Bi-Monthly Legal News [Vol. No. 11(I) Jan-Feb 2018]

 UN Updates

  • UNESCO pushes for comprehensive approach to sexuality education in its new publication

    UNESCO has published an updated report titled International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education for advocating quality comprehensive sexuality education to promote health and well-being, respect for human rights and gender equality, and empower children and young people to lead healthy, safe and productive lives. The Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education is intended to assist education policy makers in all countries, for creating age-appropriate curriculum for children and adolescents. The guide further aims to assist health and other relevant authorities in the development and implementation of school-based and out-of-school comprehensive sexuality education programmes and materials.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2oLprsj

  • UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women urges worldwide adoption of femicide watch

    The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women has emphasized on the intensification of international, regional and national efforts to prevent femicide (murder of a woman or girl on the grounds of her sex and/or gender) and gender related killings of women and other forms of gender-based violence. The statement by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences marked “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence”, the international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The SR urged the establishment of a femicide watch to collect, analyze, and review data at the national, regional and global level in order to prevent and eradicate femicide and gender-based violence against women and girls worldwide.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2HLOCmu

  • UN Women releases sustainable development report

    The UN Women has released a report titled ‘Turning Promises into Action: Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,’ which takes stock of the global status of key aspects of the gender equality as a part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that were set by the UN.

    The report looks at both the ends (goals and targets) and the means (policies and processes) that are needed to achieve gender equality and sustainable development. With respect to women in India, the report highlights the compounding effect of wealth and location in widening gender gap. It states that in India, a 20-24 year old woman from a poor rural household is over five times as likely to be married before 18 and 5.8 times as likely to become an adolescent mother as one from a rich urban household. As for education, she is over 20 times as likely to have never attended school as compared to her rich urban counterpart. The report also mentions multiple marginalisations that contribute to widening the gender gap, including caste, religion, and class.

    Sources: http://bit.ly/2o3VBie , http://bit.ly/2pmJNbD

  • Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights releases third report, emphasizes upon women’s participation

    In her third report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur addresses how actions in the field of arts and culture can make significant contributions towards creating, developing and maintaining societies in which all human rights are increasingly realized. The increased social interactions, mutual understanding and trust that can be built or rebuilt through these initiatives are essential to achieve a range of human rights goals and to respect cultural diversity. Specifically, the report raised the issue of a global gender gap in cultural activities, and calls upon states to take effective steps, in accordance with international standards, to combat discrimination, including against women, and promote diversity in the cultural and artistic fields, including by urgently tackling sexual harassment in these fields

    A/HRC/37/55

    Source: https://bit.ly/2Buee6T

  • Patricia V. Sellers appointed as the Special Advisor on Gender by Prosecutor of International Criminal Court

    The Prosecutor of International Criminal Court (ICC) appointed Patricia V. Sellers as the Special Advisor on Gender. The newly appointed Special Advisor is a human rights practitioner and an international criminal lawyer who has been working in the field of international criminal justice. The Special Advisor will be required to further strengthen the approach to a range of gender issues and support wide, strategic responses to sexual and gender-based crimes under the Rome Statute (under article 42.9 of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor may appoint Special Advisors with legal expertise on specific issues, including, but not limited to, sexual and gender violence.)

    Source:  http://bit.ly/2kTklY8

  • Call for submissions on CEFM in humanitarian settings

    In its resolution A/HRC/res/35/16 adopted in 2017, the Human Rights Council had called upon all States, humanitarian actors, men and boys, and youth organizations to develop and implement responses, strategies and policies to prevent, respond to and eliminate child, early and forced marriage, including in humanitarian settings. Accordingly, the OHCHR has called for submissions stating any relevant information for the preparation of its oral update. The submissions may pertain to the nature and scope of child marriage in humanitarian settings, causes of CEFM in humanitarian settings, impact of CEFM on girls, individuals, and community, challenges, research, and data collection.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2Ex12zR

