‘No amendments, just repeal AFSPA’

Dimapur, December 11 (MExN): International Human Rights watchdog Amnesty International today denounced  the Indian government’s attempt to amend the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and has demanded that Indian parliamentarians must repeal the black law.  Indian Parliamentarians voting on a government-introduced bill to amend the AFSPA must repeal the law instead, stated Amnesty International in a statement issued on the occasion of Human Rights Day.
The AFSPA has been in force in various parts of north-east India for over five decades. An identical law, the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 — covers the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Amnesty stated: “Both laws provide soldiers operating in government designated ‘disturbed areas’ the authority to use lethal force against any person contravening laws or orders ‘prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons’ as well as to destroy property, enter and search premises without warrant and arrest in the interest of ‘maintenance of public order’. Soldiers are also protected from any legal proceedings unless it is sanctioned by the central government. This rarely happens in practice.”
The watchdog stated that the results have been the impunity for perpetrators of grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, rape and torture. Amnesty International also observed that the AFSPA has  allowed violations of “non-derogable human rights” under international human rights law, as provided in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Strangely, India itself is a state party to it.
“Among these rights are the right to life and freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” Amnesty stated. In response to India’s most recent report on compliance with the ICCPR, the UN Human Rights Committee in July 1997 had raised concerns at the continued reliance on special powers under the AFSPA.
Amnesty International stated its opposition to any incorporation of the AFSPA provisions into other legislations as the amended legislation would not comply with the ICCPR nor take into account detailed standards including the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, the UN Principles for the Prevention of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions and the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. Amnesty International has reiterated its call for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990.

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