Pulwama: In its latest report on the human rights violations committed by the government forces in Kashmir, Amnesty International has stated that at least 96% of all complaints against the army in the state have been dismissed by the government of India since 1993.
The international human rights’ body has prepared a detailed second report, titled “Denied”-Failures in Accountability in Jammu and Kashmir, in 2015. It was set to be made public at the Bangaluru event that saw alleged anti-India sloganeering by the participants.
In the 36-page report, Amnesty has accused the government forces of being committing human rights violations in Kashmir with impunity granted under AFSPA.
“This impunity is greatly accorded to the security forces by laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA), which gives them sweeping powers that lead to extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations,” the report mentions.
“Section 7 of the AFSPA makes it mandatory to seek the prior sanction of Central and State authorities in order to prosecute any security force personnel in civilian courts. Under the pretext of protecting national security, the excesses of the security forces go unchallenged. 96% of all complaints brought against the army in Jammu & Kashmir have been dismissed as ‘false and baseless’ or ‘with other ulterior motives of maligning the image of Armed Forces’,” it adds.
The report states that the practice of the India’s Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Home Affairs has been to “either deny sanction or remain silent” on applications for prosecution of accused forces without citing any reason.
The family members, it reads, are not required to be informed about the status of the sanction.
“They often assume that the sanction is denied. This frustrating wait compels the relatives to give up the pursuit of justice which closes all avenues of appeal. Most of the times, the families are not even aware of the procedures to apply for permission to prosecute,” the report says, adding that AFSPA “by nature seems colonial”.
“Similar laws were used by the British to preempt any legal challenge to their violence in India,” it adds.
The report mentions that all cases are tried in military courts, while civilians have limited options to appeal against judgments of these courts.
“Similarly, with respect to investigations, an inquiry that is conducted by the same authority accused of the crime raises serious questions about the independence and impartiality of those proceedings,” it says, adding that the international law requires that crimes be investigated by an independent authority that is not involved in the alleged violations.
It says that the army had received 1,532 allegations of human rights violations (995 from Jammu and Kashmir, 485 from North-Eastern states, and 52 complaints from other states) out of which 1,508 were investigated, and 24 investigations remained pending as of 2011.
Out of a total of 995 complaints of human rights violations against the army in Jammu and Kashmir, 986 have been investigated by the army to date, while 9 investigations currently remain pending, it says.
“The army says it found that 961 of these allegations were ‘false, baseless’ through internal enquiries. In the 25 cases found to be ‘true,’ it says 129 army personnel were punished,” it adds.
The report recommends that: The provisions of prior sanction for prosecution of government forces must be removed from AFSPA and criminal procedure code to ensure that trials are independent and fair in civilian courts; the families and applicants seeking sanction to prosecute must be informed about the status of their application; and information regarding the proceedings and verdicts conducted in Court Martial’s public by making it more accessible through RTI/ online.
Among others recommendation, the rights’ group calls for repeal of the AFSPA to “ensure compliance with UN Principles for the Prevention of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions and other instruments India is signatory to”.