PSA still a lawless law: AI
Srinagar, Oct 13: The Amnesty International (AI)—human rights watchdog—on Saturday said nothing much appears to have changed in Jammu and Kashmir as state authorities still use the Public Safety Act (PSA) to facilitate a range of rights-violating behavior.
The AI which released its second report about PSA titled “PSA still a lawless law,” while quoting Jammu and Kashmir Police puts the number of PSA detentions at 15,600 during the last two decades.
In 2011 the London based Rights Body had termed the PSA a ‘lawless law’. “In 2012, this assessment continues to hold true. Despite seemingly positive political and legal developments in recent months, the PSA and its implementation in JK continues to violate India’s obligations under international human rights law,” states the report released today.
According to the report, the rights violations done by applicability of PSA include unlawful deprivations of liberty through the practice of ‘revolving door detentions’, detention of children, torture and other ill treatment, the denial of medicare while in detention, and a limited realization of the right to reparations.
In a press statement Ananth Guruswamy, Director, Amnesty International India said: “The J&K authorities continue to use the PSA to circumvent the rule of law and the criminal justice system. They resort to PSA detentions instead of charging and trying persons suspected of offences in the court.”
“J&K authorities often keep persons in detention even after the detentions have been quashed by the High Court. The PSA violates international human rights law and must be repealed,” he said. “All PSA detainees must be charged and prosecuted through a fair trial in a court of law or else released.”
“Detainees include political leaders and activists, suspected members or supporters of armed opposition groups, lawyers, journalists and protesters, including children,” the AI report adds.
The rights body is not satisfied with the amendments made by State Government saying these are far from adequate in their present form. “Several provisions in the PSA still do not comply with India’s international law obligations. Notably, the amendments do not even go as far as the recommendations made by the Interlocutors in their report,” it adds.
The report also mentions that children are still being detained under PSA by falsely registering their ages.
“Post-2011, an apparent drop in the number of 16 and 17 year olds being detained under the PSA was noted. However, during our visits in April and July 2012, we found that in at least three cases authorities had detained children by falsely recording their age as being above 18,” the report reads.
It says that a PSA detention order was issued against 15-year-old Umar Farooq Sheikh, of Srinagar, on 29 March 2012.
“The 2012 amendments clearly disallow the detention of children, and it is too early now to evaluate the full impact of the amendments. However, if state authorities continue to detain children by falsely registering their ages as above 18, this practice may not be eradicated by the amendments alone,” the report states.
The rights group has made number of recommendations in its detailed report. “AI reiterates its call on the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to repeal the PSA and any other legislation facilitating the use of administrative detentions,” the report said.
The report also calls for implementing court rulings ordering release of detainees without delay and unconditional release of all detainees deprived of liberty solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights of freedom of thought. conscience, religion, opinion or expression.
The AI also demanded: Ending immediately the use of incommunicado detention; ensuring officers carrying out the initial arrest inform the families of the place where the detainee would be held; end the practice of repeatedly detaining persons under multiple detention orders on similar grounds; ensuring all detainees are brought before a judicial magistrate within 24 hours of arrest; ensuring that detainees have access to their families, legal counsel and independent medical professionals without delay and regularly thereafter, and monitor the quality of medical reporting; ensuring that the families of those detained are informed of subsequent transfers to other places of detention, without delay; maintaining a centralized register of all detainees available for public access, detailing the date of order or arrest and detention, authority issuing such orders and all transfer, release and revocation orders.
The rights group has also urged Centre and State to carry out an independent, impartial and comprehensive investigation into all allegations of abuses against detainees.
It has also urged both the governments to take all appropriate criminal or administrative measures against officials who fail to comply with safeguards against human rights abuses.
Pertinently, the report is compiled on the research conducted by AI during its two visits to J&K in April and July 2012.
This included trips to Srinagar, Islamabad (Anantnag) Pulwama, Kupwara and Baramulla. The delegates of the group analyzed 110 PSA detention orders and conducted interviews with nine families where a family member had been detained under the PSA. The members also interviewed members of the state police, representatives of the J&K Bar Association and the J&K State Human Rights Commission, media persons, lawyers and civil society organizations.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 14 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST
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