocities, and the brutalisation of the immigrants, providing a witness account against the perpetrators, high-ranking officials in the Gambian government.

We teamed up with Africa Legal Aid, to establish the Gambian Task Force with the aim to raise public awareness and promote global sensitisation on the inhuman activities occurring in The Gambia, and sanctioned by the government. In 2007, the Task Force filed a complaint against the Gambian government at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. The Task Force further reported the incident to other international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court and the Commonwealth Secretariat who have pledged their support in attaining justice for the victims.

CHRI collaborated with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to create an opportunity for him to respond to their concerns regarding the investigation process, and explain the government’s actions. Even so, the government continues attempts to get the case kicked

Taking on the President CHRI campaigned to prevent the President of The Gambia attending the 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting after he made clear and equivocal threats to kill human rights defenders. The press and electronic media carried over a hundred mentions of CHRI’s position and protest. The President was then absent from the meeting in Trinidad and Tobago, leading to wide debate on human rights compliance at the Commonwealth. Image Credit: Embassy of Equatorial Guinea


DIGGING FOR THE TRUTH: FA CT FINDING MISSIONS Over the years, CHRI has undertaken fact finding missions during particularly difficult situations. CHRI conducted fact finding missions to Nigeria (1995), Zambia (1996), Fiji Islands (2002), and Sierra Leone (2002). Most recently , as the process for Rwanda’s entrance into the Commonwealth unfolded, CHRI sent a small fact-finding mission and reported on the human rights situation in Rwanda, urging the Commonwealth not to accept it as a Member country , unless there were benchmarks to show improvement. CHRI’s report helped to hold the spotlight on the country ’s behaviour, and forced the Secretariat to heed calls for a more visible stance on human rights violations. The impact of the report is evidenced by a spate of contemporary articles quoting it in the British press.

FIJI Fiji’s turbulent history since independence in 1970 was detailed in CHRI’s fact finding mission, at the invitation of the Suva-based Citizens’ Cons titutional Forum, tracing the 1987 coup, the wellreceived 1997 Constitution, and the reform campaign which fuelled the military coup in 2000. In the post 9/11 frenzy , the move to reinstate Fiji to the Commonwealth was sidelined, and it was left to CMAG to monitor its advances towards democracy . The fact finding report informed CMAG that I view of Fiji’s refusal to honour the power-sharing provisions of the Constitution to meet its obligations under the Harare Declaration, it “should remain suspe nded from the Councils of the Commonwealth until a constitutionally appropriate government is formed.” It still is to date.

NIGERIA The mission to Nigeria was led by Flora MacDonald, who was Canada’s Foreign Minister during 1979-80, to investigate the people fighting the corruption and abuse. CHRI met the press, severely under persecution and in danger for their lives. While we were there, several were sentenced to death. The report hit the headlines in Britain, its criticism of the government noted and the mission made 12 recommendation to CHOGM. It contributed enormously to the firm action taken to set up the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) of Foreign Ministers.

ZAMBIA In t he r un- up to Zambi a‟s second multi party elect ions i n Se ptem ber 1996, C HR I unde rtook a fact fi nding missi on, i n response t o an invitati on from the t hree Zambi an or ga nisa tions , to ex ami ne t he sit uat ion of civil a nd politica l ri ghts and a dv ocate f or C ommonw ealt h s upport to assist Zambi a. The polit ical sit uat ion at the time was fr agile as the country was ma ki ng t he tra nsiti on from one- party rule t o democracy. The Zambia n peopl e w ere dem andi ng of a re gime that is responsi bl e a nd responsive . CHRI br ought out a re port, Zam bia: Democ racy on Tri al i n 1996, wit h t he r esul ts of its findings.

SIERRA LEONE In 2000, CHRI‟s one -month investigation of Sierra Leone determined the course of their fact find ing miss ion in 2002. Post a b rutal civil wa r that maimed thousands of peop le in 1993, years of bad governance and conflict, S ierra Leone is considered among the poores t countries in the wo rld. When the 19 99 Lome Peace Agreement turned ou t to be flawed with the rebel fo rce Revolutionary United Front (RUF) dragging their feet, security conce rns were paramount. Renewed fighting b roke out in 2000. With this in mind, CHRI unde rtook a lower-p rofile investigation designed to gather mo re info rmation about the overall situation and the long -term importance of human rig hts in the country. A sing le CHRI research off icer conducted interviews and in spections focusing on the s tate of the judiciary amidst the w ider context of ins tability. The report In Pu rsuit of Ju stice was published in 2 002. Image Credit: Anna Fruen


CHRI 2012

CHRI Strategic Initiatives

COMMONWEAL TH H UMAN RIG HTS IN ITIATIVE B-117, 2 nd Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, N ew D elhi – 110017 Tel: +91-(0)11 4318 0200 Fax: +91-(0)11 2686 4688 info@humanrightsinitiative.org; www.humanrightsinitiat ive.org

C HRI Commonwealth Human Rights Initiativ e Working for the practical realisation ofhuman rights in the countries of the Commonwealth

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CHRI 2012

CHRI Access to Information

COMMONWEAL TH H UMAN RIG HTS IN ITIATIVE B-117, 2 nd Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, N ew D elhi – 110017 Tel: +91-(0)11 4318 0200 Fax: +91-(0)11 2686 4688 info@humanrightsinitiative.org; www.humanrightsinitiat ive.org

C HRI Commonwealth Human Rights Initiativ e Working for the practical realisation ofhuman rights in the countries of the Commonwealth


Access to Information

About The Right to Information is the foundation upon which Effective Human Rights can be realised: the right for all people to know what their government is doing, say ing, and spending in their name. Our Access to Information Programme advocates for this right in Commonwealth countries. Currently , only 16 of the 54 Member States have right to information legislation in place. Without it, governments can‟t be held accountable for their actions, a democracy can‟t be established, a free press who intelligently monitors and critiques the country remains nonexistent and an uneducated, unaware and unconscious population leads to brutal, corrupt and unaccountable powers in charge. The Right to Information results not only in the exposure of corruption and human rights violations, but also impacts citizens on a day -to-day basis, from access to food rations, receiving pay for a day ‟s work, to having a road repaired. Access to Information was the foundation on which CHRI‟s other programmes were later established. Without the initial knowledge to hold governments to account, justice cannot be served. Through this report, we feature a story on proactive disclosure in Gujarat, examine past suc cesses in passing and implementing RTI Acts, look at the role of workshops and capacity building and finally the use of technology through the Internet forum , SARTIAN.

Image Credit: Divy a Dubey


Access to Information

About The Right to Information is the foundation upon which Effective Human Rights can be realised: the right for all people to know what their government is doing, say ing, and spending in their name. Our Access to Information Programme advocates for this right in Commonwealth countries. Currently , only 16 of the 54 Member States have right to information legislation in place. Without it, governments can‟t be held accountable for their actions, a democracy can‟t be established, a free press who intelligently monitors and critiques the country remains nonexistent and an uneducated, unaware and unconscious population leads to brutal, corrupt and unaccountable powers in charge. The Right to Information results not only in the exposure of corruption and human rights violations, but also impacts citizens on a day -to-day basis, from access to food rations, receiving pay for a day ‟s work, to having a road repaired. Access to Information was the foundation on which CHRI‟s other programmes were later established. Without the initial knowledge to hold governments to account, justice cannot be served. Through this report, we feature a story on proactive disclosure in Gujarat, examine past suc cesses in passing and implementing RTI Acts, look at the role of workshops and capacity building and finally the use of technology through the Internet forum , SARTIAN.

Image Credit: Divy a Dubey


The Indian Right to Information (RTI) law is unique in the fact that it was demanded by some of the poorest of Indian society , who recognised how powerful a tool access to government-held information could be. A grassroots movement began in earnest with the Rajasthan-based people‟s movement, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), which began working in the late 1980s as forerunners to the ensuring the RTI movement. As a result of this, and the strong involvement of civil society in the drafting process, the law is very much “owned” by the people of India.

CHRI was extremely involved in advocating for the enactment of the Right to Information Act, alongside the grassroots community , and took an active role in the drafting process. We produced the best practice principles for the Right to Information Bill, 2004, which was the basis for the Right to Information Act, 2005. CHRI was instrumental in the concept and design of the multi-member information commission, which better equipped it to handle the multitude of complaints in such a large country . We also recommended the power to impose penalty (penalising officials who refuse to hand over information), and introduced proactive disclosure, a key feature of the RTI Act in India.

I N D I A

Passing the RTI Act in India and Bangladesh

The demand for a law on Freedom of Information in Bangladesh was first articulated in 1982 by the Press Council, following draconian crackdowns on press freedom. No law, effective or otherwise, was however drafted till 2002 when the Law Commission prepared a working paper, following years of advocacy and campaigning by Bangladeshi civil society . Bangladesh‟s long history of poverty , lack of development, dependence on aid, ram pant corruption and the government‟s blissful choice to ignore the needs of its poor, weak and hungry , meant that a Right to Information law was vital to lifting millions out of poverty .

The six-y ear-long process that finally led to the implementation of the RTI Act in India was successfully realised in May 2005. Even before the government was able to hold discussions, CHRI was the forerunner in bringing in experts in the international RTI community , from countries such as the UK, Canada and Mexico as well as from the RTI implementing units of Jamaica and South Africa, to advise on effective implementation. The actual implementation of the Act was slow. States ruled by the Central party were more prepared and proactive; however in others, there was a complete lack of preparation. In an attempt to speed up this process, civil society organisations began filing applications from day one. There was resistance from the government from the initial stages of the process – a resistance to transparency and a mindset that was averse to the idea. However, inadequate aware ness about the Act among the citizens in remote areas of the country was the largest barrier to effective implementation. At the same time, the Indian judiciary play ed a role in making RTI a reality – without their initial interpretation that „Freedom of Speech and Expression‟ was to include the right to access information, the RTI Act may never have been passed.

CHRI monitored the implementation, ensuring that Public Information Officers (PIOs) were designated, that RTI applications were receiving response s and that proactive disclosure was taking place. From 2005 to 2008, CHRI was instrumental in training government officials and civil society members to ensure that the power of RTI was understood and realised. Even now, with the recent deaths of prominent RTI activists around the country , access to information remains a struggle. CHRI continues to increase awareness and conducts regular workshops training people to use the law effectively . Despite setbacks, RTI has been used successfully all over the country to help achieve accountable and transparent governance.

B A N G L A D E S H

CHRI began working on the complex process of bringing a Right to Information Act to Bangladesh in 2003. We strategised our approach from 2005 focusing strongly on advocacy and awareness campaigns, local capacity building and producing resources and publications in the local language, Bangla. The Open Sesame Report (Bangladeshspecific) was vital in researching provisions for Access to Information in the country and the environment in which the law was to be embedded. The study revealed that there were significant provisions related to Access to Information in the already existent laws, however, few people knew about these. Knowledge building became vital. CHRI developed a network of contacts in civil society and the media in order to explain the vital importance of RTI. Over the course of 2007 and 2008, several drafts of the bill were put forth, shared, critiqued and then strengthened. In the meantime, an RTI Forum was set up to create demand for the enactment of RTI and later monitor its progress. After six y ears of lobby ing, drafting and capacity building, an ordinance was issued in 2008 and the bill was finally approved by Parliament in March 2009. However, for RTI to realise its full potential, and as international experiences show, it is critical that the Act is effectively implemented. Only through sy stematic and regular use of the RTI Act, can its political, economic and social powers be realised. In 2011, CHRI, in collaboration with a local NGO, Nagorik Uddy og, brought out one of the first User Guides based on the RTI Act, 2009. Despite misconceptions that RTI is a tool for the educated middle class, it is clear that it is a means for the very poorest of society to lift themselves out of destitution and use it to ensure that their basic rights are achieved.


The Indian Right to Information (RTI) law is unique in the fact that it was demanded by some of the poorest of Indian society , who recognised how powerful a tool access to government-held information could be. A grassroots movement began in earnest with the Rajasthan-based people‟s movement, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), which began working in the late 1980s as forerunners to the ensuring the RTI movement. As a result of this, and the strong involvement of civil society in the drafting process, the law is very much “owned” by the people of India.

CHRI was extremely involved in advocating for the enactment of the Right to Information Act, alongside the grassroots community , and took an active role in the drafting process. We produced the best practice principles for the Right to Information Bill, 2004, which was the basis for the Right to Information Act, 2005. CHRI was instrumental in the concept and design of the multi-member information commission, which better equipped it to handle the multitude of complaints in such a large country . We also recommended the power to impose penalty (penalising officials who refuse to hand over information), and introduced proactive disclosure, a key feature of the RTI Act in India.

I N D I A

Passing the RTI Act in India and Bangladesh

The demand for a law on Freedom of Information in Bangladesh was first articulated in 1982 by the Press Council, following draconian crackdowns on press freedom. No law, effective or otherwise, was however drafted till 2002 when the Law Commission prepared a working paper, following years of advocacy and campaigning by Bangladeshi civil society . Bangladesh‟s long history of poverty , lack of development, dependence on aid, ram pant corruption and the government‟s blissful choice to ignore the needs of its poor, weak and hungry , meant that a Right to Information law was vital to lifting millions out of poverty .

The six-y ear-long process that finally led to the implementation of the RTI Act in India was successfully realised in May 2005. Even before the government was able to hold discussions, CHRI was the forerunner in bringing in experts in the international RTI community , from countries such as the UK, Canada and Mexico as well as from the RTI implementing units of Jamaica and South Africa, to advise on effective implementation. The actual implementation of the Act was slow. States ruled by the Central party were more prepared and proactive; however in others, there was a complete lack of preparation. In an attempt to speed up this process, civil society organisations began filing applications from day one. There was resistance from the government from the initial stages of the process – a resistance to transparency and a mindset that was averse to the idea. However, inadequate aware ness about the Act among the citizens in remote areas of the country was the largest barrier to effective implementation. At the same time, the Indian judiciary play ed a role in making RTI a reality – without their initial interpretation that „Freedom of Speech and Expression‟ was to include the right to access information, the RTI Act may never have been passed.

CHRI monitored the implementation, ensuring that Public Information Officers (PIOs) were designated, that RTI applications were receiving response s and that proactive disclosure was taking place. From 2005 to 2008, CHRI was instrumental in training government officials and civil society members to ensure that the power of RTI was understood and realised. Even now, with the recent deaths of prominent RTI activists around the country , access to information remains a struggle. CHRI continues to increase awareness and conducts regular workshops training people to use the law effectively . Despite setbacks, RTI has been used successfully all over the country to help achieve accountable and transparent governance.

B A N G L A D E S H

CHRI began working on the complex process of bringing a Right to Information Act to Bangladesh in 2003. We strategised our approach from 2005 focusing strongly on advocacy and awareness campaigns, local capacity building and producing resources and publications in the local language, Bangla. The Open Sesame Report (Bangladeshspecific) was vital in researching provisions for Access to Information in the country and the environment in which the law was to be embedded. The study revealed that there were significant provisions related to Access to Information in the already existent laws, however, few people knew about these. Knowledge building became vital. CHRI developed a network of contacts in civil society and the media in order to explain the vital importance of RTI. Over the course of 2007 and 2008, several drafts of the bill were put forth, shared, critiqued and then strengthened. In the meantime, an RTI Forum was set up to create demand for the enactment of RTI and later monitor its progress. After six y ears of lobby ing, drafting and capacity building, an ordinance was issued in 2008 and the bill was finally approved by Parliament in March 2009. However, for RTI to realise its full potential, and as international experiences show, it is critical that the Act is effectively implemented. Only through sy stematic and regular use of the RTI Act, can its political, economic and social powers be realised. In 2011, CHRI, in collaboration with a local NGO, Nagorik Uddy og, brought out one of the first User Guides based on the RTI Act, 2009. Despite misconceptions that RTI is a tool for the educated middle class, it is clear that it is a means for the very poorest of society to lift themselves out of destitution and use it to ensure that their basic rights are achieved.


In the dusty Eastern rea ches of Gujarat lies the Municipality of Kalol, a sub -district of Panch Mahals with a population of just over a 100,000. Within this sits the tiny village of Malav, rarely seen in the public eye. Yet, the village became the object of media attention when its Panchayat became a model example of co mpliance with the Right to Information Act.

In the Malav Panchayat, information about their administration, finances and activities are displayed innovatively as wall paintings in the local language, to be viewed by anyone. The colourful writing livens up the otherwise plain, whitewashed building, now plastered in posters, notices and wall paintings. Up to even a few months ago, anyone who wanted information about the Panchayat would be obliged to file a lengthy RTI application, whose results would only be revealed a full month later. Instead, active me mbers of society who believed they had the right to know what their local administration was doing are able to merely come into the Panchayat building and find the information they require displayed.

Sampaben Mukeshbhai discovered that she was entitled to benefits under the Chiranjeevi Scheme, which was meant to provide benefits to poor women who could not afford costly deliveries in nursing homes. Sh e had thought that only people below the poverty line could avail those benefits and missed out on them for years.

In 2008, Nagarik Adhikar Kendra (NAK ), a lo cal NGO, worked with CHRI to assess compliance by selected public authorities with the RTI Act. NAK previously received training as paralegals from CHR I, and implemented this while working towards deepening transparency and accountability at the district level in Gujarat. Over time, they developed templates and guid ance mate rial to proactively disclose information at the Panchayat level.

Proactive Disclosure: A Case Study

With so much information now readily available, many citizens began participating in Panchayat meetings, having now understood the purpose and benefits of these. Buriben was one of these. She discovered the Indira Awaas

Yojana scheme, which helps provide housing for the rural poor, and was able to file for a BPL card and avail the facility.

With the awareness ca mpaign around this project, the initiative spread to 15 other Panchayats in the surrounding district of Dahod, with the district administration ordering replication in 200 others. Through sensitisation and training workshops, officials in the area have been made aware of the advantages of proactive disclosure and the importance o f RTI, to create model democrati c institutions. To make this initiative accessible to a wider Indian and international audience, the scheme has been captured in a documentary in Hindi and Gujarati, and is being contextualised for a wider audience and translation into English.

This proactive disclosure model may have a wider influence to develop guidelines for Central and state governance. These grassroots initiatives have found their way to policy -level recommendations, which will be circulated to all state governments seeking compliance with the RTI Act. Civil society organisations too have taken an interest in the project, and have visited and studied the Malav Panchayat in order to replicate and then broaden the reach of the initiative.

Both Sampaben and Buriben were able to use the proactively disclosed information and actu ally make a differenc e to their lives. By discovering the two schemes, Sampaben could provide better for her fa mily and receive enhanced medical c are, while Buriben could finally afford to build a house and improve her stand ard of living.

The importance of proactive disclosure is clea r here: it prevents the filing of unnecessary RTI applications; it prevents the use of bribes as a standard practice, reducing corruption ; reduces the time for information to reach the appropriate audience; fosters belief and inspires trust in the local and eventually, national government; and most importantly, can actually improve the quality of life of citizens who arenâ€&#x;t awa re of what is owed to them by the government.


Sensitisation Workshops

Capacity Building

Despite CHRI‟s role as a mid-level policy organisation, one that has been consciously carved out as a niche away from the grassroots level, we work with government officials, civil society , RTI activists, and the media to sensitise these bodies to the role of Access to Information in a free and robust democracy . CHRI has run sensitisation workshops s ince 2003, and these have been conducted successfully in several Commonwealth countries of South Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Africa.

Capacity building is a conceptual approach to development that CHRI employ s in its strategic work towards the practical realisation of Human Rights. It focuses on understanding the obstacles that people, governments, civil society organisations and NGOs, among others face, and determine the measures that would allow them to overcome these obstacles.

Sensitisation workshop s frequently lay the groundwork for an RTI movement to come about on a national level. Without an understanding of RTI‟s crucial role underpinning human rights, people cannot and will not become inspired to advocate and lobby their government for Right to Information legislation. Through these workshops, we highlight the role of transparency and accountability for government officials, in order to establish a true democracy . For civil society , CHRI works toward creating awareness on international standards of best practice on RTI, the history , philosophy and concept of RTI, and the important role CSOs play in constructing and implementing RTI legislation.

All this needs to be underscored with media attention and interaction. Sensitisation workshops with journalists introduce them to RTI, its importance and how their impact could incite and awaken the public‟s interest in a strong RTI law. In aid of this, public sensitisation is carried out through media attention – radio interviews, publications in local languages – and holding workshops in rural areas or smaller towns and villages. This creates ground-level attention and highlights the importance of participatory democracy , channelling public input into the legislative process.

Much of the capacity building work that CHRI employ s is carried out in conjunction with its sensitisation wor kshops – teaching those whose awareness has now been developed, how to build on their capacity and ability to combat these issues. We have used this approach both on the national and state level in India, and have been requested by international NGOs to build the capacity of civil society in other countries.

This is done for a similar range of people, focussing on training civil society in the advocacy and lobby ing that must surround an RTI bill, and on training government officials, building their capacity to deal with RTI requests and the application process. Through these workshops and training sessions, CHRI has built up a network of experts and partners in RTI in South Asia and internationally , both in civil society and in government. It allows us to play a mediating role and to ensure best practice principles down to the grassroots level.

Our comprehensive, thoroughly researched publications too, aid in this effort: these encompass critiques of bills, laws and rules, implementation guides, advocacy guides, status reports and user guides among others. Through these, CSOs and NGOs are often able to take our research further in order to target key areas which require their help, or to lobby governmental bodies to appreciate the seriousness of an issue or its ramifications.


