NGOs demand AFSPA repeal

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New Delhi, Dec 8: A group of NGOs evaluating India’s human rights situation for a UN-sponsored review, today demanded the repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) alleging that the government “routinely violates” the guidelines set by Supreme Court on the law.
In its report, the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UNWGHR said India should implement relevant recommendations, including the repeal of AFSPA, and ensure impartial investigation of all human rights violations and justice to the victims.
“(Government’s) military approach and the ongoing conflicts contradict government’s position at the UN that ‘India does not face either international or non-international armed conflict’. The AFSPA has come under severe criticism both domestically and internationally for contravening international human rights law.
“While upholding the constitutionality of AFSPA, the Supreme Court laid down guidelines, which are routinely violated. Sections of the government are calling for re-examining the law, which is opposed by the army,” it said in the report for UN’s Universal Periodic Review.
The NHRC in its report had echoed similar views and called for repeal of AFSPA.
“Due to historical and political reasons, there are insurgency movements in the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir. In spite of the decrease in insurgency-related violence, the state’s response to these political issues has remained mainly militaristic, accompanied by draconian security laws, leading to widespread human rights violations,” it said.
On the Naxal front, the WGHR report said Supreme Court had strongly condemned the “state-sponsored counter-insurgency militia Salwa Judum — spearheaded by ‘Special Police Officers’ (SPOs) — and directed the disbandment of SPOs in Chhattisgarh.
“Grave human rights abuses have been inflicted on the population by security forces, SPOs and even by the Naxalites. Violating the spirit of the court’s order, SPOs have been reabsorbed into the Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Armed Force through law,” it said.
“In all these conflict areas, several special security laws operate, which violate national and international human rights guarantees, provide extensive powers (to arrest, detain without trial and ‘shoot to kill’ on suspicion) to security forces and exempt them from prosecution in absence of executive sanction, spawning a culture of impunity,” it said.
-GKNN

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