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NPRD petitions NHRC to provide Fr Stan Swamy ‘reasonable accommodations’ in jail

The disability rights organisation expressed anguish at the delay in granting permission to use a sipper to the 83-year old suffers from Parkinson's disease and finds it difficult to hold a cup or a glass to drink water

Sabrangindia 19 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:outlookindia.com

The National Platform for the Rights of Disabled (NPRD) has petitioned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) asking for ‘reasonable accommodations’ for 83-year old Fr. Stan Swamy who has been lodged in Taloja jail in connection with the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case.

The petition says, “It is with great pain and anguish that we beseech you to ensure compliance of rights of prisoners with disabilities as also providing them with reasonable accommodations as mandated by international conventions to which India is a signatory as also domestic laws.”

Fr. Stan suffers from Parkinson’s disease, which makes it difficult for him to hold a cup or a glass to drink water. He had moved court to be provided a straw or sipper for this purpose, but the National Investigative Agency (NIA) was given 20 days to respond to the request.

The petition explains the nature of Fr. Stan’s suffering saying, “Parkinson’s, as you may be aware, is a progressive nervous system disorder that also impacts movement. Those living with Parkinson’s often have tremors (involuntary, uncontrollable muscle contractions manifesting as shaking in body parts, most often the hands).” It further says, “Given this condition (tremor in both hands etc) he has been using a sipper as also a straw for intake of water and fluids. He was carrying these essentials (straw and sipper) with him when he was arrested by the NIA. The NIA refused to hand them back and the jail authorities refuse to provide him these inexpensive but essential assistive items.”

The petition also showcases other issues that Fr. Stan is forced to struggle with, saying, “He has trouble eating because of the tremors. He is unable to take bath, bring water or wash clothes on his own. Fr. Stan also has serious hearing problem and needs hearing aid for both ears. He was operated twice for hernia in the recent past and hence may not be in a position to go through a strenuous schedule as demanded in the jail. He used to take daily steam inhalations too.”

The petition says, “We would like to underline that the current conditions in which Fr. Stan is being held are violative of his right to life, dignity, equality, protection from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-discrimination and right to health.”

It then goes on to remind the NHRC of India’s obligations on account f being a signatory to multiple international human rights related conventions. It says, “India is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Resolution 70/175 on Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules), all of which reaffirm the right to life with dignity of prisoners. Fr. Stan, as we have pointed out earlier, has Parkinson’s, a condition recognised as a disability and listed in the Schedule — “Specified Disability” — in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.”

The entire letter may be read here:

Honourable Justice H L Dattu 
Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
New Delhi

Subject: Plea for your Intervention to Provide Reasonable Accommodation to Shri Stan Swamy

Respected Justice Dattu,

It is with great pain and anguish that we beseech you to ensure compliance of rights of prisoners with disabilities as also providing them with reasonable accommodations as mandated by international conventions  to which India is a signatory as also domestic laws. 

We had on earlier occasions sought the NHRC’s intervention in the matter of Prof. Saibaba a person with 90 per cent disability lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail and had among several other things also drawn attention of the Commission to the inaccessible jail premises and lack of supportive mechanisms for prisoners with disabilities. 

Through this petition we are seeking your intervention to provide reasonable accommodations to another prisoner with disability, Father Stan Swamy, lodged in the Taloja Central Jail, Maharashtra. 

Eighty-three-year-old Stan had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s, as you may be aware, is a progressive nervous system disorder that also impacts movement.  Those living with Parkinson’s often have tremors (involuntary, uncontrollable muscle contractions manifesting as shaking in body parts, most often the hands).

Given this condition (tremor in both hands etc) he has been using a sipper as also a straw for intake of water and fluids. He was carrying these essentials (straw and sipper) with him when he was arrested by the NIA. The NIA refused to hand them back and the jail authorities refuse to provide him these inexpensive but essential assistive items.  He has trouble eating because of the tremors. He is unable to take bath, bring water or wash clothes on his own.   Fr. Stan also has serious hearing problem and needs hearing aid for both ears. He was operated twice for hernia in the recent past and hence may not be in a position to go through a strenuous schedule as demanded in the jail. He used to take daily steam inhalations too.

We would like to underline that the current conditions in which Fr. Stan is being held are violative of his right to life, dignity, equality, protection from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-discrimination and right to health. 

Over the years, the Supreme Court has in several cases clearly held that prisoners also have certain fundamental rights including those stated above, which in this case are being violated.

Furthermore, India is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Resolution 70/175 on Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules), all of which reaffirm the right to life with dignity of prisoners. Fr. Stan, as we have pointed out earlier, has Parkinson’s, a condition recognised as a disability and listed in the Schedule — “Specified Disability” — in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. 

Article 15 of the UNCRPD states that “…… States parties shall take all effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Further, Article 25 affirms the the State shall “Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.” 

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 under Section 6 provides for “Protection from cruelty and inhuman treatment”. In addition to the special legislation and convention on disability the right to protection from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and the right to be treated with humanity and respect for inherent dignity for those lawfully deprived of their liberty is specified under Articles 7 & 10 of ICCPR. 

