. . . . . . "Dalit Solidarity News" is an information project run by the International Dalit Solidarity Network. News stories are extracts from online newsservices. Link to the full story is found at the end of each blog. Visit the International Dalit Solidarity Network at www.idsn.org

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Formed in 2000, the IDSN is a network of international organisations, national solidarity networks and affected country groups, campaigning against caste-based discrimination throughout the world, from the dalits of South Asia to the Osu of Nigeria and the Burakumin of Japan. Visit our website International Dalit Solidarity Network for more information. SUBMIT DALIT NEWS HERE

Friday, August 19, 2005  
Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers reports of Nigeria

Relief Web
16 August 2005

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has considered the fourteenth to eighteenth periodic reports of Nigeria on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Introducing the report, Abdul Bin Rimdap, Ambassador and Director of the International Organizations Department at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, said the Government had provided the enabling environment and even encouragement for free expression of views by individuals as well as by organizations, including the press and human rights defenders. While it was true that Nigeria had acceded to the Convention in 1993, and had, as yet, not domesticated it, due cognisance should be taken of the historical circumstances responsible for this situation. Nigeria had been under successive military Governments for the most part of its existence as an independent country, which had in most cases compromised respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, since the return of democratic governance to Nigeria, realistic steps were being taken to redress the situation.


Mrs. January-Bardill said the reports led the Committee to conclude that there appeared to be insufficient monitoring of the levels of promotion, protection, and implementation of human rights at many levels of society. The Committee had therefore had to use many other official and unofficial sources, including shadow reports offered by international and Nigerian non-governmental organizations, country reports to other treaty bodies, studies and others. It was hoped this would be received in a positive spirit, as the Government realised that the probing was in order to increase the value of the dialogue. Some issues that were not dealt with in the written answers caused concern, and these included the status of the Convention within law, in particular what was the situation regarding its domestication; the definition of discrimination, as the reports stated that Nigeria was not suffering from any form of this phenomenon, despite reports to the contrary, including discrimination against members of a social caste and against foreigners; the work of the institutions listed in the reports; issues linked to the declaration with regard to article 14 of the Convention and whether the country had any intention of making this; how initiatives, such as the goal of national unity, were working, and what progress they had made; how the national census would be conducted and whether language would be used as a marker, and whether the Government would not reconsider its decision not to collect ethnic data; poverty alleviation programmes and how they were implemented; whether unemployment data was collated with regard to ethnicity; and legislative and judicial frameworks for the implementation of the Convention.

Mrs. January-Bardill said the reports said little about many factors, which hindered the explanation of the situation, including economic factors, all of which could contribute to exacerbating ethnic tenses and causing clashes. With respect to a question on the use of the army in the restoration of law and order, the Committee wished to know whether the reports of arbitrary arrest, violence and torture by Nigerian police, complaints of arrests and detention without trial could be elaborated on by the delegation. How did the Government reconcile the many allegations of heavy-handedness of the law enforcement agencies, she asked. The reports did not mention descent-based discrimination, and said the Osu-caste system was abolished, and that such practices were no longer practiced, and this had struck the Country Rapporteur, who said the general sense was that despite constitutional guarantees, it was difficult to obtain human rights for those implicated in the Osu-caste system. The State of Nigeria was urged to involve itself in this issue, and to take drastic measures to protect the rights of those in communities who suffered from caste-based discrimination. She also noted that it was commendable that Nigeria was able to offer free education at the primary and secondary level, and tuition-free teaching at the tertiary level.

Text underlined by the blog editor
Link to the full article

1:02 PM

Glare on state over SC/ST quota

Kolkota Newsline
Express News Service
August 18, 2005

The West Bengal Government has failed to fulfill the requirements of the mandatory reserved quota for the scheduled castes and tribes in its 54 departments.

The state has managed to fill posts for only 14 per cent out of the reserved 22 per cent of the total employee strength. The National Council for Scheduled Castes alleged that the figure gives the state the dubious status of having the highest percentage of unfulfilled reservations in the country. The issue was discussed at a meeting between the state and the council today. One of the members of the council, Devendar Vedaiti, said: “We have asked the state to clear the backlogs as soon as possible.”

