New Delhi: NHRC chairman K G Balaksrishan
on Friday said human rights defenders should not only focus on
protection of civil and political rights of the people but
also on their economic and social rights, especially in
"UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
Margaret Sekaggya is visiting India in January, 2011 and the
Commission will utilise this opportunity to interact with her
on the issue of protection of human rights defenders," he said
adding that it was NHRC which had requested External Affairs
Ministry to invite her.
"However, human rights defenders should not only focus
attention on civil and political rights but also on economic
and social rights, especially in backward areas," he added.
He was addressing a function organised by the NHRC here
to observe Human Rights Day. The theme of the event, which was
also attended by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, was `Human
Balakrishnan, the former Chief Justice of India, noted
that defenders of human rights often face "great personal
risk, to both themselves and their families" and said it is
the duty of everyone to protect their rights too.
He said that NHRC is concerned about the rights of the
human rights defenders in India.
"The commission has set up a `Focal Point`, which may be
accessed by human rights defenders anytime. It facilitates
speedy action on their complaints. They can access Focal Point
through phone, fax and e-mail," he said.
Referring to a workshop organised by the commission last
year on human rights defenders, he said that the event came
out with a number of recommendations for their protection
"which are being acted upon".
Underlining the commission`s experience in furtherance of
its task of protecting human rights in the country,
Balakrishnan said it has been realised that failures in the
"sphere of human rights" in economic, social and cultural
areas are widespread and their denials have often driven
citizens to the margins of human existence.
"The struggle for the promotion and protection of human
rights thus, inevitably, requires the elimination of
aberrations which, over time, fragment society leaving some
more equal than others," he said.
The NHRC chief noted that the Commission`s role is that
of a catalyst and facilitator in securing "responsive and
humane governance", saying that it has worked relentlessly to
fulfil this responsibility.
"The commission has witnessed a phenomenal increase in
the number of complaints received over the years. This year it
has gone up to about 78,500, indicating not only a growing
awareness among the people but also the increased faith that
they have reposed in the commission for safeguarding their
rights," he said.