Press Release (NR)
Mumbai, Jun 29: The following are the resolutions adopted at the meeting of Human Rights and Civil Society Activists called by the National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), on the occasion of International Day of “Solidarity with Victims of Torture”, held at the Mumbai Patrakar Sangh hall on June 26, 2007.
Encounter killings are part of a deliberate and conscious state administrative practice for which the Indian government must bear responsibility. The successive political groups in power sanctified this de facto policy of extra-judicial killings by members of the police forces, the armed forces and para-military security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Manipur and Tripura and by state armed police in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat in the name of eliminating naxalites, terrorists or criminals.
The State has armed itself with draconian laws such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and derivative state legislations which are irrational, unjust and against the principles of natural justice. These laws justify preventive detention and encourage extraction of confessions by any method.
The United Nations Basic Principles emphasise that the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials should be in consonance with respect for human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that “every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” Extra-judicial killings clearly contravene the right to life.
India ratified ICCPR in 1979 and signed the convention against torture since 1997, but it has since betrayed its commitment to take effective measures to ensure that extra-judicial killings do not occur. It is yet to follow-up on that and have a ratification of the said convention. The rapid increase in the number of such killings flies in the face of the Right to Life as enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. These antiquated laws are yet to be amended and brought in line with international practices. Infact there is no real investigation into such extra-judicial killings. It is no surprise therefore that the guilty in the police and security forces remain unpunished.
The hopes that a just civil society had in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), have been belied because of serious flaws in the Statutes. The NHRC and other National Commissions too have not been able to call the guilty to account for violence against religious minorities, women, dalits and tribals.
This “National Convention on Encounter Killings” organized by National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO) in association with Amnesty International of India on this 26th day of June 2007, on the International Anti-torture day, notes gross violation of human rights, specially of torture and extra judicial deaths in many countries. The Convention condemns the assault on human dignity in the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay in the Cuban island, the military prisons in Iraq, and the situation in countries of South Asia and thereby demands the following:
We demand from the Government of India and State Governments, the following:
- Urgent and effective measures to stop fake encounters, disappearances, custodial violence, custodial death and extra judicial killings by police, special squads and security forces.
- Reform the criminal justice system and the Penal code, beginning the process by repealing all special legislation that enable a culture of torture and culture of impunity.
- Prevent cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments by authorities.
- Stop discrimination and violence against women, indigenous peoples, dalits and minorities and ensure genuine safe guards.
- Strengthen the statutes of the NHRC, State Human Rights and Minorities Commission (SHRMC) and other statutory bodies.
- Protect and rehabilitate the victims and survivors of encounter killings and other police atrocities, and give them affirmative compensation.
- Ratify UN convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment (convention against torture) by making amendments in statutes.
- Establish a national register of the missing persons, and of the victims of torture, custodial deaths and encounter killings under the supervision of the NHRC.
- Establish public grievance and redressal mechanisms in the pattern of Lokayukta and Ombudsman to take cognisance of excesses committed by the police and armed personnel, and to enforce Command Responsibility..
Maintain the sanctity of the ultimate power of Clemency now being exercised by the President of India and by State Governors from judicial and political aggression and encroachments.