Saturday, November 13, 2010

Indian Institutions need brand building

As the Winter session of the Parliament began few days back, there is a visible anxiety among many individuals and human rights organizations including PVCHR, who are concerned about the final outcome of the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010(PTB,2010)for two reasons; one, to what extent the select committee absorbs the suggestions and recommendations of the CSOs, and second, how far the legislative deficiencies highlighted by the honorable members of the Rajya Sabha(Upper House) are considered in the final draft. PVCHR continues to believe that irrespective of the final shape of PTB, 2010 is a victory for the survivors of torture. India’s highest policy making body has finally, acknowledged that torture exists in India and it should be addressed within a definite legal framework.

PVCHR, while taking up the causes of the victims and survivors will continue to fight against the attitude of the institutions, which are designed and mandated to stop and eliminate torture. It feels that these institutions have been constantly trying to hide torture by ignoring it with a small reference while talking about larger issues of violence. This intentional and deliberate act by the institutions is to hide their inefficiency and inability to grow to address the increasing challenges generated in the system. India is shamed across the globe on issues of torture the same way it is praised for its democratic tradition and economic growth.

The recent case of the Dannish gun runner who is accused of dropping arms in Purulia in 1995 is a case for serious introspection. The lower court in Denmark, did not allow the extradition of the accused to India on the ground that state prisons in India do not live up to International Human Rights standards, and there was nobody monitoring prison conditions in the country. We are sure; anyone who lives in India will not disagree on that except perhaps the government of India that is trying to bring Niels Holck since 2002, for a prison value addition. What India need to do is to initiate systemic reforms, induced or enforced to create a brand value for its institutions. Only reforms can create hope for the people inside and outside the country towards our institutions and reverse trust deficit.

As the nation’s freedom space is shrinking and becoming limited to towns and cities, the larger challenge of establishing rule of law across the country becomes larger. PVCHR, at this point of time, is just hoping that the substantial and concrete suggestions provided by various civil society organizations have been sincerely considered to make the present bill more effective to end torture in India.

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