South Asian countries, which have traditionally adopted harsh measures to silence political dissent did not lose the opportunity provided by the post-September 11 scenario and joined the bandwagon of combating terrorism and legitimising some of their activities, which in the first place breed terrorism and violence. The measures taken by the governments of the South Asian region indicates a gradual erosion of civil liberties and the rule of law across the region.

This paper (presented by Ravi Nair to the South Asia Civil Society Consultation organised by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Kathmandu, Nepal, 16 - 19 January 2003) does a brief survey of the anti-terrorism measures taken by the governments of the South Asian countries and explains the issue of due process of law in anti-terror measures taken at the international level.

This report briefly outlines some of the considerable political and procedural concerns for ensuring free and fair elections in Jammu and Kashmir. It presents the history of election malfeasance, examines the current context of election preparation, and provides the standards that the Government of India must meet to protect the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to take part in the conduct of public affairs through the election of public officials.

The report was prepared with the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly elections of September 2002 in mind. However, the issues covered and the recommendations made are applicable to all future elections, in Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere.

 - An assessment of the ground situation from 1999 to July 2002

This briefing paper is an overall assessment of the human rights situation on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir for the period May 1999 to July 2002. The report documents human rights abuses in the State and suggests ways to protect the rights of people, providing pointers to the State Government and to the Government of India.

Arrestees in India are often physically restrained in the name of security. Mandatory handcuffing has been held by the Supreme Court as violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. International law also addresses the issue of handcuffing. The lack of opposition from the legal profession and civil society is the result of attempts by the police to have handcuffing made mandatory. This report aims to provide that missing voice  to make the case that mandatory handcuffing is not only unnecessary and inhumane, but also illegal.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a key element of India’s right-wing Hindu fundamentalist movement, has applied for for General Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

This paper contends that the VHP is not eligible for ECOSOC status. The organisation has been instrumental in instigating and carrying out violent attacks, destruction of property and religious monuments, forced conversions and other activities targeted against Muslim and Christians minority groups. Its actions violate a number of domestic and international laws. It does not fulfil the principles and spirit of the UN Charter upon which ECOSOC’s work is founded. SAHRDC suggests that ECOSOC consider the severity of these violations when it reviews the VHP’s application.

The report presents the history and philosophy of VHP; provides an account of violence committed against Muslims and Christians; and explains the roots of the Hindu fundamentalist movement and the methods utilised by the VHP to further its agenda.