Confirming the donation from an individual representing SFJ on 1 March, a spokesperson for the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that the body, in general, does not decline online donations unless those are coming from groups or individuals listed on UN sanctions lists or the organisations/individuals engaged in activities manifestly contrary to the UN Charter or its principles.
This comes at a time when Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who is the general counsel of SFJ, has pledged a further $1.3 million to establish a UN commission of inquiry (CoI) to investigate the alleged mistreatment of farmer protestors in India. Pannun has said that SFJ is pursuing the matter through the Geneva-based UN OHCHR.
CoIs are essentially used to respond to situations of serious violations of international humanitarian laws.
“There is no plan for any such CoI on India being undertaken by the OHCHR,” the spokesperson reportedly said. “Most COIs are officially set up with a specific mandate by the 47 member states of the UN Human Rights Council, and have a budget attached which states agree upon. Any contribution made online by individuals or groups does not oblige OHCHR to carry out any specific activity, especially ones that have not already been decided upon by us and do not exist,” he said.
“We have communicated the fact that there is no relevant CoI in existence to the Sikhs for Justice and offered to return their $10,000 contribution if they had any false understanding about how it would be used. In response, the group has instead agreed to allow their contribution to be added to our “unearmarked” income — i.e. money that is used by us to carry out a variety of important general work already decided on and budgeted by the Office,” the OHCHR spokesperson added.
It should be noted that Pannun is based out of the United States (US) and has been designated a terrorist by the Government of India.
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