Human Rights Education and Training NHRC – INDIA Profile • India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world having a kaleidoscopic rich cultural heritage. • It covers an area of 32,87,263 sq.km. • India’s population is 1.21 billion. • India has a federal democratic set up of governance having 28 States & 7 Union Territories. Profile • One of the world’s most linguistically diverse nations, with 22 official languages and English as an associate language, recognized by the Constitution. • Added to this, there are many other spoken languages and thousands of dialects. • Each State/UT has a unique history, culture, tradition, festivals, attire, language, etc. • India is a secular country but home to all major religions. NHRC - India • NHRC-India was established on 12 October 1993. • Its statute is contained in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 as amended 2006. • It is in conformity with the ‘Paris Principles’. • The NHRC is an embodiment of India's concern for the protection and promotion of human rights. NHRC Mandate for Human Rights Education • NHRC – India is mandated to “spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means” [Section 12(h)]. • Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights [Section 12(g)]. • Encourage the efforts of non-governmental organization and institutions working in the field of human rights [Section 12(i)]. • Similar duty has been assigned to the State Human Rights Commissions in the respective States (Section 29). Early Initiatives • NHRC undertook a threefold strategy in pursuit of its responsibilities under Section 12(h) of its statute:• First, it solicited the support of the leadership of all political parties represented in Parliament or the State Legislatures, to constitute Human Rights Cells at the Centre, State and District levels. • Second, it wrote to Chief Ministers of all States/Union Territories, to sensitize and impart appropriate training in human rights matters, to all public servants in their respective areas. • Third, it initiated a dialogue at the central level with the concerned educational authorities of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and its associated institutions at the Centre and State levels, to pursue the matter of human rights education at various levels of schooling. Mobilizing Human Rights Education in Schools • During the year 1994-1995, a series of meetings were convened with authorities concerned focusing mainly on four principal issues:– Review of existing text books, with a view to deleting from them portions that were prejudicial to human rights. – Publication of a “Source Book on Human Rights” prepared in collaboration with NCERT. – Preparation of modules for teacher-training, relevant to teaching human rights at various levels. – Organizing a workshop organizations/civil society. for non-governmental Mobilizing Human Rights Education in Schools • It recommended that 10 December each year be observed as Human Rights Day in all schools across the country. • Brought out a Handbook entitled “Discrimination Based on Sex, Caste, Religion and Disability” for sensitizing teachers and teachers’ educators. Initiating Human Rights Education in Universities • Urged all the Vice-Chancellors and Deans of Law Faculties to examine how best the subject of ‘human rights’ could be introduced at various stages of study at the university level. • Set-up a Working Group to coordinate, oversee and monitor matters relating to human rights education at the university level. • University Grants Commission (UGC) constituted a Standing Committee on Human Rights. • This Committee prepared an Approach Paper to deal with several options including the need for basic courses for students of all disciplines. • The Approach Paper suggested introduction of Diploma and Certificate Courses aimed at various target groups and emphasized the need for research, extension education and field action projects. Initiating Human Rights Education in Universities • Accordingly, the UGC formulated a scheme for providing financial assistance for organizing seminars, workshops and symposia in colleges and universities as well as conducting various Certificate, Diploma and Degree Courses in Human Rights. • This Standing Committee was later reconstituted at the request of NHRC to carry forward the tasks undertaken. • On NHRC’s request, the UGC constituted a Curriculum Development Committee under the chairmanship of a Member of NHRC to frame a module curriculum for courses on Human Rights at Certificate/Diploma/Degree and Post-Graduate levels. • Today more than 40 universities in the country have introduced certificate, diploma, under-graduate and post-graduate courses in ‘Human Rights’. United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education and Role of NHRCIndia • The period 1995-2004 was declared as the UN Decade for Human Rights Education. • The NHRC pursued with the Government to develop a National Action Plan focussing on :– strategies for raising mass awareness on human rights; – sensitization of specific target groups -- law enforcement machinery like the judiciary, police, security forces and others; – focus on secondary and higher education, including the establishment of a curriculum revision committee for revision of textbooks; – development of training modules for teachers in English, Hindi and local languages; – the provision of financial assistance to universities and colleges for development of specific courses in Human Rights; and – establish a national resource centre that would develop human rights materials and focus on educational tools. Setting-up of National Institute of Human Rights • In a major effort to establish a centre of excellence for human rights education during the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, NHRC-India set-up the National Institute of Human Rights (NIHR) at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore in August 1999. • A Chair on Human Rights was also created with the assistance of NHRC-India. • This occasion coincided with the sanctioning of a project by the Australian High Commission to NIHR, upon the recommendations of the Commission. • The project was aimed at developing the capacity of the NIHR and strengthening domestic infrastructure to promote and protect human rights. Rights Education for Youth • With a view to spreading awareness of human rights issues among university/college students, the NHRC conducts internship programmes during summer and winter vacations every year. • During the internship, the students are apprised of the working of the Commission. • They are made aware of the main institutions and international instruments relevant to an understanding of human rights. • The interns are given an opportunity to interact with the Chairperson, Members, senior officers of NHRC as well as prominent NGOs and international organizations working in the area of human rights. • They are taken for field visits to jails and projects run by NGOs and are assigned project work. • Besides, NHRC is running a continuous internship programmes for the students of all streams. • NHRC has taken-up training programme for the young people in all the districts of the country in collaboration with Nehru Yuva Kendra. Promotion of Human Rights Education for Police and Security Forces • NHRC-India is giving priority to the training