In the dusty Eastern rea ches of Gujarat lies the Municipality of Kalol, a sub -district of Panch Mahals with a population of just over a 100,000. Within this sits the tiny village of Malav, rarely seen in the public eye. Yet, the village became the object of media attention when its Panchayat became a model example of co mpliance with the Right to Information Act.

In the Malav Panchayat, information about their administration, finances and activities are displayed innovatively as wall paintings in the local language, to be viewed by anyone. The colourful writing livens up the otherwise plain, whitewashed building, now plastered in posters, notices and wall paintings. Up to even a few months ago, anyone who wanted information about the Panchayat would be obliged to file a lengthy RTI application, whose results would only be revealed a full month later. Instead, active me mbers of society who believed they had the right to know what their local administration was doing are able to merely come into the Panchayat building and find the information they require displayed.

Sampaben Mukeshbhai discovered that she was entitled to benefits under the Chiranjeevi Scheme, which was meant to provide benefits to poor women who could not afford costly deliveries in nursing homes. Sh e had thought that only people below the poverty line could avail those benefits and missed out on them for years.

In 2008, Nagarik Adhikar Kendra (NAK ), a lo cal NGO, worked with CHRI to assess compliance by selected public authorities with the RTI Act. NAK previously received training as paralegals from CHR I, and implemented this while working towards deepening transparency and accountability at the district level in Gujarat. Over time, they developed templates and guid ance mate rial to proactively disclose information at the Panchayat level.

Proactive Disclosure: A Case Study

With so much information now readily available, many citizens began participating in Panchayat meetings, having now understood the purpose and benefits of these. Buriben was one of these. She discovered the Indira Awaas

Yojana scheme, which helps provide housing for the rural poor, and was able to file for a BPL card and avail the facility.

With the awareness ca mpaign around this project, the initiative spread to 15 other Panchayats in the surrounding district of Dahod, with the district administration ordering replication in 200 others. Through sensitisation and training workshops, officials in the area have been made aware of the advantages of proactive disclosure and the importance o f RTI, to create model democrati c institutions. To make this initiative accessible to a wider Indian and international audience, the scheme has been captured in a documentary in Hindi and Gujarati, and is being contextualised for a wider audience and translation into English.

This proactive disclosure model may have a wider influence to develop guidelines for Central and state governance. These grassroots initiatives have found their way to policy -level recommendations, which will be circulated to all state governments seeking compliance with the RTI Act. Civil society organisations too have taken an interest in the project, and have visited and studied the Malav Panchayat in order to replicate and then broaden the reach of the initiative.

Both Sampaben and Buriben were able to use the proactively disclosed information and actu ally make a differenc e to their lives. By discovering the two schemes, Sampaben could provide better for her fa mily and receive enhanced medical c are, while Buriben could finally afford to build a house and improve her stand ard of living.

The importance of proactive disclosure is clea r here: it prevents the filing of unnecessary RTI applications; it prevents the use of bribes as a standard practice, reducing corruption ; reduces the time for information to reach the appropriate audience; fosters belief and inspires trust in the local and eventually, national government; and most importantly, can actually improve the quality of life of citizens who arenâ€&#x;t awa re of what is owed to them by the government.


Sensitisation Workshops

Capacity Building

Despite CHRI‟s role as a mid-level policy organisation, one that has been consciously carved out as a niche away from the grassroots level, we work with government officials, civil society , RTI activists, and the media to sensitise these bodies to the role of Access to Information in a free and robust democracy . CHRI has run sensitisation workshops s ince 2003, and these have been conducted successfully in several Commonwealth countries of South Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Africa.

Capacity building is a conceptual approach to development that CHRI employ s in its strategic work towards the practical realisation of Human Rights. It focuses on understanding the obstacles that people, governments, civil society organisations and NGOs, among others face, and determine the measures that would allow them to overcome these obstacles.

Sensitisation workshop s frequently lay the groundwork for an RTI movement to come about on a national level. Without an understanding of RTI‟s crucial role underpinning human rights, people cannot and will not become inspired to advocate and lobby their government for Right to Information legislation. Through these workshops, we highlight the role of transparency and accountability for government officials, in order to establish a true democracy . For civil society , CHRI works toward creating awareness on international standards of best practice on RTI, the history , philosophy and concept of RTI, and the important role CSOs play in constructing and implementing RTI legislation.

All this needs to be underscored with media attention and interaction. Sensitisation workshops with journalists introduce them to RTI, its importance and how their impact could incite and awaken the public‟s interest in a strong RTI law. In aid of this, public sensitisation is carried out through media attention – radio interviews, publications in local languages – and holding workshops in rural areas or smaller towns and villages. This creates ground-level attention and highlights the importance of participatory democracy , channelling public input into the legislative process.

Much of the capacity building work that CHRI employ s is carried out in conjunction with its sensitisation wor kshops – teaching those whose awareness has now been developed, how to build on their capacity and ability to combat these issues. We have used this approach both on the national and state level in India, and have been requested by international NGOs to build the capacity of civil society in other countries.

This is done for a similar range of people, focussing on training civil society in the advocacy and lobby ing that must surround an RTI bill, and on training government officials, building their capacity to deal with RTI requests and the application process. Through these workshops and training sessions, CHRI has built up a network of experts and partners in RTI in South Asia and internationally , both in civil society and in government. It allows us to play a mediating role and to ensure best practice principles down to the grassroots level.

Our comprehensive, thoroughly researched publications too, aid in this effort: these encompass critiques of bills, laws and rules, implementation guides, advocacy guides, status reports and user guides among others. Through these, CSOs and NGOs are often able to take our research further in order to target key areas which require their help, or to lobby governmental bodies to appreciate the seriousness of an issue or its ramifications.


Learning Programmes “This learn ing vis it opened up my knowledge on RTI in to new vis tas. It gave me the opportun ity to gain hands on experience as to how RTI wo rks at g rass root level. My understanding of the RTI law was that it would help to min imize corrup tion in so ciety and improve the efficiency of the pub lic service. It was also my belief tha t RTI is a weapon in the hands of the educated midd le class and the media and as a basic human right. This visit helped me to correct my thinking and learn how even the uneducated, under privileged people accessed RTI through innovative methods.” - Shyamila Perera, IDL, Sri Lanka For Shy amila, as for many of the other participants, CHRI‟s learning programme becomes a stepping stone to put together effective Right to Information legislation in her country . Delegates from several countries in South Asia annually come to CHRI‟s Headquarters in New Delhi, to learn from our team of RTI experts. Having played a major role in successfully realising Access to Information laws in India and Bangladesh, these programmes allow us to put our expertise into service in other countries.

The purpose of these visits is to examine the successes and challenges of advocating for and finally im plementing the act in India. We apply these to other countries so that equally effective efforts can be established to ensure greater transparency , accountability and finally democracy . Invitations are extended to key players in civil society or from partner organisations, who are well-versed in their local situation, can absorb CHRI‟s expertise and then apply this at home. Our Learning Programmes began in 2008; they are well attended and in fact, now attract other South Asian countries which are not in the Commonwealth. While CHRI focuses on Commonwealth countries, we also share expertise with our neighbours who are embroiled in similar situations. For the 2011 Learning Programme, we had delegates from the Commonwealth countries of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, as well as from our South Asian neighbours, Nepal and Afghanistan. The programme includes meetings with prominent Right to Information advocates, lawy ers, journalists, government officials and civil society representatives. By speaking to key stakeholders in the RTI sphere, delegates get an idea of what is tangibly involved with the drafting, the advocacy surrounding it and the eventual implementation. The Learning Programme also includes a visit to a model Panchay at (decentralised governing body ) in Gujarat, where proactive disclosure has become the norm. These Panchay ats are used as examples of model procedures that need to be replicated around the country .

An exercise conducted during the 2011 Learning Programme in New Delhi, India, comparing the RTI provisions in four countries. Image credit: Alan Cheuk

Several of the participating delegates become experts and resource persons in the field in their home countries and can train other civil society actors in the importance and the implementation of RTI.


Learning Programmes “This learn ing vis it opened up my knowledge on RTI in to new vis tas. It gave me the opportun ity to gain hands on experience as to how RTI wo rks at g rass root level. My understanding of the RTI law was that it would help to min imize corrup tion in so ciety and improve the efficiency of the pub lic service. It was also my belief tha t RTI is a weapon in the hands of the educated midd le class and the media and as a basic human right. This visit helped me to correct my thinking and learn how even the uneducated, under privileged people accessed RTI through innovative methods.” - Shyamila Perera, IDL, Sri Lanka For Shy amila, as for many of the other participants, CHRI‟s learning programme becomes a stepping stone to put together effective Right to Information legislation in her country . Delegates from several countries in South Asia annually come to CHRI‟s Headquarters in New Delhi, to learn from our team of RTI experts. Having played a major role in successfully realising Access to Information laws in India and Bangladesh, these programmes allow us to put our expertise into service in other countries.

The purpose of these visits is to examine the successes and challenges of advocating for and finally im plementing the act in India. We apply these to other countries so that equally effective efforts can be established to ensure greater transparency , accountability and finally democracy . Invitations are extended to key players in civil society or from partner organisations, who are well-versed in their local situation, can absorb CHRI‟s expertise and then apply this at home. Our Learning Programmes began in 2008; they are well attended and in fact, now attract other South Asian countries which are not in the Commonwealth. While CHRI focuses on Commonwealth countries, we also share expertise with our neighbours who are embroiled in similar situations. For the 2011 Learning Programme, we had delegates from the Commonwealth countries of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, as well as from our South Asian neighbours, Nepal and Afghanistan. The programme includes meetings with prominent Right to Information advocates, lawy ers, journalists, government officials and civil society representatives. By speaking to key stakeholders in the RTI sphere, delegates get an idea of what is tangibly involved with the drafting, the advocacy surrounding it and the eventual implementation. The Learning Programme also includes a visit to a model Panchay at (decentralised governing body ) in Gujarat, where proactive disclosure has become the norm. These Panchay ats are used as examples of model procedures that need to be replicated around the country .

An exercise conducted during the 2011 Learning Programme in New Delhi, India, comparing the RTI provisions in four countries. Image credit: Alan Cheuk

Several of the participating delegates become experts and resource persons in the field in their home countries and can train other civil society actors in the importance and the implementation of RTI.


CHRI began working with the Cayman Islands‟ Cabinet Office in 2005, to formulate and then enact the Freedom of Information (FO I) Bill. We critiqued the government‟s draft bill, which they took into account while reviewing it.

The FOI Act was passed in September 2007, which was a great success for CHRI, as we provided guidance and technical advice to the Cabinet Offic e on the development of their law. The officials who attended the Commonwealth Parlia mentary Association‟s (CPA ) training workshop in Dominica mentioned that the inputs received from CHRI, concern ing appellate me chanisms helped them rethink the system of court-based appeals, they had initially proposed.

The FOI Coordinator appointed for planning and overseeing the implementation asked CHRI to h elp train public officials on their responsibilities under the new law. Having been invited to resource the conference and to chalk out implementation strategies was an indication of the confidence shown in us by both government and civil society.

The Freedom of Information Unit invited us to train their government officials as part of their preparation to implement the FOI Act. The Governor General and Pri me Minister attended the FOI retre at. CHRI was invited to talk about FOI implementation worldwide, issues faced by other countries when implementing FOI and ways and means to avoid or overcome potential problems.

Even so, one of the greatest challenges was to achieve consistent support from all public authorities in the process of implementation. There was some resistance to reorganising agencies in order to comply with the Act. Because specific budget wasn‟t allocated for FO I, many agencies took this to mean compliance was optional. Record management was equally a problem: several agencies did not adhere to the time fra mes given and were often not adequately resourced to do so.

Surprisingly, a major challenge was ensuring that the public was interested in FOI as well as its aims in the understanding of their rights. There was considerable sceptic ism about Freedom of Info rmation and whether it was a waste of funds and an attempt to ensure an election victory for the government, by members of the public and the media.

Despite the numerous challenges, by all accounts the implementation of FOI into the Cayman Islands was successful as most agencies were w ell prepared. The success could actually be seen during the first few months when there was an almost perfe ct response rate with regard to meeting the 30-day request timeframe.

Perhaps the most important outcome of the FOI movement in the Cayman Islands is a change in culture: FOI became an everyday concern and is referenced frequently in the media. The government readily makes available far more information than before, ensuring that citizens are aw are of both FOI and its importance in accessing rights.

C A Y M A N I S L A N D S

The Maltese government releas ed a draft Fre edom of Information Bill and white paper on transparency and accountability in government in early 2007. In July, the government released the paper again and a revised Bill for consultation, having taken CHRI‟s recommendations into consideration. CHRI‟s submissions were acknowledged in the introduction to the consultation paper. The legislative process was completed in Dece mber 2008 with the notification of the law in the Gazette. However, this does not contain a due date for operationalisation.

IMPLEMENTING THE LAW

M A L T A

The people‟s right to receive and communicat e information is implicit in the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution. The Government of Malt a tabled the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, 2008 in Parlia ment aft er holding two rounds of public consultation based on a white paper. CHRI submitted an unsolicited, detailed analysis of the draft Bill, 2007, with several reco mmendations for improvement, which we re acknowledged in the second version of the consultation paper released in July 2007.

CHRI helped secure national media coverage for the FOI A ct and conducted workshops to train trainers, and duty-holders. CHRI also developed strong partnerships with civil society organisations, such as the Organisation for the Promotion of Human Rights (OPHR) and the People for Change Foundation.

The Maltese government has not yet operationalised the law owing to delays in training civil servants for implementation. There is unfortunately no information in the public domain about a new deadline. However, civil society and media advocacy are assisting to speed the process along.


CHRI began working with the Cayman Islands‟ Cabinet Office in 2005, to formulate and then enact the Freedom of Information (FO I) Bill. We critiqued the government‟s draft bill, which they took into account while reviewing it.

The FOI Act was passed in September 2007, which was a great success for CHRI, as we provided guidance and technical advice to the Cabinet Offic e on the development of their law. The officials who attended the Commonwealth Parlia mentary Association‟s (CPA ) training workshop in Dominica mentioned that the inputs received from CHRI, concern ing appellate me chanisms helped them rethink the system of court-based appeals, they had initially proposed.

The FOI Coordinator appointed for planning and overseeing the implementation asked CHRI to h elp train public officials on their responsibilities under the new law. Having been invited to resource the conference and to chalk out implementation strategies was an indication of the confidence shown in us by both government and civil society.

The Freedom of Information Unit invited us to train their government officials as part of their preparation to implement the FOI Act. The Governor General and Pri me Minister attended the FOI retre at. CHRI was invited to talk about FOI implementation worldwide, issues faced by other countries when implementing FOI and ways and means to avoid or overcome potential problems.

Even so, one of the greatest challenges was to achieve consistent support from all public authorities in the process of implementation. There was some resistance to reorganising agencies in order to comply with the Act. Because specific budget wasn‟t allocated for FO I, many agencies took this to mean compliance was optional. Record management was equally a problem: several agencies did not adhere to the time fra mes given and were often not adequately resourced to do so.

Surprisingly, a major challenge was ensuring that the public was interested in FOI as well as its aims in the understanding of their rights. There was considerable sceptic ism about Freedom of Info rmation and whether it was a waste of funds and an attempt to ensure an election victory for the government, by members of the public and the media.

Despite the numerous challenges, by all accounts the implementation of FOI into the Cayman Islands was successful as most agencies were w ell prepared. The success could actually be seen during the first few months when there was an almost perfe ct response rate with regard to meeting the 30-day request timeframe.

Perhaps the most important outcome of the FOI movement in the Cayman Islands is a change in culture: FOI became an everyday concern and is referenced frequently in the media. The government readily makes available far more information than before, ensuring that citizens are aw are of both FOI and its importance in accessing rights.

C A Y M A N I S L A N D S

The Maltese government releas ed a draft Fre edom of Information Bill and white paper on transparency and accountability in government in early 2007. In July, the government released the paper again and a revised Bill for consultation, having taken CHRI‟s recommendations into consideration. CHRI‟s submissions were acknowledged in the introduction to the consultation paper. The legislative process was completed in Dece mber 2008 with the notification of the law in the Gazette. However, this does not contain a due date for operationalisation.

IMPLEMENTING THE LAW

M A L T A

The people‟s right to receive and communicat e information is implicit in the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution. The Government of Malt a tabled the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, 2008 in Parlia ment aft er holding two rounds of public consultation based on a white paper. CHRI submitted an unsolicited, detailed analysis of the draft Bill, 2007, with several reco mmendations for improvement, which we re acknowledged in the second version of the consultation paper released in July 2007.

CHRI helped secure national media coverage for the FOI A ct and conducted workshops to train trainers, and duty-holders. CHRI also developed strong partnerships with civil society organisations, such as the Organisation for the Promotion of Human Rights (OPHR) and the People for Change Foundation.

The Maltese government has not yet operationalised the law owing to delays in training civil servants for implementation. There is unfortunately no information in the public domain about a new deadline. However, civil society and media advocacy are assisting to speed the process along.


ABHA JOSHI

SARTIAN CHRI launched the South Asia Right to Information Advocates Network (SARTIAN) in 2007, in order to strengthen the access to information movement in the South Asian region, and to have a platform to exchange experiences and information regarding the Right to Information (RTI). The RTI movement has been active in South Asia for over a decade. While working ing for the promotion of RTI legislation in India, CHRI initiated efforts, through regional workshops and similar activities, to encourage civil society interest in other South Asian countries. CHRI has consistently engaged with both civil society and governments in the countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Maldives to ensure the adoption of RTI legislation. SARTIAN is primarily a virtual group of over 140 members, communicating through an Internet forum. The network aims to promote regular interaction between civil society actors across the region, build solidarity among networks of advocates from civil society and the media, and benefit from discussions, debates, experience, to give each other advice and support when faced with obstacles. It is also a forum for participants to exchange ideas on how best to make use of right to information laws in order to increase accountability and transparency in public bodies.

Soon, SARTIAN will develop into a fully -fledged website in its own right which will serve as a one-stop regional resource centre for South Asia on RTI. We are creating a repository of resources that can be referred to by other members on a regular basis, and a network of RTI practitioners to be relied on all the way from drafting the bill to lobby ing governments to effective implementation.

Perspectives

The Director of CHRI has alway s had a Ka-like quality about her and can hy pnotise one into doing almost any thing. In 1997 when no one had heard of access to information in India she asked me if I‟d like to “come in and do a bit of work.” Before I learnt to say “Com monwealth Human Rights Initiative” without getting my tongue knotted in four places, I was in the thick of developing a programme for the promotion of the Freedom of Information – one of the core values in the UN and the Commonwealth human rights regime. The “bit of work” turned into a full-time obsession and it was during that time that both the Freedom of Information as well as CHRI grew at a phenomenal rate, impacting important policy and action on the human rights of people across the globe. In hindsight, one could not have been better placed at that time, than to be at CHRI to follow y our heart, to develop ideas and to learn.

Working with CHRI, I received the invaluable experience of changing form a legal “country bumpkin”, given to scoffing occasionally at the “international” tag, to a professional who can now appreciate the value of the global viewpoint. Travelling to different places within India and abroad and meeting people from diverse nationalities and professional backgrounds brought home the fact that differences are important for survival, growth and fulfilment and it is these differences that paradoxically guarantee the oneness of the human world. CHRI‟s alluring and enduring quality is its acceptability of all levels and layers of thought and action and its proactive approach towards taking on the responsibility of bringing issues to the fore and pushing them into the hearts and minds of whoever can make the difference.

KATRIN BANNACH

Since CHRI opened its office in Delhi over 15 y ears ago, the Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit (FNF) has been a close partner. FNF takes some pride in contributing to CHRI‟s successes, owing to CHRI‟s professionalism and the impact of its work. One example is the success is the Right to Information movement in India and in Bangladesh in which CHRI played an important role. CHRI was surely not the only one, but ask any one in South Asia about RTI and they will know of or even have profited from the expertise CHRI offers to civil society organisations and officials. Indian RTI can be regarded as a best-practice example and some of this goes back to CHRI‟s legal knowledge which influenced discussions of the draft law. This success story teaches us that continuous high-quality engagement with policymakers and stakeholders can bring about a change. The key is CHRI‟s strategy of building good relations with decision-makers while not shy ing away from confronting them in cases of human rights violations. We supported CHRI‟s RTI advocacy work in India in the late1990s when it was not y et fashionable. In the last few years we have expanded support so that CHRI can enable civil society in other South Asian countries to advocate for RTI and Police Reforms. And we find ourselves often in the same situation as we were in the late 90s in India: sparking off or keeping the discussions on access to information and justice alive, even in non-conducive environments such as RTI in Sri Lanka or Police Reforms in Pakistan or Bangladesh. We continue , because we firmly believe that sustained advocacy work for more transparency and participation will play a crucial role in eradicating poverty and human right violations in South As ia.


ABHA JOSHI

SARTIAN CHRI launched the South Asia Right to Information Advocates Network (SARTIAN) in 2007, in order to strengthen the access to information movement in the South Asian region, and to have a platform to exchange experiences and information regarding the Right to Information (RTI). The RTI movement has been active in South Asia for over a decade. While working ing for the promotion of RTI legislation in India, CHRI initiated efforts, through regional workshops and similar activities, to encourage civil society interest in other South Asian countries. CHRI has consistently engaged with both civil society and governments in the countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Maldives to ensure the adoption of RTI legislation. SARTIAN is primarily a virtual group of over 140 members, communicating through an Internet forum. The network aims to promote regular interaction between civil society actors across the region, build solidarity among networks of advocates from civil society and the media, and benefit from discussions, debates, experience, to give each other advice and support when faced with obstacles. It is also a forum for participants to exchange ideas on how best to make use of right to information laws in order to increase accountability and transparency in public bodies.

