Human Rights Law Network
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HRLN (Human Rights and Law Network) is a group of Indian lawyers working for social causes and bringing legal cases for disadvantaged sections of society to promote human rights. It has worked on child rights, disabilities rights, rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, prisoners rights, refugee rights, rights of indigenous peoples, workers rights, and rights of the minorities and people who have faced or are sexual assault/violence.
HRLN was started in 1989 as a small group of lawyers, but it evolved into an organisation having twenty-eight branches across India. It provides legal support and pro-bono legal advice to indigenous litigants. Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) and the Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights (IPT) are activities of the Socio-Legal Information Centre, whose mission is to protect the fundamental rights of people,to equip through professional training a new generation of public interest lawyers and para-legals who are comfortable both in the world of law as well as in social movements, and who learn from the social movements to refine legal concepts and strategies, to work towards an increased awareness of rights as universal and indivisible, and their realisation as an immediate goal.
Its objectives are to articulate an alternative constitutional law based on universal human values rather than property; to introduce a broader ideological mooring for legal work as part of an overall process to bring about social change in which legal campaigns and social movements collaborate; to incorporate international human rights principles in Indian law and, in turn, influence constitutional law in foreign jurisdictions through the development of innovative and path-breaking case law in India; to build close links between legal networks in India and human rights law groups abroad, both in the development of law as well as programmatically; to campaign for reform of the legal system, particularly with respect to state funded legal aid for the poor, so that the state takes more responsibility for legal services and allocates more resources for legal aid; to bring human rights law education in India into the mainstream; and to build alliances between the judiciary and rights based initiatives to sensitise the judicial system to a more inclusive understanding of human rights and to an increased awareness of human rights law and practices in different parts of the world.
Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India Colin Gonsalves is the Founder Director of HRLN. Leading activists, lawyers and social workers from all over Country ( Advocate Sheela Ramanathan, Advocate Dolma Bhutia, Advocate K.K. Roy, Advocate Ahmed Raza, Advocate Rakesh Meibhoum, Advocate Sunil Mao, Advocate P.C. Tiwari, Deepika D'souza, Harsh Dobhal, Suresh Nautiyal, S.H. Iyer, Advocate Sandhya Raju, Adv Gayatri Singh, Adv Mihir Desai and several others) constitute Human Rights Law Network and make it one of the most vibrant tradition of sustained and committed Human Rights Work in India.
Legal Aid and Public Interest Litigation- Human Rights and Law Network trains its lawyers and orients them. Lawyers of HRLN take up cases in the lower courts as well as the Supreme Courts and High Courts.
Legal Education- For law to be used for justice, self-reliance and liberation of self HRLN feels the need to spread human rights and legal education, and organises seminars, workshops, training courses on a large scale for the common mass.
Advocacy- HRLN has been working to increase public awareness through research and dissemination of accurate information on violations and anti-poor policies. In crucial areas where adequate legislation is lacking or requires amendment, HRLN has been at the forefront of efforts to formulate laws and policies – such as against child sexual abuse, against communal crimes, and for the right to food and work. HRLN's advocacy efforts encourage debates and discussions at the local, state, and national levels.
Investigations, Monitoring, and Crisis Response- HRLN Conducts fact-findings extensively, monitors and documents cases of violations and makes sure that these take the form of petitions in court.
Access to Justice and People's Tribunals- In 1993, HRLN organised the 'National Conference on Human Rights, Environment and the Law' where the Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights ( IPT) was formed. The IPT investigations are led by retired judges of the High Courts and Supreme Court. It is a semi-autonomous association that works through People's Tribunals and Public Hearings to draw attention to human rights violations and issues concerning environmental justice. The IPT has conducted over 30 tribunals since 1993 on issues such as police violence, the right to food, and housing rights. It provides a forum and an opportunity for those who do not have access to the regular courts to voice their grievances. The goal is to stop existing violations, highlight harmful legislation and prevent further atrocities from taking place. The very act of holding a people's tribunal challenges the notion that only the formal courts can adjudicate over matters that concern the republic of citizens or that the notion of justice is confined to those who have the means to exercise their rights.
Campaigns- are conducted at the grassroot level and a fine mixture of campaigns and litigations and their interplay takes place.
Solidarity- HRLN believes in giving support to all those agencies fighting for human rights worldwide and it looks at human rights from an international perspective.
Communications and Publications- HRLN has to its credit a lot of valuable publications,films and a library of its own.
- Child Rights
- Criminal Justice
- Dalit Rights
- Disability Rights
- Environmental Justice
- Housing Rights
- Labour Rights
- Refugee Rights
- Right to Food
- Secularism and Peace
- Women’s Justice
HRLN extensively works on these issues and for the establishment of a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people where inequalities are minimized, adequate means of livelihood secured, control of resources distributed to subserve the common good, concentration of wealth eliminated, the right to work and education provided for and so too public assistance in case of old age, sickness, disablement and want; and where the State raises the level of nutrition and standard of living of the people and improves public health. It is completely against Acts like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 in India and all such acts increasing the level of torture in the name of globalisation. The Organisation works for bringing in fundamental social change. Understanding the correlation between rights and the nature of violations, HRLN's response is not limited to any one issue. The organisation aims to maintain a balance between a sustained campaign for socio-legal reform on specific issues as well as crisis response.