Even under the Nelson Mandela Rules on treatment of prisoners there is specific mention of measures and reasonable accommodation for prisoners with special needs for full and effective access to prison life (Rules 2(2) & 5(2)). The Rules also recognises the right to inherent dignity and protection from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under Rule 1. 

On the specific issue of health-related needs of prisoners, the Nelson Mandela Rules provide for the need to give adequate nutrition to maintain the health and strength of a prisoner (Rule 22). It clearly states that it is the State’s responsibility to provide for the healthcare of prisoners with access to necessary healthcare services without discrimination under Rule 24. Under Sub-Rule 24(2) it specifies that continuation of treatment and provision of care to prisoners.

Denial of an extremely essential item for a person with Parkinson’s who has impaired functioning of his hands amounts to “cruelty and inhuman treatment”; is a violation of his dignity; and constitutes torture.

The Hon'ble Supreme Court in PUCL vs UoI (WP No. 196/2001) has also upheld the right to food as integral to the right to life under Art 21 of the Constitution. There are any number of Supreme Court judgments that underline that the right to life must include right to dignity, which is being denied to this 83-year-old man.

Though Fr. Stan has approached a special court in Mumbai on November 6 for provision of a straw and a sipper, the court was inconsiderate, if not insensitive, in its failure to respond to the urgency and has given time till November 26 to the NIA to file a reply. 

Given the fact that non-provision of a straw and sipper which is an essential assistive item for Fr. Stan for intake of fluids including water, would constitute denial of food to him, leading to further deterioration in his health, it is absolutely necessary that these basic items be provided to him on an urgent basis. 

We therefore seek your immediate intervention to ensure that Fr. Stan is provided with requisite age & disability appropriate accommodations, assistive aids including straws and sippers as also human care assistance as required. We would request the NHRC to send a team to inspect the Taloja and take stop of the accessibility of the prison premises as also the services being provided to Fr. Stan Swamy. In case these provisions cannot be made within the jail premises and an accessible environment cannot be provided, we request that the Commission issue directions to see that he may be immediately shifted to a hospital where adequate facilities would be available.

(Muralidharan)

General Secretary

National Platform for the Rights of Disabled

 

Related:

Jharkhand MP writes to President demanding Fr. Stan Swamy's release
Stand with Stan, Now!
Bhima Koregaon case: Stan Swamy's bail plea rejected
Hunger fast against Stan Swamy's arrest: Ranchi

NPRD petitions NHRC to provide Fr Stan Swamy ‘reasonable accommodations’ in jail

The disability rights organisation expressed anguish at the delay in granting permission to use a sipper to the 83-year old suffers from Parkinson's disease and finds it difficult to hold a cup or a glass to drink water

Image Courtesy:outlookindia.com

The National Platform for the Rights of Disabled (NPRD) has petitioned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) asking for ‘reasonable accommodations’ for 83-year old Fr. Stan Swamy who has been lodged in Taloja jail in connection with the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case.

The petition says, “It is with great pain and anguish that we beseech you to ensure compliance of rights of prisoners with disabilities as also providing them with reasonable accommodations as mandated by international conventions to which India is a signatory as also domestic laws.”

Fr. Stan suffers from Parkinson’s disease, which makes it difficult for him to hold a cup or a glass to drink water. He had moved court to be provided a straw or sipper for this purpose, but the National Investigative Agency (NIA) was given 20 days to respond to the request.

The petition explains the nature of Fr. Stan’s suffering saying, “Parkinson’s, as you may be aware, is a progressive nervous system disorder that also impacts movement. Those living with Parkinson’s often have tremors (involuntary, uncontrollable muscle contractions manifesting as shaking in body parts, most often the hands).” It further says, “Given this condition (tremor in both hands etc) he has been using a sipper as also a straw for intake of water and fluids. He was carrying these essentials (straw and sipper) with him when he was arrested by the NIA. The NIA refused to hand them back and the jail authorities refuse to provide him these inexpensive but essential assistive items.”

The petition also showcases other issues that Fr. Stan is forced to struggle with, saying, “He has trouble eating because of the tremors. He is unable to take bath, bring water or wash clothes on his own. Fr. Stan also has serious hearing problem and needs hearing aid for both ears. He was operated twice for hernia in the recent past and hence may not be in a position to go through a strenuous schedule as demanded in the jail. He used to take daily steam inhalations too.”

The petition says, “We would like to underline that the current conditions in which Fr. Stan is being held are violative of his right to life, dignity, equality, protection from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-discrimination and right to health.”

It then goes on to remind the NHRC of India’s obligations on account f being a signatory to multiple international human rights related conventions. It says, “India is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Resolution 70/175 on Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules), all of which reaffirm the right to life with dignity of prisoners. Fr. Stan, as we have pointed out earlier, has Parkinson’s, a condition recognised as a disability and listed in the Schedule — “Specified Disability” — in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.”

