- In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The document articulated the rights and freedoms to which every human being is equally and inalienably entitled.
- Article 19 of the UDHR declares that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference….” Article 20 declares that “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.” Article 3 declares that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
- Defending human rights — rights that are recognised to reside in every human being and are not conferred by the state — requires vigilant scrutiny of, and curbs on, the power exercised by the state.
- The NHRC is India’s statutory human rights body, intended to act as an independent watchdog to monitor the actions of the state and its agencies.
- India’s human rights defenders were accused of seeing “human rights violations in certain incidents but not in other similar incidents” and declared that such a “selective” human rights lens “tarnishes the nation’s image”-PM Modiji
- Sudha Bharadwaj, a leading human rights defender who is in prison for the past three years thanks to flimsy charges under a draconian law, exposed rights violations in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar when the Union home ministry, then under the control of Modi’s rival, the Congress, unleashed “Operation Green Hunt” that resulted in the rape, massacre and displacement of Adivasi civilians in the name of combating Maoist insurgents.
- Human rights bodies like the PUCL and PUDR held the Congress regime accountable for the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984 just as they held the BJP and Modi accountable for the killings of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.
- October 3, 2021, in a place called Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh. Farmers were protesting against three agriculture-related laws enacted by — actually rushed through — Parliament. A convoy of vehicles (of which at least two have been identified) driven at great speed behind the marching farmers mowed down four protesters. Violence followed. Three occupants of the car were caught by the enraged crowd and beaten to death. A journalist also died. The lead vehicle belonged to the Minister of State (MoS) for Home in the Central government.
- Bhima Koregaon, Maharashtra. On June 6, 2018, five social activists were arrested by police on charges of instigating caste violence in Bhima Koregaon in January 2018. The five included a lawyer, an English professor, a poet and publisher, and two human rights activists.
- These included egregious excesses such as search and seizure without a warrant; whisking away a prisoner without an order of transit remand; denial of a lawyer of the prisoner’s choice; refusal of the State to bear the cost of hospital treatment of a prisoner; refusal to give medical reports to a prisoner; refusal of a commode chair to a prisoner suffering from arthritis; refusal of a full-sleeve sweater; refusal of books by Swami Vivekananda; arbitrary withdrawal of the case from the Maharashtra Police and its transfer to the National Investigation Agency
The pursuit of human rights and justice
- Pandora Papers: reveals the secrets of “wealthy elites from more than 200 countries and territories” and data about “tax and secrecy havens”.
- A spectre of the global economy as a supersystem for wealth-maximisation run amok, reveals again the menacing faith, and face, of the worship of private profit. Giant footprints of illicit economies by the enemies of impoverished people everywhere continue to endanger human rights, justice, and collective human security.
- “Jahan bajti hai shehnai, wahan matam bhi hote hain (Where the trumpets sound, there is also lamentation)”
- The global movements for tax justice take people’s suffering and civic lamentation seriously as a way of taking human rights seriously.
- The European Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has blown its trumpet by announcing its inclusive framework’s statement (backed by 134 countries and jurisdictions and extending to over 90 per cent of the global economy). It adopts a two-pillar solution: Pillar one applies to about 100 of the biggest and most profitable MNEs and re-allocates part of their profit to the countries where they sell their products and provide their services — this would obviate the unfair corporate governance practices, which specialise in tax avoidance and evasion. Under pillar two, any company with over EUR 750 million of annual revenue would now be subject to an effective minimum rate of 15 per cent.
- The OECD declares that “tax havens” would “no longer exist” and that “international financial services may continue” only on “the basis that they add real economic value for their customers and support for commercial transactions that are not tax-driven”.