  • Call for submissions by OHCHR on the question of death penalty

    In pursuance of fulfilling the obligations under decision 18/117 and resolution 22/11 of the Human Rights Council, the OHCHR has called for submissions on the any relevant information on developments since 1 April 2016 with regard to the question of the death penalty, so as to enable the Secretary General to report to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-ninth session. The last date for the submissions is 15 April 2018.

    https://bit.ly/2BPjhv0

  • New guidelines on intrapartum care released by WHO

    The World Health Organisation has released comprehensive and up to-date guidelines on essential intrapartum care to ensure good-quality and evidence-based care irrespective of the setting or level of health care in the region. These recommendations are not country or region specific, although they acknowledge the variations that exist globally in the availability of health services. They highlight the importance of woman-centred care to optimize the experience of labour and childbirth through a human rights-based approach. The target audience includes national and local public health policy-makers, implementers and managers of maternal and child health programmes, health care facility managers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), professional societies involved in the planning and management of maternal and child health services, health care professionals (including nurses, midwives, general medical practitioners and obstetricians) and academic staff involved in training health care professionals.

    https://bit.ly/2GgQSAF

  • Sexual harassment rampant at the UN, indicate media reports

    Media reports have revealed that cases of sexual harassment and assault, apart from being common at UN offices across the world, are routinely silenced because of a flawed grievance system. Since the media reports surfaced, a large number of current and former employees and consultants have gone public with incidents of sexual harassment that they faced at the organization. The UN Secretary General has vowed to address sexual harassment and related issues, including under-reporting. The UN has since launched a staff helpline, staffed by persons trained in human resources work, to respond to sexual harassment complaints.

    https://bit.ly/2rpuSRJ, https://bit.ly/2GuIv9g

 International Updates

Asia

  • Malaysian Federal Court rules that consent of both parents required for children’s religious conversion

  • Plea seeking legality of marrying Rohingya girl rejected by Bangladesh High Court

    A Bangladesh High Court rejected a writ petition which sought protection from harassment for his son, who had married a Rohingya girl, and was at risk of being arrested. Additionally, the Court imposed exemplary costs upon him for wasting judicial time and resources. According to a governmental notification issued in 2014, marriages between Bangladeshis and Rohingya persons are legally invalid, and can be punished under the Foreigners Act, 1946. This development comes in the wake of large scale migration of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh, who do not have access to basic necessities like food supplies. In this context, a large number of Rohingya families have married young girls into Bangladeshi households to gain access to such necessities, and social welfare benefits available to such households, such as food rations.

    Sources: http://bit.ly/2zRU2MC , http://bit.ly/2tZRgCn

  • Israel relaxes restrictions on blood donation by gay men

    Israel has relaxed its restrictions of sexual abstinence on gay men who wish to donate blood, as a result of a new procedure that will only used blood plasma component. As a key population at risk of HIV, gay men face sexual abstinence conditions for blood donation across the world. While Israel did not permit gay men to donate blood at all earlier, the twelve month sexual abstinence rule was introduced in June 2017.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2GIT8lO

  • Japan province to recognise same-sex partnerships

    The Fukuoka province of Japan is set to introduce a new system to officially recognise same sex couples as partners. While this will not accord to them the status of a married couple, the new framework will enable same-sex couples to receive a “receipt,” which may be used when couples rent city-run housing or undergo medical treatment requiring the consent of a family member at city hospitals. If introduced, this system will make Fukuoka the second government-designated major city after Sapporo, and the second municipality after Naha, to recognise same sex partnerships.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2GFKa8F

Beyond Asia

  • Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of civil rights, rules US Appeals Court

    The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex, also bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In this case, a gay worker had alleged that he had been dismissed from service after revealing his sexual orientation to a client. Vacating the lower court’s judgement against the plaintiff, the Court held that sexual orientation is a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Act, and asked the lower court to decide the case according to this interpretation of the Act.

    Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. 15‐3775 (en banc)

    Source: http://bit.ly/2G5u1vm

  • Bermuda’s marriage law challenged

    A gay Bermudian citizen has launched a legal challenge against the Attorney-General for revoking his right to marry in his country and subjecting him to “inhuman or degrading treatment”.

    Lawyers representing the party filed a lawsuit yesterday afternoon with the Supreme Court, claiming that the new Domestic Partnership Act was unconstitutional. The Act, which replaced same-sex marriage with civil unions, was approved by Parliament in December and given Royal Assent by the Governor on February 7. The lawsuit states that the effect of the new Act “is to subject the applicant to inhuman or degrading treatment”. It seeks orders of redress under section 15 of the Constitution. The action reversed a Supreme Court decision from May last year that enabled gay people to wed in the country — a judgment won after a gay couple  litigated against the Registrar-General for refusing to post their wedding banns.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2pnGykh

  • Inter-American Court of Human Rights recognises right to legal gender recognition and same-sex couples’ right to marriage

  • House of Deputies of the Chilean Congress clears Gender Identity bill

    The House of Deputies of the Chilean Congress have approved a bill that will allow transgender persons to legally change their names and gender markers on official documents. Change in gender identity will not require prior surgery or a court order. The bill does not seek to extend any of these rights to minors. It will not be introduced in the Chilean Senate for vote.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2tZsIJI

  • Somaliland introduces law to criminalise rape

    The lower house of Somaliland’s parliament has cleared a bill to criminalise rape, and other forms of sexual assault, including gang rape. The bill also seeks to criminalise trafficking, child marriage, and knowingly putting another person at risk of contracting an HIV infection. The offence of rape carries a maximum punishment of imprisonment for twenty-two years. If passed, Somaliland will for the first time, have a robust law against sexual assault. Somalia, the state from which the self proclaimed republic of Somaliland broke away, does not criminalise rape, and the practice of marrying the victim to her rapist is considered to be a widespread one across the two countries.

    Sources: http://bbc.in/2CWBYS7 , http://bit.ly/2D0zYZc

  • Morocco adopts new law to combat domestic violence against women

    Morocco has adopted Law no. 103-13 on combating violence against women. The new law criminalizes some forms of domestic violence, establishes prevention measures such as restraint orders, and provides new protections for survivors. It increases penalties for some forms of violence when committed within the family and establishes new crimes including forced marriage, squandering property to avoid payment of maintenance, preventing a spouse from returning home, and sexual harassment in public spaces and cyber harassment. Women’s groups in the country had lobbied for greater emphasis on protection and victim relief instead of criminal prosecution, explicit recognition of marital rape, funding women’s shelters, and laying down the duties of police, prosecutors, and investigative judges in domestic violence cases. However, the law was passed without these changes.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2FBaWyE

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding workers can be dismissed at the time of mass layoffs, holds European Court of Justice

    The European Court of Justice has held that pregnant and breastfeeding employees can be dismissed as part of a collective redundancy of employees, i.e., at the time of a mass layoff of employees, if their dismissal is not expressly prohibited under the law of their country. In this case, a worker who was dismissed as part of a mass layoff while she was pregnant, challenged the decision of the company before the High Court of Justice of Catalonia, which in turn referred it to the ECJ.

    Jessica Porras Guisado v. Bankia SA, Case C-103/16, decided on 22.02.2018.

    Sources: http://bit.ly/2HH9BqH , http://bit.ly/2Iwo0WV

  • Iceland enacts law to eliminate gender pay gap

    Iceland has enacted a new law which makes it illegal for employers to pay men more than women for the same work. The law applies to agencies that employ more than 25 persons, and obligates them to obtain a compliance certification with their equal pay policies. Failure to obtain such a certification leaves the workplace open to imposition of fines.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2A4bjgO

