Oral Statement Delivered by Henri Tiphagne on behalf of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) at the 36th Regular Session of the UNHRC Joint Press Release of FIDH Ė International Federation for Human Rights and its member organizations Peopleís Watch and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) - "India: Government fails to address key human rights concerns during UN review" Statement delivered by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), People's Watch, the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN, and Human Rights Defenders' Alert-India at the 36th Regular Session of the UNHRC Oral Statement Delivered by Lara Jesani on behalf of Minority Rights Group at the 36th Regular Session of the UNHRC Peopleís Watch appeals to the police and citizens not to disturb Irom Sharmila in Kodaikanal. Defending in Numbers Ė Silencing the Voices of Asia 2015-2016. The Commission has asked the Union Home Ministry to report on the alleged "attack on the rights of human rights defenders". Strict legal restrictions on foreign funding hit Indiaís NGOs Largest confederation of US labor unions awards Maina Kiai its 2016 award for human rights AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL INDIA & HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH JOINT STATEMENT: India: Foreign Funding Law Used to Harass 25 Groups PRESS RELEASE: Peopleís Watch condemns the Chennai city police for the death of Mukesh from Kannagi Nagar PRESS RELEASE: Peopleís Watch condemns unlawful arrests of peaceful protesters in Karur 13.10.16 PRESS RELEASE: People's Watch Condems Srikanth Balaji police and prison torture at Manali, Chennai Tamil Press Release-People's Watch Condems attack on Srikanth Balaji at Manali, Chennai People's Watch-Press release-People's Watch call for withdrawal of the recommendations of the Madras High Court to the Advocates Act Felicitation to Mr. Henri Tiphage at Madurai on 04.06.16 at Madurai organised by Citizens for Human Rights Movement (CHRM) and IPRO A felicitation to Mr. Henri Tiphagne on the receipt of Amnesty International Award 2016 organised by HRCPS at Pondicherry on 28.05.2016 A felicitation to Mr. Henri Tiphagne on the receipt of Amnesty International Award 2016 organised by Mr. Nizamuddin, Mr. Balki, Mr. R.Babu, Mr. Arulselvam and Activists from Cuddalore on 28.05.2016 A felicitation to Mr. Henri Tiphagne on the receipt of Amnesty International Award 2016 organised by Vaanmuhil, Citizens for Human Rights Movement Tirunelveli on 22.03.2016 AP-Encounter-Letter to AP Govt. officials with interim report seeking their response AP Encounter High Level Fact Finding - Interim Report 21.04.2015 Human Rights Defenders Alert India - NHRC - Tamilnadu - Gross Violation of 'Right to Association' of HR organizations/ HRDs in TN - Plea Requesting NHRC Intervention Resource Material - Training on Human Rights to Professional College Students NCPCR's Guidelines for Eliminating Corporal Punishment in schools


All India Network of NGOs and Individuals working with National and State Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI)

AiNNI is a Forum initiated by People's Watch along with many activists and organizations from across the country to monitor human rights institutions like the National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Central Information Commission, Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and their state counterparts for their compliance to Paris Principles and their founding law and to activate them. click here to access...

Free Dr. Binayak Sen

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Human Rights Defenders Alert India (click here to access)

Human Rights Defenders Alert - India is a national network for the protection and promotion of human rights defenders in the country floated by participants of two Participatory Learning Workshops on Rights and Responsibilities of Human Rights Defenders regional trainings that the trainers from the said workshops conducted.

Human Rights Defenders Alert - India is a platform to extend solidarity and assistance to Human Rights Defenders in trouble / at risk.

Becoming a member of the Human Rights Defenders Alert - India will make you part of a larger family of human rights defenders and ensure strengthening of the forum and greater support from the human rights community in India. This does not involve any cost. Please fill in the application form here and or download the form here and send us the same at the email address: hrda.india@gmail.com

State reprisals on human rights defenders fighting for justice for victims of the Gujarat Carnage

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Arrest of 5 Human Rights Trainees of Dalit Foundation in Tamilnadu, India (Click here to access)

Five human rights defenders of Dalit Foundation, three of whom were women, were arrested on the 15th of August, 2010 on false charges of impersonation among others. They were on a field visit as part of a human rights monitoring training in which the lead trainer was Henri Tiphagne, Executive Director of People‚Äôs Watch who has also been referred to as ‚Äėthe absconding accused‚Äô in the FIR.