Soon, SARTIAN will develop into a fully -fledged website in its own right which will serve as a one-stop regional resource centre for South Asia on RTI. We are creating a repository of resources that can be referred to by other members on a regular basis, and a network of RTI practitioners to be relied on all the way from drafting the bill to lobby ing governments to effective implementation.

Perspectives

The Director of CHRI has alway s had a Ka-like quality about her and can hy pnotise one into doing almost any thing. In 1997 when no one had heard of access to information in India she asked me if I‟d like to “come in and do a bit of work.” Before I learnt to say “Com monwealth Human Rights Initiative” without getting my tongue knotted in four places, I was in the thick of developing a programme for the promotion of the Freedom of Information – one of the core values in the UN and the Commonwealth human rights regime. The “bit of work” turned into a full-time obsession and it was during that time that both the Freedom of Information as well as CHRI grew at a phenomenal rate, impacting important policy and action on the human rights of people across the globe. In hindsight, one could not have been better placed at that time, than to be at CHRI to follow y our heart, to develop ideas and to learn.

Working with CHRI, I received the invaluable experience of changing form a legal “country bumpkin”, given to scoffing occasionally at the “international” tag, to a professional who can now appreciate the value of the global viewpoint. Travelling to different places within India and abroad and meeting people from diverse nationalities and professional backgrounds brought home the fact that differences are important for survival, growth and fulfilment and it is these differences that paradoxically guarantee the oneness of the human world. CHRI‟s alluring and enduring quality is its acceptability of all levels and layers of thought and action and its proactive approach towards taking on the responsibility of bringing issues to the fore and pushing them into the hearts and minds of whoever can make the difference.

KATRIN BANNACH

Since CHRI opened its office in Delhi over 15 y ears ago, the Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit (FNF) has been a close partner. FNF takes some pride in contributing to CHRI‟s successes, owing to CHRI‟s professionalism and the impact of its work. One example is the success is the Right to Information movement in India and in Bangladesh in which CHRI played an important role. CHRI was surely not the only one, but ask any one in South Asia about RTI and they will know of or even have profited from the expertise CHRI offers to civil society organisations and officials. Indian RTI can be regarded as a best-practice example and some of this goes back to CHRI‟s legal knowledge which influenced discussions of the draft law. This success story teaches us that continuous high-quality engagement with policymakers and stakeholders can bring about a change. The key is CHRI‟s strategy of building good relations with decision-makers while not shy ing away from confronting them in cases of human rights violations. We supported CHRI‟s RTI advocacy work in India in the late1990s when it was not y et fashionable. In the last few years we have expanded support so that CHRI can enable civil society in other South Asian countries to advocate for RTI and Police Reforms. And we find ourselves often in the same situation as we were in the late 90s in India: sparking off or keeping the discussions on access to information and justice alive, even in non-conducive environments such as RTI in Sri Lanka or Police Reforms in Pakistan or Bangladesh. We continue , because we firmly believe that sustained advocacy work for more transparency and participation will play a crucial role in eradicating poverty and human right violations in South As ia.


CHRI 2012

CHRI Access to Information

COMMONWEAL TH H UMAN RIG HTS IN ITIATIVE B-117, 2 nd Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, N ew D elhi – 110017 Tel: +91-(0)11 4318 0200 Fax: +91-(0)11 2686 4688 info@humanrightsinitiative.org; www.humanrightsinitiat ive.org

C HRI Commonwealth Human Rights Initiativ e Working for the practical realisation ofhuman rights in the countries of the Commonwealth


CHRI 2012

CHRI Prisons

COMMONWEAL TH H UMAN RIG HTS IN ITIATIVE B-117, 2 nd Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, N ew D elhi – 110017 Tel: +91-(0)11 4318 0200 Fax: +91-(0)11 2686 4688 info@humanrightsinitiative.org; www.humanrightsinitiat ive.org

C HRI Commonwealth Human Rights Initiativ e Working for the practical realisation ofhuman rights in the countries of the Commonwealth

3


ABOUT PRISONS Positioned at the very end of the criminal justice system, prisons and prisoners get minimal positive attention. Intended only to keep the convicted away from society, all too often , prisons are places of abiding injustice with any possibility of rehabilitation ab sent. Worse still, in many Commonwealth counties – particularly where a legacy of colonialism has left the police unaccountable, the judiciary slow and the bar uncaring – prisons are full to overflowing with people awaiting trial who have not been proven guilty of any crime. All too often, they remain behind bars for periods longer than the maximu m sentence they would have got, if properly convicted. Many have never had the benefit of a lawyer. Several are juveniles, mentally ill or just unwanted. Many have little idea of why they are inside. Most are in for petty cri mes that don‟t demand incarceration. Almost all are from a mongst the poor.

“The issue of overstays and overcrowding is intimately connected to the way the judiciary, police, prosecution and public defender system works; the impact of the cascading dysfunction within the sy stem falls on prisoners.” Maja Daruwala, Director, CHRI

‘JAIL’

An early South Asian consultation at CHRI pointed out that hardly anyone in the region worked consistently to address the many infirmiti es in the prison system. The need for on -the-ground research and a close relationship with prison authorities persuaded us to limit our effo rts to India. Prisons in India come under state governments, so in the first years we experi mented in several states. So many things needed attention, it was difficult to discover a vital point, which if addressed could change the whole system. Sometimes we sought to ameliorate prisoners‟ physical conditions and at other times assist with their legal needs. But we always sought to improve the systems of oversight and accountability. Working with judges, lawyers, prison administrations,human rights commissions and lay visitors, we used varied methods. These included: reporting on prison conditions in various states; training the bar, bench and even convicts to help provide prisoners with legal aid; creating a computer application that will automatically tell authorities a prisoner‟s “ rele ase by” date for inclusion into prison and court management softwa re; partne ring with law schools to build legal clinics to service prisons; working with colleagues across the border to improve official coordination so that foreign prisoners could be released and repatriated; litigating against long incarcerations; persuading official administrations to ensure prison visiting systems were reinstituted , legal aid made accessible, and administrative oversight strengthened ; and pushing the media to change the public‟s view of prisoners from presumed guilt and suspicion to empathy.

While working on the systems, the urgency of conspicuous suffering lying unaddressed makes it morally impossible to distance ourselves from individual suffering and injustice or restrict effo rts to improve systems rather than individual circumstance. Baba Khan was just one such case. The several others who remain hidden and unknown behind forbidding walls prompts us to persevere on institutional reform interventions that will help minimise the numbers and the periods people spend behind bars.

One reason for the abominable condition of prisoners and jails is the lack of public interest or sy mpathy for people in custody . Most people have a fair idea of what may be happening, but sooth their consciences with the justification that it is deserved. To raise awareness about the unfairness of the sy stem and the disproportionate numbers stuck inside prisons, CHRI created an audio-visual clip that played in cinemas around the country alongside the popular Bolly wood movie „Jail‟ [2009].


ABOUT PRISONS Positioned at the very end of the criminal justice system, prisons and prisoners get minimal positive attention. Intended only to keep the convicted away from society, all too often , prisons are places of abiding injustice with any possibility of rehabilitation ab sent. Worse still, in many Commonwealth counties – particularly where a legacy of colonialism has left the police unaccountable, the judiciary slow and the bar uncaring – prisons are full to overflowing with people awaiting trial who have not been proven guilty of any crime. All too often, they remain behind bars for periods longer than the maximu m sentence they would have got, if properly convicted. Many have never had the benefit of a lawyer. Several are juveniles, mentally ill or just unwanted. Many have little idea of why they are inside. Most are in for petty cri mes that don‟t demand incarceration. Almost all are from a mongst the poor.

“The issue of overstays and overcrowding is intimately connected to the way the judiciary, police, prosecution and public defender system works; the impact of the cascading dysfunction within the sy stem falls on prisoners.” Maja Daruwala, Director, CHRI

‘JAIL’

An early South Asian consultation at CHRI pointed out that hardly anyone in the region worked consistently to address the many infirmiti es in the prison system. The need for on -the-ground research and a close relationship with prison authorities persuaded us to limit our effo rts to India. Prisons in India come under state governments, so in the first years we experi mented in several states. So many things needed attention, it was difficult to discover a vital point, which if addressed could change the whole system. Sometimes we sought to ameliorate prisoners‟ physical conditions and at other times assist with their legal needs. But we always sought to improve the systems of oversight and accountability. Working with judges, lawyers, prison administrations,human rights commissions and lay visitors, we used varied methods. These included: reporting on prison conditions in various states; training the bar, bench and even convicts to help provide prisoners with legal aid; creating a computer application that will automatically tell authorities a prisoner‟s “ rele ase by” date for inclusion into prison and court management softwa re; partne ring with law schools to build legal clinics to service prisons; working with colleagues across the border to improve official coordination so that foreign prisoners could be released and repatriated; litigating against long incarcerations; persuading official administrations to ensure prison visiting systems were reinstituted , legal aid made accessible, and administrative oversight strengthened ; and pushing the media to change the public‟s view of prisoners from presumed guilt and suspicion to empathy.

While working on the systems, the urgency of conspicuous suffering lying unaddressed makes it morally impossible to distance ourselves from individual suffering and injustice or restrict effo rts to improve systems rather than individual circumstance. Baba Khan was just one such case. The several others who remain hidden and unknown behind forbidding walls prompts us to persevere on institutional reform interventions that will help minimise the numbers and the periods people spend behind bars.

One reason for the abominable condition of prisoners and jails is the lack of public interest or sy mpathy for people in custody . Most people have a fair idea of what may be happening, but sooth their consciences with the justification that it is deserved. To raise awareness about the unfairness of the sy stem and the disproportionate numbers stuck inside prisons, CHRI created an audio-visual clip that played in cinemas around the country alongside the popular Bolly wood movie „Jail‟ [2009].


THE ORIGIN OF CHRI: A MEMOIR RICHARD BOURNE

CHRI began as an idea floated at a conference in Cumberland Lodge, a residential centre in Windsor Great Park, England. The conference was called to look at the state of the Com monwealth after many African and Asian sports teams had boycotted the Edinburgh Com monwealth Games in 1986. Their protest was at the softness of the British government, led by Margaret Thatcher, on South African racism – the apartheid sy stem. At the Nassau summit the previous year she was only prepared to move a “teeny , teeny ” bit to impose sanctions on the apartheid regime.

So was the Commonwealth breaking up? Was the Commonwealth worth salvaging? The conference at Cumberland Lodge included many knowledgeable people who supported the association, but they were also critical. They realised that there was hy pocrisy among states which practised human rights abuse with little democracy – there were several one-party and military governments then – which were happy to ignore their own faults while attacking apartheid. South African propagandists pointed this out, and the Commonwealth had no convincing reply . The conference broke into small groups at one point and in one of these – which included Derek Ingram, the father of Commonwealth journalism, my self and four or five others – we put forward the case for a new initiative to promote human rights throughout the Commonwealth. We had no clear idea then how to do it, but were influenced by the example of the Emine nt Persons Group (EPG) of 1985-6, which visited South Africa in an attempt to get talks going to end apartheid.

In the summer of 1987, with two meetings at the then Commonwealth Institute (where Derek was a long-serving governor, and I was deputy director) we fleshed out the idea and won the support of some Commonwealth bodies – initially the Commonwealth Journalists Association, the Commonwealth Trade Union Council and the Commonwealth Lawyers Associa tion. A paper went to the 1987 summit in Vancouver, calling for a Commonwealth initiative. The 1987 summit saw some tightening of the screws on white South Africa, continuing attacks on the Thatcher government by the majority of Commonwealth states, and the setting up of a special fund to assist the embattled Frelimo government in Mozambique. But there was no inter-governmental Commonwealth initiative for human rights. It was only then, with the backing of more non-governmental bodies, that we decided to set up our own Initiative. Our format, borrowed from the EPG for South Africa, was to appoint a high-level inquiry group nominated by supporting Commonwealth bodies and we were lucky to get Flora MacDonald, a former Foreign Minister of Canada, to chair it. Their report, “Put our world to rights” was published in 1991. It was a key influence on the Harare summit in that y ear, which led to the commitment to just and accountable governance, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights.

4

5


WHAT WE DO

CHRI‟s charter objectives are to achieve the practical realisation of human rights in the Commonwealth. We “believe that the promotion and protection of human rights is the responsibility of governments but that the active participation of civil society acting in concert is vital to ensuring rule of law and the realisation of human rights.” To this end, we “promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, and other internationally recognised human rights instruments.”

We realised we could not do every thing nor be everywhere in the 54 commonwealth countries. While human rights standards and accountability are set internationally , these are seldom fully realised within Commonwealth countries. Human rights are violated; we sought to find those strategic issues and way s of working that would bring about essential reforms throughout the Commonwealth through interventions at every level.

That offers a very broad mandate. The big challenge before us in 1987 was to transform these words into actions that would bring about a tangible difference to the lives of the 2.13 billion people living in its 54 countries. As an international organisation we needed to find a focus and a way of doing things that would change lives even if we could not intervene directly to repair individual injustice and suffering.

The two problems of deep-seated poverty and asy mmetries of power between ordinary citizens and the State resonated throughout the Commonwealth. We felt that any attempt to tangibly affect the lives of ordinary people would never happen without their ability to participate and hold the instruments of State to account. We advocated then that people must be guaranteed a right to access inform ation so that they can participate effectively in all the decision-making processes which impact so critically on their life outcomes. The frailties of governance within the Commonwealth meant that concerns for the people‟s right to justice too came to the fore. These two efforts of access to information and access to justice were thus intertwined from the beginning.

The merest glance around the Commonwealth found much wanting: two-thirds of the Commonwealth lived on under $2 a day . Still today , 63 per cent of the world‟s poor live in Commonwealth countries. We believe the presence of so much poverty is not an inevitable condition but a clear sign of bad governance. Too many governments ignore their people‟s wants and needs, keep them uninformed, excluded and distant from justice, restrict freedoms and govern without being brought to book for their actions. As an organisation, the inter-governmental Commonwealth too, has been shy of holding its members to the soaring standards set for itself.

CHRI recognised that while there was a lot wrong, the Commonwealth holds the building blocks for a better tomorrow. There is plenty of good practice and a deal of willing assistance available that could change ground realities. A legacy of shared language and experience, familiar modes of governance, historic connections, a common legal architecture and engaged citizens make it easy to create a discourse between countries, share good practice and build solidarity among active citizens and responsible governments.

This remains true today .

Over the years, these consultations and our own experience convinced us of the value of focussing our energies on two major areas – access to justice and access to information – while at the same time, leaving ourselves open to respond to sudden crises. This allows us an ever-deepening programme of work in seminal areas, valuable to human rights concerns in all countries, while being flexible enough to respond to unexpected issues of concern.

We knew we could use international and national venues and opportunities to press for in-country reform by making problems visible (through media initiatives), offering solutions (especially on the policy level), building platforms and networks for dialogue, and building capacity . Our vision to establish ourselves as a global South-based NGO, which is international in its work and vision has over the y ears come to fruition. The difficulty in achieving this recognition cannot be taken lightly ; it has required twice the purposefulness of any NGO based in the North to establish credibility and overcome the perception that if based in India, an NGO can only be capable of being a regional body , not truly an international human rights organisation. Our acceptance as a human rights organisation in disparate locations of the Commonwealth bears witness to the growth we have undergone over the last 25 y ears. Today , CHRI has its headquarters in New Delhi, and offices in London and Accra; we are accredited to the Commonwealth; we attained special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the UN in 2005 and observer status at the ACPHR in 2002; we helped found the Usalama Reforms Forum in East Africa and the Right to Information network, SARTIAN, in South Asia; we serve as secretariat for NIPSA (Network for Improved Policing in South Asia); collaborate with HURINET-u and APCOF in Africa; have sent fact finding missions to Nigeria in 1995, Zambia in 96 and Fiji in 2002; have a presence as RTI experts in South Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean; have an active police programme in South Asia, East and West Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean; and a localised prisons programme in India. Even so, these are only a few of the broad range of networks and associations we are a part of and only a fraction of the work that we have undertaken over the last 25 y ears. Over the course of this annual report, we strive to review what we have done, celebrate our successes, while recognising how much further we still have left to go.


THE ORIGIN OF CHRI: A MEMOIR RICHARD BOURNE

CHRI began as an idea floated at a conference in Cumberland Lodge, a residential centre in Windsor Great Park, England. The conference was called to look at the state of the Com monwealth after many African and Asian sports teams had boycotted the Edinburgh Com monwealth Games in 1986. Their protest was at the softness of the British government, led by Margaret Thatcher, on South African racism – the apartheid sy stem. At the Nassau summit the previous year she was only prepared to move a “teeny , teeny ” bit to impose sanctions on the apartheid regime.

So was the Commonwealth breaking up? Was the Commonwealth worth salvaging? The conference at Cumberland Lodge included many knowledgeable people who supported the association, but they were also critical. They realised that there was hy pocrisy among states which practised human rights abuse with little democracy – there were several one-party and military governments then – which were happy to ignore their own faults while attacking apartheid. South African propagandists pointed this out, and the Commonwealth had no convincing reply . The conference broke into small groups at one point and in one of these – which included Derek Ingram, the father of Commonwealth journalism, my self and four or five others – we put forward the case for a new initiative to promote human rights throughout the Commonwealth. We had no clear idea then how to do it, but were influenced by the example of the Emine nt Persons Group (EPG) of 1985-6, which visited South Africa in an attempt to get talks going to end apartheid.

In the summer of 1987, with two meetings at the then Commonwealth Institute (where Derek was a long-serving governor, and I was deputy director) we fleshed out the idea and won the support of some Commonwealth bodies – initially the Commonwealth Journalists Association, the Commonwealth Trade Union Council and the Commonwealth Lawyers Associa tion. A paper went to the 1987 summit in Vancouver, calling for a Commonwealth initiative. The 1987 summit saw some tightening of the screws on white South Africa, continuing attacks on the Thatcher government by the majority of Commonwealth states, and the setting up of a special fund to assist the embattled Frelimo government in Mozambique. But there was no inter-governmental Commonwealth initiative for human rights. It was only then, with the backing of more non-governmental bodies, that we decided to set up our own Initiative. Our format, borrowed from the EPG for South Africa, was to appoint a high-level inquiry group nominated by supporting Commonwealth bodies and we were lucky to get Flora MacDonald, a former Foreign Minister of Canada, to chair it. Their report, “Put our world to rights” was published in 1991. It was a key influence on the Harare summit in that y ear, which led to the commitment to just and accountable governance, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights.

4

5


WHAT WE DO

CHRI‟s charter objectives are to achieve the practical realisation of human rights in the Commonwealth. We “believe that the promotion and protection of human rights is the responsibility of governments but that the active participation of civil society acting in concert is vital to ensuring rule of law and the realisation of human rights.” To this end, we “promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, and other internationally recognised human rights instruments.”

We realised we could not do every thing nor be everywhere in the 54 commonwealth countries. While human rights standards and accountability are set internationally , these are seldom fully realised within Commonwealth countries. Human rights are violated; we sought to find those strategic issues and way s of working that would bring about essential reforms throughout the Commonwealth through interventions at every level.

That offers a very broad mandate. The big challenge before us in 1987 was to transform these words into actions that would bring about a tangible difference to the lives of the 2.13 billion people living in its 54 countries. As an international organisation we needed to find a focus and a way of doing things that would change lives even if we could not intervene directly to repair individual injustice and suffering.

The two problems of deep-seated poverty and asy mmetries of power between ordinary citizens and the State resonated throughout the Commonwealth. We felt that any attempt to tangibly affect the lives of ordinary people would never happen without their ability to participate and hold the instruments of State to account. We advocated then that people must be guaranteed a right to access inform ation so that they can participate effectively in all the decision-making processes which impact so critically on their life outcomes. The frailties of governance within the Commonwealth meant that concerns for the people‟s right to justice too came to the fore. These two efforts of access to information and access to justice were thus intertwined from the beginning.

The merest glance around the Commonwealth found much wanting: two-thirds of the Commonwealth lived on under $2 a day . Still today , 63 per cent of the world‟s poor live in Commonwealth countries. We believe the presence of so much poverty is not an inevitable condition but a clear sign of bad governance. Too many governments ignore their people‟s wants and needs, keep them uninformed, excluded and distant from justice, restrict freedoms and govern without being brought to book for their actions. As an organisation, the inter-governmental Commonwealth too, has been shy of holding its members to the soaring standards set for itself.

CHRI recognised that while there was a lot wrong, the Commonwealth holds the building blocks for a better tomorrow. There is plenty of good practice and a deal of willing assistance available that could change ground realities. A legacy of shared language and experience, familiar modes of governance, historic connections, a common legal architecture and engaged citizens make it easy to create a discourse between countries, share good practice and build solidarity among active citizens and responsible governments.

This remains true today .

Over the years, these consultations and our own experience convinced us of the value of focussing our energies on two major areas – access to justice and access to information – while at the same time, leaving ourselves open to respond to sudden crises. This allows us an ever-deepening programme of work in seminal areas, valuable to human rights concerns in all countries, while being flexible enough to respond to unexpected issues of concern.