  • Greece limits application of sharia law

    The Greek Parliament has legislated to severely limit the power of sharia courts, which operate in some parts of the country, and govern a 100,000-strong Muslim minority. This change followed a challenge before the European Court of Human Rights by a Muslim woman who had been denied a fair share of inheritance under Islamic law. Although the law has been hailed by the Muslim minority, it has also been criticised by many for not completely eliminating Islamic courts, as no other country in the European Union has sharia law.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2prsh58

  • Same-sex couples entitled to residency rights, states advisor to the European Court of Justice

    A legal advisor to the European Court of Justice has stated that EU countries are bound to provide the same residency rights to same-sex couples that are accorded to heterosexual married couples, irrespective of whether they recognise same-sex marriage. Extending equal spousal benefits, according to the advisor, would enable same-sex couples to move and reside freely in the EU. Although an advisor’s opinion is not legally binding, it is usually followed by judges.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2EwjEfS

  • Lesbian women not entitled to paternity leave, holds European Court of Human Rights

    The European Court of Human Rights has held that the rejection of a lesbian woman’s application for paternity was not violative of human rights to private and family life, and non-discrimination guaranteed under the ECHR, as the institution of paternity leave was designed to enable the biological father of a child to play a greater role in its upbringing and to ensure a more equal distribution of domestic work between men and women. The Court rejected the challenge by drawing parallels between a non-biological father and the lesbian partner, both of whom would be denied paternity leave. The position of the court is founded on heteropatriachal privileging of bloodlines and lineage, rather than equal parenting and partnership on which egalitarian unions ought to be promoted by human rights law. At an age of IVF, surrogacy, adoption and diverse family forms, the court ought to upheld equal responsibilities of all parents, rather than discriminate between parents (as it has done) based on the manner they assumed parental status.

    Hallier and Others v. France (application no. 46386/10)

    Source: http://bit.ly/2rjfSof

  • EU laws do not cover Sharia divorce, holds ECJ

    The European Court of Justice has held that the question of whether ‘private divorces’ under the Sharia law should be recognised has to be decided by each member state of the EU. In this case, the husband had divorced his wife under sharia in Syria before moving to Germany. The question of whether this divorce can be recognised under German law was referred to the ECJ. The ECJ held that Rome III Regulations, also known as the EU divorce law pact, do not by themselves apply to recognition of a divorce decision in a country not part of the EU.

    Soha Sahyouni v. Raja Mamisch (C‑372/16)

  • EU Court rejects psychological tests to determine sexual orientation of asylum seekers

    The European Court of Justice has ruled that psychological tests cannot be used to assess asylum applications from those facing persecution in their home countries due to their sexuality as such tests amount to “a disproportionate interference in the private life of the asylum seeker.” Hungarian immigration officials had administered such tests to an unidentified man seeking refugee status based on a fear of persecution on account of his homosexuality in his home country of Nigeria. The court ruled the officials acted illegally. His asylum application was rejected as no conclusive results emerged from his test.  The court held that while expert opinion could be sought to determine a person’s sexual orientation, this process should not infringe upon rights guaranteed under the European Charter of Human Rights.

    Source: http://n.pr/2DJdI79

 National Updates

National Judgments/ Orders

Supreme Court

  • Supreme Court upholds validity of Hadiya’s marriage

    The Supreme Court, in an interim order, has reinstated the marriage of Hadiya, which had been annulled by the High Court of Kerala amidst controversy over her religious conversion to Islam and subsequent marriage. Given that the marriage was annulled in habeas corpus proceedings filed by her father, the Supreme Court cited that such proceedings were not appropriate for passing an order of annulment, while at the same time highlighting the fact of her free consent in exercising her right to choice to marry. However, the Court ordered investigation into forced conversions to Islam by the National Investigation Agency will continue. Earlier, the Court had appointed a guardian for Hadiya, despite her being an adult, and had severely restricted her access to her husband Shafin Jahan, the petitioner in the present matter. The decision of the High Court of Kerala, as well the delay caused by the Supreme Court in remedying it were widely criticized by the civil society.

