Amensty International asks J&K Government to revisit Police Bill-2013

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Srinagar, April 03: Global rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has asked the J&K Government to amend or replace the draft of the Police Bill-2013.
In a submission made on March 30 to the State Home Department, the Amnesty International has raised concerns about several provisions in the bill that would “violate India’s international legal obligations.”
“We are concerned that the bill, if passed into law in its current form, will perpetuate the culture of impunity for human rights abuses and violations that exists in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Shashi Kumar Velath, Director of Programmes, Amnesty International (India).
The Home Department posted the Draft Bill on its website on 14 February and invited suggestions and comments from the public within 15 days.
Following public criticism, the department extended the deadline to April 1. The bill has been prepared in compliance with a 2006 Supreme Court judgment that directed state governments to go for police reforms. “Some provisions of the bill are identical or similar to those in police Acts of some other states and our concerns would equally apply to those states. But given the nature of the ongoing violence in Kashmir and the history of human rights violations, we are particularly concerned about the bill in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Velath. The submission of rights group analyses several provisions of the bill relating to police functions, accountability and powers.
“Issues addressed in the submission include the establishment of special security zones, the institution of village defence committees and special police officers, and the requirement of sanction for prosecution of police officers.” “Amnesty International recognizes the duty of all states to protect their populations from violence. But such measures should be implemented in a framework of protection of all human rights and adherence to international human rights standards,” said Velath.
The London-based rights watchdog has also asked the State Government to broaden consultation process with civil society groups and other actors over the Bill. “The state government must hold deep and wide consultations with civil society groups, police personnel and members of the public before adopting a new police Act. The prevailing state of impunity for human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir should not be exacerbated by passing the bill in its current form.”

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