Human Rights Day is celebrated on the 10th December every year to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 as the shared standard yardstick to protect human rights across the globe. The Declaration recognizes that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of mankind are the foundation of justice, freedom and peace in the world.
The United Nations’ theme for this year’s Human Rights Day is: “Youth Standing up for Human Rights.” The youth will be celebrated as agents of change and encouraged to amplify their voices against racism, hate speech, bullying, discrimination, and fight for climate justice, among other issues, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights.
The Commission has organized a function in New Delhi on Tuesday, the 10th December, 2019 to celebrate Human Rights Day. Mr. Ram Nath Kovind, President of India, will address the gathering as the Chief Guest. Mr. Justice H. L. Dattu, Chairperson, NHRC and former Chief Justice of India will also address the gathering and release NHRC journals and DVD of award winning short films on human rights. Later in the evening, another function will be organized at Manav Adhikar Bhawan, New Delhi, to present NHRC short film awards-2019 to the three winners.
Since its inception on the 12th October, 1993, the Commission has endeavoured to promote a culture of human rights. The NHRC, like most of the human rights institutions in the world, is a recommendatory body as per the Protection of Human Rights Act passed by Parliament. But this provision has not come in the way of most of the recommendations of the Commission being accepted by the Governments resulting in the trust and confidence of the people in it. This reflects in the increasing number of complaints it has been receiving every year.
The Commission’s functions also include reviewing safeguards provided under the Constitution or any Law, make recommendations for effective implementation of International Conventions/Covenants, undertake research and organize seminars and discussion programmes on human rights issues, spread awareness about human rights and encourage efforts of non-governmental organizations towards promotion of human rights.
It has made a number of interventions on key issues of human rights, which include, among others, issues of bonded and child labour, prison reforms, right to health, mental healthcare, rights of persons with disabilities, silicosis, illegal clinical drug trials, pesticides in food items, pricing of drugs, corporate-social responsibility, manual scavenging and sanitation, human rights of women.
This year, the Commission has taken several new initiatives to expand its outreach. It has linked its online complaint filing system with over three lakh Common Service Centres spread in various parts of the country. This is helping people in far flung areas to file their complaints quickly. It has started the services of NHRC Toll Free Helpline number 14433. The State authorities can also file online reports to the NHRC using this portal to avoid delay in providing relief to the victims of human rights violations. This year, the Commission also started video conferencing with the State authorities to expedite disposal of cases.
Another important initiative of the Commission this year has been that it is proposing to set up a task force to prepare a National Action Plan on Human Rights( NAPHR) comprising the representatives of various Ministries, NGOs, Civil Society and the NHRC among the other stakeholders. This will help flag the key issues of human rights for the government(s), which would require to be addressed with a targeted approach to improve the human rights situation in the country through a sustained mechanism.