Thursday, June 14, 2012

National Consultation “Testimonial campaign contributes to eliminate impunity for perpetrators of torture in India”
National Consultation
"Testimonial campaign contributes to eliminate impunity for perpetrators of torture in India"

"We have decided that when we would be successful in getting justice, then we would put up the photo of my younger brother in the home. Now our prime objective is to bring fore the police brutalities and seek justice. It might prove to be an example and break the fear among the people about police terror and brutalities.
Our descendants would get lesson out of it. While narrating the testimony I feel quite relieved and relaxed. Whenever I think about my brother I cannot sleep. It makes me restless. In the search of justice, we knocked to many doors but there was no meaningful response. Even we were contesting it in the court also. Then my father filed a complaint with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), New Delhi and on 10th February 2011, NHRC directed Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh to release a compensation of Rs. 5, 00, 000/- (50 hundred thousand). Still now the UP Government has not acted upon NHRC's directive of 17th March 2011. My father did not file his complaint to NHRC for compensation but was seeking justice. NHRC's directive makes it amply clear that my brother was killed by police on false encounter and erring policemen should be given exemplary punishment. Still now policemen are putting pressure on our family members. I am quite scared while venturing out. On the one hand I happy at NHRC's directive for compensation and fear and despondency grips my mind seeing the guilty policemen moving scot-free". (From the testimony of Shri Ram Lal Patel)
Challenging the impunity through breaking the silence is based on eliminating the fear, phobia, hopelessness and fragmentation of the survivors in empathetic safe and secure environment.  Survivor's psycho – social and legally supported through Testimonial Therapy converted into human rights defender/barefoot worker based on concept of justice, democracy, non – violence and human dignity.  In this context Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), National Alliance on Testimonial Therapy (NATT) in collaboration of Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) and European Union project is holding a two days national consultation   i.e. 12th – 13th July, 2012 in New Delhi on "Testimonial campaign contribute to eliminate impunity for perpetrators of torture in India". We are aware that the fear and phobia due to torture and organized violence (TOV) is imparting culture of silence and testimonial therapy as a psycho -legal support to the survivor is breaking silence against impunity.

In the national consultation "Testimony to improve psychosocial wellbeing and promote advocacy for survivors of torture and organised violence" held 16 – 17 April 2009 Vishwya Yuvak Kendra, New Delhi  a loose alliance National Alliance on Testimonial Therapy (NATT) was formed by the panelist for the further use of testimonial therapy in India. In 2010 NATT secretariat launch formal subscription form for the NATT and now organization from 8 states are its members.

The PVCHR had widen the testimonial campaign in Manipur with Wide Angle, Assam with Barak Human Rights Protection Committee, Karnataka with SICHREM and Uttar Pradesh (Purvanchal and Bundelkhand region with Institute of Social Development Trust) and trained more than 50 human rights defenders and community worker in 5 Training of the Trainers workshops and developed manual "Giving Voice" different cultural context for the south India and north – east India in their own local language.

The testimonial method was originally developed in Chile during the military dictatorship in 1970s. It has been successfully used in the psychotherapeutic treatment of survivors of torture and organized violence in India and it has also been an advocacy tool employed by different human rights movements. It is a specific therapeutic technique which is being used to confirm and document severe emotional trauma that victims of torture and their relatives had experienced.

PVCHR has integrated Testimonial Therapy into a unique advocacy and educational model within which "torture free" model villages are organized and empowered to protect and expand basic human rights, and to fight against impunity of the violators. The pain and the agony expressed in the testimonies have helped to inform and convince the judiciary and human rights institutions about the injustice committed against the plaintiff. It is easier to elicit a coherent story from survivors and it effectively help to release their pain during narration of the suffering of being tortured.

PVCHR have further experienced a synergetic effect of the testimonial therapy with their folk school at villages and colonies in urban locations as breaking the censorship to challenge the impunity. The TOV free village strategy is focusing on survivors and advocating for reforms with interlinked activities:
  • Testimonial Therapy
  • Seeking Legal Redress
  • Building Solidarity
  • Advocacy for Institutional Reform

Therefore to integrate torture free" model villages process PVCHR selected 50 villages in 5 model blocks in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand and measures the development with the given below indicators:

o   Understanding about their rights
o   Equal rights to  women
o   No caste based discrimination
o   Reach out of people to the institution
o    Religious freedom
o   Political awareness
o   Fearless society
o   Having feeling of one of all and all for one
o   Assurance of child rights
o   Livelihood opportunity
o   Community participation at all level
o   Assurance of essential facilities
o   Awareness for clean and green environment
Since 1996 PVCHR contributed in the anti – torture campaign for the ratification of UNCAT and enactment of domestic law against torture with focus    on Rehabilitation policy for the survivors of Torture and Organized Violence. PVCHR wrote open letter to all political parties, parliamentarians and CSOs of India on basis of comment prepared by RCT on prevention of torture bill. After that PVCHR submitted comment before select committee.[i]

Program details:        

§  On 12th July, 2012 at Magnolia hall, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi at 10 am

§  On 13th July, 2012 at Indian Social Institute, 10, Institutional Area,
          Lodi Road, New Delhi at 10 am

Chief Guest: Hon'ble Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi.

Guest of Honor: Mr. Pavel Svitil, Minister-Counsellor and Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union to India

Chair: Mr. Gautam Navlakha: Consultant Editor-Economic and Political Review

Mr. Sankar Sen, Ex- Director General, National Human Rights Commission

Dr D Roy Laifungbam, Chairperson, Human to Humane Transcultural Centre for Torture Victims (H2H)

Mr. Philip Mathew, Executive Director, SICHREM
Key speakers: Human Rights Defenders from Manipur, Assam, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and New Delhi etc.

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