From 11-20 August 2010, People’s Watch organized a training session on Dalit Human Rights Monitoring in association with the Dalit Foundation in Nagamalai Puthukottai, near Madurai in

Tamil Nadu, with 61 participants from around the country. The training included 2 days of fieldwork experience in fact-finding. Mr. Gnana Diraviam, Mr. Anandan, Ms. Bharathi Pillai, Ms. Niharga Priya and Ms. Sudha made up one of 13 monitoring teams taking part in the training. On 15 August 2010, at approximately 6.30 pm, as part of their fieldwork exercise, the group went to Veeravanallur Police Station, in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu, on the basis of information received about a Dalit youth who had allegedly been tortured by police officials at the station.

Intending to gather information in relation to the case, the group met with a Sub Inspector, Ms P. Roswin Savimo, and an Inspector of Police, Mr T. Murugesan. The group explained their participation in the training programme, requested permission to be provided with documents relating to the case and showed Mr Murugesan their training manual which included details on the Dalit Foundation and People’s Watch. Mr Murugesan questioned the human rights defenders and kept them in an office in the police station for some time.

At approximately 9.30 pm Mr Ramu, the Deputy Superintendent of Police of Ambasamudram, an adjacent district, arrived, after which the group was moved to another room which was guarded by three constables. When the three women human rights defenders requested to leave, offering to come back the next day, Mr Ramu told them that they had to stay since they had to be questioned thoroughly. Gnana Diraviam then used his mobile phone to call Mr Pandian, a Program Assistant from the training program, at which point Mr Murugesan confiscated the group’s mobile phones.

The group was held at the police station until 11.00pm, during which time each individual was taken separately to have their identification details recorded. The five human rights defenders were then charged using the Indian Penal Code under Section 170 (impersonating a public servant), Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty), Section 416 (cheating by impersonation) and Section 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation). None in the group were informed at that time that they were being arrested or told the details of the charges against them.

While this was taking place, Mr Pandian, Mr Henri Tiphagne, and other staff of the Tamil Nadu Unit of People’s Watch were attempting to contact the Veeravanallur Police Station and the police officials concerned, but their calls were either ignored or cut off. Later that evening another member of People’s Watch, Mr Chithirai Selvan, went to the police station to try and meet the group, but was not allowed to do so. Instead he was made to sign some papers by the police without being told what they were before being asked to leave the station immediately. Shortly afterwards the Regional Human Rights Coordinator of People’s Watch, Mr S. Ganesan, went to the police station and was told that the group had been taken to the house of the Judicial Magistrate in the nearby town of Cheranmahadevi in order to be remanded into judicial custody. They appeared before the Judicial Magistrate in his home at 11.45pm, when they learned about the charges being filed against them and were told that the complainant in the case against them was the Sub Inspector of the Police, Ms P. Roswin Savimo, who was present at the hearing.

The group was then taken to hospital for medical examination. At approximately 2.00am, the three women human rights defenders were transferred to Kokarakulam Women‚Äôs Sub Jail in the city of Tirunelveli. The two male human rights defenders were taken to Ambasamudram Sub Jail. In the case remand report Henri Tiphagne, who is also a member of the National Human Rights Commission‚Äôs National Core Group of NGOs, is referred to as ‚Äėthe absconding accused‚Äô despite the fact that to date no charges have been brought against him, nor was he present at the police station at the time of the arrests.

The bail petition in respect of the 5 dalit activists was heard on 19 August 2010 in the Cheranmadevi Judicial Magistrate’s Court where a lot of documents like the registrations forms of the training program; the attendance sheets of the training programs; the schedule of the fact findings that all the 13 teams had been deputed to; another sheet showing where all the fact findings teams had gone and whom all they had met in terms of officials including photographs of collectors and other police officers that the other teams had met during their fact finding  missions; the detailed program schedule and documents of Dalit Foundation and PW such as FCRA, registration deeds, income tax exemption documents , 80 G exemption documents, 35 A in the case of Dalit Foundation etc were produced. The Judicial Magistrate then left saying that the orders would be passed after lunch. After lunch a volley of senior police officials from the Police Station descended on the Court of the Judicial Magistrate, worried with the arguments that had been put forth and almost sure that they needed to put more pressure on the Court.