of police personnel and the security forces on human rights so that they learn to respect such rights and remain mindful of them in difficult and provocative circumstances. • The Chairperson, Members and senior officers of NHRC visit police training institutes and other training institutes imparting training to security forces across the country. • The NHRC in collaboration with DGPs has evolved a three-tier module for constables, sub-inspectors/inspectors, DSPs and other senior officers. The same has been circulated to all the States for implementation. • At the behest of NHRC, the top-most National Police Academy of the country has included the teaching of human rights in its courses. Promotion of Human Rights Education for Police and Security Forces • Human rights education is also included in training courses for para-military and armed forces at the instance of NHRC. • The NHRC and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) have jointly developed an Online Training Programme on Human Rights for Police Personnel. The programme is designed to target police personnel at the cutting edge level of Constables and Sub-Inspectors. • NHRC in collaboration with British Council initiated two projects namely ‘Human Rights Investigation and Interviewing Skills’ and ‘Improving Custodial Management’. • NHRC has encouraged the participation of its officers working in Investigation Division in programmes conducted both at home and abroad. Human Rights Training for Civil Servants & Judiciary • NHRC –India is continuously sensitizing civil servants in the country about human rights so that they are able to face human rights challenges in their work sphere on daily basis. • It firmly believes that regular training programmes for civil servants would lead to a higher standard of professionalism among them • The top-most Academy in the country responsible for imparting training to civil servants has incorporated the teaching of human rights in its courses. • For the judiciary, a sum of AUS $ 25,000 was sanctioned under the Australian Human Rights Fund Small Grants Scheme. • The project consisted of conducting a ‘Foundation Course on Human Rights’ for newly appointed judges, a ‘Refresher Course for Sessions Judges’ already in position and the preparation and printing of a ‘Handbook on Human Rights for Judicial Officers’. Creation of a Training Division in NHRC-India • A Training Division was created in 2003 to sensitize various officials, functionaries and agencies on human rights protection and promotion. • The activities of the Division have expanded manifold over the years. • Today, it collaborates with various international organizations, national/state level institutes, law universities and credible NGOs for imparting training on different human rights issues. • During 2010-2011, it organized 65 training programmes in collaboration with 12 SHRCs, 27 Universities/Colleges, 3 ATIs, 3 PTIs, 18 NGOs/civil society organizations and 2 programmes at the national level. Assisting Other Commissions • Facilitated NHRIs of Jordan, Nepal, Uganda, Rwanda and Maldives in installing the software of Complaint Management Information System in their local language. • Staff Exchange visits between various NHRIs and NHRC-India for building-up and strengthening their capacities. • Release of book entitled ‘Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities – A Guide’ by Chairperson, NHRC- India in September 2010. The book was published by the Commonwealth Secretariat. • An MoU has been signed between Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, NHRC and UNDP for capacity development in Afghanistan Commission. Promotion of Good Custodial Practices • NHRC-India in partnership with the British Council and an NGO undertook a project on ‘Promoting Good Custodial Practices’. • The project aimed to create links between a range of different agencies including human rights activists, doctors, lawyers and the police to reduce torture and increase awareness about legal rights and remedies for torture victims. Linkage with the Media in Furthering Human Rights • Preparation of radio and TV spots on human rights concerns. • Regular ‘talks’ on different human rights issues by the Chairperson, Members and senior officers of NHRC on television and radio. • Programmes on human rights education are also being telecast through the television and radio. • Developed a guidebook for the media on sexual violence against children. • Media post is another medium used by NHRC-India in creating human rights awareness among the masses. During 20052006, it printed social messages on human rights on the postal stationery. Publications, Films and Website • It brings out a monthly newsletter in English and Hindi. • It brings out Annual Journal and Annual Reports in English and Hindi, a year calendar and number of other publication every year. • In 2005, coinciding with the first phase of World Programme for Human Rights Education, it brought out 8 booklets under the ‘Know Your Rights’ series. • Dossiers on varied subjects for school and university students were also brought out. • Quality Assurance in Mental Health and a Human Rights Manual for District Magistrates are two other important publications. 21 Publications, Films and Website • A list of other publications is available on NHRCIndia website : www.nhrc.nic.in • It has produced short duration films on five themes – NHRC & its working, sexual harassment of women at the work place, manual scavenging, bonded labour and trafficking in women and children. 22 Human Rights Awareness and Facilitating Assessment of Enforcement of Human Rights Programme • NHRC-India has undertaken this programme in 28 districts of the country covering every State. • The variables on which these backward districts have been identified are: – Rate of illiteracy – Percentage of SC/ST population – Rate of infant mortality, etc • The main objective of the programme is to spread awareness among the people on focused human rights issues like: – – – – – – Food security Education Custodial justice Health Hygiene Sanitation, etc Human Rights Awareness and Facilitating Assessment of Enforcement of Human Rights Programme • Field visits are undertaken by the Members/officers to assess human right situation at the ground level. • A one-day workshop is organized in the district concerned to enlighten people about their rights as well as monitor the implementation of the recommendations issued by the Commission from time to time. Second Phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education ( 2010-2014) • NHRC-India has communicated to UNOHCHR that it would like to focus on the identified children and teachers in schools and colleges as one possible target sector. • The second target sector would be elected representatives of people and field level functionaries of government or organizations under the government. • The third possible target group could be women, vulnerable groups, persons with disabilities and labourers, including migrant labourers. • Global thematic areas could include climate change and environmental issues, which have a bearing on the right to food, water, clear air and life; and gender equality so as to empower women. • Thematic areas specific to India include food security, right to education, right to health, conditions in places of custody, HIV AIDS and right to development.