RLEK has been a crusader for human rights since its inception, the Human Rights Centre was inaugurated in October 1999 by Justice M.N. Venketachalia, the then Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission. This Centre upholds the spirit of SAARC and aims to inculcate and spread a ‘human rights culture’ to usher in a just and equitable society. To further this cause the Centre offers a Post Graduate Diploma Course in Human Rights.This course is dynamic, innovative and looks at human rights from a global perspective. It is the first of its kind in India and participants from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan join this course. Half of the seats are reserved for women to encourage gender equity. The course is advertised in the national dailies of all the SAARC countries and a committee headed by Mr. Kamal Hossain in Bangladesh, Mr. Lokendra Bahadur Chand in Nepal and Former President of Sri Lanka select the SAARC participants.
The Centre provides a strong theoretical background with courses in six areas: Human Rights Theory, International Human Rights Law, Human Rights and Civil Liberties in India, Human Rights of Women and Children, Human Rights of Tribal and Indigenous Groups, and International Humanitarian & Refugee Law. Participants also get the opportunity to hear Supreme Court judges, well-known journalists, speakers from the SAARC countries, members of NHRC, leading police officers other public figures. ILO and UNICEF, sponsor guest speakers every year. Emphasis is also placed on practical exposure. At the end of six months of classroom sessions, each participant spends two months with an NGO/Institute working on any aspect of human rights and prepares a dissertation. Before the final examinations, participants are taken to Delhi for visits to NHRC, National Commission for SC/ST, National Commission for Minorities, and National Commission for Women, the Supreme Court of India and jails. This exercise enables the participants to be aware of various circumstances in which they might need to work later, as human rights activists.
“Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) has already established its credentials as a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) serving the public causes, organisation has the distinction of moving the Apex Court in a public cause for preserving environment – stopping limestone quarry around Mussoorie and Doon Valley. It did it at the very initial stage sometime in early 1980 … for preservation of ecological balance and environment…It is heartening to find that RLEK has set up a Human Rights Centre and is conducting a One-year Post Graduate Diploma course in Human Rights. I have just cursorily gone through the syllabus prescribed for the course and I find that it is an all-encompassing course covering numerous aspects relating to human rights. It may be Preservation of Environment, Helping Weaker and Ignored Citizens of the Society, Protection from Child Abuse, for humane conditions for prisoners and persons in custody, and excesses against the exercise of power by authorities, gender justice and so on and so forth. The course provides a wide range of profile and exposure to the current problems.”
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Brijesh Kumar,
Judge, Supreme Court of India
The centre has successfully sensitized judiciary, executives, politicians, policy makers, students from the SAARC region towards the need of human rights culture. Trained human rights activists are now working in various UN agencies, Human Rights Commissions, universities and other reputed agencies and are putting their knowledge to use by working towards the promotion and protection of human rights