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Billed as World’s Largest, Bihar Government tells Patna High Court human chain participation was Voluntary

The PIL wanted to know under what provision the state government decided to stop traffic on national and state highways for the January 21 human chain programme in support of prohibition

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Human chain of Bihar being questioned b Patna High court
Law and Order (representative image) Pixabay

Patna, Jan 20, 2017: The Bihar government today assured the Patna High Court that participation in Saturday’s human chain, billed as the world’s largest, was voluntary and alternative routes are being created to avoid traffic chaos due to the closure of national highways and state highways for five hours.

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Principal Additional Advocate General Lalit Kishore gave the state’s reply to a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhir Singh during hearing of a PIL filed by NGO “Forum for Public Interest Litigation”.

The PIL wanted to know under what provision the state government decided to stop traffic on national and state highways for the January 21 human chain programme in support of prohibition.

The counsel for the petitioner, Shahibhusan Kumar, presented before the court a newspaper report which stated that block education officer of Sasaram passed a coercive order that students who do not participate in the human chain programme would be deprived of benefits provided by the state government.

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The court directed Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh and Director General of Police P K Thakur to personally appear before it tomorrow to clarify on this and also how media comes under essential services to get exemption for plying vehicles on that day.

Kishore told the court that participation in human chain programme is voluntary and “there is no mandatory order for participation”. People are requested to join the programme through appeal, he said.

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Regarding participation of school students, he said, the Education Department, which is conducting the human chain, has exempted students below class V from participating in the human chain and participation of students of class V and above is voluntary.

The Nitish Kumar government has planned the gigantic human chain spread across more than 11,292 km involving around two crore people.

prepared by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon

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People with Albinism Face Great Difficulties in Seeking Justice

Ero says persons with Albinism suffer from discrimination, stigma and social exclusion

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FILE - People with albinism pose with campaigners for their rights in the capital of Lilongwe, Malawi, in early 2016 before the start of street protests against attacks. VOA

The Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Persons with Albinism reports people with this condition have great difficulty getting justice or recompense for physical attacks and other harmful practices against them and their families. The expert’s latest report has been under debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Last year has been a particularly difficult one for persons with albinism in southern Africa. UN expert, Ikponwosa Ero says she has received numerous reports of abhorrent attacks against them.

From past experience, she says it is likely the number of reported cases does not reflect the true magnitude of the problem. Over the past decade, she says there have been more than 700 cases of attacks in 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. She notes these are reported cases. Most, she says, are never brought to light.

albinism, justice
FILE – The U.N.’s independent expert on human rights and albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, addresses a news conference at the end of her official visit to Malawi on April 29, 2016. VOA

Worldwide, Ero says persons with Albinism suffer from discrimination, stigma and social exclusion. She says they are subject to physical attacks and harmful practices related to certain beliefs in magic and witchcraft. However, when they seek redress, she says persons with albinism too frequently are denied access to justice.

“Overall, in terms of these criminal cases, inordinate delays are common in prosecuting cases of serious charges such as murder and mutilation. Cases with relatively lesser charges such as threats and possession of exhumed body parts from gravesites are — depending on the country in question — either prosecuted relatively quickly or are not taken seriously at all.”

Ero says there are many barriers to access to justice, including lack of knowledge by victims on how the justice system works. She says discrimination from members of the legal community and the inability to pay the costs associated with going to court are other impediments.

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The independent expert says specific measures must be taken to improve access to justice for persons with albinism. She recommends victims and their relatives be given protection to encourage them to come forward with evidence of a crime. She says they also should be rehabilitated.

Ero says persons with albinism who are seeking justice should receive legal aid and laws should be amended to take into account the threats targeting this particular group. (VOA)