Amnesty chides New Delhi

‘Take Responsibility, Probe HR Violations In JK’


Srinagar, Dec 12: Amnesty International on Wednesday said Indian authorities must take responsibility and initiate independent, impartial, prompt and efficient investigations into serious allegations of human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir. Two Srinagar-based human rights organizations released a comprehensive report on 7 December detailing these allegations.
“The Government of India and J&K state must bring to justice, in fair proceedings, anyone, irrespective of rank, pointed by such independent investigations as suspected of offences related to these violations. The authorities must also provide reparations to victims of human rights violations in the region and their families,” Amnesty said in a statement issued from London.
“Laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1990, Disturbed Areas Act, 1990, and J&K policing practices shielded by such laws have long fostered a culture of impunity in the region for security forces. It is imperative that the authorities hold those responsible for human rights violations accountable, to ensure justice and combat this culture of impunity,” the global rights watch-dog said.
“Amnesty International is not in a position to comment on specific allegations within reports by other organizations. However, the Amnesty International does share the general human rights concerns documented and discussed in the report, “Alleged Perpetrators – Stories of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir” prepared by the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IPTK), and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP),” said Raheela Narchoor, Amnesty International India’s Jammu & Kashmir Researcher.
The report, largely based on official documents, lists 214 key pending cases of human rights violations and seeks to identify the roles of 500 alleged perpetrators, 235 members of armed forces, 123 paramilitary personnel, 111 Jammu and Kashmir police officers and 31 members of armed militias allegedly sponsored by the State agencies, in these violations. The cases examined by the report include 125 extrajudicial executions, 65 enforced disappearances and instances of torture, including rape and other sexual assault.
The goal of the report, according to the authors, is to strip away the “mask of the institution” and hold individuals accountable for human rights violations they have committed, a strategy they say has increasingly become an important aspect of international human rights law. They also call upon the international community to intervene “where domestic processes in J&K and in India have failed.”
The Army issued a response to the release of the report saying that it is “highly biased and motivated.” They have stated that the report is “merely a collation of unsubstantiated allegations aimed at maligning the Army.”
“Amnesty International urges the J&K and central governments, to address what appears to be overwhelming evidence compiled in the report that judicial inefficiencies and draconian laws have facilitated an atmosphere in which individual officials cannot be held accountable for offences involving human rights violations,” she said.
“Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir, which has witnessed a two decade-long armed insurgency, has been well documented. Members of both the State forces and non-State armed groups fighting the State are yet to be held accountable for hundreds of alleged human rights violations,” Narchoor said.
“Impunity in J&K is also pervasive. There is a lack of political will among political and security force leaders to hold civilian and in particular military officials accountable even in well-documented cases. Amnesty International is concerned that even the exhaustive compilation of evidence by IPTK will fail to lead to prosecution as the Central Government has been reluctant in the majority of cases to grant sanctions to prosecute. Of the cases already identified by official investigating agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation, sanction has only been granted to a scant few, and others have been pending for years.”
“In one of the latest instances in August 2012, the State authorities sent a communication to the state human rights commission in which they expressed reluctance to act on the commission’s recommendation to identify those buried in the 2,100-odd unmarked graves found in north Kashmir after they had allegedly been killed in combat with Indian security forces. The commission managed to identify 574 bodies as those of local villagers disproving earlier official claims that all the bodies were those of foreign militants trying to cross over to India,” she said.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has noted that the state government of J&K was as reluctant as the central government to address allegations of serious human rights violations despite the presentation of comprehensive and credible evidence.
Amnesty International has repeatedly pointed out that the AFSPA violates Indian constitutional law and international human rights law, not least the right to life (Constitution, Article 21; ICCPR Article 6) and the right to remedy (ICCPR, Article 2(3)), and called for its repeal. “However, India’s authorities have been reluctant to repeal the AFSPA, despite longstanding demands from both domestic and international human rights organizations as well as concerns expressed and calls made by UN human rights monitoring bodies, including Special Rapporteurs who have visited India during the last two years,” Amnesty said.
The Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (AFAD), a regional federation of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced disappearances, has lauded the release of the research “Alleged Perpetrators – Stories of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir.” “This landmark study, a compilation of stories of 214 cases of human rights violations where 500 individual members of the Indian army, police, para-military and State supported militants are identified perpetrators will serve as important ground for the families and relatives of victims of enforced disappearances and other victims of human rights violations to demand accountability from the Indian government. The study clearly points to a high level of command decision, given the involvement of top ranking officers of the Indian Army, the highest of them a Major General. If used to the full, it will go a long way towards the unveiling of the truth, the prosecution of perpetrators, reparation for victims and the non-repetition of human rights violations in this paradise lost,” AFAD said in a statement.
The AFAD has called on the government to address the issue of impunity conducted against the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “For many years now, members of the Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), a founding member-organization of AFAD, have been demanding for truth on the whereabouts of their disappeared children. They have been living in anguish and pain. Justice has been so elusive with the continued denial of the Indian government.  Worse still, cases continue to happen with each passing day”, it added. With inputs from KNS

Lastupdate on : Wed, 12 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 12 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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