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Human Rights Day is celebrated on the 10th December every year to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 as the common standard of achievement for mankind. The Declaration recognizes that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundation of justice, freedom and peace in the world. It reaffirms the faith of the people of United Nations in the fundamental human rights.

This year’s Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign marking the 50th Anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These Covenants were adopted by the United Nations’ General Assembly on the 16th December, 1966. The slogan of this year’s Human Rights Day – ‘Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always’ aims to promote and raise awareness about these Covenants.

The National Human Rights Commission, India has organised a series of events in run up to the celebration of Human Rights Day culminating into a function in New Delhi on the 10th December, 2015. For the first time, a festival of short films on human rights will be the part of the function.

Mr. Justice T.S. Thakur, Chief Justice of India and Mr. Kiren Rijuju, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Government of India will address the gathering as the Chief Guest and as the Guest of Honour respectively. Mr. Justice Cyriac Joseph, Acting Chairperson, NHRC will give the Presidential Address.

The Commission organised a painting competition for visually impaired and specially challenged children. The winners will be given awards on Human Rights Day.

The Commission, for the first time, launched a national Award Scheme of competition for short films on human rights in all Indian languages and English to recognize creative efforts in the field of promotion and protection of human rights. The award carries three prizes of Rs.1 lakh, Rs.75 thousand and Rs.50 thousand respectively. The three winners, selected by an eminent Jury will be awarded on Human Rights Day function. Their films, along with 15 other short films will be part of the film festival.

The children paintings will be displayed at an exhibition at the venue of the function, which will also showcase the journey of the Commission through photographs of its various events and activities towards protection and promotion of human rights since the last Human Rights Day. Besides this, some NHRC publications spreading awareness on human rights will be released.

During the last 22 years, since its inception on the 12th October, 1993, the Commission has endeavoured to promote a culture of human rights. Despite being a recommendatory body, as per the Protection of Human Rights Act, most of the recommendations of the Commission have been accepted by the Governments. The trust and confidence of the people, which it has earned in the process, reflects in substantial measure in the number of complaints it has been receiving each year.

The Commission disposed of 14,84,589 cases till the 6th December, 2015 out of 15,32,042 cases registered by it either suo motu or on complaints or on intimation by the prison and police authorities. It recommended monetary relief of Rs.1,02,20,94,671/- in 4328 cases out of which Rs.74,52,28,499/- were paid in 3649 cases till the 6th December, 2015.

The Commission’s functions also include reviewing safeguards provided under the Constitution or any Law, make recommendations for effective implementation of International Conventions/Covenants, undertake research and organise seminars and discussion programmes on human rights issues, spread human rights awareness and encourage efforts of non-governmental organisations.

It has also been organising Camp Sittings for disposal of pending cases and Open Hearings of complaints of atrocities against Scheduled Castes in different parts of the country for redressal of their problems. It has also been visiting, State-wise, different districts, with a view to spread human rights awareness and also to make an assessment of enforcement of various measures related to human rights and implementation of welfare schemes.

It has made a number of interventions on key issues of human rights, which include, among others, issues of bonded and child labour, prison reforms, right to health, mental healthcare, rights of persons with disability, silicosis, illegal clinical drug trials, pesticides in food items, pricing of drugs, corporate-social responsibility, manual scavenging and sanitation, human rights of women.

In order to spread awareness about human rights and its activities, the Commission, apart from publication of monthly Newsletter in Hindi and English, has published more than 79 books and journals. Apart from the Centre and the State Governments, several organisations, NGOs and media have actively supported the NHRC for achieving its goals. For the first time, India’s Public Service Broadcaster – Doordarshan will live telecast the proceedings of the function.

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