    Hadiya’s case has brought forth charged contestations over women’s religious identities and their right to exercise choice in marriage, with competing claims about forced conversions to Islam, and the existence of violent ‘curing’ centres for reconversions to Hinduism in Kerala.

    Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M. and Ors. SLP (Crl) No. 5777 of 2017

  • Petitions challenging constitutionality of IPC provisions on homosexuality and adultery referred to constitutional bench

    A three judge bench of the Supreme Court has referred a fresh petition challenging the constitutionality of Sec. 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises same-sex sexual intercourse, to a five judge constitutional bench. The Court noted that its decision in Suresh Kumar Kaushal v. Naz Foundation, which had effectively recriminalized homosexuality in 2014, required reconsideration in light of the holding of right to privacy as a fundamental right, and the absence of any reference to consent in determining criminality of sexual acts under Sec. 377.

    In another case, the Court has noted the constitutional issues involved in the criminalisation of a wife’s adultery under Sec. 497 of the Indian Penal Code, and referred a petition challenging the same to the constitutional bench. In making the order, the Court noted the anomalies created by the selective criminalisation of a wife’s adultery alone – which exposes her paramour to criminal liability upon her husband’s complaint – while exempting the husband from any responsibility for his adulterous liaisons.

    Navtej Singh Johar and Ors. v. Union of India W.P. (Crl.) 76/2016

    Joseph Shine v. Union of India W.P. (Crl.) 194/2017

    https://bit.ly/2uKGwIo, https://bit.ly/2GMEaNR

  • Supreme Court dismisses plea to make sexual assault gender neutral

    The Supreme Court refused to admit a Public Interest Litigation filed by a practicing advocate which sought the declaration of all penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault provisions in the IPC as gender-neutral – both with respect to the victim and the perpetrator. The challenge was based in the premise that these provisions, under which only a man can be the perpetrator of sexual assault, and only a woman can be the victim, ignore social realities and are violative of the fundamental rights to equality and against discrimination on the basis of sex. The Court dismissed the petition on the grounds that classification along the lines of sex had been a policy decision of the legislature, and thus, could only be remedied by it. While inclusion of trans persons and men as victims in the definition of rape is necessary, women’s rights groups have resisted the push for a rape law with a gender-neutral  perpetrator, as this is plainly a backlash against women’s increased reporting and prosecution of rape.

    https://bit.ly/2Jg58fk

  • Supreme Court issues notice to states to implement the SHW Act

    The Supreme Court has issued notice to the central government and all state governments to implement the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act, 2013. This was in response to a PIL filed by an NGO highlighting that several state governments had neither constituted Local Committees in each district, nor had they appointed district officers, both legally mandated under the law. According to the research study on which the PIL is based, only 12 States and 4 Union Territories had appointed district officers, while 7 others had taken steps to do the same, while only 5 States and 2 Union Territories provided details of the Local Committees constituted by them.

    https://bit.ly/2C7anJs

High Courts and Tribunals

  • Delhi district court judgment highlights instances of sexual violence within marriage

    In its judgment denying the relief of divorce to the husband, the Delhi High Court has acknowledged that he subjected his wife to sexual abuse, apart from subjecting her to other abusive and humiliating acts. In this case, the husband had sought a divorce on the grounds desertion and cruelty. Denial of conjugal rights is an oft cited ground for divorce that derives support from a series of judgments from higher courts that state that “a sexless marriage is an anathema.” The court has clarified that such acts, even though not recognised as marital rape, constitute mental cruelty under marriage and divorce law.

    https://bit.ly/2JcdKn8

National News

  • Advisory group approves HPV vaccine

    The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization NTAGI has granted approval for the introduction of the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in the Universal Immunisation Programme. The campaign for providing HPV vaccines had suffered a setback in 2012 following controversy around its side-effects in 2012 and a strategic legal intervention before the Supreme Court seeking revocation of the licenses of Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and GlaxoSmithkline (GSK), the only two suppliers of the vaccine in India. HPV vaccine can substantially reduce the risk of cervical cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India.

