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    November 13, 2014

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL INDIA

    Amnesty International India welcomes recent measures taken by Indian Army authorities indicating a commitment to deliver justice for victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

    On 12 November, an army court-martial convicted five soldiers for shooting and killing three men in a ‘fake encounter’ – a staged extrajudicial execution - in Machil, Jammu and Kashmir, in 2010. The court-martial sentenced the soldiers to life imprisonment.

    On 7 November, the Army accepted responsibility for the killing of two Kashmiri teenagers by soldiers in Budgam district on 3 November, and stated that it was willing to cooperate with a state police investigation into the incident.

    “The military court verdict in the Machil case should be followed by justice for the many other cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Shailesh Rai, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India. 

    November 12, 2014

    US chemical giant Dow has dodged justice again today by failing to comply with an Indian court summons over the catastrophic 1984 gas leak in Bhopal which left thousands dead and many more with chronic and debilitating illnesses, Amnesty International said.

    “The Dow Chemical Company is once again thumbing its nose at the tens of thousands of victims and survivors of India’s worst industrial disaster. Sadly, this appalling lack of responsibility is what we’ve come to expect after years of Dow’s denials,” said Shailesh Rai, Programmes Director, Amnesty International India.

    “The governments of India and the USA must do more to ensure that Dow complies with orders by the Indian courts.”

    For 13 years, Dow has denied that it has any responsibility towards the victims and survivors of Bhopal. In a letter to Amnesty International earlier this year, a Dow official stated that efforts to involve the corporation in Indian court proceedings were “without merit” and tried to distance Dow from its wholly owned subsidiary Union Carbide Corporation (UCC).

    November 06, 2014

    Released 7 November 2014 00.01 GMT

    Hollywood movie star Martin Sheen will join Amnesty International’s battle to finally hold Union Carbide accountable for what is widely considered to be one of the world’s worst industrial disasters as he launches his latest film in Los Angeles on Friday.

        “

        Those who survived have faced long-term health problems, but receive little medical help. For 30 years the survivors of Bhopal have campaigned for justice, for fair compensation, health care and for Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemicals, to be held to account. 


    Martin Sheen, actor

    November 05, 2014

    The Army must cooperate fully with Jammu & Kashmir state police investigations into the shooting and killings of Faisal Yusuf Bhat and Mehrajuddin Dar, and injury of two others in Budgam, Kashmir on 3 November. If sufficient evidence is found, suspects must be prosecuted in a civilian court, and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act must not be used to shield soldiers from prosecution.

    The Army said in a statement that it had received intelligence on 3 November that militants were travelling along the Nowgam-Pulwama highway in a white Maruti car. The Army set up barricades. At 5 pm, the Army stated, a white Maruti car refused to stop at the first two checkpoints, forcing army personnel to fire upon the vehicle at the third checkpoint, resulting in the death of two people, and serious injury of two others.

    The J&K state police have filed a First Information Report and begun an investigation into the incident. 

    The Army has also announced that it has established a Court of Inquiry – a military investigation - into the incident and that those found guilty will be "dealt with severely". 

    September 05, 2014

    A landmark order by India’s Supreme Court directing the release of all undertrial prisoners who have spent more than half of the maximum punishment for the crime they are charged with in pre-trial detention should lead to long-term changes to the criminal justice system, Amnesty International India said today  

    “The Supreme Court’s order is inspiring and welcome,” said Divya Iyer, Research Manager at Amnesty International India. “Two out of three prisoners in India are undertrials. Excessive pre-trial detention violates detainees’ right to a fair and speedy trial, and leads to overcrowding in jails.”

    “Releasing eligible undertrials is however only the first step. Authorities need to also set upvarious mechanisms to prevent excessive pre-trial detention in the future. These include proper prison record management, informing undertrials about their rights, better co-ordination to ensure that undertrials attend their court hearings, and improved legal aid.”