We knew we could use international and national venues and opportunities to press for in-country reform by making problems visible (through media initiatives), offering solutions (especially on the policy level), building platforms and networks for dialogue, and building capacity . Our vision to establish ourselves as a global South-based NGO, which is international in its work and vision has over the y ears come to fruition. The difficulty in achieving this recognition cannot be taken lightly ; it has required twice the purposefulness of any NGO based in the North to establish credibility and overcome the perception that if based in India, an NGO can only be capable of being a regional body , not truly an international human rights organisation. Our acceptance as a human rights organisation in disparate locations of the Commonwealth bears witness to the growth we have undergone over the last 25 y ears. Today , CHRI has its headquarters in New Delhi, and offices in London and Accra; we are accredited to the Commonwealth; we attained special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the UN in 2005 and observer status at the ACPHR in 2002; we helped found the Usalama Reforms Forum in East Africa and the Right to Information network, SARTIAN, in South Asia; we serve as secretariat for NIPSA (Network for Improved Policing in South Asia); collaborate with HURINET-u and APCOF in Africa; have sent fact finding missions to Nigeria in 1995, Zambia in 96 and Fiji in 2002; have a presence as RTI experts in South Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean; have an active police programme in South Asia, East and West Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean; and a localised prisons programme in India. Even so, these are only a few of the broad range of networks and associations we are a part of and only a fraction of the work that we have undertaken over the last 25 y ears. Over the course of this annual report, we strive to review what we have done, celebrate our successes, while recognising how much further we still have left to go.


1987

1990

1995

1 9 9 6

Report t o CHOGM: ‘Put Our Wor ld t o Rights’

CHRI founded in London, UK

2000

1 9 9 3

2010

2012

Received Special Consulta tive Status at the UN

Report t o CHOGM: ‘Over a B arre l’

Report to CHOGM: ‘The Right to a Cultu re of Tole rance’

CHRI moves to New Delhi, India

2005

2 0 0 1

2 0 0 3

Human Rights Advocacy programme renamed ‘Strategic Initiatives Prog ramme’

Report to CHOGM: ‘Police Acco untability: Too Important to Neglect, too Urgent to Delay’

2 0 0 9

Fact Finding Miss ion: Zambia

Maja Daruwala appointed as Directo r

Program priorities decided: Police, Prisons, Right to info rmation and Human Rights Advocacy

Opened regiona l Africa Office in Accra, Ghana

2 0 0 2

Report to CHOGM: ‘Open Sesame’

Report to CHOGM: The Poverty Report

Report to CHOGM: ‘Act Right No w’

Fact Finding Miss ion: Nigeria

Report to CHOGM: ‘Rights do Matter’

MOMENTS OF CHANGE

Report to CHOGM: ‘Silencing the Defenders’

Separate Police and Prison Reform programmes established

2 0 0 7

2 0 1 1

Report to CHOGM: ‘A Partnersh ip for Human Righ ts’

Report to CHOGM: ‘Stamping out Rights’ Received Observer Status at the ACPHR

Fact Finding Miss ions: Fiji and S ierra Leone

CHRI TURNS 25!


1987

1990

1995

1 9 9 6

Report t o CHOGM: ‘Put Our Wor ld t o Rights’

CHRI founded in London, UK

2000

1 9 9 3

2010

2012

Received Special Consulta tive Status at the UN

Report t o CHOGM: ‘Over a B arre l’

Report to CHOGM: ‘The Right to a Cultu re of Tole rance’

CHRI moves to New Delhi, India

2005

2 0 0 1

2 0 0 3

Human Rights Advocacy programme renamed ‘Strategic Initiatives Prog ramme’

Report to CHOGM: ‘Police Acco untability: Too Important to Neglect, too Urgent to Delay’

2 0 0 9

Fact Finding Miss ion: Zambia

Maja Daruwala appointed as Directo r

Program priorities decided: Police, Prisons, Right to info rmation and Human Rights Advocacy

Opened regiona l Africa Office in Accra, Ghana

2 0 0 2

Report to CHOGM: ‘Open Sesame’

Report to CHOGM: The Poverty Report

Report to CHOGM: ‘Act Right No w’

Fact Finding Miss ion: Nigeria

Report to CHOGM: ‘Rights do Matter’

MOMENTS OF CHANGE

Report to CHOGM: ‘Silencing the Defenders’

Separate Police and Prison Reform programmes established

2 0 0 7

2 0 1 1

Report to CHOGM: ‘A Partnersh ip for Human Righ ts’

Report to CHOGM: ‘Stamping out Rights’ Received Observer Status at the ACPHR

Fact Finding Miss ions: Fiji and S ierra Leone

CHRI TURNS 25!


GOVERNANCE International Advisory Commission

Headquarters: Delhi, India

Executive Committee: UK

Executive Committee: India

Executive Committee: Ghana

Director

For its governance, CHRI has an International Advisory Commission comprising eminent people from across the Com monwealth. It sets policy directions for all the offices. Each office has its own Executive Committee that oversees the day -to-day implementation of programme directions. For cohesion, the Chairs of the Executive Committees also sit on the International Advisory Commission. The Executive Director is the CEO in charge of all the offices and programmes. At its headquarters, CHRIâ€&#x;s overall work is organised into programme units each with its own coordinator: access to information, access to justice comprising policing and prison reform, and the strategic interventions program. A media and outreach unit complements their work and a coordinator planning works across offices to ensure cohesion and due diligence, while the administrative manager backstops all programme activity and the finance manager oversees all accounting matters along with external auditors. These arrangements are mirrored in the Africa office as suitable to its size


GOVERNANCE International Advisory Commission

Headquarters: Delhi, India

Executive Committee: UK

Executive Committee: India

Executive Committee: Ghana

Director

For its governance, CHRI has an International Advisory Commission comprising eminent people from across the Com monwealth. It sets policy directions for all the offices. Each office has its own Executive Committee that oversees the day -to-day implementation of programme directions. For cohesion, the Chairs of the Executive Committees also sit on the International Advisory Commission. The Executive Director is the CEO in charge of all the offices and programmes. At its headquarters, CHRIâ€&#x;s overall work is organised into programme units each with its own coordinator: access to information, access to justice comprising policing and prison reform, and the strategic interventions program. A media and outreach unit complements their work and a coordinator planning works across offices to ensure cohesion and due diligence, while the administrative manager backstops all programme activity and the finance manager oversees all accounting matters along with external auditors. These arrangements are mirrored in the Africa office as suitable to its size


OUR OFFICES HEADQUARTERS: DELHI, INDIA In 1993 CHRI was established in New Delhi. The initial plan was to move the CHRI secretariat every five y ears in order to deepen expertise on all regions of the Commonwealth. Once the logistical difficulties of frequent moves became clear, the plan was quickly abandoned and CHRI could begin to establish its roots as an international organisation in the global South. This was the area that needed most focus. Although this move was a radical thought for the time, it is now apparent that it was a successful one. Our position in the global South has allowed us access to, and primary contact with, local partners. Today , CHRI is a well-established and well-known organisation. From the New Delhi office, we coordinate activities out of Accra and London; as we advocate for and promote awareness of human rights violations in all Commonwealth countries. Our primary mandate is to promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Principles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments and declarations made by the Commonwealth Heads of Government, as well as domestic instruments supporting human rights in the Commonwealth. This mandate permits us to make strategic interventions even as we retain a steady focus specifically on Access to Information and Access to Justice.

LIAISON OFFICE: LONDON, UK The London Office has play ed a vital role since CHRI‟s inception. Owing to its strategic position, it acts as a liaison between the Headquarters in New Delhi, the Africa Office in Accra and the UK government and official Commonwealth bodies, such as the Secretariat and the Human Rights Unit. It play s a significant role in our international advocacy programmes. The Office has play ed a vital role in raising CHRI‟s profile in the global North and Western hemisphere, asproject well ashas securing funding for as ahuman registered UK charity . The overseas territories built capacity rights within the Caribbean, the Pacific and South Atlantic; examine the Commonwealth's Media Freedom laws and have advocated for the repeal of legislation criminalising the Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community .

AFRICA OFFICE: ACCRA, GHANA As the Headquarters in India began to stabilise itself, the governing boards of CHRI decided tocreate an office in Africa to pay greater attention to the 15 Commonwealth countries in Africa. The office was set up in 2001 in Ghana, a stable, democratic and increasingly influential African Commonwealth country , where there was also a welcome for the initiative. CHRI‟s Africa Office follows the same mandate and focus areas as the Headquarters, and mirrors the same patterns of progression in its work. As it slowly too k root in Ghana, the office had to deal with similar dilemmas as the office in India had: to balance its role as an international organisation comprising a wide geographical mandate with the expectations from a human rights organisation within Ghana itself. The office used this situation to develop and deepen its expertise and advocacy on focus issues in Ghana, while furthering its larger mandate through strategic interventions and campaigns. To extend CHRI‟s reach in Africa, the work of the Africa Office is complemented from Headquarters, especially on policing in East Africa and at the UNHRC.The Africa Office has observer status at the African Commission on Human and Peoples‟ Rights. CH RI is a key member of the steering committee and the secretariat for the Right to Information coalition in Ghana. We continue our efforts in raising awareness of the embedded constitutional right to access information. We have had several successes with advocacy efforts against instant justice, against police brutality and against extrajudicial killings in the Gambia. We set up public-police forums and justice centres, which reduced the number of wrongful arrests. We work on minority rights, particularly on disability and mental health, advocating for the rights of a marginalised group. Today the office has eight staff, ably supported by interns and volunteers from around the world. Its work focuses on Access to Justice, Access to Information and stra tegic interventions to promote human rights in Africa.


OUR OFFICES HEADQUARTERS: DELHI, INDIA In 1993 CHRI was established in New Delhi. The initial plan was to move the CHRI secretariat every five y ears in order to deepen expertise on all regions of the Commonwealth. Once the logistical difficulties of frequent moves became clear, the plan was quickly abandoned and CHRI could begin to establish its roots as an international organisation in the global South. This was the area that needed most focus. Although this move was a radical thought for the time, it is now apparent that it was a successful one. Our position in the global South has allowed us access to, and primary contact with, local partners. Today , CHRI is a well-established and well-known organisation. From the New Delhi office, we coordinate activities out of Accra and London; as we advocate for and promote awareness of human rights violations in all Commonwealth countries. Our primary mandate is to promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Principles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments and declarations made by the Commonwealth Heads of Government, as well as domestic instruments supporting human rights in the Commonwealth. This mandate permits us to make strategic interventions even as we retain a steady focus specifically on Access to Information and Access to Justice.

LIAISON OFFICE: LONDON, UK The London Office has play ed a vital role since CHRI‟s inception. Owing to its strategic position, it acts as a liaison between the Headquarters in New Delhi, the Africa Office in Accra and the UK government and official Commonwealth bodies, such as the Secretariat and the Human Rights Unit. It play s a significant role in our international advocacy programmes. The Office has play ed a vital role in raising CHRI‟s profile in the global North and Western hemisphere, asproject well ashas securing funding for as ahuman registered UK charity . The overseas territories built capacity rights within the Caribbean, the Pacific and South Atlantic; examine the Commonwealth's Media Freedom laws and have advocated for the repeal of legislation criminalising the Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community .

AFRICA OFFICE: ACCRA, GHANA As the Headquarters in India began to stabilise itself, the governing boards of CHRI decided tocreate an office in Africa to pay greater attention to the 15 Commonwealth countries in Africa. The office was set up in 2001 in Ghana, a stable, democratic and increasingly influential African Commonwealth country , where there was also a welcome for the initiative. CHRI‟s Africa Office follows the same mandate and focus areas as the Headquarters, and mirrors the same patterns of progression in its work. As it slowly too k root in Ghana, the office had to deal with similar dilemmas as the office in India had: to balance its role as an international organisation comprising a wide geographical mandate with the expectations from a human rights organisation within Ghana itself. The office used this situation to develop and deepen its expertise and advocacy on focus issues in Ghana, while furthering its larger mandate through strategic interventions and campaigns. To extend CHRI‟s reach in Africa, the work of the Africa Office is complemented from Headquarters, especially on policing in East Africa and at the UNHRC.The Africa Office has observer status at the African Commission on Human and Peoples‟ Rights. CH RI is a key member of the steering committee and the secretariat for the Right to Information coalition in Ghana. We continue our efforts in raising awareness of the embedded constitutional right to access information. We have had several successes with advocacy efforts against instant justice, against police brutality and against extrajudicial killings in the Gambia. We set up public-police forums and justice centres, which reduced the number of wrongful arrests. We work on minority rights, particularly on disability and mental health, advocating for the rights of a marginalised group. Today the office has eight staff, ably supported by interns and volunteers from around the world. Its work focuses on Access to Justice, Access to Information and stra tegic interventions to promote human rights in Africa.


CHANGING THE SYSTEM In almost every country the law sets out a robust oversight sy stem for prisons. In India, boards of visitors comprising lay folk and senior officials of the district, periodic review panels, and court-mandated visits by district judges are intended to ensure that prisons maintain a certain standard, prisoners‟ custodial and fair trial rights are protected, there are no overstay s, and the scope for getting lost in the sy stem is minimised. In practice, our studies showed that these sy stems don‟t work optimally or at all. SUB-JAILS IN MAH ARASHTR A Well over half the jails across the country are small sub-jails found at the local level. Recognising that the only sustainable way They house prisoners awaiting trial and to ensure that oversight mechanisms are Short-stay prisoners. The most neglected effective, can considerably improve prison and least well provisioned of all custodial conditions and assist inmates‟ access to institution s, it is inevitable that they are their legal rights, CHRI has sought to dark, dirty , dank, provide bad food and energise them. unhy gienic conditions and hold no possibility Early studies showed that boards of of rehabilitation. Their administration often visitors are hardly ever constituted and rarely lies outside the prison‟s ministry with local meet. There is barely any official memory revenue officials. Based on CHRI‟S 2009 of the legal imperative to have them. Lay report, Maharashtra’s Abandoned Prisons, visitors are often not appointed, and if the Bombay High Court ordered the appointed they are chosen as a means of authorities to present it with rewarding political allies with petty offices. a time bound “action plan” to immediately Their visits to prisons are rare and often improve the conditions of sub-jails and actively discouraged. Never oriented to constituted a monitoring committee their work, lay visitors have little idea of to oversee it. how often they can visit, or what they must do and observe. Most never record any observations let alone follow up on recommendation.

To remedy this, CHRI lobbied for the appointment of visitors against objective criteria, their compulsory orientation and an annual review of their performance. At the same time, we pushed for the reconstitution of the boards. We held orientation workshops together with jail authorities, and brought out a handbook for prison visitors. Our interventions led to the appointment of non-official visitors in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhy a Pradesh and Boards of Visitors being ordered in all the districts of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. In the absence of official political will and civil society monitoring, few function as they should and the sy stem is not sufficiently institutionalised to be an effective means of improving prison conditions or ensuring prisoners‟ rights. The battle for statutory compliance means that CHRI will continue efforts to revive these essential bodies.

UNDERTRIALS, A LONG WAIT TO JUSTICE: A Report on Rajasthan’s Periodic Review Committees (2012) Period Review Committees (PRC) are another mechanism designed to ensure prisoners don‟t get lost in the sy stem. CHRI‟s study on Rajasthan‟s PRC, the Avadhik Samiksha Samiti, examines the effectiveness with which one significant oversight mechanism works to reduce pretrial detention by reviewing the cases of prisoners awaiting trial. The various actors of the criminal justice sy stem come together through the Periodic Review Committee to check prolonged overstay s. The Committee has been empowered by state government orders to meet every month to review individual detention periods of undertrials and take necessary action towards recommending their release on bail, effective production before the court and ensuring fair and speedy trial. It is functioning across 33 districts of Rajasthan and was found plagued with numerous irregularities, such as not holding regular meetings, not following established pro formas in preparing lists of undertrials, no uniformity in noting down minutes of meetings, lack of compliance reports and so on. Accordingly , some procedural and substantive recommendations were made for the judiciary , government and prisons to mend the state of affairs.

Image Credit: Divy a Dubey


CHANGING THE SYSTEM In almost every country the law sets out a robust oversight sy stem for prisons. In India, boards of visitors comprising lay folk and senior officials of the district, periodic review panels, and court-mandated visits by district judges are intended to ensure that prisons maintain a certain standard, prisoners‟ custodial and fair trial rights are protected, there are no overstay s, and the scope for getting lost in the sy stem is minimised. In practice, our studies showed that these sy stems don‟t work optimally or at all. SUB-JAILS IN MAH ARASHTR A Well over half the jails across the country are small sub-jails found at the local level. Recognising that the only sustainable way They house prisoners awaiting trial and to ensure that oversight mechanisms are Short-stay prisoners. The most neglected effective, can considerably improve prison and least well provisioned of all custodial conditions and assist inmates‟ access to institution s, it is inevitable that they are their legal rights, CHRI has sought to dark, dirty , dank, provide bad food and energise them. unhy gienic conditions and hold no possibility Early studies showed that boards of of rehabilitation. Their administration often visitors are hardly ever constituted and rarely lies outside the prison‟s ministry with local meet. There is barely any official memory revenue officials. Based on CHRI‟S 2009 of the legal imperative to have them. Lay report, Maharashtra’s Abandoned Prisons, visitors are often not appointed, and if the Bombay High Court ordered the appointed they are chosen as a means of authorities to present it with rewarding political allies with petty offices. a time bound “action plan” to immediately Their visits to prisons are rare and often improve the conditions of sub-jails and actively discouraged. Never oriented to constituted a monitoring committee their work, lay visitors have little idea of to oversee it. how often they can visit, or what they must do and observe. Most never record any observations let alone follow up on recommendation.

To remedy this, CHRI lobbied for the appointment of visitors against objective criteria, their compulsory orientation and an annual review of their performance. At the same time, we pushed for the reconstitution of the boards. We held orientation workshops together with jail authorities, and brought out a handbook for prison visitors. Our interventions led to the appointment of non-official visitors in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhy a Pradesh and Boards of Visitors being ordered in all the districts of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. In the absence of official political will and civil society monitoring, few function as they should and the sy stem is not sufficiently institutionalised to be an effective means of improving prison conditions or ensuring prisoners‟ rights. The battle for statutory compliance means that CHRI will continue efforts to revive these essential bodies.

UNDERTRIALS, A LONG WAIT TO JUSTICE: A Report on Rajasthan’s Periodic Review Committees (2012) Period Review Committees (PRC) are another mechanism designed to ensure prisoners don‟t get lost in the sy stem. CHRI‟s study on Rajasthan‟s PRC, the Avadhik Samiksha Samiti, examines the effectiveness with which one significant oversight mechanism works to reduce pretrial detention by reviewing the cases of prisoners awaiting trial. The various actors of the criminal justice sy stem come together through the Periodic Review Committee to check prolonged overstay s. The Committee has been empowered by state government orders to meet every month to review individual detention periods of undertrials and take necessary action towards recommending their release on bail, effective production before the court and ensuring fair and speedy trial. It is functioning across 33 districts of Rajasthan and was found plagued with numerous irregularities, such as not holding regular meetings, not following established pro formas in preparing lists of undertrials, no uniformity in noting down minutes of meetings, lack of compliance reports and so on. Accordingly , some procedural and substantive recommendations were made for the judiciary , government and prisons to mend the state of affairs.

Image Credit: Divy a Dubey


A GOOD DEED Ariful Sheik, a five-y ear-old, was held in a Bangladeshi prison for over 10 months merely for crossing the Piy arpur border with his grandparents to visit his relatives. They were fined 500 Takas eac h (INR 300) and unable to afford it, were forced to serve two months in prison. The illegality of jailing a five-year old in a country that is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child aside, the two months passed with no apparent plans to procure his release. Ariful and his grandparents became overstay s. His story ty pifies the situation of foreigners in South Asian prisons and illustrates how working together can actually make things happen. CHRI became involved in the case when we were contacted by BLAST. A collaboration between the Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch (MASUM), an NGO in West Bengal, the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and CHRI, where each organisation played to their strengths, was why we were able to free little Ariful. Without this cooperation, we don‟t know how successful we would have been. Having written to High Com missions on both sides of the border, spoken to the legal authorities, negotiated with the border forces, it was only then possible to procure the release papers to let a few innocent people out of prison. Shocking as it is, Ariful‟s story is not unusual. Across India, various nationalities frequently overstay for want of good representation and lack of consular services or the willingness of their governments to pay for their repatriation. Madhurima Bangladeshi prisoners who had long completed their sentences but were not returned across the border.

GETTING THEM OUT

CHRI pointed this out to the High Court who immediately took up the matter and made clear that such detention is illegal. The court directed CHRI to assist the government in resolving the issue and reporting back to it. The appropriate response to finding illegal immigrants, was not to detain them, but rather to immediately deport them back to their countries. Our intervention allowed over 300 prisoners to be sent back safely to Bangladesh. On the other side of the border, earlier in the same y ear, the same jail which housed Ariful and his grandparents released a number of prisoners back to India, but Ariful‟s case was ignored. Ineffective consular services combined with frequent wrongful arrests of poor and vulnerable people mean that prisoners often become overstay s and are unable even to communicate with their relatives, or pay the meagre amount of money required for repatriation. Ariful‟s story was a success. MASUM‟s position on the ground, BLAST‟s collaboration and CHRI‟s advocacy efforts helped bring Ariful home. He was finally reunited with his family at the Gede check post at the end of April 2012, a full y ear later. He said: “I want to go home and play and study and eat. I want to become a policeman when I grow up.” Ariful‟s happy ending may not necessarily be true for the many other prisoners stuck in border jails with no hope of repatriation.

