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CITY MEET SEEKS RIGHTS DEFENDERS’ SAFETY
Sunday, 22 March 2015 | PNS | BHUBANESWAR | in Bhubaneswar
The Civil Society Forum on Human Rights (CSFHR) organised a human rights convention on Friday with over 100 human rights defenders and rights journalists from across the State participating in it.
Over the last few years, general awareness has increased about the enormous risk human rights defenders face in the State. Defenders are also at risk when the law fully sanctions human rights work on the one hand, but fails to punish those who threaten or attack defenders on the other, observed the speakers.
The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) was constituted on January 27, 2000 and started functioning from July 11, 2003. Without having adequate staff in the Commission office, it received and responded applications of not less than 40 to 50 each day, Justice Bira Kishore Mishra, acting chairperson of the Commission said.
“It is a landmark that in the last five years, civil society in Odisha is more concerned and aware about human rights. Human rights defenders (HRDs) are often the only force standing between common people and the unrestrained power of the State. They are vital to the development of democratic processes and institutions, ending impunity and the promotion and protection of human rights. But HRDs are not safe in the State,” stated AK Prashar of Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders-NHRC. Odisha is a model and vibrant civil society on human rights defending.
But on the other hand, HRDs are not safe and they are repeatedly facing harassment, detention, defamation, torture and suspension from their employment. Here is a need to establish a focal point on human rights defenders in OHRC, Human Rights Defenders Alert India convenor Henri Tiphagne said.