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NHRC calls for lockdown guidelines to uphold human rights

Graphic: Reception area of NHRC

The NHRC has observed the need for public servants, including police, to act in a way that upholds rights to life, liberty and dignity.

The National Human Rights Commission has asked India's Central Government, through the Union Home Ministry, to issue advice to the States and Union Territories emphasising that while implementing COVID-19 lockdown guidelines, public servants, including police personnel, should behave in a sensible manner with people, particularly those belonging to vulnerable sections, and respecting human rights relating to life, liberty and dignity.

A response is expected at the earliest.

These directions came after the Commission took cognizance of a communication from one of its Special Monitors and human rights activist, Ms Maja Daruwala alleging that in order to effectively implement the lockdown guidelines, public servants, including police personnel, sometimes under tremendous pressure, tend to deal with the people, especially the ill-informed poor labourers, in a very harsh manner, undermining their rights.

Issuing the directions, the Commission has observed that it appreciates that government agencies are sincerely working to deal with the unprecedented situation to fight the spread of COVID-19. However, it found it appropriate to bring the issues raised by the complainant to the notice of the Central.

The complainant has also said that police are doing many good things during the lock down but those, among them, who are using this time to be cruel and harsh must be stopped.

Allegedly, those who are illiterate and less informed, mainly the poor labourers and daily wages workers, are facing extreme difficulties due to shortage of food and other facilities for themselves and their families. They can be asked to stay off the streets with some degree of compassion, without being cruel and abusive or using excessive force.

The Commission has also taken cognizance of a complaint raising the issue of alleged violation of human rights of people suffering from mental illness during lockdown.

Date: 15 April 2020

Source: National Human Rights Commission of India

Image credits

  1. Reception area of NHRC - APF/Faso Aishath