The story highlights the need for an improved relationship between trigger-happy border forces on both sides, and the need for closer coordination. Without this, there could be hundreds of Arifuls stuck in jails on both sides of the border, waiting desperately for someone to get them out.

Partnerships Masum did all the work on the ground: they contacted the mother, assured her of support, brought her and transported her to the drop off point, took them to a doctor afterwards and provided real support and strength. BLAST were the first to point the case out to us. They had people in Dhaka and Kushtia.


A GOOD DEED Ariful Sheik, a five-y ear-old, was held in a Bangladeshi prison for over 10 months merely for crossing the Piy arpur border with his grandparents to visit his relatives. They were fined 500 Takas eac h (INR 300) and unable to afford it, were forced to serve two months in prison. The illegality of jailing a five-year old in a country that is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child aside, the two months passed with no apparent plans to procure his release. Ariful and his grandparents became overstay s. His story ty pifies the situation of foreigners in South Asian prisons and illustrates how working together can actually make things happen. CHRI became involved in the case when we were contacted by BLAST. A collaboration between the Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch (MASUM), an NGO in West Bengal, the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and CHRI, where each organisation played to their strengths, was why we were able to free little Ariful. Without this cooperation, we don‟t know how successful we would have been. Having written to High Com missions on both sides of the border, spoken to the legal authorities, negotiated with the border forces, it was only then possible to procure the release papers to let a few innocent people out of prison. Shocking as it is, Ariful‟s story is not unusual. Across India, various nationalities frequently overstay for want of good representation and lack of consular services or the willingness of their governments to pay for their repatriation. Madhurima Bangladeshi prisoners who had long completed their sentences but were not returned across the border.

GETTING THEM OUT

CHRI pointed this out to the High Court who immediately took up the matter and made clear that such detention is illegal. The court directed CHRI to assist the government in resolving the issue and reporting back to it. The appropriate response to finding illegal immigrants, was not to detain them, but rather to immediately deport them back to their countries. Our intervention allowed over 300 prisoners to be sent back safely to Bangladesh. On the other side of the border, earlier in the same y ear, the same jail which housed Ariful and his grandparents released a number of prisoners back to India, but Ariful‟s case was ignored. Ineffective consular services combined with frequent wrongful arrests of poor and vulnerable people mean that prisoners often become overstay s and are unable even to communicate with their relatives, or pay the meagre amount of money required for repatriation. Ariful‟s story was a success. MASUM‟s position on the ground, BLAST‟s collaboration and CHRI‟s advocacy efforts helped bring Ariful home. He was finally reunited with his family at the Gede check post at the end of April 2012, a full y ear later. He said: “I want to go home and play and study and eat. I want to become a policeman when I grow up.” Ariful‟s happy ending may not necessarily be true for the many other prisoners stuck in border jails with no hope of repatriation.

The story highlights the need for an improved relationship between trigger-happy border forces on both sides, and the need for closer coordination. Without this, there could be hundreds of Arifuls stuck in jails on both sides of the border, waiting desperately for someone to get them out.

Partnerships Masum did all the work on the ground: they contacted the mother, assured her of support, brought her and transported her to the drop off point, took them to a doctor afterwards and provided real support and strength. BLAST were the first to point the case out to us. They had people in Dhaka and Kushtia.


Schizophrenic, near blind and diabetic, Roy Varghese alias Baba Khan was incarcerated one way or another in prison and a mental hospital for 18 years. In 2009 when CHRI intervened he was living in Ward No. 10 of the Jaipur Central Jail in Rajasthan India for seven y ears while waiting for his trial to commence. The first time he ever had proper legal representation was in 2009 – six y ears after the accusation of murder and it was only in 2011, through the unrelenting efforts of his family , local activists and CHRI that he could get adequate hearing at court to be given a conditional release into the care of his family . His story is extreme, but not unfamiliar. It is a representation of all the infirmities of the Indian criminal justice sy stem that badly need repair.

I met Baba Khan in 2009 and heard him complain to his sister about his deteriorating eyesight and diminishing supply of jam and pickles, in between fictitious tales of victory and escape from battlefields. While serving a ten y ear sentence for drug trafficking under the stringent Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, Baba Khan was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and shifted to the district psy chiatric hospital. Though he completed his ten-y ear sentence there he was never released, because they said his condition had worsened.

Two years later, the bodies of two inmates were found in the hospital storeroom, charred and tied together with pieces of cloth. Staff squarely blamed Baba Khan. He was arrested, accused of murder, brought before the magistrate and sent to prison for 15 day s. In all probability , even if the accusation were true, Baba Khan fell within the exception at law that, “nothing

Delay and Denial: The Case of Baba Khan

is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.” But this was never tested. His case files show that all subsequent hearing were ineffective because he did not have a lawy er. On the excuse that it was too difficult to escort him to court, owing to his mental condition, he was only taken to court twice during the seven y ears he waited, for his trial to begin. The charges too were not framed within the statutory time. Gradually , with the passage of time and amidst the shuffling of court papers, Baba Khan got lost in the sy stem.

Perhaps he would never have been found except for a hurriedly written postcard found amongst his father‟s things by his sister, a nun. She got in touch with others from her order and could trace her brother to the prison. A lawy er was hired. But proceedings remained intermittent and halting while lawy ers changed and the courts took their glacial course.

In 2009, CHRI intervened to strengthen the legal battle. Despite six years of battling the court sy stem , it too k two more y ears of concerted efforts by his lawyer, local human rights advocates and CHRI‟s team to finally get Baba Khan‟s conditional release into the care of his sister. He is now at a charitable hospital in Kerala where he receives much needed treatment and care.

Justice was not done. There remain outstanding issues of accountability . Two murders remain unsolved. How a prisoner remained in hospital after his term was over has not been explained. The issue of neglect at the psy chiatric hospital remains unattended. How a mentally ill person came to be housed in a prison for years lies unanswered. Why a court appointed defence lawy er was not assigned is not known. Why the court did not keep the case under its own close scrutiny to ensure that every right of a disabled person was protected remains ignored. The family wants peace and quiet and the sy stem gets a free pass. It should not be so.

Image Credit: Divy a Dubey


Schizophrenic, near blind and diabetic, Roy Varghese alias Baba Khan was incarcerated one way or another in prison and a mental hospital for 18 years. In 2009 when CHRI intervened he was living in Ward No. 10 of the Jaipur Central Jail in Rajasthan India for seven y ears while waiting for his trial to commence. The first time he ever had proper legal representation was in 2009 – six y ears after the accusation of murder and it was only in 2011, through the unrelenting efforts of his family , local activists and CHRI that he could get adequate hearing at court to be given a conditional release into the care of his family . His story is extreme, but not unfamiliar. It is a representation of all the infirmities of the Indian criminal justice sy stem that badly need repair.

I met Baba Khan in 2009 and heard him complain to his sister about his deteriorating eyesight and diminishing supply of jam and pickles, in between fictitious tales of victory and escape from battlefields. While serving a ten y ear sentence for drug trafficking under the stringent Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, Baba Khan was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and shifted to the district psy chiatric hospital. Though he completed his ten-y ear sentence there he was never released, because they said his condition had worsened.

Two years later, the bodies of two inmates were found in the hospital storeroom, charred and tied together with pieces of cloth. Staff squarely blamed Baba Khan. He was arrested, accused of murder, brought before the magistrate and sent to prison for 15 day s. In all probability , even if the accusation were true, Baba Khan fell within the exception at law that, “nothing

Delay and Denial: The Case of Baba Khan

is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.” But this was never tested. His case files show that all subsequent hearing were ineffective because he did not have a lawy er. On the excuse that it was too difficult to escort him to court, owing to his mental condition, he was only taken to court twice during the seven y ears he waited, for his trial to begin. The charges too were not framed within the statutory time. Gradually , with the passage of time and amidst the shuffling of court papers, Baba Khan got lost in the sy stem.

Perhaps he would never have been found except for a hurriedly written postcard found amongst his father‟s things by his sister, a nun. She got in touch with others from her order and could trace her brother to the prison. A lawy er was hired. But proceedings remained intermittent and halting while lawy ers changed and the courts took their glacial course.

In 2009, CHRI intervened to strengthen the legal battle. Despite six years of battling the court sy stem , it too k two more y ears of concerted efforts by his lawyer, local human rights advocates and CHRI‟s team to finally get Baba Khan‟s conditional release into the care of his sister. He is now at a charitable hospital in Kerala where he receives much needed treatment and care.

Justice was not done. There remain outstanding issues of accountability . Two murders remain unsolved. How a prisoner remained in hospital after his term was over has not been explained. The issue of neglect at the psy chiatric hospital remains unattended. How a mentally ill person came to be housed in a prison for years lies unanswered. Why a court appointed defence lawy er was not assigned is not known. Why the court did not keep the case under its own close scrutiny to ensure that every right of a disabled person was protected remains ignored. The family wants peace and quiet and the sy stem gets a free pass. It should not be so.

Image Credit: Divy a Dubey


HOW WE GET THEM OUT Shadhinota (Freedom) India‟s legal aid sy stem is designed to provide free defence representation to the poor and indigent, however it has been heavily criticised for not providing prompt or effective representation. To revitalise legal aid in West Bengal, CHRI and the National University of Juridicial Sciences (NUJS) initiated a project entitled Shadhinota – Towards Legal Empowerment of Inmates. Students hold weekly legal aid camps in Presidency Jail, provide information on cases, explain the law and help connect the inmate to his lawyer. In action now for almost two y ears, the clinic has dealt with over 200 cases. Of these, it has forwarded 95 per cent to Legal Aid Services with a majority receiving lawyers. Through the sy stem, 60 juvenile and nine mentally ill prisoners were identified and brought to the attention of the Prisons Directorate, who could then begin the process for their release.

Constantly working with the prisoners has also laid bare the underly ing problems in the criminal justice sy stem , for instance: vacancy in courts, non-appearance of legal aid lawyers and allegations of demands for money by legal aid lawy ers.

EPoD: Technology to the Rescue! CHRI has developed a software application, Evaluation of Period of Detention or EPoD, which automatically calculates the date on which prisoners awaiting trial can make statutory bail. The software provides the prisoner‟s profile, the date he first entered jail, and the maximum possible sentences. Approved for incorporation into e-courts and prison management sy stems, it will help prison authorities and judges to minimise the possibility of overstay s. Presently EPoD is being tested at Tihar, Delhi one of India‟s largest prisons.

While we have helped in the release of 800 long-term prisoners in Rajasthan and the government has promised to release 4,000 more, there are still thousands of others across the country who need help. The focus of our prisons programme is now on these forgotten people.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE EVIDENCE-BASED STUDIES To develop its evidence-based arguments, CHRI underpins its active advocacy through several micro-studies. The most recent of these is in Rajasthan, where we examine Periodic Review Committees, which work to reduce pretrial detention by reviewing the cases of prisoners awaiting trial. We have also examined the right to legal representation and access to justice in a large district prison in Alwar, Rajasthan. Through a study of court production and the problem of police escorts, we discovered that out of 740 required productions in Alwar, 41 per cent of the time they were not produced. Of these, 70 per cent was because of a shortage of police escorts. We revealed the ineffectiveness of the Prison Visiting Sy stem, finding that a majority of mandated visitors had no real idea what they were supposed to do, and the affect they could have on prisoners‟ lives. We undertook a study on Pretrial Detention and Access to Justice in Orissa (2010). We carried out studies on conditions in multiple prisons, finding that most of the time they were unhy gienic, under-resourced and unfit for human beings. We recommended that Jail Adalats, which are courts held within prisons, be done away with.


HOW WE GET THEM OUT Shadhinota (Freedom) India‟s legal aid sy stem is designed to provide free defence representation to the poor and indigent, however it has been heavily criticised for not providing prompt or effective representation. To revitalise legal aid in West Bengal, CHRI and the National University of Juridicial Sciences (NUJS) initiated a project entitled Shadhinota – Towards Legal Empowerment of Inmates. Students hold weekly legal aid camps in Presidency Jail, provide information on cases, explain the law and help connect the inmate to his lawyer. In action now for almost two y ears, the clinic has dealt with over 200 cases. Of these, it has forwarded 95 per cent to Legal Aid Services with a majority receiving lawyers. Through the sy stem, 60 juvenile and nine mentally ill prisoners were identified and brought to the attention of the Prisons Directorate, who could then begin the process for their release.

Constantly working with the prisoners has also laid bare the underly ing problems in the criminal justice sy stem , for instance: vacancy in courts, non-appearance of legal aid lawyers and allegations of demands for money by legal aid lawy ers.

EPoD: Technology to the Rescue! CHRI has developed a software application, Evaluation of Period of Detention or EPoD, which automatically calculates the date on which prisoners awaiting trial can make statutory bail. The software provides the prisoner‟s profile, the date he first entered jail, and the maximum possible sentences. Approved for incorporation into e-courts and prison management sy stems, it will help prison authorities and judges to minimise the possibility of overstay s. Presently EPoD is being tested at Tihar, Delhi one of India‟s largest prisons.

While we have helped in the release of 800 long-term prisoners in Rajasthan and the government has promised to release 4,000 more, there are still thousands of others across the country who need help. The focus of our prisons programme is now on these forgotten people.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE EVIDENCE-BASED STUDIES To develop its evidence-based arguments, CHRI underpins its active advocacy through several micro-studies. The most recent of these is in Rajasthan, where we examine Periodic Review Committees, which work to reduce pretrial detention by reviewing the cases of prisoners awaiting trial. We have also examined the right to legal representation and access to justice in a large district prison in Alwar, Rajasthan. Through a study of court production and the problem of police escorts, we discovered that out of 740 required productions in Alwar, 41 per cent of the time they were not produced. Of these, 70 per cent was because of a shortage of police escorts. We revealed the ineffectiveness of the Prison Visiting Sy stem, finding that a majority of mandated visitors had no real idea what they were supposed to do, and the affect they could have on prisoners‟ lives. We undertook a study on Pretrial Detention and Access to Justice in Orissa (2010). We carried out studies on conditions in multiple prisons, finding that most of the time they were unhy gienic, under-resourced and unfit for human beings. We recommended that Jail Adalats, which are courts held within prisons, be done away with.


CASE ST UDY: ANDHRA PRADESH The varied state of prisons across the country has led to different initiatives around the country . Andhra Pradesh was one of the states where CHRI‟s work on prisons began. Over the years, we developed bridges between the State Human Rights Commission, the Judiciary and the District Administration, building a rapport which has held us in good stead.

CHRI helped set up Non Official Visitors (NOVs) in 20 large urban prisons and 100 small rural ones, improving prison conditions. The state and the judiciary are accountable for the people in their prisons and must be aware of their responsibility to look after prisoners‟ well-being, not only legally , but mentally and phy sically . As a result of CHRI‟s work in the region, it became mandatory for the 22 district judges to visit all the prisons in their jurisdiction and then report to the court. Since then, a mindset change was noted when several judges made it clear that they would now think twice before sending someone to prison. These frequent checks have made an enormous impact on the conditions of the prisons, and highlighted the bottlenecks and cracks in the sy stem. Health issues have also been taken up by the State Human Rights Commission and even the National Human Rights Commission, who have issued guidelines on health standards in prisons. CHRI has done pioneering work in this field, particularly in terms of the standards set. CHRI set up Jail Adalats, where undertrials who have served half their maximum sentence can be released, provided they are willing to confess. We also helped to secure the release of life-sentence prisoners by mobilising public opinion through the media, and on a personal level. On two occasions, 1,000 prisoners who had served over seven years were released from prisons around the state. This practice has continued.


CASE ST UDY: ANDHRA PRADESH The varied state of prisons across the country has led to different initiatives around the country . Andhra Pradesh was one of the states where CHRI‟s work on prisons began. Over the years, we developed bridges between the State Human Rights Commission, the Judiciary and the District Administration, building a rapport which has held us in good stead.

CHRI helped set up Non Official Visitors (NOVs) in 20 large urban prisons and 100 small rural ones, improving prison conditions. The state and the judiciary are accountable for the people in their prisons and must be aware of their responsibility to look after prisoners‟ well-being, not only legally , but mentally and phy sically . As a result of CHRI‟s work in the region, it became mandatory for the 22 district judges to visit all the prisons in their jurisdiction and then report to the court. Since then, a mindset change was noted when several judges made it clear that they would now think twice before sending someone to prison. These frequent checks have made an enormous impact on the conditions of the prisons, and highlighted the bottlenecks and cracks in the sy stem. Health issues have also been taken up by the State Human Rights Commission and even the National Human Rights Commission, who have issued guidelines on health standards in prisons. CHRI has done pioneering work in this field, particularly in terms of the standards set. CHRI set up Jail Adalats, where undertrials who have served half their maximum sentence can be released, provided they are willing to confess. We also helped to secure the release of life-sentence prisoners by mobilising public opinion through the media, and on a personal level. On two occasions, 1,000 prisoners who had served over seven years were released from prisons around the state. This practice has continued.


CHRI 2012

CHRI Prisons

COMMONWEAL TH H UMAN RIG HTS IN ITIATIVE B-117, 2 nd Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, N ew D elhi – 110017 Tel: +91-(0)11 4318 0200 Fax: +91-(0)11 2686 4688 info@humanrightsinitiative.org; www.humanrightsinitiat ive.org

C HRI Commonwealth Human Rights Initiativ e Working for the practical realisation ofhuman rights in the countries of the Commonwealth

3


CHRI 2012

CHRI Police

COMMONWEAL TH H UMAN RIG HTS IN ITIATIVE B-117, 2 nd Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, N ew D elhi – 110017 Tel: +91-(0)11 4318 0200 Fax: +91-(0)11 2686 4688 info@humanrightsinitiative.org; www.humanrightsinitiat ive.org

C HRI Commonwealth Human Rights Initiativ e Working for the practical realisation ofhuman rights in the countries of the Commonwealth

3


THE ORIGIN OF CHRI: A MEMOIR RICHARD BOURNE

CHRI began as an idea floated at a conference in Cumberland Lodge, a residential centre in Windsor Great Park, England. The conference was called to look at the state of the Com monwealth after many African and Asian sports teams had boycotted the Edinburgh Com monwealth Games in 1986. Their protest was at the softness of the British government, led by Margaret Thatcher, on South African racism – the apartheid sy stem. At the Nassau summit the previous year she was only prepared to move a “teeny , teeny ” bit to impose sanctions on the apartheid regime.

So was the Commonwealth breaking up? Was the Commonwealth worth salvaging? The conference at Cumberland Lodge included many knowledgeable people who supported the association, but they were also critical. They realised that there was hy pocrisy among states which practised human rights abuse with little democracy – there were several one-party and military governments then – which were happy to ignore their own faults while attacking apartheid. South African propagandists pointed this out, and the Commonwealth had no convincing reply . The conference broke into small groups at one point and in one of these – which included Derek Ingram, the father of Commonwealth journalism, my self and four or five others – we put forward the case for a new initiative to promote human rights throughout the Commonwealth. We had no clear idea then how to do it, but were influenced by the example of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of 1985-6, which visited South Africa in an attempt to get talks going to end apartheid.

In the summer of 1987, with two meetings at the then Commonwealth Institute (where Derek was a long-serving governor, and I was deputy director) we fleshed out the idea and won the support of some Commonwealth bodies – initially the Commonwealth Journalists Association, the Commonwealth Trade Union Council and the Commonwealth Lawyers Associa tion. A paper went to the 1987 summit in Vancouver, calling for a Commonwealth initiative. The 1987 summit saw some tightening of the screws on white South Africa, continuing attacks on the Thatcher government by the majority of Commonwealth states, and the setting up of a special fund to assist the embattled Frelimo government in Mozambique. But there was no inter-governmental Commonwealth initiative for human rights. It was only then, with the backing of more non-governmental bodies, that we decided to set up our own Initiative. Our format, borrowed from the EPG for South Africa, was to appoint a high-level inquiry group nominated by supporting Commonwealth bodies and we were lucky to get Flora MacDonald, a former Foreign Minister of Canada, to chair it. Their report, “Put our world to rights” was published in 1991. It was a key influence on the Harare summit in that y ear, which led to the commitment to just and accountable governance, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights.

4

5


WHAT WE DO

CHRI’s charter objectives are to achieve the practical realisation of human rights in the Commonwealth. We “believe that the promotion and protection of human rights is the responsibility of governments but that the active participation of civil society acting in concert is vital to ensuring rule of law and the realisation of human rights.” To this end, we “promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, and other internationally recognised human rights instruments.”

We realised we could not do every thing nor be everywhere in the 54 commonwealth countries. While human rights standards and accountability are set internationally , these are seldom fully realised within Commonwealth countries. Human rights are violated; we sought to find those strategic issues and way s of working that would bring about essential reforms throughout the Commonwealth through interventions at every level.

That offers a very broad mandate. The big challenge before us in 1987 was to transform these words into actions that would bring about a tangible difference to the lives of the 2.13 billion people living in its 54 countries. As an international organisation we needed to find a focus and a way of doing things that would change lives even if we could not intervene directly to repair individual injustice and suffering.

The two problems of deep-seated poverty and asy mmetries of power between ordinary citizens and the State resonated throughout the Commonwealth. We felt that any attempt to tangibly affect the lives of ordinary people would never happen without their ability to participate and hold the instruments of State to account. We advocated then that people must be guaranteed a right to access information so that they can participate effectively in all the decision-making processes which impact so critically on their life outcomes. The frailties of governance within the Commonwealth meant that concerns for the people’s right to justice too came to the fore. These two efforts of access to information and access to justice were thus intertwined from the beginning.

