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UN Concerned At India’s Extrajudicial Executions

ICC Note 

One of the UN’s top officials warned India against the gross violations of human rights such as attacks against Christians and other religious minorities. Hindu radicals routinely attack Christians and Indian officials help the perpetrators instead of protecting the victims. 

By KK John

04/02/2012 India (Christian Today India)-The United Nations last week warned India against the growing trend of impunity in cases of extrajudicial executions and the treatment of religious minorities, dalits and adivasis.

“There are complaints of use of excessive force by the police against unarmed demonstrators and protestors, with scant adherence to the principles of proportionality and necessity. Problems are further aggravated by statutory immunities that restrict accountability,” expressed a UN Special Rapporteur on Friday.

Christof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on March 30, 2012 concluded a 12-day fact-finding mission, during when he visited five states and met with government officials, police officers and human rights activists.

In his report, Heyns expressed concern over a range of issues that include custodial deaths; enactment of AFSPA in the North East and Jammu & Kashmir; the execution of death penalty across India; the insurgency; organised crime; and communal organisations opposed to secularism, plurality and equality.

Other areas of concern relate to the prevalence of communal violence, and, in some areas, the killing of witches, as well as dowry and “honour” killings, and the plight of dalits and adivasis.

“I have heard evidence regarding a number of instances where inter-community violence has occurred, resulting in large-scale loss of life. In particular I have met with a large number of people who lost relatives during the Gujarat killings of Muslims in 2002 and the Kandhamal killings of Christians in 2007-08, during which between 1200 – 2500 people and between 50 and 100 people, respectively, were reportedly killed,” Heyns stated in his report.

“The phenomenon of mass and targeted communal violence clearly poses a significant threat to the right to life, also because it sets into motion a cycle of violence that stretches over the years. One of the problems here is that the role of the police and other agencies of the state in these situations could involve bias against minorities.”

Heyns proposed a number of provisional steps to be taken to address these concerns. In the first place, he called for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry, consisting of respected lawyers and other community leaders, to further investigate all aspects of extrajudicial executions.

“Institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission should establish to what extent the guidelines they provide on matters such as the use of lethal force by the police are in fact observed, as opposed to providing empty promises in practice,” underscored the Special Rapporteur, recommending the immediate repeal of the laws providing for the immunity from prosecution of the police and the armed forces, and in particular the repeal of AFSPA.

On the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), Heyns said it had no role to play in a democracy and should be scrapped. “The repeal of this law will not only bring domestic law more in line with international standards, but also send out a powerful message that instead of a military approach the government is committed to respect for the right to life of all people of the country,” he said.

Heyns also noted that India should ratify a number of international treaties, including the Convention Against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of All persons from Enforced Disappearance.

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