Tsunami Legal Action Committee
Realising the need for a rights based approach to disasters, and inorder that a system of legal intervention has to be established in tsunami affected areas, the Tsunami Legal Action Committee was established in March 2005.
TLAC is a collaborative initiative of 3 organisations
- SOCO Trust, Madurai,
- Human Rights Law Network, Chennai and
- People‚Äôs Watch - Tamil Nadu
- Emphasis on alternate dispute resolution and avoidance of court-room litigation
- Emphasis on legal intervention and not aid
- Inclusive approach - with a facilitating space for all possible actors to participate in the development of the model
- The overall objective of the project is to ensure that the principle of "Disaster relief and rehabilitation as a matter of right" is put into practice and gains greater recognition in law and policy.
- Grievance redress mechanism is put in place in times of disasters
- At least 50 % of the current individual cases and common complaints of particular villages / communities (5224) will have been redressed by the relevant Government authorities.
- Building the capacities of the tsunami communities on human rights and for community members to take up collective action on HR issues.
|State secretariate||Partner of Cordaid|
|Chennai zone||Partner of Misereor|
|Cuddalore zone||Partner of DCA|
|Nagapattinam zone||Partner of DCA|
|Kanniyakumari zone||Partner of Action Aid|
All tsunami affected areas in Tamilnadu and Pondicherry with a coordinating office in Madurai and 4 zonal offices in
Successes of TLAC
- Creating an awareness about legal aid in the tsunami affected communities through its legal camps
- Collaborated with many NGOs and complemented their work - brought in significant acceptance for legal aid in disaster relief and rehabilitation
- Able to get relief in many complicated issues by sustained interactions with concerned govt departments
- Brought the plight of inland fishing communities, Dalits, women, agricultural workers and vendors in fishing related trades etc to the notice of concerned authorities as well as among the INGOs and enabled them to be included in the relief and rehabilitation programmes to a considerable extent
- Conducted need based research studies on accountability, quality of relief and rehabilitation efforts, which, along with the experiences of legal intervention, would form substantial base for developing a comprehensive rights based relief and rehabilitation policy during disasters in future.
- Collection of a large volume of petitions, appropriately classified them, making copies and forwarding them to Legal Services Authorities, preparing a large number of summons and serving them and being part of the Lok Adalat process.
Activities undertaken Legal intervention
Redressal of petitions by TLAC upto November 2006
|No. of petitions||Chennai||Cuddalore||Nagai||KK||Total||%|
|Govt. or NGOs||32,895||6,252||17,909||8,960||66,015||59|
|Pending redressal in December||743||2,570||1,568||343||5,224||4.7|
Status of redressal of TLAC currently pending petitions as on 6th May 2007
|No. of petitions||Chennai||Cuddalore||Nagai||KK||Total||%|
|Redressed and relief received||323||21||1099||22||1,465||28|
|Remaining petitions to be redressed||420||2,549||469||321||3,759||72|
Human rights training
Human rights trainings were done in the months of November and December for all the 256 villages we work in. The purpose of the training was to impart a basic understanding of human rights for community representatives and help them equip themselves as human rights defenders. This training dealt with the following crucial topics:
- Understanding of human rights in the context of disaster relief and rehabilitation as a basic human right
- Developing a human rights perspective by understanding the rights of marginalised communities.
- Understanding rights of coastal communities in the context of coastal regulatory mechanisms.
- Understanding human rights mechanisms
- Knowledge of the legal enforcement systems that exist locally
- Rights of human rights defenders
- Need for collective Action
- Skills of monitoring and legal intervention.
Human rights cells
TLAC is planning the formation of atleast 300 human rights cells in the areas we work with. These cells will be in every village consisting of 15 members, equally represented by men and women. These cells will meet regularly helping the community with legal awareness and human rights work.
The members of the cells will be able to identify human rights violations in the disaster context and respond collectively as a local body that is aware of its rights.
|Zones||No. of cells inaugurated as on 6th of May 2007|
The Right to Information Act (RTI) which is a recent legislation in India is of prime significance as it gives the people the access to information. People today have a mechanism which enables them to ask for information and also monitor the functioning of the State. The accountability of the State to the people has been established by this legislation. In the Tsunami context, most of the communities have no idea of what the Government has done for them. The status of their complaints is not known to them.
TLAC carried out a campaign in November and December as an effort to make people aware of this legislation and also to equip common people to use this legislation to get access to information on the functioning of the State and also for them to be able to find out the status of their pending petitions with the Government.
Current activities in TLAC
- Petition to be submitted before Mr. C.V. Shankar in May 2007.
- Intervention with local departments in each zone.
- Collection of relevant documents from petitioners.
- Preparation of a manual on the experience of TLAC in the complaints handling mechanism in times of a disaster
- Documentation of redressal process
- Formation of 300 cells and promoting regular cell meetings weekly and monthly
- Orientation for cell members on Human rights monitoring and on human rights violations