IND 002 / 0809 / OBS 123

25/08/2009
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), expresses its deepest concern regarding the following situation in India.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by People’s Watch about the ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Marimuthu Barathan, President of the Human Rights Education and Protection Council (HREPC), who has been working closely with Dalit communities in Tirunelveli and surrounding southern districts of Tamil Nadu State [1].

According to the information received, Mr. Marimuthu Barathan has been subjected to judicial harassment since May 27, 2009, when he was arrested by the police, accused of the murder of a man called Mr. Madhan, assassinated on January 11, 2009. On that same date, around 20 Dalit people were killed and Mr. Barathan was also accused of involvement in those killings [2].

Mr. Barathan was taken to the Suthamalli Police station where a First Information Report (FIR) was filed. He was subsequently charged for various offences on May 27, 2009 [3].

Mr. Barathan was placed on remand in the Palayamkottai Prison until June 3, 2009, when he was taken to the Judicial Magistrate Court in Cheranmadevi for a hearing. On June 19, 2009, he was transferred from the Tirunelveli Central Prison to the Cuddalore Central Prison.

On June 27, 2009, Mr. Barathan was released from prison, on condition bail, which was relaxed on August 4, 2009. Since then, Mr. Barathan no longer has to sign daily in a police station in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the neighbouring State of Kerala, about 60 kilometres away from Tirunelveli, where he currently lives.

The latest hearing in Mr. Barathan’s case was scheduled for August 25, 2009 but as he was not able to attend, he filed a petition and the hearing was re-scheduled to a later date.

The Observatory denounces the judicial harassment faced by Mr. Barathan and believes that these acts of harassment merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities and therefore urges the Indian authorities to put an end to the judicial harassment against him.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of India, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Marimuthu Barathan;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Marimuthu Barathan as well as against all human rights defenders in India so that they are able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrances;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Article 1, which provides that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", as well as with Article 12.2 ("the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration");

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by India.

Addresses

· Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857

· Shri Shivraj Patil, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 104-107 North Block, New Delhi 110 001 India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979.

· Justice K. G. Balkrishnan, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, Tilak Marg, New Delhi -1, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in

· Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, Tel: +91 11 230 74448, Fax: +91 11 2334 0016, Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

· Mr. T. Theethan, IAS, The Joint Secretary, National Commission for SC, 5th Floor, ‘B’ Wing, Lok Nayak Bhavan, Khan Market, New Delhi 110103, India. Email: jointsecretary-ncsc@nic.in

· The Home Secretary, Govt. of Tamil Nadu, India, Email: homesec@tn.gov.in

· Thiru P. Seetharaman IAS, District Collector, Collectorate, Cuddalore - 607 001, Fax: 04142-230555. E-Mail: collrcud@tn.nic.in
Director General of Police, Post Box No.601, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Chennai-600 004. Fax No: 28447703

· State Human Rights Commission, Thiruvarangam, 143, P.S. Kumarasamy Raja Salai, (Greenways Road), Chennai 600 028, Tamilnadu, Phone : 91-44-2495 1484, Fax : 91-44-2495 1484

· Mr. Pradip Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Cuddalore, Tel - Off: 04142-284330, Tel - Res: 04142-295161, Mobile: 94438-79888

· Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Geneva), Rue du Valais 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 906 86 86, Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of India in Brussels, 217 Chaussée de Vleurgat, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)2 6489638 or +32 (0)2 6451869

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of India in your respective countries.

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