Soft or hard, the State can’t shoot the messenger

Maja Daruwala, head of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (and daughter of Sam Manekshaw to boot), attempts a brave defence of human rights bodies at a time when it has become fashionable to brand them and tarbrush them, in The Hindu:

“Human rights defenders don’t espouse, support or defend violence and certainly not terrorism. But they would like to fashion a more effective response to it. A State by its very definition is the embodiment of lawful behaviour. It demands legal behaviour from citizens and itself always acts only through law and as a sentinel of human rights. This is the fundamental difference between State action and the acts of terrorists.

“Terrorists by definition and intention act outside the law to terrorise. The State cannot do that. There can be no greater defender of human rights than the State, so it is hard to see it blame human rights defenders for its inability to provide society with reasonable levels of safety and security.

“What perhaps irks the authorities into seeing human rights defenders as one with the enemy is their constant insistence that the agencies of state act only in accordance with the law and do not take short cuts, nor indulge in illegal practices, nor use public prejudice and stereotypes to shape their response.”

Read the full article: Don’t blame the human rights defenders