Pogledaj Full Version : Indian People’s Tribunal

Željko Zidarić
28th-May-2012, 04:52 PM
Website - iptindia.org (http://www.iptindia.org/)

International Campaign Against War on the People in India
The Independent People's Tribunal Reveals the Underbelly of Indian "Development" (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/basu170410.html)

Independent People’s Tribunal to look into World Bank policies (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/independent-peoples-tribunal-to-look-into-world-bank-policies/218849/)

IPT charges World Bank with serious violations of democracy, human rights and sovereignty (http://www.bicusa.org/en/Article.3514.aspx)

People's Tribunal Questions Safety of India Nuke Complex, World's Biggest (http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20110602/peoples-tribunal-questions-safety-india-nuke-complex-worlds-biggest)

The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), founded by a group of lawyers and social activists in India, set up the Indian People’s Tribunal to promote justice and mobilize victims of human rights abuses. These tribunals seek to bring a wide range of human rights abuses into focus through conducting public hearings. Positioned as an alternative People’s Court, since 1993 the IPT has conducted 24 tribunals on issues ranging from police violence to the right to food and housing. IPT provides an opportunity for India’s poor and vulnerable who otherwise do not have access to the regular courts and face the harshness of local authorities to voice their grievances. IPT organizes tribunals either to stop existing violations, to highlight harmful legislations and to prevent further atrocities from taking place. The IPT’s objectives are to 1) promote alternative visions for the judiciary and the public 2) investigate cases of gross human rights violation and environmental degradation 3) highlight the plight of the oppressed. The tribunals also bring legitimacy to the experiences of victims, and encourage communities to defend their rights.

The tribunals are conducted by retired judges from India’s High Courts and the Supreme Court, academics, economists, journalists and others. First, a grassroots organization petitions the IPT secretariat to organise a Tribunal inquiry on behalf of affected community members. The secretariat then reviews the nature of the violation and drafts the terms of reference (In emergencies, the IPT will conduct inquiries for an immediate response). Next, the Tribunal organizes a site visit in which they meet with the affected persons and government officials. If the abuse affects a large number of people, the Tribunal will conduct a public hearing. Finally, the Tribunal will draft a detailed report of research, findings, and recommendations based on the site visit. This report is released at public meetings and press conferences to exert pressure on Indian authorities with the aim to increase public awareness of community struggles and to push for long term public policy change.

Through this tactic, HRLN and the IPT have been able to affect government policies in many instances, bringing local struggles into the national spotlight and empowering communities around the country. For instance, after the an earthquake years ago in India, the government, despite having received funding from the World Bank and other groups, failed to rebuild houses as promised. IPT drafted a report that was later brought to the High Court, which ordered the government to fulfil its duties to rebuild houses. In another case, IPT sent a women’s team to Kashmir to investigate the Indian army’s perpetration of women and children. Their report was used to campaign for the repeal of the “Armed Forced Special Powers Act.” These are just a few of IPT’s successes.

However, these victories have not been without costs. To begin with, each Tribunal takes a lot of time to organize. Terms of reference must be created that detail the intended impact, the form the report will take, and what experts are needed. In addition, a certain degree of personal danger is involved. For instance, the leader of the local group which protested against the Maroli-Umargaon Port Project, a project that would adversely affect the livelihoods and environment of the local community, was fatally assaulted by the police.

IPT has been using this tactic for over ten years and has held twenty-four tribunals. This tactic has proved useful for a wide variety of human rights issues and impacts a large number of people.