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Latest UN report puts AFSPA under scanner

Source: | Tuesday, May 9, 2017

GUWAHATI, May 9, 2017: The latest UN joint stakeholders' report on human rights in India has recommended that the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) be repealed, and has demanded investigation into allegations of human rights violations of civilians in areas where it is in force.

"Ensure that all allegations of human rights violations are promptly and independently investigated, perpetrators are prosecuted in civilian courts, and victims and their families receive reparations," the report, prepared by the Working Group on Human Rights in India (WGHRI) and the UN Working Group on Human Rights (UNWGHR), recommended. The WGHRI and UNWGHR comprise 12 human rights organizations and independent experts from India.

Taking note of the fact that laws governing the armed forces allow human rights violations by security forces to be tried in military and not civilian court, the report said, "In most cases, security laws require that the Executive grant sanction before a member of the security forces can be prosecuted in a civilian court."

The report noted that AFSPA has been extended in Nagaland last year, Manipur in 2015 and was imposed in Arunachal Pradesh along the border areas with Assam.

The report also took note of the fact that though AFSPA has been lifted from Tripura, no notification to this effect has been issued.

The report said the situation in conflict zones (particularly in Kashmir, NE and central India states) remained challenging. It said in response to the situation, the government has increased deployment of security forces and 'intensified militarization.'

Human rights activists in the northeast, including Irom Sharmila, had been demaning demanding repeal of AFSPA, which confers special powers to the security forces in disturbed areas.

The report said 'international and national bodies", noting that laws like AFSPA give security forces 'arbitrary powers', have recommended their repeal or revision.


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