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    December 11, 2013

    A ruling by India’s Supreme Court making consensual same-sex conduct between adults a criminal offence marks a black day for freedom in India, Amnesty International India said today.

    “This decision is a body blow to people’s rights to equality, privacy and dignity,” said G Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, Amnesty International India. “It is hard not to feel let down by this judgement, which has taken India back several years in its commitment to protect basic rights.”

    The Supreme Court overturned a historic ruling by the Delhi High Court in 2009 which had decriminalized consensual same-sex activity between adults. The Supreme Court said that Section 377 - which criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”- was constitutionally valid, and said that the Government could take legislative steps to repeal the law.

    The Delhi High Court had ruled in 2009 that the outlawing of consensual adult same-sex relations was discriminatory and violated the rights to equality, privacy and dignity set forth in the Indian Constitution.

    September 13, 2013

    Far-reaching procedural and institutional reform, and not the death penalty, is needed to tackle the endemic problem of violence against women in India, Amnesty International said today after four men convicted of the December 2012 gang-rape were sentenced to death by a court in New Delhi.

    The court found the four men guilty of gang-rape, murder and other related charges on September 13. A 17-year old convicted in the same case was sentenced to three years detention in a juvenile home on 31 August. Another accused was found dead in his prison cell on 10 March.

    “The rape and murder of the young woman in Delhi last year was a horrific crime and our deepest sympathy goes out to the victim’s family. Those responsible must be punished, but the death penalty is never the answer,” said Tara Rao, Director of Amnesty International India.

    July 23, 2013

    US chemical giant The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) must acknowledge its responsibility towards survivors of the devastating Bhopal industrial disaster, Amnesty International said after the company was summoned to appear before a court in Bhopal, India.

    The company has been ordered to explain why its wholly-owned subsidiary, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), has repeatedly ignored court summons in the ongoing criminal case concerning the 1984 Bhopal disaster, where UCC is accused of “culpable homicide not amounting to murder”.

    “Today’s court decision is an important step in ensuring corporate accountability for the devastating consequences of the Bhopal gas leak,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    “Dow has always tried to claim it has nothing to do with UCC’s liability for Bhopal, but the court has today made it clear that Dow itself has a responsibility to ensure that UCC faces the outstanding charges against it. Dow can no longer turn its back on the tens of thousands still suffering in Bhopal.”

    July 22, 2013

    The Indian authorities must ensure an urgent, full and independent investigation into the killing of four demonstrators and the alleged use of live ammunition against protesters in Jammu and Kashmir, Amnesty International said today.

    “It is of vital urgency that the authorities launch swift, thorough and independent investigations into the killings and the other reports that police used excessive force against the ensuing protests across Jammu and Kashmir,” said Shashikumar Velath, Programs Director at Amnesty International India.

    The protests erupted in numerous towns and cities after paramilitary forces killed four demonstrators in Gool, Ramban district on 18 July.

    Dozens of people have subsequently been injured in widespread clashes between the police and protesters across the northern Indian state.

    Protesters in several towns and cities defied curfews put in place over the weekend, with some holding violent demonstrations. Security forces have reportedly used excessive force in response, including firing live ammunition against protesters.

    July 12, 2013

    Authorities in the Indian state of Odisha (previously Orissa) are excluding Adivasi (indigenous) communities from the process to decide the future of a proposed mining project that could have disastrous effects on their livelihood and traditional lands, Amnesty International said.

    The controversial mining plans – a joint venture between Sterlite India, a subsidiary of the UK-based mining giant Vedanta Resources, and the Odisha Mining Corporation – would affect the traditional lands of Adivasi communities in the Niyamgiri hills region, which they depend on for food, water and their way of life.

    A decision-making process on the project facilitated by the Odisha authorities, which starts next week, would exclude many villages, with only 12 of the 100-odd villages in the region included – an approach that fails to comply with a landmark Supreme Court ruling on the issue, and a subsequent communiqué from India’s central Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

    July 05, 2013

    Authorities in the state of Odisha, India, must provide immediate remedy and reparation to families forcibly evicted in Jagatsinghpur district for a project proposed by South Korean steel company POSCO, Amnesty International India said today.

    "These evictions were unlawful and have devastated the livelihoods of thousands of people," said Shashikumar Velath, Director of Programmes at Amnesty International India.

    "Authorities acquired land without engaging in genuine consultation with affected persons, or providing adequate notice or adequate compensation. They have been violating the rights of these villagers for years. They must now ensure that the affected families receive effective remedies."

    Officials from the Odisha government and police resumed forced evictions on 28 June 2013 in continuing efforts to acquire land for the project.  On the same day, police personnel baton-charged protestors, injuring at least 20 people.

    May 30, 2013

    The killing of 24 people, including three senior politicians and eight police personnel, in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh on 25 May could further escalate violence in the state, putting more civilians - including local Adivasi (Indigenous) communities - at risk, Amnesty International has warned.

    “We unequivocally condemn the taking of hostages and murder of civilians in Chhattisgarh, which constitute serious human rights abuses,” said Shashikumar Velath, Director of Programmes at Amnesty International India.

    According to the police, around 250 heavily armed Maoists ambushed a convoy of senior leaders of the Congress party on the Jagdalpur-Sukma highway in Bastar, triggered a blast in two vehicles and fired indiscriminately. The attackers shot dead, among other Congress leaders, former Home Minister of the state Mahendra Karma, the state Congress President Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh. Patel and his son were allegedly taken hostage before they were killed. The attack also wounded 33 people, including former Union Minister V. C. Shukla. The police say that one policeman is still missing.