The merest glance around the Commonwealth found much wanting: two-thirds of the Commonwealth lived on under $2 a day . Still today , 63 per cent of the world’s poor live in Commonwealth countries. We believe the presence of so much poverty is not an inevitable condition but a clear sign of bad governance. Too many governments ignore their people’s wants and needs, keep them uninformed, excluded and distant from justice, restrict freedoms and govern without being brought to book for their actions. As an organisation, the inter-governmental Commonwealth too, has been shy of holding its members to the soaring standards set for itself.

CHRI recognised that while there was a lot wrong, the Commonwealth holds the building blocks for a better tomorrow. There is plenty of good practice and a deal of willing assistance available that could change ground realities. A legacy of shared language and experience, familiar modes of governance, historic connections, a common legal architecture and engaged citizens make it easy to create a discourse between countries, share good practice and build solidarity among active citizens and responsible governments.

This remains true today .

Over the years, these consultations and our own experience convinced us of the value of focussing our energies on two major areas – access to justice and access to information – while at the same time, leaving ourselves open to respond to sudden crises. This allows us an ever-deepening programme of work in seminal areas, valuable to human rights concerns in all countries, while being flexible enough to respond to unexpected issues of concern.

We knew we could use international and national venues and opportunities to press for in-country reform by making problems visible (through media initiatives), offering solutions (especially on the policy level), building platforms and networks for dialogue, and building capacity . Our vision to establish ourselves as a global South-based NGO, which is international in its work and vision has over the y ears come to fruition. The difficulty in achieving this recognition cannot be taken lightly ; it has required twice the purposefulness of any NGO based in the North to establish credibility and overcome the perception that if based in India, an NGO can only be capable of being a regional body , not truly an international human rights organisation. Our acceptance as a human rights organisation in disparate locations of the Commonwealth bears witness to the growth we have undergone over the last 25 y ears. Today , CHRI has its headquarters in New Delhi, and offices in London and Accra; we are accredited to the Commonwealth; we attained special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the UN in 2005 and observer status at the ACPHR in 2002; we helped found the Usalama Reforms Forum in East Africa and the Right to Information network, SARTIAN, in South Asia; we serve as secretariat for NIPSA (Network for Improved Policing in South Asia); collaborate with HURINET-u and APCOF in Africa; have sent fact finding missions to Nigeria in 1995, Zambia in 96 and Fiji in 2002; have a presence as RTI experts in South Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean; have an active police programme in South Asia, East and West Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean; and a loca lised prisons programme in India. Even so, these are only a few of the broad range of networks and associations we are a part of and only a fraction of the work that we have undertaken over the last 25 y ears. Over the course of this annual report, we strive to review what we have done, celebrate our successes, while recognising how much further we still have left to go.


THE ORIGIN OF CHRI: A MEMOIR RICHARD BOURNE

CHRI began as an idea floated at a conference in Cumberland Lodge, a residential centre in Windsor Great Park, England. The conference was called to look at the state of the Com monwealth after many African and Asian sports teams had boycotted the Edinburgh Com monwealth Games in 1986. Their protest was at the softness of the British government, led by Margaret Thatcher, on South African racism – the apartheid sy stem. At the Nassau summit the previous year she was only prepared to move a “teeny , teeny ” bit to impose sanctions on the apartheid regime.

So was the Commonwealth breaking up? Was the Commonwealth worth salvaging? The conference at Cumberland Lodge included many knowledgeable people who supported the association, but they were also critical. They realised that there was hy pocrisy among states which practised human rights abuse with little democracy – there were several one-party and military governments then – which were happy to ignore their own faults while attacking apartheid. South African propagandists pointed this out, and the Commonwealth had no convincing reply . The conference broke into small groups at one point and in one of these – which included Derek Ingram, the father of Commonwealth journalism, my self and four or five others – we put forward the case for a new initiative to promote human rights throughout the Commonwealth. We had no clear idea then how to do it, but were influenced by the example of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of 1985-6, which visited South Africa in an attempt to get talks going to end apartheid.

In the summer of 1987, with two meetings at the then Commonwealth Institute (where Derek was a long-serving governor, and I was deputy director) we fleshed out the idea and won the support of some Commonwealth bodies – initially the Commonwealth Journalists Association, the Commonwealth Trade Union Council and the Commonwealth Lawyers Associa tion. A paper went to the 1987 summit in Vancouver, calling for a Commonwealth initiative. The 1987 summit saw some tightening of the screws on white South Africa, continuing attacks on the Thatcher government by the majority of Commonwealth states, and the setting up of a special fund to assist the embattled Frelimo government in Mozambique. But there was no inter-governmental Commonwealth initiative for human rights. It was only then, with the backing of more non-governmental bodies, that we decided to set up our own Initiative. Our format, borrowed from the EPG for South Africa, was to appoint a high-level inquiry group nominated by supporting Commonwealth bodies and we were lucky to get Flora MacDonald, a former Foreign Minister of Canada, to chair it. Their report, “Put our world to rights” was published in 1991. It was a key influence on the Harare summit in that y ear, which led to the commitment to just and accountable governance, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights.

4

5


WHAT WE DO

CHRI’s charter objectives are to achieve the practical realisation of human rights in the Commonwealth. We “believe that the promotion and protection of human rights is the responsibility of governments but that the active participation of civil society acting in concert is vital to ensuring rule of law and the realisation of human rights.” To this end, we “promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, and other internationally recognised human rights instruments.”

We realised we could not do every thing nor be everywhere in the 54 commonwealth countries. While human rights standards and accountability are set internationally , these are seldom fully realised within Commonwealth countries. Human rights are violated; we sought to find those strategic issues and way s of working that would bring about essential reforms throughout the Commonwealth through interventions at every level.

That offers a very broad mandate. The big challenge before us in 1987 was to transform these words into actions that would bring about a tangible difference to the lives of the 2.13 billion people living in its 54 countries. As an international organisation we needed to find a focus and a way of doing things that would change lives even if we could not intervene directly to repair individual injustice and suffering.

The two problems of deep-seated poverty and asy mmetries of power between ordinary citizens and the State resonated throughout the Commonwealth. We felt that any attempt to tangibly affect the lives of ordinary people would never happen without their ability to participate and hold the instruments of State to account. We advocated then that people must be guaranteed a right to access information so that they can participate effectively in all the decision-making processes which impact so critically on their life outcomes. The frailties of governance within the Commonwealth meant that concerns for the people’s right to justice too came to the fore. These two efforts of access to information and access to justice were thus intertwined from the beginning.

The merest glance around the Commonwealth found much wanting: two-thirds of the Commonwealth lived on under $2 a day . Still today , 63 per cent of the world’s poor live in Commonwealth countries. We believe the presence of so much poverty is not an inevitable condition but a clear sign of bad governance. Too many governments ignore their people’s wants and needs, keep them uninformed, excluded and distant from justice, restrict freedoms and govern without being brought to book for their actions. As an organisation, the inter-governmental Commonwealth too, has been shy of holding its members to the soaring standards set for itself.

CHRI recognised that while there was a lot wrong, the Commonwealth holds the building blocks for a better tomorrow. There is plenty of good practice and a deal of willing assistance available that could change ground realities. A legacy of shared language and experience, familiar modes of governance, historic connections, a common legal architecture and engaged citizens make it easy to create a discourse between countries, share good practice and build solidarity among active citizens and responsible governments.

This remains true today .

Over the years, these consultations and our own experience convinced us of the value of focussing our energies on two major areas – access to justice and access to information – while at the same time, leaving ourselves open to respond to sudden crises. This allows us an ever-deepening programme of work in seminal areas, valuable to human rights concerns in all countries, while being flexible enough to respond to unexpected issues of concern.

We knew we could use international and national venues and opportunities to press for in-country reform by making problems visible (through media initiatives), offering solutions (especially on the policy level), building platforms and networks for dialogue, and building capacity . Our vision to establish ourselves as a global South-based NGO, which is international in its work and vision has over the y ears come to fruition. The difficulty in achieving this recognition cannot be taken lightly ; it has required twice the purposefulness of any NGO based in the North to establish credibility and overcome the perception that if based in India, an NGO can only be capable of being a regional body , not truly an international human rights organisation. Our acceptance as a human rights organisation in disparate locations of the Commonwealth bears witness to the growth we have undergone over the last 25 y ears. Today , CHRI has its headquarters in New Delhi, and offices in London and Accra; we are accredited to the Commonwealth; we attained special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the UN in 2005 and observer status at the ACPHR in 2002; we helped found the Usalama Reforms Forum in East Africa and the Right to Information network, SARTIAN, in South Asia; we serve as secretariat for NIPSA (Network for Improved Policing in South Asia); collaborate with HURINET-u and APCOF in Africa; have sent fact finding missions to Nigeria in 1995, Zambia in 96 and Fiji in 2002; have a presence as RTI experts in South Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean; have an active police programme in South Asia, East and West Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean; and a loca lised prisons programme in India. Even so, these are only a few of the broad range of networks and associations we are a part of and only a fraction of the work that we have undertaken over the last 25 y ears. Over the course of this annual report, we strive to review what we have done, celebrate our successes, while recognising how much further we still have left to go.


1987

1990

1995

1 9 9 6

Report t o CHOGM: „Put Our Wor ld t o Rights‟

CHRI founded in London, UK

2000

1 9 9 3

2010

2012

Received Special Consulta tive Status at the UN

Report t o CHOGM: „Over a B arre l‟

Report to CHOGM: „The Right to a Cultu re of Tole rance‟

CHRI moves to New Delhi, India

2005

2 0 0 1

2 0 0 3

Human Rights Advocacy programme renamed „Strategic Initiatives Prog ramme‟

Report to CHOGM: „Police Acco untability: Too Important to Neglect, too Urgent to Delay‟

2 0 0 9

Fact Finding Miss ion: Zambia

Maja Daruwala appointed as Directo r

Program priorities decided: Police, Prisons, Right to info rmation and Human Rights Advocacy

Opened regiona l Africa Office in Accra, Ghana

2 0 0 2

Report to CHOGM: „Open Sesame‟

Report to CHOGM: The Poverty Report

Report to CHOGM: „Act Right No w‟

Fact Finding Miss ion: Nigeria

Report to CHOGM: „Rights do Matter‟

MOMENTS OF CHANGE

Report to CHOGM: „Silencing the Defenders‟

Separate Police and Prison Reform programmes established

2 0 0 7

2 0 1 1

Report to CHOGM: „A Partnersh ip for Human Righ ts‟

Report to CHOGM: „Stamping out Rights‟ Received Observer Status at the ACPHR

Fact Finding Miss ions: Fiji and S ierra Leone

CHRI TURNS 25!


1987

1990

1995

1 9 9 6

Report t o CHOGM: „Put Our Wor ld t o Rights‟

CHRI founded in London, UK

2000

1 9 9 3

2010

2012

Received Special Consulta tive Status at the UN

Report t o CHOGM: „Over a B arre l‟

Report to CHOGM: „The Right to a Cultu re of Tole rance‟

CHRI moves to New Delhi, India

2005

2 0 0 1

2 0 0 3

Human Rights Advocacy programme renamed „Strategic Initiatives Prog ramme‟

Report to CHOGM: „Police Acco untability: Too Important to Neglect, too Urgent to Delay‟

2 0 0 9

Fact Finding Miss ion: Zambia

Maja Daruwala appointed as Directo r

Program priorities decided: Police, Prisons, Right to info rmation and Human Rights Advocacy

Opened regiona l Africa Office in Accra, Ghana

2 0 0 2

Report to CHOGM: „Open Sesame‟

Report to CHOGM: The Poverty Report

Report to CHOGM: „Act Right No w‟

Fact Finding Miss ion: Nigeria

Report to CHOGM: „Rights do Matter‟

MOMENTS OF CHANGE

Report to CHOGM: „Silencing the Defenders‟

Separate Police and Prison Reform programmes established

2 0 0 7

2 0 1 1

Report to CHOGM: „A Partnersh ip for Human Righ ts‟

Report to CHOGM: „Stamping out Rights‟ Received Observer Status at the ACPHR

Fact Finding Miss ions: Fiji and S ierra Leone

CHRI TURNS 25!


GOVERNANCE International Advisory Commission

Headquarters: Delhi, India

Executive Committee: UK

Executive Committee: India

Executive Committee: Ghana

Director

For its governance, CHRI has an International Advisory Commission comprising eminent people from across the Commonwealth. It sets policy directions for all the offices. Each office has its own Executive Committee that oversees the day -to-day implementation of programme directions. For cohesion, the Chairs of the Executive Committees also sit on the International Advisory Commission. The Executive Director is the CEO in charge of all the offices and programmes. At its headquarters, CHRI’s overall work is organised into programme units each with its own coordinator: access to information, access to justice comprising polic ing and prison reform, and the strategic interventions program. A media and outreach unit complements their work and a coordinator planning works across offices to ensure cohesion and due diligence, while the administrative manager backstops all programme activity and the finance manager oversees all accounting matters along with external auditors. These arrangements are mirrored in the Africa office as suitable to its size


GOVERNANCE International Advisory Commission

Headquarters: Delhi, India

Executive Committee: UK

Executive Committee: India

Executive Committee: Ghana

Director

For its governance, CHRI has an International Advisory Commission comprising eminent people from across the Commonwealth. It sets policy directions for all the offices. Each office has its own Executive Committee that oversees the day -to-day implementation of programme directions. For cohesion, the Chairs of the Executive Committees also sit on the International Advisory Commission. The Executive Director is the CEO in charge of all the offices and programmes. At its headquarters, CHRI’s overall work is organised into programme units each with its own coordinator: access to information, access to justice comprising polic ing and prison reform, and the strategic interventions program. A media and outreach unit complements their work and a coordinator planning works across offices to ensure cohesion and due diligence, while the administrative manager backstops all programme activity and the finance manager oversees all accounting matters along with external auditors. These arrangements are mirrored in the Africa office as suitable to its size


OUR OFFICES HEADQUARTERS: DELHI, INDIA In 1993 CHRI was established in New Delhi. The initial plan was to move the CHRI secretariat every five y ears in order to deepen expertise on all regions of the Commonwealth. Once the logistical difficulties of frequent moves became clear, the plan was quickly abandoned and CHRI could begin to establish its roots as an international organisation in the global South. This was the area that needed most focus. Although this move was a radical thought for the time, it is now apparent that it was a successful one. Our position in the global South has allowed us access to, and primary contact with, local partners. Today , CHRI is a well-established and well-known organisation. From the New Delhi office, we coordinate activities out of Accra and London; as we advocate for and promote awareness of human rights violations in all Commonwealth countries. Our primary mandate is to promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Principles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments and declarations made by the Commonwealth Heads of Government, as well as domestic instruments supporting human rights in the Commonwealth. This mandate permits us to make strategic interventions even as we retain a steady focus specifically on Access to Information and Access to Justice.

LIAISON OFFICE: LONDON, UK The London Office has play ed a vital role since CHRI’s inception. Owing to its strategic position, it acts as a liaison between the Headquarters in New Delhi, the Africa Office in Accra and the UK government and official Commonwealth bodies, such as the Secretariat and the Human Rights Unit. It play s a significant role in our international advocacy programmes. The Office has play ed a vital role in raising CHRI’s profile in the global North and Western hemisphere, asproject well ashas securing funding for as ahuman registered UK charity . The overseas territories built capacity rights within the Caribbean, the Pacific and South Atlantic; examine the Commonwealth's Media Freedom laws and have advocated for the repeal of legislation criminalising the Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community .

AFRICA OFFICE: ACCRA, GHANA As the Headquarters in India began to stabilise itself, the governing boards of CHRI decided tocreate an office in Africa to pay greater attention to the 15 Commonwealth countries in Africa. The office was set up in 2001 in Ghana, a stable, democratic and increasingly influential African Commonwealth country , where there was also a welcome for the initiative. CHRI’s Africa Office follows the same mandate and focus areas as the Headquarters, and mirrors the same patterns of progression in its work. As it slowly too k root in Ghana, the office had to deal with similar dilemmas as the office in India had: to balance its role as an international organisation comprising a wide geographical mandate with the expectations from a human rights organisation within Ghana itself. The office used this situation to develop and deepen its expertise and advocacy on focus issues in Ghana, while furthering its larger mandate through strategic interventions and campaigns. To extend CHRI’s reach in Africa, the work of the Africa Office is complemented from Headquarters, especially on policing in East Africa and at the UNHRC.The Africa Office has observer status at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. CH RI is a key member of the steering committee and the secretariat for the Right to Information coalition in Ghana. We continue our efforts in raising awareness of the embedded constitutional right to access information. We have had several successes with advocacy efforts against instant justice, against police brutality and against extrajudicial killings in the Gambia. We set up public-police forums and justice centres, which reduced the number of wrongful arrests. We work on minority rights, particularly on disability and mental health, advocating for the rights of a marginalised group. Today the office has eight staff, ably supported by interns and volunteers from around the world. Its work focuses on Access to Justice, Access to Information and strategic interventions to promote human rights in Africa.


OUR OFFICES HEADQUARTERS: DELHI, INDIA In 1993 CHRI was established in New Delhi. The initial plan was to move the CHRI secretariat every five y ears in order to deepen expertise on all regions of the Commonwealth. Once the logistical difficulties of frequent moves became clear, the plan was quickly abandoned and CHRI could begin to establish its roots as an international organisation in the global South. This was the area that needed most focus. Although this move was a radical thought for the time, it is now apparent that it was a successful one. Our position in the global South has allowed us access to, and primary contact with, local partners. Today , CHRI is a well-established and well-known organisation. From the New Delhi office, we coordinate activities out of Accra and London; as we advocate for and promote awareness of human rights violations in all Commonwealth countries. Our primary mandate is to promote awareness of and adherence to the Harare Principles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments and declarations made by the Commonwealth Heads of Government, as well as domestic instruments supporting human rights in the Commonwealth. This mandate permits us to make strategic interventions even as we retain a steady focus specifically on Access to Information and Access to Justice.

LIAISON OFFICE: LONDON, UK The London Office has play ed a vital role since CHRI’s inception. Owing to its strategic position, it acts as a liaison between the Headquarters in New Delhi, the Africa Office in Accra and the UK government and official Commonwealth bodies, such as the Secretariat and the Human Rights Unit. It play s a significant role in our international advocacy programmes. The Office has play ed a vital role in raising CHRI’s profile in the global North and Western hemisphere, asproject well ashas securing funding for as ahuman registered UK charity . The overseas territories built capacity rights within the Caribbean, the Pacific and South Atlantic; examine the Commonwealth's Media Freedom laws and have advocated for the repeal of legislation criminalising the Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community .

AFRICA OFFICE: ACCRA, GHANA As the Headquarters in India began to stabilise itself, the governing boards of CHRI decided tocreate an office in Africa to pay greater attention to the 15 Commonwealth countries in Africa. The office was set up in 2001 in Ghana, a stable, democratic and increasingly influential African Commonwealth country , where there was also a welcome for the initiative. CHRI’s Africa Office follows the same mandate and focus areas as the Headquarters, and mirrors the same patterns of progression in its work. As it slowly too k root in Ghana, the office had to deal with similar dilemmas as the office in India had: to balance its role as an international organisation comprising a wide geographical mandate with the expectations from a human rights organisation within Ghana itself. The office used this situation to develop and deepen its expertise and advocacy on focus issues in Ghana, while furthering its larger mandate through strategic interventions and campaigns. To extend CHRI’s reach in Africa, the work of the Africa Office is complemented from Headquarters, especially on policing in East Africa and at the UNHRC.The Africa Office has observer status at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. CH RI is a key member of the steering committee and the secretariat for the Right to Information coalition in Ghana. We continue our efforts in raising awareness of the embedded constitutional right to access information. We have had several successes with advocacy efforts against instant justice, against police brutality and against extrajudicial killings in the Gambia. We set up public-police forums and justice centres, which reduced the number of wrongful arrests. We work on minority rights, particularly on disability and mental health, advocating for the rights of a marginalised group. Today the office has eight staff, ably supported by interns and volunteers from around the world. Its work focuses on Access to Justice, Access to Information and strategic interventions to promote human rights in Africa.


ACCESSING JUSTICE ABOUT The extremes of poverty and wealth and the extreme power chasm between citizens and those in power has led to unbalanced, corrupt, power-hungry , decrepit and failing justice sy stems in many of the Commonwealth countries. Without a fair and effective justice sy stem, democracy fails. People must know about their rights; once they do, they must receive justice for crimes committed against them. This becomes even more crucial when authoritarian forces in charge do not act with integrity , honesty and fair prac tices toward their citizens. In order to combat this lack of justice, CHRI works towards developing accountability for the powers-to-be in two main areas: police and prison reforms.

These two crucial areas ensure that citizens are not unjustly arrested, tried, manhandled, bullied or tortured by corrupt police forces. Underpaid and under-resourced forces become greedy , corrupt and thus penalise the poor for their very existence. The politics that go hand-in-hand with this has often led to unfair practices towards those without means. For the millions of people, this sy stem has already swallowed into overcrowded, understaffed and unhy gienic prisons, CHRI raises its voice. This traditionally closed sy stem needs to be exposed to the scrutinising ey es of the public. CHRI works to help develop infrastructure to uphold the rights of pretrial detention prisoners and long prison over-stay s.

