Training Program for Fact Finding

Training Program for Fact Finding

Background:

To strengthen DHRDs by providing information on techniques and procedures for human rights monitoring and encourage the development skills in gathering information about incidents and observing events, visiting the place of incidents discussions with state authorities to obtain information and to pursue remedies and other immediate follow up Manuski organised two days training program on “Human Rights Monitoring – Fact Finding and Follow Up”. The training aimed to develop the competence of participants in working with human right field at District and state level and enable them to conduct training at local level.

Introduction:

The training was organized by Manuski on 9th and 10th of April 2021 online through Zoom.

It was conducted for two days from 10.00am to 1.00 pm and participated by 45 to 50 Dalit Human Right Defenders (DHRDs) from Maharashtra, Madhya – Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala.  DHRDs who participated in the training program were affiliated to movements/NGOs/Networks. The training was led by Mr. Vincent Raj (Kathir), Exe. Director, Evidence, Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

Mr. Kathir is a well-known Dalit rights activist in Tamil Nadu. He is actively involved in protecting Human Rights and Promoting Social Justice. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Evidence an NGO based in Madurai. He has more than 29 years in the Human Rights (HR) Sector. He is a best orator, defender, campaigner and writer. He is a pioneer in undertaking fact finding and research related to HRs violations in a professional manner. He has also succeeded in getting historical favorable judgments in getting justice to the honour killing victims. His live interviews/article/news have been telecasted in various state and national media

Mr. Kathir conducted two days training program on “Human Rights Monitoring – Fact Finding and Follow Up” for the DHRDs associated with Manuski and it was moderated by Ms. Prachi Salve, Resource Center Coordinator of the Manuski and assisted by the Manuski team.

 

Details of Training Program

First Day

The first session of training had begun with welcoming all the participants and then Esthappen S, Project Manager, DHRDNet, had introduced the objectives of the training program a bit followed by the introduction of Kathir. Afterward, Ms. Prachi had welcomed the participant again including briefing the training and handed over the session to Kathir. .  Mr. Kathir started the session with the History of Human Rights and how they came into existence. Then he emphasised that although Human Rights are not secured by the Constitution of India but there are Articles, in the Indian Constitution, which secure Human Rights. Right to life, Right to Dignity, etc. are such examples of the same. Afterward, Mr. Kathir explained the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) occurred on 10 December 1948, by the General Assembly of the United Nations announced the – 30 rights and freedoms that belong to all the Human Beings irrespective of their caste, creed and so on. Then, he explained about the monitoring of Human rights that how Human Rights Defenders can Monitor Human Rights violations by using Monitoring tools and techniques. Fact-Finding, fact-finding reports, etc. are the tools of the Monitoring. He also mentioned the basic principle of monitoring identification of efforts regarding human rights violation. During the session he explained in detail about the importance of Fact Finding, providing Legal Aid, Complaint Handling, Campaign and Publicity and Research. Moreover, he shared that Monitoring Elections, Courts and Newspapers plays an imperative role while working for Human Rights.

He also explained common methods of Fact Finding Finding such as Field visit, collecting important documents, etc. He shared that the Fact-Finding Team must consist of Local DHRDs, Journalist, Lawyers, Teacher, experts etc. which will help to document the case from all the aspects. Moreover, he added that preparing a Plan of Fact Finding is very important and while before going for fact finding one must be prepared about the political and social system and team must keep note of all the facts while collecting details of cases. Later on, he shared Fact Finding Strategies and explained that Fact finding must be done by open mind and by non-judgmental attitude.  He also shared sources of information such as Local Groups, Panchayat,etc.  At the end of the session, he shared that the Fact-finding reports are mainly done by Police, Media and Activists, among all this Activists report is very important as it covers all major aspects and play an important role in the process of access to justice for the survivor or victim family. He shared that on the basis of Fact Finding reports we can share the press release and also conduct press conferences and explain in detail about the report. DHRDs can hand over the report to the Public Prosecutor (PP) and assist PP during the case hearings. DHRDs can also run the Public Campaign for increasing the awareness about the cases among people.

Second Day

The second-day session has begun with getting Feedback and clarified the queries raised by participants of the day first. Afterward, Mr. Kathir moved on to the second-day session about Interview Strategies and Police. In the session he explained the importance of Information Gathering and added that gathering information is one of the crucial tasks in any Human Rights violation case. But what are the major strategies to gather legally important information? The information a Human Rights Defender gathers should be based on evidence that can support the legal intervention whether it is for court or Human Rights Commission. When an atrocity occurs, the first task of a Human Rights Defender is to go to the place of the incident and conduct an interview with the survivor and their family. Therefore, it is very crucial for a Human Rights Defender how to conduct an interview, how to select questions, what are the sensitive questions which must not ask, etc. and he shared his experiences and knowledge over mentioned questions. Mr. Kathir has rich experiences in the Protection of Human Rights and has dealt with several cases wherein Human Rights Violated. In many cases, the Police themselves violate Human Rights by not lodging the survivors’ or their families’ FIR, not including proper sections/Articles/Clauses in FIR, etc. In some cases, Police torture and threats even survivor or his/her family but not the culprit. Therefore, Police play a significant role in the protection or violation of Human Rights, Mr. Kathir Added.

On day two, he explained in detail about the types of Human Rights Violation and shared the preparation required at three level Pre-Fact Finding, During Fact Finding and Post Fact Finding. He shared types of questions which needs to be asked by survivors, victim family and witnesses and also explained the importance of rapport building. He also shared that the steps need to be taken if there is delay in various procedures, DHRDs can go to Court or can collect evidence and file Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for accelerating the process of access to justice.

Mr. Kathir also highlighted the important Fact Finding and Research Studies. He shared that documentation and research plays an important role on impact on Policy level issues. Data Collection, Research, Analysis, compilation of important documents altogether can help as evidence and very helpful in court procedures. These reports can help to bring Policy Level Changes which can help to change the lives of communities.

Moreover, he explained about the role of Police and their Duties which clearly defined in article 20, 21 and 22. He shared the major duties of Police such as Law and order, Investigation, Protection of Society, Identify issues and Traffic control etc.  He also shared experiences with police while handing cases and shared that Police must provide service and work with Honesty to maintain accountability.

Mr.Kathir also responded to the queries raised by the participants during the session of “Police and Human Rights”. Later Kathir explained the Survivors’ rights under the Human Rights, IPC and Constitution framework. Then The second day’s session on training concluded with a briefing followed by the Clarification and feedback. It was very informative and insightful training for the DHRDs.

Way Forward:

DHRDs actively participated in a two days online training program and also clarified their queries by raising various questions during the session. They also assured that henceforth they will do effective fact finding and also train local DHRDs about the same. The Manuski team will assist DHRDs whenever required.