Introduction (9.45- 9.50)
Exchange of views on the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (9.50 – 10.10)
Discussion on the situation of Human Rights Defenders in India (10.10 – 11.00)
Last time when you had such a meeting Lenin had expressed the threat he and other human rights defenders around or associated with PVCHR are facing.
We are thankful to governments of Ireland, Netherlands and Czech Republic for their constant support in cases related to Dr Lenin. The first secretary, political in Netherlands embassy, in particular was constantly in touch with Lenin to understand the development of the case. He also offered to come down to Varanasi to observe the court proceeding, which has not started yet.
These interactions also resulted in organisations like Frontline providing financial support for covering legal cost. UN rappourtuere too took cognigence of the case.
As a result:
· There is no direct threat to HRDs working with us from the state.
· But the indirect threat has increased.
· No more beating of the accused in the custody.
· Winning over lawyers is the main strategy to manipulate at the pre trial stage.
· Nexus between perpetrator, lawyers and lower court to favour some elements in lieu of gain.
Discussion on the interaction and communication between Human Rights Defenders and EU diplomats in India (11.00 – 12.00)
· The victims, perpetrator, human rights defenders, state as well as international agencies are living in different time space. What about the HRDs who do not speak English are we listening to them enough, are we talking about them enough?
· Relation between state and HRDs are changing due to waves of democratization of information demanding more transparency. HRDs also face the challenges of new accountability. Sometimes leading to deficit of legitimacy.
· The challenge is to how to reach to the HRDs with real time responses while maintaining relation in virtual time. Issues of human rights defenders must be retooled as a part of the strategy not raised as a part of kneejerk reaction.
· We all know the power of Internet. India has 85 million internet user, certainly large enough than many of the European country, sadly we have not seen EU creating a dedicated section for leveraging on that target group by posting credible and good narratives of Human Rights Defenders. An effort in this direction would bring synchronization between information availability and media space.
By-Dr. Mohan Lal Panda