    April 22, 2013

    Amnesty International India has called for an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the alleged misconduct of police officials in a case of abduction and rape of a 5-year old girl in New Delhi.

    “This case shows the appalling extent of indifference in the police to violence against women and girls, and the inadequacy of internal processes to ensure professional conduct”, said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive of Amnesty International India.

    On 15 April 2012, the 5-year old girl went missing from her home in New Delhi. Two days later, she was found by neighbours in a locked room in the same building with severe internal injuries and bruises.

    The girl’s uncle told Amnesty International that the police had delayed formally registering a complaint when the family reported that she had gone missing. After the girl was found, the police refused to register a case of rape. The girl’s uncle said that after the media began to report on the case, police offered the family a bribe of Rs. 2000 to stay silent, and told them to be thankful that the girl was still alive.

    April 18, 2013

    Today’s ruling by India’s Supreme Court that the Indigenous (Adivasi) communities will have the final decision on plans for a bauxite mine by a subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta Resources in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa is a landmark victory in recognizing indigenous rights in India, Amnesty International said today.

    A 670-hectare bauxite mine was due to have been developed on the Dongria Kondh Indigenous community’s traditional lands and habitats which they consider sacred.

    "The Dongria Kondh community, whose identity is fully dependent on these hills, has been fighting for the survival of their way of life for a decade. The mine would have resulted in violation of their rights as Indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to water, food, health, work amongst others. This ruling is hugely important for the Dongria Kondh,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive of Amnesty International India.

    March 22, 2013

    A new law passed by the Indian Parliament aimed at addressing sexual violence, while positive in some respects, has several deficiencies and also violates India’s international law obligations, Amnesty International said.

    The upper house of the Indian Parliament passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 on 21 March 2013, meaning that the law will come into effect once it is signed by the President.

    The lower house approved the law two days earlier, with less than half of its members present and voting.

    “The new law does have some welcome features,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive of Amnesty International India. “It commendably criminalizes several forms of violence against women including acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism. It is more sensitive to the needs of disabled persons, provides for certain victim-friendly evidentiary procedures and removes the requirement of government permission for prosecution of public servants accused of rape and some forms of sexual violence.

    February 14, 2013

    India must immediately halt the impending executions of four prisoners whose mercy petitions – the final course of appeal in the country’s justice system were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee, Amnesty International said.

    Gnanprakasham, Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran are now at high risk of imminent execution.

    The President’s move came just days after the hanging of Afzal Guru – the second execution in India in fewer than three months following an eight-year hiatus.

    “This government has executed more people since November 2012 than in the previous ten years. To continue such a regressive trend would be truly shameful,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, chief executive of Amnesty International India.

    “Given the political climate and the two other recent executions, there is a real concern that these four men will be put to death soon. The Indian government must ensure that this does not happen.”

    February 12, 2013

    Legislators in India should substantially amend or replace the new criminal law on violence against women in the forthcoming budget session of the parliament, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. On February 3, 2013, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee signed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013, amending criminal laws, over protests from human rights and women’s rights groups across the country.

    Legislation addressing sexual violence should reflect international human rights law and standards, and incorporate key recommendations of the recently appointed Verma Committee, the rights groups said.

    “The new ordinance at long last reforms India’s colonial-era laws on sexual violence, but fails to provide crucial human rights protections and redress for victims,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Indian parliamentarians should insist on a law that deals with these critical issues.”

    February 09, 2013

    Today’s execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru indicates a disturbing and regressive trend towards executions shrouded in secrecy and the resumption of death penalty use in India, said Amnesty International.

    “We condemn the execution in the strongest possible terms. This very regrettably puts India in opposition to the global trend towards moving away from the death penalty”, said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.

    Indian authorities hanged Mohammad Afzal Guru at 0800 hrs in Tihar Jail, New Delhi on 9 February 2013. His execution is the second in India in three months after an eight-year hiatus.

    Mohammed Afzal Guru was sentenced to death in December 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy to attack the Parliament of India, waging war against India and murder in December 2001.  He was tried by a special court designated under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), a law which fell considerably short of international fair trial standards and has since been repealed, in 2004, after serious allegations of its widespread abuse.

    January 24, 2013

    A series of recommendations to curb violence against women in India in the wake of the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman will require strong political action and judicial will if they are to be turned into reality, Amnesty International said.

    A panel led by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma, appointed by the Indian authorities in December 2012 following widespread protests against the rape and killing of a young woman in Delhi, yesterday made public its recommendations.

    Key points included comprehensive changes to laws dealing with crimes of sexual violence, and key judicial and police reforms to ensure transparency and accountability in those institutions, as well as a reiteration of the rights guaranteed to women under India’s Constitution

    “The Indian authorities must follow up on their promise to give top priority to considering the Verma Committee recommendations. The Government must also actively initiate public education and other measures that need to be taken to change discriminatory attitudes towards women”, said Tara Rao, Head of Education  for Rights, Spokesperson, Amnesty International in India.

    January 10, 2013

    An Adivasi (Indigenous) rights activist in central India’s Chhattisgarh state has been released after spending 29 months in prison on what Amnesty International has always maintained were politically motivated charges.

    On Monday evening a trial court acquitted activist Kartam Joga of the last four charges against him, and he was released from Jagdalpur jail on Tuesday.

    Amnesty International had named him a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully expressing his views, and campaigned extensively for his release.

    After his release, Joga said messages of support sent by the organization’s members were “one of the key factors” which kept up his hopes for release.

    He urged the release of seven of his fellow activists from the Communist Party of India (CPI) who he says have been targeted and jailed on false charges for peacefully defending the rights of Adivasi communities.

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