Setback for victims: AI
In Cases Of Rights Abuses Sanction Not Granted Easily: HRW
Srinagar, May 2: Global rights watchdog, Amnesty International (AI) has termed Supreme Court verdict on Pathribal killings as a major setback for the victims “unlawfully killed by army or paramilitary forces” in Jammu and Kashmir.
Amnesty said the Apex Court relied on emergency laws “instead of upholding the universal and constitutional right to life”.
AI’s India Researcher Ramesh Gopalakrishnan said the ruling is a major setback – not only for victims in Pathribal case, but for other victWims “unlawfully killed by army or paramilitary forces” in Jammu and Kashmir. “The option of a court martial allows these army officials to continue to avoid judgment in court of law,” he said.
While granting the option to the army authorities to try the officers involved in Pathribal encounter killings under court martial proceedings or alternatively subject them to trial in criminal court, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld an important part of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) - the prosecution of army officers in states, such as Jammu and Kashmir and Assam where the Act applies, has to be sanctioned by the government.
“Instead of upholding the universal and constitutional right to life, the Supreme Court chose to rely on emergency laws which provide excessive powers, as well as impunity, to the army,” the rights watchdog said.
The AI said that special powers that allow India’s armed forces suspected of involvement in extra-judicial killings to sidestep the civilian courts have been reinforced in the court ruling over the “notorious killings” of five Kashmiri civilians 12 years ago.
“Today’s ruling should have taken into account the evidence provided by the CBI. By giving the first option to the army for a court martial, this ruling reinforces immunity from prosecution in other cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Jammu and Kashmir,” Gopalakrishnan said.
“The Indian authorities must restore public confidence in the rule of law, and ensure justice for the victims of the Pathribal killings. Impunity for human rights violations by the army and paramilitary forces under special powers legislation must stop,” he said.
Meanwhile, US based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that SC ruling has underlined the need for repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
“The Supreme Court upheld section 7 of AFSPA which requires sanction to prosecute. That is what the law says. This is why we believe that AFSPA should be repealed,” Meenakshi Ganguly south Asian Director for HRW told Greater Kashmir.
She said if Army is unable or unwilling to prosecute soldiers, then there must be civilian prosecution.
“It is a very strong message to the Army that action must be taken in cases of human rights violations. If the army is unable or unwilling, then there must be civilian prosecution,” she said.
Strongly favoring repeal of AFSPA in JK, Meenakshi said; “In cases of human rights violations, unfortunately, sanction is not granted easily, and thus severe crimes remain uninvestigated and the perpetrators evade justice.”
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 3 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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