UN expert urges India to probe extra-judicial killings

Shillong, May 31 (IANS) A United Nations expert on human rights Friday urged the Indian government to institute a commission of inquiry into extra-judicial killings in the northeastern states.

“A credible commission of inquiry into extra-judicial executions in India, or at least in the areas most affected by extra-judicial executions, should be appointed by the government,” UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns said.

In his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Heyns said the commission should also serve a transitional justice role. It should (a) investigate allegations concerning past and recent violations of the right to life.

“The commission should propose relevant measures to tackle them (extra-judicial killings) and work out a plan of action for the future to eradicate practices of extra-judicial executions,” the UN Special Rapporteur said.

Several human rights defenders and civil society groups lodged complaints with the UN Special Rapporteur during his visit to the northeastern states on the “extra-judicial killings committed by Indian security forces”.

Expressing concern over the “extra-judicial killings”, Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary, had even directed the Assam Rifles and all other security agencies to “introspect” on these killings.

Urging India to repeal the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Heyns said that the government should repeal — or at least radically amend — AFSPA and the Jammu and Kashmir AFSPA, to ensure that the legislation regarding the use of force by the armed forces provides for the respect of the principles of proportionality and necessity in all instances, as stipulated under international human rights law.

“While waiting for the necessary amendment or repeal of AFSPA, it should be ensured that the status of a “disturbed area” under AFSPA is subject to regular review — for example, every six months — and a justified decision is made on its further extension,” the UN Special Rapporteur suggested.

AFSPA was passed in 1990 to grant special powers and immunity from prosecution to security forces to deal with raging insurgencies in northeastern states in large parts of Manipur, Tripura, Assam and Nagaland and some parts of Meghalaya and in Jammu and Kashmir.

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