    http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/hpv-vaccine-gets-immunisation-nod/article22514484.ece

  • Niti Aayog report reveals country-wide decline in sex ratio

    The Niti Aayog has released a report titled ‘Healthy States, Progressive India,’ which among other things, raises the issue of a country-wide decline in the sex ratio at birth in India. The report notes that the decline is the sharpest in states of Gujarat and Haryana, while a few states of Bihar, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh have shown an improvement. The report emphasizes upon the need for stricter implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994.

    https://bit.ly/2q0bp67, https://bit.ly/2H5pBmr

  • Bill to combat human trafficking cleared by Cabinet

    The Cabinet has cleared the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018. While the latest version of the Bill is not available to the public, the previous drafts available reveal that the intended law will continue to use criminal law as the primary tool for a change, a method oft criticized by experts and sex workers’ associations, for its inefficiency and the harassment it causes to sex workers, the primary constituency that it seeks to protect. The proposed law is likely to introduce several new offences related to trafficking, and set up special district level courts for speedy disposal of cases. The law will also continue to use the prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation model, instead of recognising sex work as legitimate labour.

    https://bit.ly/2H6EapF

 Resources

  • Plan International launches database on the position of girls rights in international law

    Plan International has launched a comprehensive database on girls’ rights in international law. The platform also hosts the full report launched by the organisation titled ‘Girls’ Rights are Human Rights,’ which is a study of the status of girls in international law, and claims to reveal the extent to which the international human rights framework renders them invisible. Other online tools available at the platform include training tools for girls’ rights advocates, as well as a database of more than 1,400 international policy documents.

    https://www.girlsrightsplatform.org/

  • Reports on the economic impacts of child marriage

    ICRW and the World Bank have jointly released reports on the economic impacts of child marriage. Based on data collected from Nepal, Ethiopia, and Niger, and already existing data from three other countries, the reports explores the economic consequences of child marriage through health expenditures, educational attainment and labor force participation rates, among other parameters.

    http://www.costsofchildmarriage.org/publications

  • Help Age publishes discussion paper on violence against older women

    Help Age had published a discussion paper on violence experienced by older women. The paper highlights the frequency with which older persons, especially older women, are subjected to violence, abuse, and neglect, and explores the extent to which violence resulting from the intersections between sex and old age are addressed in international, regional, and national legal frameworks. Finally, it calls for greater engagement of researchers, activists, and policy makers to prevent and address violence against older women.

    https://bit.ly/2H6VoDu

  • Musawah releases compilation of resources on shariat law

    Musawah has released a compilation of resources related to women’s rights in Muslim family law. The compilation is intended for use by activists, human rights experts, and policy makers, to access resources from the academic and policy arenas.

    https://bit.ly/2ww45E0

  • Guide to HRC for NGO participants

    The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a Practical Guide to the Human Rights Council for NGO participants at the HRC. The guide simplifies procedures for accreditation, and provides the method for attending HRC sessions including remotely through video conferencing, submitting written statements, making oral statements, and so on.

    https://bit.ly/1IFceUy

 Obituary

  • Asma Jahangir

    We are deeply saddened by the untimely demise of Asma Jahangir, renowned lawyer and women human rights defender. A founding member of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), co-founder if Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and co-chair of South Asia Forum for Human Rights, she was recognized both nationally and internationally for her contribution to the cause of human rights, and was the recipient of major human rights awards. She served as the UN Special Rapporteur in the fields of summary executions, and freedom of religion or belief. She leaves behind an invaluable legacy of initiating and building people to people solidarity in South Asia, as part of a peoples initiative towards forging peace, especially between India and Pakistan. At the time of her passing, she held the position of UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

  • Neelabh Mishra

    Neelabh Mishra, founder and editor-in-chief of National Herald, and former editor of Outlook Hindi passed away last month. Mishra started off his over three decades of journalistic career as a reporter with Navbharat Times and later moved to Rajasthan. Throughout his career, he was associated with human rights movements in different parts of India, especially the movement for right to information spearheaded by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, and was closely involved in the revival of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. He was also a part of the process of the World Social Forum for building an alternative global movement from the largest democracy in the world. In 2016, Mishra steered the re-launch of National Herald as a digital news website.

