NCHRO meet of concerned Goan citizens on “Fighting for a World without Torture”.
26 June 2019
The National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO)- Goa Chapter joined the rest of the world to commemorate June 26 UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture – the day when the Convention against Torture went into force in 1986. Widespread and systematic Torture is rife in our country with an environment of almost total impunity because rather than respecting the law many governments are either actively using torture or turning a blind eye. Torture is one of the most profound violations of human rights and dignity which is why NCHRO chose the theme “Fighting for a World Without Torture” on this year’s International Anti-Torture Day.
NCHRO holds the conviction that “Fighting for a world without Torture” is an important responsibility of citizens who prefer the rule of law, and who choose non-violence and dialogue over aggression and violence. People have a right to life, and to be free of torture and discrimination. They have a right to protection when they are vulnerable. These are not just words. They are rights. And governments have a responsibility to guarantee and protect them.
The gathering in Woodlands Hotel in Margao Chaired by NCHRO Goa Chapter President, Fr Savio Fernandes. Advocate Dr. Albertina Almeida, leading human rights activist and trainer joined other prominent speakers including Pachu Menon(Activist & Writer), Prof Joane Rebello(Ex-Professor of Damodar College), Ranjan Solomon(Working President- NCHRO-Goa) in condemning the tacit acceptance of the practice of torture.
Dr. Almeida pointed out that the prohibition of torture is absolute, meaning that no exceptions are allowed. However, torture remains widespread, indeed providing protection is a big ask in front of non-state actors. civil society must work to enhance protection of the individual’s life, liberty, and physical integrity by leveraging all available opportunities while tackling political, security, legal and other obstacles. She highlighted how India has become a notorious place for torture and its refusal to receive UN Special Rapporteurs to investigate allegations despite credible reports of torture and mistreatment continue to emerge and the authorities have made little progress in holding police and security forces accountable.
Torture continues with impunity and the weak and vulnerable are frequently tortured to extract confessions only to enable law enforcement to file false cases. Goa is not an exception to such practices. Torture and ill-treatment are highly frequent in criminal proceedings and People have been wrongly convicted or indicted with involuntary confessions and forced testimony. Later, in a trial, they obtain wider legal and social support and are free. By then serious psychological damage has been done.
Dr. Almeida expressed concern that bodies such as the Goa Human Rights Commission and the Goa Police Complaints Authority are crippled thus denying citizens spaces for civic and human rights engagement. The dismal state of the human rights commissions are well known. The Commission, if it wants to dispense its duty sincerely, may have to first fight for its own rights to protect those of others. She also referred to the issues pertinent to the safety of human rights defenders and witnesses. There is a frontal attack against any form of dissent. The dissenters are no longer tolerated. Goa is not an alien to tortures as in the case of Mining Activists or Dr. Teltumde is concerned. We as concerned citizens have to come together fight this menace. We have to be careful when using slogans/idioms to our Campaigns as we know ‘Goa Bachao’ and ‘Goenkarponn’ was misused by Politicians to further their selfish goals.
Ranjan Solomon, NCHRO Goa Chapter Working President, added that an individual’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without fear of discrimination or repression is very important. Torture is one of the most extreme forms of human violence, resulting in both physical and psychological consequences. Human rights activists and social justice movements face many challenges before torture is truly stamped out. He marked out activities of NCHRO & Challenges before us in fighting Fascist Rogues who are torturing innocent Dalits, Muslims, Christians and other Vulnerable Sections in the society.
A lively discussion followed during which it was agreed that concerned citizens should remain ever vigilant and agile to monitor cases of torture and report it to relevant authorities. A major part of the discussions centered around the failure to criminalise torture and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. Solidarity with victims of torture and their families must be a matter of social commitment in order that the rule of law is practiced. This needs courage and a willingness to speak truth to power. There needs to be consciousness created among police personnel at different levels so that police can reduce incidents of torture and heighten peoples confidence in the police as a source of security, not unjust punishment. Overwhelmed by the participants’ energy, generosity of spirit, and commitment to building a better future the gathering vowed to stand up for our rights and for the rights of others.
News : The Goan, 27-June-2019