By increasing accountability and transparency and lobby ing governments to take greater notice of the justice sy stems that are supposed to protect their citizens, not harm them, CHRI works to right these wrongs.


ACCESSING JUSTICE ABOUT The extremes of poverty and wealth and the extreme power chasm between citizens and those in power has led to unbalanced, corrupt, power-hungry , decrepit and failing justice sy stems in many of the Commonwealth countries. Without a fair and effective justice sy stem, democracy fails. People must know about their rights; once they do, they must receive justice for crimes committed against them. This becomes even more crucial when authoritarian forces in charge do not act with integrity , honesty and fair prac tices toward their citizens. In order to combat this lack of justice, CHRI works towards developing accountability for the powers-to-be in two main areas: police and prison reforms.

These two crucial areas ensure that citizens are not unjustly arrested, tried, manhandled, bullied or tortured by corrupt police forces. Underpaid and under-resourced forces become greedy , corrupt and thus penalise the poor for their very existence. The politics that go hand-in-hand with this has often led to unfair practices towards those without means. For the millions of people, this sy stem has already swallowed into overcrowded, understaffed and unhy gienic prisons, CHRI raises its voice. This traditionally closed sy stem needs to be exposed to the scrutinising ey es of the public. CHRI works to help develop infrastructure to uphold the rights of pretrial detention prisoners and long prison over-stay s.

By increasing accountability and transparency and lobby ing governments to take greater notice of the justice sy stems that are supposed to protect their citizens, not harm them, CHRI works to right these wrongs.


In the wake of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, our Access to Justice Programme intervened to secure justice for the 2000 Muslims who died, and the thousands more who were injured or displaced from their homes. The immediate concern was justice for the victims and bringing the involved state actors to account. There was widespread belief amongst victims, victims’ families and the perpetrators themselves that neither the police nor the courts would or could work to deliver justice in such a polarised community . Many influential segments of the population also believed that riot cases traditionally come to nothing and the best way to repair the already difficult relationships between and within communities was to forget the past and move forward without further exacerbating tensions by seeking formal justice.

The aim of the programme was to demonstrate that the legal sy stem could be used successfully to provide justice for ordinary citizens and end impunity for perpetrators of violence. We focussed on securing justice for the victim s and their families, by guiding them through the criminal justice sy stem, and training paralegals to develop community knowledge of their rights and build the capacity for the community to demand better police performance. CHRI helped train paralegals to file RTI applications to ensure that local governments functioned according to statutory norms and the benefits of development filtered down to the poor. They multiplied the information, through newsletters, public education materials, and choreographing street play s. Malpractices were exposed, corrupt officials were fined and suspended, health care facilities in remote villages improved and ration shops started to function in accordance with the norm.

From 2003 to 2009, CHRI remained entrenched in working for access to justice for the marginalised in Gujarat. After six years of

sustained efforts, six of the cases where CHRI provided victim/witness support and legal assistance, ended in conviction and life sentences for all the accused. Three other cases are ongoing and at different stages of investigation and trial, but none of the witnesses involved have turned hostile. This in itself is a success because it has nationally become standard practice for victims and witnesses to be pressurised by the perpetrators to compromise outside of the court because of threats or through the promise of money .

It became increasingly apparent over the course of the programme that the key to ensuring sustained justice was to leave behind a permanent legal resource. This was done by training paralegals to create an awareness of rights, build the capability to demand ones rights and to provide a grounding in the legal framework within which state institutions are bound. The paralegals have since taken this back to their communities by holding regular meetings on every issues of concern within the community and publishing newsletters to address local legal needs.

The success of these paralegals is marked by the need to set up Citizen Advice Centres (CACs) where people from other communities can seek legal assistance. The Centres also provide and disseminate information on rights, a broad range of laws, legal concepts and government schemes. By pooling resources, their outreach has now spread to over 50 villages and is still expanding.

Perhaps one of the most crucial outcomes of the programme was seeing Hindu and Muslim communities slowly come together to seek remedies through an understanding of the equalising effect of law. Our work proved its hy pothesis that knowing the law can create a common language and acceptable rules of engagement between communities that otherwise have no basis for civil interaction.

GUJARAT RIOTS: A CASE STUDY


In the wake of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, our Access to Justice Programme intervened to secure justice for the 2000 Muslims who died, and the thousands more who were injured or displaced from their homes. The immediate concern was justice for the victims and bringing the involved state actors to account. There was widespread belief amongst victims, victims’ families and the perpetrators themselves that neither the police nor the courts would or could work to deliver justice in such a polarised community . Many influential segments of the population also believed that riot cases traditionally come to nothing and the best way to repair the already difficult relationships between and within communities was to forget the past and move forward without further exacerbating tensions by seeking formal justice.

The aim of the programme was to demonstrate that the legal sy stem could be used successfully to provide justice for ordinary citizens and end impunity for perpetrators of violence. We focussed on securing justice for the victim s and their families, by guiding them through the criminal justice sy stem, and training paralegals to develop community knowledge of their rights and build the capacity for the community to demand better police performance. CHRI helped train paralegals to file RTI applications to ensure that local governments functioned according to statutory norms and the benefits of development filtered down to the poor. They multiplied the information, through newsletters, public education materials, and choreographing street play s. Malpractices were exposed, corrupt officials were fined and suspended, health care facilities in remote villages improved and ration shops started to function in accordance with the norm.

From 2003 to 2009, CHRI remained entrenched in working for access to justice for the marginalised in Gujarat. After six years of

sustained efforts, six of the cases where CHRI provided victim/witness support and legal assistance, ended in conviction and life sentences for all the accused. Three other cases are ongoing and at different stages of investigation and trial, but none of the witnesses involved have turned hostile. This in itself is a success because it has nationally become standard practice for victims and witnesses to be pressurised by the perpetrators to compromise outside of the court because of threats or through the promise of money .

It became increasingly apparent over the course of the programme that the key to ensuring sustained justice was to leave behind a permanent legal resource. This was done by training paralegals to create an awareness of rights, build the capability to demand ones rights and to provide a grounding in the legal framework within which state institutions are bound. The paralegals have since taken this back to their communities by holding regular meetings on every issues of concern within the community and publishing newsletters to address local legal needs.

The success of these paralegals is marked by the need to set up Citizen Advice Centres (CACs) where people from other communities can seek legal assistance. The Centres also provide and disseminate information on rights, a broad range of laws, legal concepts and government schemes. By pooling resources, their outreach has now spread to over 50 villages and is still expanding.

Perhaps one of the most crucial outcomes of the programme was seeing Hindu and Muslim communities slowly come together to seek remedies through an understanding of the equalising effect of law. Our work proved its hy pothesis that knowing the law can create a common language and acceptable rules of engagement between communities that otherwise have no basis for civil interaction.

GUJARAT RIOTS: A CASE STUDY


POLICE REFORMS

ABOUT A fair and just police procedure is the cornerstone of a democratic society ; those who commit a crime are brought to account and those who are innocent by standers remain so. The police force is one of the few authoritative powers who come into daily contact with the citizens of a nation; this gives them a responsibility to treat people with dignity , openness and in accordance with international human rights law. The chasm of power between a government and its citizens can be closed with democratic policing, empowering citizens to trust and believe in their representatives. An effective police force is the first step to attaining justice in a free society ; a police force that incites fear becomes ineffective before the possibility of justice can even be considered.

Commonwealth countries have some of the best and worst police forces in the world. The lack of accountability that plagues opaque government sy stems in these countries is the foremost reason for the need for police reforms. CHRI focuses on reforming policing through attention to internal sy stems and external oversight: policing become democratic only when seen as a “service” that protects civil liberties and human rights, rather than a “force” subservient to the regime in power.


POLICE REFORMS

ABOUT A fair and just police procedure is the cornerstone of a democratic society ; those who commit a crime are brought to account and those who are innocent by standers remain so. The police force is one of the few authoritative powers who come into daily contact with the citizens of a nation; this gives them a responsibility to treat people with dignity , openness and in accordance with international human rights law. The chasm of power between a government and its citizens can be closed with democratic policing, empowering citizens to trust and believe in their representatives. An effective police force is the first step to attaining justice in a free society ; a police force that incites fear becomes ineffective before the possibility of justice can even be considered.

Commonwealth countries have some of the best and worst police forces in the world. The lack of accountability that plagues opaque government sy stems in these countries is the foremost reason for the need for police reforms. CHRI focuses on reforming policing through attention to internal sy stems and external oversight: policing become democratic only when seen as a “service” that protects civil liberties and human rights, rather than a “force” subservient to the regime in power.


BETTER POLICING IN J&K The continually fragile situation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is frequently accented with discontent and strong reactions from the police – the precarious situation has led to setbacks in the willingness for police reforms. Policing in J&K has been shaped by the pre-eminent role the army has played in maintaining security and the continuation of its traditional structure as an unreformed remnant of colonial times. The public has almost no confidence in the police, which prevents the police from performing legitimate duties. The ability of the police to contribute to building public confidence is an essential basis for building lasting peace.

CHRI is in the process of a scoping study in J&K to identify possible gaps in police reform initiatives. The idea of democratic policing as understood by reform groups may not sit well with the government or police who look at reform from the perspective of arms and enhanced powers. Yet, new measures by the government have recently been put in place to positively reform policing; this allows us an unprecedented opportunity to begin long-term dialogue with the state. We are also able to build the capacity of partner civil society organisations to monitor police performance and behaviour and increase the acceptance of reform within policy and policing circles.

STRENGTHENING OVERSIGHT MECHANISMS In aid of our work towards strengthening police accountability , ending impunity and greater implementation of human rights standards in policing, CHRI launched an initiative to strengthen police oversight mechanisms. The Supreme Court issued a directive in 2006 to set up Police Complaints Authorities (PCAs) with a specialised focus on examining police misconduct and identify ing patterns of misbehaviour. The strengthening of PCAs will lay down accepted standards of behaviour from the polic e, and will ensure that respect for human rights is in fact the adherence to lawful procedure.

There are eight states in India which have so far established PCAs. However, five of these are not yet operational. CHRI is the only organisation which has monitored performance, documented their challenges and sought to strengthen their functioning. We discovered that PCAs across the country are struggling with their mandates. There is a significant absence of concrete or clear internal procedures, and resultantly , they are not y et effective. We are focussing on strengthening the PCAs of Kerala and Goa into best practice examples of effective external oversight mechanisms for the police, and providing a platform to disseminate the best practice to other states in India. They will operate to a model set of procedures which will ensure their effectiveness.

Civil society networks in Kerala and Goa are established and can hold the PCAs to account. We will help build the capacity of these groups to develop the expertise to effectively monitor the activities of local PCAs. Along with this crucial monitoring by civil society , greater public knowledge must be effectuated to prevent these forums for accountability to remain only on paper and swiftly becoming dy sfunctional.

The development of an effective oversight mechanism would have a knock-on effect around India, and would create greater police accountability , recognise patterns of misconduct and help develop solutions to remedy these.


The full value of legal literacy ca me home when a colleague was explaining how to file a first information report (FIR ) at an informal session in a camp filled with displaced riot victims from Guja rat. She was explaining how to report a crime to the po lice and file a police complaint. As she explained the rights of the complainant; the duties of the police; the necessity for accurate recording; and the legal duty to provide a copy; someone asked her if she was explaining the law of India or was telling them something available only in a foreign land.

This incident shaped the evolution of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s work to create e mbedded paralegals as a permanent resourc e for the community.

The goal of the paralegal training handbook is to serve as a guide for those who want to learn the law and for those who want to spread legal information into communities that know little about its substance and processes.

Law means diffe rent things for different peo ple. For those who know it and use it, it is both a sword and a shield. For those – especially the poor and vulnerable – who don’t know the law, the law is often only experienced as oppression , when in fact, knowledge of law is the single most important tool to empower this very segment.

Many shy away from any engagement with the law because it is equated with courts, police, lawyers and mysterious, expensive, remote and complex processes. But knowledge of legal processes creat es a very demanding consumer, which can make these institutions more responsive and mould them closer to what is desired.

The handbook arose out of a felt need in communities torn apart by horrendous sectarian violence. We saw in Gujarat that even when two communities were ali enated fro m each other, most we re looking for a road back to amity and peace that is based on justice and not a piece of the grave. Knowledge of law and rights, its standards of fairness, assump tions of equality and application to all, promised a common language and matrix on which to build mutual respect, tolerance and peace.

The lessons in the handbook and its interactive methodology were recorded afte r three yea rs of experimentation with user communities. It contains not only the substance of useful laws but knowledge of processes, and most importantly, exercises in skills building that take the learner from knowing to doing.

Its success as a means of acc essing justice, redressing grievances and breaking down stereotypes is demonstrable. People who saw each other as aliens and enemies have learned and worked together without incident and in the face of larger co mmunity isolation. Not only have they used their new found knowledge in myriad ways but have become active in disseminating it across their communities and are now acknowledged teachers and practic al resources for all. The value of legal literacy for a ll, is recog nised by the local administration who accepts the role of these paralegals within the community. The simple question of “why are you teaching us the laws of another country?” is representative of the need for legal literacy and the importance of the work we and others in this field do to address this need. Without an awareness of what we are owed by the government and what we can demand, those with power are free to abuse those without with impunity; and those without, are exploited and unaware of what they can do to prevent this exploitation.

Law is as much a part of life as is the air we breathe. It is not something we see or feel all the time but it is there: necessary and invaluable, shaping all we do and how we do it.

To be deprived of legal knowledge is to be deprived of access to justice with all the consequent alienation, anger, exclusion and conflict that it leads to. It cannot be permitted. Yet most people in India are deprived of legal knowledge. This must be remedied and this paralegal training manual is a contribution to changing this state of affai rs.

Na waz K otw al, C oor di nat or, Polic e Ref orms Progr amme, CHR I

LEGAL LITERACY IN GUJARAT

“WHY ARE YOU TEACHING US THE LAWS OF ANOTHER COUNTRY?”


BETTER POLICING IN J&K The continually fragile situation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is frequently accented with discontent and strong reactions from the police – the precarious situation has led to setbacks in the willingness for police reforms. Policing in J&K has been shaped by the pre-eminent role the army has played in maintaining security and the continuation of its traditional structure as an unreformed remnant of colonial times. The public has almost no confidence in the police, which prevents the police from performing legitimate duties. The ability of the police to contribute to building public confidence is an essential basis for building lasting peace.

CHRI is in the process of a scoping study in J&K to identify possible gaps in police reform initiatives. The idea of democratic policing as understood by reform groups may not sit well with the government or police who look at reform from the perspective of arms and enhanced powers. Yet, new measures by the government have recently been put in place to positively reform policing; this allows us an unprecedented opportunity to begin long-term dialogue with the state. We are also able to build the capacity of partner civil society organisations to monitor police performance and behaviour and increase the acceptance of reform within policy and policing circles.

STRENGTHENING OVERSIGHT MECHANISMS In aid of our work towards strengthening police accountability , ending impunity and greater implementation of human rights standards in policing, CHRI launched an initiative to strengthen police oversight mechanisms. The Supreme Court issued a directive in 2006 to set up Police Complaints Authorities (PCAs) with a specialised focus on examining police misconduct and identify ing patterns of misbehaviour. The strengthening of PCAs will lay down accepted standards of behaviour from the polic e, and will ensure that respect for human rights is in fact the adherence to lawful procedure.

There are eight states in India which have so far established PCAs. However, five of these are not yet operational. CHRI is the only organisation which has monitored performance, documented their challenges and sought to strengthen their functioning. We discovered that PCAs across the country are struggling with their mandates. There is a significant absence of concrete or clear internal procedures, and resultantly , they are not y et effective. We are focussing on strengthening the PCAs of Kerala and Goa into best practice examples of effective external oversight mechanisms for the police, and providing a platform to disseminate the best practice to other states in India. They will operate to a model set of procedures which will ensure their effectiveness.

Civil society networks in Kerala and Goa are established and can hold the PCAs to account. We will help build the capacity of these groups to develop the expertise to effectively monitor the activities of local PCAs. Along with this crucial monitoring by civil society , greater public knowledge must be effectuated to prevent these forums for accountability to remain only on paper and swiftly becoming dy sfunctional.

The development of an effective oversight mechanism would have a knock-on effect around India, and would create greater police accountability , recognise patterns of misconduct and help develop solutions to remedy these.


BETTER POLICING IN J&K The continually fragile situation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is frequently accented with discontent and strong reactions from the police – the precarious situation has led to setbacks in the willingness for police reforms. Policing in J&K has been shaped by the pre-eminent role the army has played in maintaining security and the continuation of its traditional structure as an unreformed remnant of colonial times. The public has almost no confidence in the police, which prevents the police from performing legitimate duties. The ability of the police to contribute to building public confidence is an essential basis for building lasting peace.

CHRI is in the process of a scoping study in J&K to identify possible gaps in police reform initiatives. The idea of democratic policing as understood by reform groups may not sit well with the government or police who look at reform from the perspective of arms and enhanced powers. Yet, new measures by the government have recently been put in place to positively reform policing; this allows us an unprecedented opportunity to begin long-term dialogue with the state. We are also able to build the capacity of partner civil society organisations to monitor police performance and behaviour and increase the acceptance of reform within policy and policing circles.

STRENGTHENING OVERSIGHT MECHANISMS In aid of our work towards strengthening police accountability , ending impunity and greater implementation of human rights standards in policing, CHRI launched an initiative to strengthen police oversight mechanisms. The Supreme Court issued a directive in 2006 to set up Police Complaints Authorities (PCAs) with a specialised focus on examining police misconduct and identify ing patterns of misbehaviour. The strengthening of PCAs will lay down accepted standards of behaviour from the polic e, and will ensure that respect for human rights is in fact the adherence to lawful procedure.

There are eight states in India which have so far established PCAs. However, five of these are not yet operational. CHRI is the only organisation which has monitored performance, documented their challenges and sought to strengthen their functioning. We discovered that PCAs across the country are struggling with their mandates. There is a significant absence of concrete or clear internal procedures, and resultantly , they are not y et effective. We are focussing on strengthening the PCAs of Kerala and Goa into best practice examples of effective external oversight mechanisms for the police, and providing a platform to disseminate the best practice to other states in India. They will operate to a model set of procedures which will ensure their effectiveness.

Civil society networks in Kerala and Goa are established and can hold the PCAs to account. We will help build the capacity of these groups to develop the expertise to effectively monitor the activities of local PCAs. Along with this crucial monitoring by civil society , greater public knowledge must be effectuated to prevent these forums for accountability to remain only on paper and swiftly becoming dy sfunctional.

The development of an effective oversight mechanism would have a knock-on effect around India, and would create greater police accountability , recognise patterns of misconduct and help develop solutions to remedy these.


The full value of legal literacy ca me home when a colleague was explaining how to file a first information report (FIR ) at an informal session in a camp filled with displaced riot victims from Guja rat. She was explaining how to report a crime to the po lice and file a police complaint. As she explained the rights of the complainant; the duties of the police; the necessity for accurate recording; and the legal duty to provide a copy; someone asked her if she was explaining the law of India or was telling them something available only in a foreign land.

This incident shaped the evolution of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s work to create e mbedded paralegals as a permanent resourc e for the community.

The goal of the paralegal training handbook is to serve as a guide for those who want to learn the law and for those who want to spread legal information into communities that know little about its substance and processes.

Law means diffe rent things for different peo ple. For those who know it and use it, it is both a sword and a shield. For those – especially the poor and vulnerable – who don’t know the law, the law is often only experienced as oppression , when in fact, knowledge of law is the single most important tool to empower this very segment.

Many shy away from any engagement with the law because it is equated with courts, police, lawyers and mysterious, expensive, remote and complex processes. But knowledge of legal processes creat es a very demanding consumer, which can make these institutions more responsive and mould them closer to what is desired.

The handbook arose out of a felt need in communities torn apart by horrendous sectarian violence. We saw in Gujarat that even when two communities were ali enated fro m each other, most we re looking for a road back to amity and peace that is based on justice and not a piece of the grave. Knowledge of law and rights, its standards of fairness, assump tions of equality and application to all, promised a common language and matrix on which to build mutual respect, tolerance and peace.

The lessons in the handbook and its interactive methodology were recorded afte r three yea rs of experimentation with user communities. It contains not only the substance of useful laws but knowledge of processes, and most importantly, exercises in skills building that take the learner from knowing to doing.

Its success as a means of acc essing justice, redressing grievances and breaking down stereotypes is demonstrable. People who saw each other as aliens and enemies have learned and worked together without incident and in the face of larger co mmunity isolation. Not only have they used their new found knowledge in myriad ways but have become active in disseminating it across their communities and are now acknowledged teachers and practic al resources for all. The value of legal literacy for a ll, is recog nised by the local administration who accepts the role of these paralegals within the community. The simple question of “why are you teaching us the laws of another country?” is representative of the need for legal literacy and the importance of the work we and others in this field do to address this need. Without an awareness of what we are owed by the government and what we can demand, those with power are free to abuse those without with impunity; and those without, are exploited and unaware of what they can do to prevent this exploitation.

Law is as much a part of life as is the air we breathe. It is not something we see or feel all the time but it is there: necessary and invaluable, shaping all we do and how we do it.

To be deprived of legal knowledge is to be deprived of access to justice with all the consequent alienation, anger, exclusion and conflict that it leads to. It cannot be permitted. Yet most people in India are deprived of legal knowledge. This must be remedied and this paralegal training manual is a contribution to changing this state of affai rs.