The issue of atrocities and discrimination against backward classes in the state was raised in the meeting. The problem of unemployment and the issuance of fake caste certificates also figured in the meeting. Vedaiti said there have been 327 specific cases where people have been issued fake such certificates, and the practice has been reported to the concerned authorities.
“But it seems that the figure is getting much higher now. Already, the council has relieved 1000 such allegations from across the state,” he added.

He moreover claimed that the concerned authorities have not taken any action in this regard. State backward community welfare minister Upen Kisku admitted there have been instances where fake caste certificates have been issued. “We have taken action against them.” On failing to implement the reserved criteria, the minister said the state is trying to fulfill the requirements of the reserved quota. He said the School Service Commission has already implemented it.

Link to the article

12:54 PM

80 per cent of SC/ST vacancies to be filled

The Hindu
19 August 2005

NEW DELHI: In the first such interaction of this kind since 1977,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday told members of the Parliamentary Forum of Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe MPs that the Government would ensure that at least 80 per cent of vacancies in the SC/ST job quota within the Government set-up would be filled by the end of this calendar year. Dr. Singh said market forces would not be able to address the needs and aspirations of the weaker sections of society. He told them that the Government had a role and obligation in providing access to education and health care and there could be no turning away from this reality.

Link to the article

12:47 PM

Thursday, August 18, 2005  
Dalits at the receiving end, says report

The Hindu
17 August 2005

NCDHR seeks action against perpetrators of social ostracism in Haryana village

NEW DELHI: A fact-finding report by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) on intimidation and social ostracism of Dalits in Badhram, near Palwal in Haryana, has demanded immediate action by the Central and State governments against the perpetrators of the crime.

According to the report, the head priest of the village temple in Badhram verbally abused (on caste lines) a Dalit youth, Rajneesh, on July 24 this year upon seeing him pick a branch from a neem tree in the temple. This led to a quarrel, in which Rajneesh was hit on the head. On seeing his condition, enraged Dalits, beat up the head priest. Upper caste villagers retaliated by beating up two Dalits.

The local police refused to register an FIR filed by the Dalits while they registered the FIR filed by the priest and upper caste villagers. Seven Dalits have been charged for offences under the IPC of which four were arrested immediately, and later released on bail.

The report says that most Dalit youths have fled from the village in fear and the upper caste villagers have completely ostracised Dalits. They have directed the village shopkeepers not to sell any commodity to Dalits. The report says that on August 12, upper caste villagers set three houses belonging to Dalit families on fire. According to the report, upper caste men beat up three Dalits and assaulted a woman. An FIR was lodged at Chandhat Police Station under various sections of IPC and Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) Prevention of Atrocities Act. None of those named in the FIR have been arrested so far.

The report points out that the crisis is a culmination of events in recent years arising from the assertiveness of the Dalits in Badhram and the awareness of their rights. Dalits in the village had refused to do `begar' or forced labour for the upper caste villagers. The construction of a statue of Dr B.R. Ambedkar and a park on Panchayat land had become a bone of contention between Dalits and upper caste villagers. According to the report, the police and State administration have a history of siding with the uppers castes. The district level Vigilance and Monitoring Committee required to set up as per the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocity Rules is not in place. The Deputy Commissioner of Faridabad, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of the area and the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent of Police of Faridabad have not visited Badhram to assess the extent of atrocity, loss and damage to property in order to submit a report to the State government as required by the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Rules, 1995.The report has demanded that an FIR be lodged on the basis of the complaint filed by Dalits on 24 July, immediate withdrawal of false cases foisted on them, a CBI enquiry into the case, and compensation to the victims permissible under the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Rules.

The NCDHR has approached the National Commission for SCs and STs, which has sent instructions to the Inspector General, Police, to protect Dalits in the area. Dr. Umakant from the NCDHR said: "Dalits in the village have said that they are still being threatened despite assurances of the police and the administration."

Link to the article

8:17 AM

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