    September 02, 2014

    The arrest and detention of a 25-year old man accused of sedition for allegedly disrespecting India’s national symbols is a reminder of how archaic laws continue to be used to curb free speech in India, Amnesty International India said today. 

    On 20 August 2014, police in Kerala arrested Salman M. for allegedly making catcalls and not standing up when India’s national anthem was being played at a cinema two days earlier. He was accused of sedition, insulting the Indian national flag and Constitution, and preventing the singing of the national anthem. 

    Salman M. was also accused under section 66A of India’s Information Technology Act for allegedly publishing abusive social media posts about Independence Day on 15 August. A Thiruvananthapuram court denied him bail on 25 August. He could face a life sentence if convicted. 

    “A criminal charge for such conduct, even if some might regard it as offensive, is completely unwarranted,” said Shailesh Rai, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India. “Nobody should have to go to prison merely because they are accused of causing offense.”

    August 19, 2014

    A Manipur court ruling directing the release of Prisoner of Conscience Irom Sharmila because there were no grounds for charging her with attempted suicide is a legal and moral victory for the activist and her 13 year-long hunger strike, Amnesty International India said today.    
     
    The Manipur East Sessions Court ruled that authorities had failed to establish that Irom Sharmila had intended to commit suicide, and stated that her protest was a ‘political demand through a lawful means’.
     
    “This welcome but long overdue judgement recognizes that Irom Sharmila’s hunger strike is a powerful protest for human rights and a peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression,” said Shailesh Rai, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.
     
    “Irom Sharmila should never have been arrested in the first place. All other charges against her of attempted suicide must be dropped and she must be immediately released. Authorities must instead pay attention to the issues this remarkable activist is raising.”
     

    August 04, 2014

    The Dow Chemical Company must stop dodging its responsibility towards the survivors of the Bhopal disaster, Amnesty International said today, after an Indian Court issued a third criminal summons to the company over the catastrophic 1984 gas leak which left thousands dead and many more with chronic and debilitating illnesses.

    “The time has come for Dow to appear in an Indian court and account for the failure of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Union Carbide, to respond to the criminal charges against it,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director for Global Issues.

    “Refusing to comply with the summons would be to treat the Indian justice system with contempt, undermining Dow’s credibility as an investor in India.”

    July 04, 2014

    The lack of effective regulation of visa brokers and rogue recruiting agents makes Indian migrant workers vulnerable to serious human rights abuses, said Amnesty International India today in a new report focusing on migrants from the Indian state of Kerala working in Saudi Arabia.

    The report, Exploited Dreams: Dispatches from Indian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, highlights cases of migrant workers from Kerala who were deceived about their jobs, wages and working conditions by Indian visa brokers and rogue recruiting agents. Many workers went on to face a range of abuses in Saudi Arabia, which at their worst included forced labour.

    “Migrant workers send billions of dollars in remittances every year to India and sustain thousands of families. Yet Indian authorities continue to let them down when they are abused. It is time that migrant workers’ rights get the protection they deserve,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, Amnesty International India.

    May 30, 2014

    The gang-rape and murder of two teenage Dalit girls in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh is a gruesome reminder of the violence that Dalit women and girls face in India, Amnesty International India said today.

    The girls - aged 14 and 16 – went missing on the night of 27 May. They had gone to a field to relieve themselves because they did not have access to a toilet at home. The father of one of the girls says he sought the help of the local police to find them, but the policemen on duty refused to register or investigate the complaint and slapped him instead. The next morning, the bodies of the girls were found hanging from a tree near their houses. Autopsies indicate that both girls had been gang-raped and strangled.

    The police have arrested two men from a dominant caste on suspicion of being involved in the gang-rape and murder, and are searching for more suspects. A police constable has been suspended for dereliction of duty, and another arrested.