The entire letter may be read here:

Honourable Justice H L Dattu 
Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
New Delhi

Subject: Plea for your Intervention to Provide Reasonable Accommodation to Shri Stan Swamy

Respected Justice Dattu,

It is with great pain and anguish that we beseech you to ensure compliance of rights of prisoners with disabilities as also providing them with reasonable accommodations as mandated by international conventions  to which India is a signatory as also domestic laws. 

We had on earlier occasions sought the NHRC’s intervention in the matter of Prof. Saibaba a person with 90 per cent disability lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail and had among several other things also drawn attention of the Commission to the inaccessible jail premises and lack of supportive mechanisms for prisoners with disabilities. 

Through this petition we are seeking your intervention to provide reasonable accommodations to another prisoner with disability, Father Stan Swamy, lodged in the Taloja Central Jail, Maharashtra. 

Eighty-three-year-old Stan had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s, as you may be aware, is a progressive nervous system disorder that also impacts movement.  Those living with Parkinson’s often have tremors (involuntary, uncontrollable muscle contractions manifesting as shaking in body parts, most often the hands).

Given this condition (tremor in both hands etc) he has been using a sipper as also a straw for intake of water and fluids. He was carrying these essentials (straw and sipper) with him when he was arrested by the NIA. The NIA refused to hand them back and the jail authorities refuse to provide him these inexpensive but essential assistive items.  He has trouble eating because of the tremors. He is unable to take bath, bring water or wash clothes on his own.   Fr. Stan also has serious hearing problem and needs hearing aid for both ears. He was operated twice for hernia in the recent past and hence may not be in a position to go through a strenuous schedule as demanded in the jail. He used to take daily steam inhalations too.

We would like to underline that the current conditions in which Fr. Stan is being held are violative of his right to life, dignity, equality, protection from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-discrimination and right to health. 

Over the years, the Supreme Court has in several cases clearly held that prisoners also have certain fundamental rights including those stated above, which in this case are being violated.

Furthermore, India is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Resolution 70/175 on Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules), all of which reaffirm the right to life with dignity of prisoners. Fr. Stan, as we have pointed out earlier, has Parkinson’s, a condition recognised as a disability and listed in the Schedule — “Specified Disability” — in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. 

Article 15 of the UNCRPD states that “…… States parties shall take all effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Further, Article 25 affirms the the State shall “Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.” 

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 under Section 6 provides for “Protection from cruelty and inhuman treatment”. In addition to the special legislation and convention on disability the right to protection from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and the right to be treated with humanity and respect for inherent dignity for those lawfully deprived of their liberty is specified under Articles 7 & 10 of ICCPR. 

Even under the Nelson Mandela Rules on treatment of prisoners there is specific mention of measures and reasonable accommodation for prisoners with special needs for full and effective access to prison life (Rules 2(2) & 5(2)). The Rules also recognises the right to inherent dignity and protection from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under Rule 1. 

On the specific issue of health-related needs of prisoners, the Nelson Mandela Rules provide for the need to give adequate nutrition to maintain the health and strength of a prisoner (Rule 22). It clearly states that it is the State’s responsibility to provide for the healthcare of prisoners with access to necessary healthcare services without discrimination under Rule 24. Under Sub-Rule 24(2) it specifies that continuation of treatment and provision of care to prisoners.

Denial of an extremely essential item for a person with Parkinson’s who has impaired functioning of his hands amounts to “cruelty and inhuman treatment”; is a violation of his dignity; and constitutes torture.

The Hon'ble Supreme Court in PUCL vs UoI (WP No. 196/2001) has also upheld the right to food as integral to the right to life under Art 21 of the Constitution. There are any number of Supreme Court judgments that underline that the right to life must include right to dignity, which is being denied to this 83-year-old man.

Though Fr. Stan has approached a special court in Mumbai on November 6 for provision of a straw and a sipper, the court was inconsiderate, if not insensitive, in its failure to respond to the urgency and has given time till November 26 to the NIA to file a reply. 

Given the fact that non-provision of a straw and sipper which is an essential assistive item for Fr. Stan for intake of fluids including water, would constitute denial of food to him, leading to further deterioration in his health, it is absolutely necessary that these basic items be provided to him on an urgent basis. 

We therefore seek your immediate intervention to ensure that Fr. Stan is provided with requisite age & disability appropriate accommodations, assistive aids including straws and sippers as also human care assistance as required. We would request the NHRC to send a team to inspect the Taloja and take stop of the accessibility of the prison premises as also the services being provided to Fr. Stan Swamy. In case these provisions cannot be made within the jail premises and an accessible environment cannot be provided, we request that the Commission issue directions to see that he may be immediately shifted to a hospital where adequate facilities would be available.

(Muralidharan)

General Secretary

National Platform for the Rights of Disabled

 

Related:

Jharkhand MP writes to President demanding Fr. Stan Swamy's release
Stand with Stan, Now!
Bhima Koregaon case: Stan Swamy's bail plea rejected
Hunger fast against Stan Swamy's arrest: Ranchi

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