  • Neelabh Mishra

    Neelabh Mishra, founder and editor-in-chief of National Herald, and former editor of Outlook Hindi passed away last month. Mishra started off his over three decades of journalistic career as a reporter with Navbharat Times and later moved to Rajasthan. Throughout his career, he was associated with human rights movements in different parts of India, especially the movement for right to information spearheaded by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, and was closely involved in the revival of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. He was also a part of the process of the World Social Forum for building an alternative global movement from the largest democracy in the world. In 2016, Mishra steered the re-launch of National Herald as a digital news website.

  • Asma Jahangir

    We are deeply saddened by the untimely demise of Asma Jahangir, renowned lawyer and women human rights defender. A founding member of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), co-founder if Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and co-chair of South Asia Forum for Human Rights, she was recognized both nationally and internationally for her contribution to the cause of human rights, and was the recipient of major human rights awards. She served as the UN Special Rapporteur in the fields of summary executions, and freedom of religion or belief. She leaves behind an invaluable legacy of initiating and building people to people solidarity in South Asia, as part of a peoples initiative towards forging peace, especially between India and Pakistan. At the time of her passing, she held the position of UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

  • Gauri Lankesh

    55-year-old Gauri Lankesh was murdered by gunmen outside her Bengaluru residence on the night of 5th September, 2017. She was the editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada weekly and was a fierce critic of hard line Hindu groups in Karnataka. She was widely regarded as an independent and outspoken journalist and activist.

    She came up against the establishment in multiple ways, as she sought to bring Naxalites to the mainstream, take up the cause of Dalits and farmers, raise consciousness on the creeping influence of Hindutva groups and give moral support to progressive campaigns. As an uncompromising journalist who was never afraid to speak the truth, her death seems to have only amplified her voice around the world – but also signals a well-orchestrated backlash that seeks to silence voices like Dhabolkar, Pasare, Kalburgi and now Lankesh.

  • Vijay Nagaraj

    Vijay Nagaraj, human rights activist, grassroots worker and researcher, and friend to a large number of people, died in a car accident on August 25, 2017, in Sri Lanka ​at a young age of 44.

    With his passion for work, wider political understanding, meticulousness in research and irreverence to structures of power, he was ahead of many in his generation. He began his work on the right to information campaign with the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan in Rajasthan, moving on to become the India Director of Amnesty International, followed by Deputy Director at TISS, Mumbai, and as a researcher on human rights based earlier in Geneva and then in Colombo. In his public life of 2 decades, his work spanned many geographic spaces, thematic concerns, engaging withplayfulnessand ​compassionthat won him many hearts.

  • Preet Rustagi

    The sudden and untimely demise of Preet Rustagi, professor at the Institute for Human Development (IHD), on 21 August 2017 in New Delhi came as a shock to many after a brief illness leading to a multiple organ failure. She was to shortly join the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), in New Delhi.

    Preet distinguished herself in her scholarship, with significant contributions in economics, women’s studies, employment and labour. Preet served for some time as the joint director of IHD, also served at the Indian Society of Labour Economics (ISLE), in various capacities. She is missed not only for her work but also for her warmth, gentleness and smile that endeared her to academic and activist networks she was associated with.

  • Justice Leila Seth (retd.)

    We are deeply saddened by Justice Leila Seth’s demise. She will always be remembered for her contribution to gender justice through her work with the Justice Verma Committee and her writings about legal recognition and non-discrimination to same sex desiring persons. She donated her body to science and has been an exemplar of human rights through her personal and professional contributions.