    May 14, 2014

    The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) is blinding investors to the toxic legacy of Bhopal, Amnesty International said ahead of the corporation’s AGM on Thursday. The company has blocked a shareholder resolution asking for a report on the financial, reputational and operational impact of the catastrophe on Dow’s business.

     “Dow’s refusal to talk about the Bhopal disaster ignores the continued suffering of the local community, and is an irresponsible business move,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    “Dow’s Bhopal problems aren’t about to go away simply by ignoring them.”

    There will be no discussion at the AGM of the consequences of impending criminal and civil court proceedings relating to the 1984 gas leak which resulted in the deaths of thousands, as well as ongoing damage to the health and environment of local communities.

    April 15, 2014

    A millions lives would improve thanks to Supreme Court's recognition of transgender people’s human rights, Amnesty International India said today.

    A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled that discrimination based on gender identity violated constitutionally guaranteed rights to equality, free expression, privacy, autonomy and dignity. The Court directed central and state governments to grant legal recognition to transgender persons’ self-identification as male, female or a ‘third gender’; and put in place affirmative action and social welfare policies for them.

    “This ruling has the potential to significantly alter the lives of people who have suffered oppression for years,” said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director of Amnesty International India.  

    “It reaffirms constitutional values of inclusion and equality but as long as Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code stays on the books, discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity will remain a threat,” said Shashikumar Velath.

    March 31, 2014

    A decision by India’s Supreme Court today to commute the death sentence of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, on the grounds of mental illness and delay in the disposal of his mercy petition, should lead authorities to reconsider the use of the death penalty in India, Amnesty International India said today.

    “With this ruling, the Supreme Court has now commuted 19 death sentences in 2014. Authorities should use the momentum generated by these decisions to establish a moratorium on executions and move toward abolishing the death penalty altogether”, said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director, Amnesty International India.  

    Devender Pal Singh Bhullar was sentenced to death in August 2001 for his involvement in a bomb attack in New Delhi in 1993 that killed nine people. His trial fell far short of international standards for a fair trial. The President of India rejected Devender Pal Singh Bhullar’s mercy petition in May 2011, eight years after the request was filed.

    January 23, 2014

    Authorities must investigate the alleged gang rape of a 20 year-old Adivasi woman in Birbhum, West Bengal, on 20 January 2013 and bring to justice those responsible, Amnesty International said.

    The Adivasi woman was allegedly gang raped by 13 men on the orders of a khap panchayat -- an unelected all-male village council -- as punishment for falling in love with a Muslim man.  

    Divya Iyer, Senior Researcher, Amnesty International India said:  

    "The West Bengal police must thoroughly investigate this alleged gang rape, and bring to justice those responsible. Authorities must also ensure that the woman and her family receive immediate and adequate police protection.  

    “Any person found guilty of inciting violence against the woman must be held accountable.  

    “Khap panchayats notoriously issue extra-legal decrees ordering inhuman and sexually violent punishments against women, including 'honour' killings. The Justice Verma Committee has pointed out that the orders of khap panchayats are illegal, and urged the government to crack down on them.  

    January 21, 2014

    A historic decision by India’s Supreme Court commuting the death sentences of 15 prisoners and setting out guidelines to safeguard the rights of prisoners on death row and their families is a positive step for human rights in the country, Amnesty International India said today.

    The Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of Suresh, Ramji, Bilavendran, Simon, Gnanprakasham, Meesekar Madaiah, Praveen Kumar, Gurmeet Singh, Sonia Chaudhury, Sanjeev Chaudhury, Jafar Ali, Shivu and Jadeswamy, on the ground of delay in the disposal of their mercy petitions by the President ranging between 5 and 12 years.  

    The Court commuted the death sentences of Sundar Singh and Magan Lal Barela on the ground that they suffer from mental illness.

    “While acknowledging the need to strike a balance between the rights of the accused as well as the victims, this momentous decision reaffirms the rights guaranteed to death row prisoners under the Constitution of India and international law and standards” said G Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, Amnesty International India.

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