Na waz K otw al, C oor di nat or, Polic e Ref orms Progr amme, CHR I

LEGAL LITERACY IN GUJARAT

“WHY ARE YOU TEACHING US THE LAWS OF ANOTHER COUNTRY?”


The full value of legal literacy ca me home when a colleague was explaining how to file a first information report (FIR ) at an informal session in a camp filled with displaced riot victims from Guja rat. She was explaining how to report a crime to the po lice and file a police complaint. As she explained the rights of the complainant; the duties of the police; the necessity for accurate recording; and the legal duty to provide a copy; someone asked her if she was explaining the law of India or was telling them something available only in a foreign land.

This incident shaped the evolution of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s work to create e mbedded paralegals as a permanent resourc e for the community.

The goal of the paralegal training handbook is to serve as a guide for those who want to learn the law and for those who want to spread legal information into communities that know little about its substance and processes.

Law means diffe rent things for different peo ple. For those who know it and use it, it is both a sword and a shield. For those – especially the poor and vulnerable – who don’t know the law, the law is often only experienced as oppression , when in fact, knowledge of law is the single most important tool to empower this very segment.

Many shy away from any engagement with the law because it is equated with courts, police, lawyers and mysterious, expensive, remote and complex processes. But knowledge of legal processes creat es a very demanding consumer, which can make these institutions more responsive and mould them closer to what is desired.

The handbook arose out of a felt need in communities torn apart by horrendous sectarian violence. We saw in Gujarat that even when two communities were ali enated fro m each other, most we re looking for a road back to amity and peace that is based on justice and not a piece of the grave. Knowledge of law and rights, its standards of fairness, assump tions of equality and application to all, promised a common language and matrix on which to build mutual respect, tolerance and peace.

The lessons in the handbook and its interactive methodology were recorded afte r three yea rs of experimentation with user communities. It contains not only the substance of useful laws but knowledge of processes, and most importantly, exercises in skills building that take the learner from knowing to doing.

Its success as a means of acc essing justice, redressing grievances and breaking down stereotypes is demonstrable. People who saw each other as aliens and enemies have learned and worked together without incident and in the face of larger co mmunity isolation. Not only have they used their new found knowledge in myriad ways but have become active in disseminating it across their communities and are now acknowledged teachers and practic al resources for all. The value of legal literacy for a ll, is recog nised by the local administration who accepts the role of these paralegals within the community. The simple question of “why are you teaching us the laws of another country?” is representative of the need for legal literacy and the importance of the work we and others in this field do to address this need. Without an awareness of what we are owed by the government and what we can demand, those with power are free to abuse those without with impunity; and those without, are exploited and unaware of what they can do to prevent this exploitation.

Law is as much a part of life as is the air we breathe. It is not something we see or feel all the time but it is there: necessary and invaluable, shaping all we do and how we do it.

To be deprived of legal knowledge is to be deprived of access to justice with all the consequent alienation, anger, exclusion and conflict that it leads to. It cannot be permitted. Yet most people in India are deprived of legal knowledge. This must be remedied and this paralegal training manual is a contribution to changing this state of affai rs.

Na waz K otw al, C oor di nat or, Polic e Ref orms Progr amme, CHR I

LEGAL LITERACY IN GUJARAT

“WHY ARE YOU TEACHING US THE LAWS OF ANOTHER COUNTRY?”


Custodial Death in Kerala In April 2010, a gruesome custodial death in Kerala was marked with attempts by the police and government to cover up the issue and present barriers to an independent and impartial investigation. Civil society groups approached CHRI to assist in mounting a challenge before the Kerala High Court and asking that the investigation be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). CHRI intervened and secured an order from a single judge transferring the investigation to the CBI. The Kerala government appealed the Order before a Division Bench of the High Court. Fortunately , the Division Bench upheld the order of the single judge. The Kerala government appealed to the Supreme Court say ing that handing over the investigation to the CBI greatly reduced the morale of the police. The Supreme Court was surprised by the behaviour of the Kerala government and asked for the reasoning behind its objection to the CBI conducting an investigation. The Court heavily criticised the role of the police as well as the government in try ing to shield guilty officers and dismissed the appeal. This was a great victory for our police reforms. It demonstrated that we could engage with the police when possible, and confront them when required.

Habeas Corpus Petition in Delhi High Court In May 2008, CHRI filed a writ of Habeas Corpus in the Delhi High Court to rescue a 13-year-old boy taken hostage by the Gujarat police from his home in Delhi when they came looking for his father and could not find him. The boy was brought back after seven day s in the custody of the Gujarat police. The High Court judgement came down heavily on both the Delhi Police and the Gujarat police, and awarded a compensation of Rs. 2.7 lakhs and Rs. 25,000 in costs to the petitioners. It was an important judgement as it is quite rare for the Court to grant such a large compensation. The Gujarat government has decided not to go into appeal and has paid the full amount to the petitioner, which can be read as a rare admission of guilt in a matter concerning the actions of its police towards a member of the minority Muslim community . The judgement has seen justice done in this case, and set a formidable precedent, which will hopefully act as a deterrent for such blatant violation of fundamental rights by any institution of the state.

A departmental inquiry was initiated against the errant officers from Gujarat and an FIR was filed. We are following the progress on this and hope to take it to its logical conclusion. This would be a living example of our work on police accountability .

CHRI continues to monitor the investigation conducted by the CBI and will use this case as a test case to bring accountability into action.

LITIGATION


Custodial Death in Kerala In April 2010, a gruesome custodial death in Kerala was marked with attempts by the police and government to cover up the issue and present barriers to an independent and impartial investigation. Civil society groups approached CHRI to assist in mounting a challenge before the Kerala High Court and asking that the investigation be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). CHRI intervened and secured an order from a single judge transferring the investigation to the CBI. The Kerala government appealed the Order before a Division Bench of the High Court. Fortunately , the Division Bench upheld the order of the single judge. The Kerala government appealed to the Supreme Court say ing that handing over the investigation to the CBI greatly reduced the morale of the police. The Supreme Court was surprised by the behaviour of the Kerala government and asked for the reasoning behind its objection to the CBI conducting an investigation. The Court heavily criticised the role of the police as well as the government in try ing to shield guilty officers and dismissed the appeal. This was a great victory for our police reforms. It demonstrated that we could engage with the police when possible, and confront them when required.

Habeas Corpus Petition in Delhi High Court In May 2008, CHRI filed a writ of Habeas Corpus in the Delhi High Court to rescue a 13-year-old boy taken hostage by the Gujarat police from his home in Delhi when they came looking for his father and could not find him. The boy was brought back after seven day s in the custody of the Gujarat police. The High Court judgement came down heavily on both the Delhi Police and the Gujarat police, and awarded a compensation of Rs. 2.7 lakhs and Rs. 25,000 in costs to the petitioners. It was an important judgement as it is quite rare for the Court to grant such a large compensation. The Gujarat government has decided not to go into appeal and has paid the full amount to the petitioner, which can be read as a rare admission of guilt in a matter concerning the actions of its police towards a member of the minority Muslim community . The judgement has seen justice done in this case, and set a formidable precedent, which will hopefully act as a deterrent for such blatant violation of fundamental rights by any institution of the state.

A departmental inquiry was initiated against the errant officers from Gujarat and an FIR was filed. We are following the progress on this and hope to take it to its logical conclusion. This would be a living example of our work on police accountability .

CHRI continues to monitor the investigation conducted by the CBI and will use this case as a test case to bring accountability into action.

LITIGATION


The Police Reforms Visiting Programmes began in 2009 and have since run annually at the CHRI Headquarters in New Delhi. The programme is intended to enable members of civil society , professionals and practitioners from the region to learn about police reform initiatives in India and draw lessons for their own work. To this end, the programme facilitates interaction and discussion with key professionals and experts in India on various means of engaging with the police and using the law to achieve better realisation of human rights and accountability . The meetings focus on a conceptual understanding of human rights and how it relates to policing, and the different way s of intervention by civil society . The 2010 programme also included a visit to Kochi to learn about the community policing projects of the Kerala police. The combination of theoretical discussion and practical exposure allows for knowledge and capacity building in a very effective way , allowing participants to deepen their knowledge on policing in the region.

VISITING PROGRAMMES


The Police Reforms Visiting Programmes began in 2009 and have since run annually at the CHRI Headquarters in New Delhi. The programme is intended to enable members of civil society , professionals and practitioners from the region to learn about police reform initiatives in India and draw lessons for their own work. To this end, the programme facilitates interaction and discussion with key professionals and experts in India on various means of engaging with the police and using the law to achieve better realisation of human rights and accountability . The meetings focus on a conceptual understanding of human rights and how it relates to policing, and the different way s of intervention by civil society . The 2010 programme also included a visit to Kochi to learn about the community policing projects of the Kerala police. The combination of theoretical discussion and practical exposure allows for knowledge and capacity building in a very effective way , allowing participants to deepen their knowledge on policing in the region.

VISITING PROGRAMMES


Use of Media and Outreach In 2006, CHRI developed awareness creation materials for radio, television and the print media. These included five radio spots of 30 seconds each, which were broadcast on All India Radio. The simple films explained how to file a First Information Report (FIR), rights of citizens during arrest and detention, rights of women and children while interacting with the police, rights of citizens during interrogation and the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) Atrocities Act. Seven thousand easy -to-read pamphlets on the same issues were printed in Hindi, English and nine regional languages and will be disseminated by the Ministry . Over the years, our team members have appeared on TV shows, written articles for magazines, set up a blog and produced fliers on citizens’ rights for multiple initiatives around the country and abroad.

101 things you wanted to know about the police but were too afraid to ask 101 things you wanted to know about the police but were too afraid to ask is a publication initiated and written by CHRI. It literally comprises 101 questions on the police, ranging from “why do we have a police force?” to “if the police arrest me, can they keep me for as long as they like?” The colourful booklet is complemented by accessible cartoons, and concludes with the tagline: “A children’s book for adults to learn from.” The simple language and vibrant cartoons make it accessible to a large number of people whose rights are violated by police forces around the world. It is wildly popular, and has been translated into Hindi, Kannada and Gujarati in India, and Bangla (Bangladesh), Dhivehi (Maldives), Swahili (Uganda) and is in the process of being disseminated to Tanzania.


Use of Media and Outreach In 2006, CHRI developed awareness creation materials for radio, television and the print media. These included five radio spots of 30 seconds each, which were broadcast on All India Radio. The simple films explained how to file a First Information Report (FIR), rights of citizens during arrest and detention, rights of women and children while interacting with the police, rights of citizens during interrogation and the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) Atrocities Act. Seven thousand easy -to-read pamphlets on the same issues were printed in Hindi, English and nine regional languages and will be disseminated by the Ministry . Over the years, our team members have appeared on TV shows, written articles for magazines, set up a blog and produced fliers on citizens’ rights for multiple initiatives around the country and abroad.

101 things you wanted to know about the police but were too afraid to ask 101 things you wanted to know about the police but were too afraid to ask is a publication initiated and written by CHRI. It literally comprises 101 questions on the police, ranging from “why do we have a police force?” to “if the police arrest me, can they keep me for as long as they like?” The colourful booklet is complemented by accessible cartoons, and concludes with the tagline: “A children’s book for adults to learn from.” The simple language and vibrant cartoons make it accessible to a large number of people whose rights are violated by police forces around the world. It is wildly popular, and has been translated into Hindi, Kannada and Gujarati in India, and Bangla (Bangladesh), Dhivehi (Maldives), Swahili (Uganda) and is in the process of being disseminated to Tanzania.


POLICING IN EAST AFRICA

CHRI’s policing programme in East Africa began in 2001. As Commonwealth countries with a history of policing problems, CHRI began to investigate the region in order to expand its initiatives further and move away from a South Asia focus. The region CHRI focuses on encompasses Keny a, Tanzania, Uganda and more recently Rwanda and Burundi, which together make up the East African Community .

Policing in East Africa has been associated with brutality , torture, partiality , political interference, illegal arrest and detention, extrajudicial executions and corruption. An independent and just police service is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society ; maintaining law and order in society in accordance with the rule of law. CHRI’s East Africa Programme works to support the development of police independence and accountability in the region. The power that comes with a police uniform must be monitored and the individual held responsible for abuse of the poor, the weak, the forgotten or the voiceless. Without this accountability , any institution with powers over its fellow citizens is capable of turning rogue. CHRI’s strength remains in producing ground-breaking reports which bring to light issues previously brushed under the carpet or only superficially tackled. In East Africa, this began through a series of country reports (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) which looked at police accountability in the three countries, an initia tive which had never been undertaken before. CHRI also produced two reports reviewing the police budgets in Kenya and Uganda. Since then, CHRI has become more involved in the region, partnering with local NGOs and funders to advocate for an improved, human-rights based approach to policing.


POLICING IN EAST AFRICA

CHRI’s policing programme in East Africa began in 2001. As Commonwealth countries with a history of policing problems, CHRI began to investigate the region in order to expand its initiatives further and move away from a South Asia focus. The region CHRI focuses on encompasses Keny a, Tanzania, Uganda and more recently Rwanda and Burundi, which together make up the East African Community .

Policing in East Africa has been associated with brutality , torture, partiality , political interference, illegal arrest and detention, extrajudicial executions and corruption. An independent and just police service is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society ; maintaining law and order in society in accordance with the rule of law. CHRI’s East Africa Programme works to support the development of police independence and accountability in the region. The power that comes with a police uniform must be monitored and the individual held responsible for abuse of the poor, the weak, the forgotten or the voiceless. Without this accountability , any institution with powers over its fellow citizens is capable of turning rogue. CHRI’s strength remains in producing ground-breaking reports which bring to light issues previously brushed under the carpet or only superficially tackled. In East Africa, this began through a series of country reports (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) which looked at police accountability in the three countries, an initia tive which had never been undertaken before. CHRI also produced two reports reviewing the police budgets in Kenya and Uganda. Since then, CHRI has become more involved in the region, partnering with local NGOs and funders to advocate for an improved, human-rights based approach to policing.


REPORTS ON POLICE ACCOUNT ABILITY

CHRI has promoted police reform in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania since 2001. Over the course of the first five y ears of our programme, CHRI conducted extensive research into police practices in these countries and produced three wellreceived publications regarding police accountability . Before this, there was limited capacity in civil society to effectively advocate for police accountability or reform. The reports focused on the extent of illegitimate political control of the police in the three countries, and an analy sis of the mechanisms by which the police can be made accountable for their actions. The reports have been commended by civil society , police and governments as extremely valuable contributions to efforts to increase transparency in police and governance and to ignite the police reform debate in the region. Through these publications and CHRI’s sy stematic effort to cataly se and build capacity in civil society , a police reform movement was initiated and has evolved over the y ears into comprehensive advocacy . Today , common standards for policing have been adopted by the five East African Community countries, which is part of a growing trend towards transparent and accountable policing practices.

“APCOF and CHRI believe that regional networks have been strengthened and that s takeholders, in clud ing the police, civil society and the human rights secto r, will be enco uraged to inte ract in s upport of a common f rame work on policing.� Sean Tait, Common Standa rds Report


REPORTS ON POLICE ACCOUNT ABILITY

CHRI has promoted police reform in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania since 2001. Over the course of the first five y ears of our programme, CHRI conducted extensive research into police practices in these countries and produced three wellreceived publications regarding police accountability . Before this, there was limited capacity in civil society to effectively advocate for police accountability or reform. The reports focused on the extent of illegitimate political control of the police in the three countries, and an analy sis of the mechanisms by which the police can be made accountable for their actions. The reports have been commended by civil society , police and governments as extremely valuable contributions to efforts to increase transparency in police and governance and to ignite the police reform debate in the region. Through these publications and CHRI’s sy stematic effort to cataly se and build capacity in civil society , a police reform movement was initiated and has evolved over the y ears into comprehensive advocacy . Today , common standards for policing have been adopted by the five East African Community countries, which is part of a growing trend towards transparent and accountable policing practices.

“APCOF and CHRI believe that regional networks have been strengthened and that s takeholders, in clud ing the police, civil society and the human rights secto r, will be enco uraged to inte ract in s upport of a common f rame work on policing.� Sean Tait, Common Standa rds Report


THE USALAMA REFORM FORUM

REPORTS COMMON STANDARDS, 2010

The Usalama Reform Forum (TURF) was established in 2008, as a partnership between CHRI, African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) and Peacenet. TURF was founded as a platform to jointly advocate for reform in the security sector in Kenya. The TURF founders recognised the need for cutting edge analy sis and advocacy in the field of Security Sector Reform (SSR). The forum has now grown to include 11 additional members – a total of 14 local, national and international organisations.

CHRI is on the governing committee of TURF and recently led the technical work on its key submissions to Parliament on the National Police Service Bill and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Bill. TURF is a leading player, influencing some amendments to the legislation, and received strong media coverage. The National Police Service Bill and Independent Policing Oversight Authority Bill have now been made law. This has been an enormous achievement for CHRI and helped raise our profile in East Africa.

A report on the Common Standards for Policing in East Africa was published in 2010, as a joint initiative between CHRI and APCOF. The report articulates a rights-based approach to security procedures to benefit the police forces of the East African Community (EAC) – Keny a, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi – and consolidate a move towards integration, letting go of prior practice, in order to harmonise and promote regional police cooperation. The report was adopted by the Police Chiefs of the five countries in 2011.

This report aims to support the harmonisation of policing and supplement the ongoing defence and security integration of the EAC. It is also a useful exercise in promoting ongoing regional dialogue. For the EAC to be an effective regional body , progressive integration requires cooperation and engagement between key institutions of governance and peace and security , to lay the institutional and practical foundations for full integration. CHRI is now monitoring its implementa tion and ensuring that important tenets of the report are incorporated into police practice.

The standards, as laid out in the report, will be translated into Swahili and then published as a poster in Tanzania, whose police force have indicated that they want it to be displayed in all police stations.

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES FOR THE POLICE WITHIN THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY

Following the Common Standards for Policing in East Africa report, the EAC Peace and Security Secretariat asked CHRI and APCOF to help develop Standard Operating Procedures for particular areas of policing. If adopted and implemented, this will result in standard operating procedures that will hope fully improve rights-based policing in the East African states. CHRI and APCOF are working in collaboration with the EAC on Standard Operating Procedures for the Use of Force, Public Order Management and Stop, Search, Arrest and Detention – the policing areas that impact most on the human rights of the public. To undertake this work properly , CHRI plans to convene several consultations in East Africa with the police and civil society groups. This is likely to be a crucial way to bring like-minded organisations together to form a powerful coalition across the EAC.


THE USALAMA REFORM FORUM

REPORTS COMMON STANDARDS, 2010

The Usalama Reform Forum (TURF) was established in 2008, as a partnership between CHRI, African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) and Peacenet. TURF was founded as a platform to jointly advocate for reform in the security sector in Kenya. The TURF founders recognised the need for cutting edge analy sis and advocacy in the field of Security Sector Reform (SSR). The forum has now grown to include 11 additional members – a total of 14 local, national and international organisations.

CHRI is on the governing committee of TURF and recently led the technical work on its key submissions to Parliament on the National Police Service Bill and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Bill. TURF is a leading player, influencing some amendments to the legislation, and received strong media coverage. The National Police Service Bill and Independent Policing Oversight Authority Bill have now been made law. This has been an enormous achievement for CHRI and helped raise our profile in East Africa.

A report on the Common Standards for Policing in East Africa was published in 2010, as a joint initiative between CHRI and APCOF. The report articulates a rights-based approach to security procedures to benefit the police forces of the East African Community (EAC) – Keny a, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi – and consolidate a move towards integration, letting go of prior practice, in order to harmonise and promote regional police cooperation. The report was adopted by the Police Chiefs of the five countries in 2011.

This report aims to support the harmonisation of policing and supplement the ongoing defence and security integration of the EAC. It is also a useful exercise in promoting ongoing regional dialogue. For the EAC to be an effective regional body , progressive integration requires cooperation and engagement between key institutions of governance and peace and security , to lay the institutional and practical foundations for full integration. CHRI is now monitoring its implementa tion and ensuring that important tenets of the report are incorporated into police practice.

The standards, as laid out in the report, will be translated into Swahili and then published as a poster in Tanzania, whose police force have indicated that they want it to be displayed in all police stations.

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES FOR THE POLICE WITHIN THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY

Following the Common Standards for Policing in East Africa report, the EAC Peace and Security Secretariat asked CHRI and APCOF to help develop Standard Operating Procedures for particular areas of policing. If adopted and implemented, this will result in standard operating procedures that will hope fully improve rights-based policing in the East African states. CHRI and APCOF are working in collaboration with the EAC on Standard Operating Procedures for the Use of Force, Public Order Management and Stop, Search, Arrest and Detention – the policing areas that impact most on the human rights of the public. To undertake this work properly , CHRI plans to convene several consultations in East Africa with the police and civil society groups. This is likely to be a crucial way to bring like-minded organisations together to form a powerful coalition across the EAC.


CHRI 2012

CHRI Police

COMMONWEAL TH H UMAN RIG HTS IN ITIATIVE B-117, 2 nd Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, N ew D elhi – 110017 Tel: +91-(0)11 4318 0200 Fax: +91-(0)11 2686 4688 info@humanrightsinitiative.org; www.humanrightsinitiat ive.org

C HRI Commonwealth Human Rights Initiativ e Working for the practical realisation ofhuman rights in the countries of the Commonwealth

3

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Annual Report 2013  

CHRI

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