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India: AFSP Act is a deepening blotch on democracy - AHRC

Draconian legislation like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act,
1958 and the concept of democracy do not go together. While democracy
nurtures values of justice, equality and fraternity, laws like the AFSPA are synonymous with injustice, discrimination and hatred. A report that analyses the legislation's complete incompatibility with India's domestic and international human rights obligations is released today in India, Hong Kong and London. Human Rights Alert, a human rights organisation working in Manipur, India; REDRESS Trust, a human rights group based in London, UK; and the AHRC, a regional human rights body based in Hong Kong have jointly authored the report.

The report is titled: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in
Manipur and other States of the Northeast of India: Sanctioning
repression in violation of India’s human rights obligations
(http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/india/reports/AFSPAReviewAugust2011.pdf).


The report can be downloaded here.


The report while analysing the Act draws extensively upon international and domestic human rights jurisprudence, that India is mandated to follow. The report exposes the visibly different standards even the Supreme Court of India has adopted while deciding the constitutionality and thus the compatibility of the law with India's international and domestic human rights obligations. Despite repeated calls to repeal the law immediately by government-sponsored Committees that have studied the law, the Government of India is yet to take any steps in that direction. International human rights bodies like the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Racial Discrimination have expressed concern about the law and its implementation in India, suggesting that the law should be repealed.

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The law has attracted, repeatedly, wide-ranging criticisms from
jurists, human rights activists, and even politicians within India and abroad. Organisations like the AHRC and Human Rights Alert have documented more than two hundred cases, over the past eight years, where the state agencies operating under the statutory impunity provided by the Act has committed serious human rights violations in states like Manipur. Most of these cases has been reported by the AHRC through its Urgent Appeals Programme and brought to the attention of authorities in India and within the United Nations. Yet, so far not a single military or police officer has been prosecuted for the human rights abuses they have committed under the cover of impunity provided by this law.

The report also places emphasis upon the unique form of protest by
Ms. Irom Chanu Sharmila, through her decade-long hunger strike, which has been largely ignored by the national media in India. The AHRC in a function held in Hong Kong today, has released the report.

*******

The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional
non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia,
documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional
reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The
Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984. www.humanrights.asia. Please support our work and make a donation
here.


ENDS

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