Then in the evening the bail was ordered with the following conditions:

- that the accused should sign a personal bond for Rs 25,000;

- that the accused should produce sureties signed by the Tehsildar (Taluk level Revenue Administrator);

- that the accused should sign twice daily before the Veeravanallur PS. in the morning at 10 AM and in the evening at 5 PM;

People’s Watch planned to get the sureties signed by the Tehsildar on 20th August 2010 since there are two accused from Karnataka. It was not possible to get the sureties signed since the clerk who was to provide the first entry for such certificates in the office of the Tehsildar was on leave and had left with the keys of his cupboard with him!!!

On the same day i.e. 20 August 2010, The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court took up for hearing in Crl.O.P. 9606 / 2010, the anticipatory bail that had been filed for Mr. Henri Tiphagne on the 18th August 2010. The police did not provide the Public Prosecutor any response and hence the court posted the same for hearing on 24th with the observation that the police should not disturb Henri Tiphagne in the meantime.

During that weekend Mr. Henri Tiphagne received by post in his office in Madurai a notice issued by the Inspector of Police of Veeravanallur to appear before the Investigation Officer at the Veeravanallur PS on 23rd August at 10 AM to provide details of the case known to him.  Mr. Henri Tiphagne also addressed a press meet in Tirunelveli telling the press what exactly had happened in Veeravanallur PS on 15th August 2010 and this was well covered in the local language media. (See the Media Coverage section of this blog)

Six sureties were got ready and produced on 23rd August 2010 but only four of the sureties¬†were accepted by the court ‚Äď 2 for Bharathi Pillai and one each for the two (Priya and Sudha).

Mr. Henri Tiphagne appeared as requested before the Inspector of Police. The Inspector of police was not there till 10.30 AM and instead it was the DSP Mr. Ramu who had been there at the time of arrest who was there and was getting ready to examine him. When the Inspector finally arrived, both the Inspector and the DSP left the police station leaving Henri Tiphagne in the room trying to contact someone on their mobiles separately for almost 15 minutes and then returned. The entire proceedings were also being videographed by someone who had a press ID card stating that he was a reporter with the Dinakaran news paper but he was never stopped by the DSP or the Inspector who were formally investigating Mr. Henri Tiphagne. He then provided a written statement with documents of 79 pages, received an acknowledgement from the Inspector and then left the PS.

Mr. Henri Tiphagne then left with Mr. Santosh Samal the Executive Director of Dalit Foundation, Ms. Cynthia Tiphagne and Mr. Satish of People’s Watch to meet the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Mr. Shanmuga Rajeswaran IPS and presented to him a copy of the representation that was handed over earlier to the Inspector of Police at the Veeravanallur PS. he provided a very patient hearing and assured  that he would look into the possibility of transferring the investigation in this case. The Human Rights Defenders’ Forum of Tamilnadu had convened a planning meeting at the SOCO Trust, Madurai and this meeting decided that a state level demonstration will be organized in Tirunelveli on the 30th Aug 2010.

On the 24th of August 2010, the remaining sureties were produced in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate in the morning at 10.30 AM and in the middle of the afternoon session at 3 PM and then after accepting the sureties, the JM signed the bond only at 5 PM as a result of which the bail bonds could only be taken to the Sub Jail for women that day in Kokarakulam in Tirunelveli (45 minutes by car) whereas the two male members who were originally in the Ambasamudram sub jail were transferred to the Central Jail in Palayamkottai where bail bonds received after 5 PM are not released the same day.

On the same day the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had taken up for hearing in Crl. O.P. 9606 / 2010 the anticipatory bail that had been filed for Henri Tiphagne that was heard on the 20th and posted it for the 24th. The court granted the anticipatory bail with the condition that Tiphagne appears before the police whenever he is required to do so by the police.

On the 25th of August 2010 the two male HRDs were released early in the morning from the Central Jail, Palayamkottai.  Thereafter the 5 accused who were on bail travelled to the Court of the JM in Cheranmadevi to get the intimation from the JM Court to the Police station where the accused had been directed to sign twice a day.

The accused then signed both in the morning and in the evening at the PS. A petition was also filed of relaxation of the condition imposed by the JM in this case. The JM then posted this for hearing with notice to the Police to be heard on the 30th Aug 2010.

The 5 accused and Henri Tiphagne have filed two writ petitions before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court ‚Äď one to quash the FIR filed by the police which does not contain any of the ingredients of the sections of the Indian Penal Code under which the FIR was filed; and the second a writ petition to transfer the investigation to an independent police unit other than the local district police.

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