UNHRC recommends AFSPA repeal

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GUWAHATI, Feb 20 (Agencies): United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) has recommended repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and suggested that security forces should be “clearly” instructed to respect the works, rights and fundamental freedom of human rights defenders.

AFSPA, enacted in 1958, was first enforced in Assam and Manipur, but later extended to other states of the northeast following an amendment in 1972. The Act, which confers special powers to security forces in disturbed areas, has also been enforced in Jammu and Kashmir.

UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Margaret Sekaggya`s latest report on India said Manipur, where AFSPA is still in force along with Jammu and Kashmir, is the worst-hit by “militarization” with more than “half a dozen” human rights groups having been branded as “terrorists” due to their “self-determination” advocacy work.

Along with AFSPA, HRC`s report has also recommended repeal of National Security Act, the Unlawful Activities Act, the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act and the Chhattisgargh Public Safety Act. “Other security legislations should be reviewed in the light of international human rights standards,” the report said.

The report will be placed before the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva on March 5 this year. HRC is an inter-governmental body of UN comprising 47 states responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights across the world.

A copy of the report, which is available with TOI, made an observation that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 10 years did not visit Irom Sharmila, who has been on hunger strike for repeal of AFSPA since 2000, despite repeated requests by human rights defenders.

The special rapporteur`s report, compiled following her visit to India from January 10 to 21 this year, observed that in August 5, 2010 several human rights defenders were arrested as part of a crackdown to end protest against an extrajudicial killings in Imphal by police.

“They were remanded in judicial custody for 13 days and detained under the National Security Act in addition to the judicial remand according to an order of the Imphal West district magistrate,” the report said. Further, the report stated, “On August 25 the same year, the president of Poirei Leimarol Meira Paibi Apunba Manipur was arrested by Imphal West Police along with two activists.”

On the other hand, an international symposium will discuss the 11-year hunger strike by Sharmila, various aspects of AFSPA in northeastern states and Jammu and Kashmir, the Act`s impact on India`s democratic, constitutional and judicial practices in USA on February 21.

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