IMPHAL, May 22: The legality of imposing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 in the state will be questioned to the Indian delegates by the United Nations, Human Rights Council at Geneva on Thursday.
AFSPA is on the top agenda at the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review for India, Dr Laifungbam Debabrata Roy of CSCHR stated during a program marking 54 years of protest against AFSPA held at Manipur Press Club today.
He stated that the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights (CSCHR), an umbrella organization consisting of eighteen civil organizations of the state with the corporation of the Asian Indigenous People’s Pact (AIPP) prepared a joint stakeholders’ report and submitted it to the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Baloo Loitongbam, executive director of Human Rights Alert and Jiten Yumnam of Citizens Concern for Dams and Development are presently at Geneva to lobby for the report, he added.
Roy further said that Thursday will be important day as the Indian delegates presumably to be led by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram will be questioned in regard to the report submitted by CSCHR which include ,“What effective steps has been taken by the Government of India to implement the recommendations of international human rights bodies to repeal AFSPA ?”.
Dr Roy said that today’s program was organized in culmination of the date when the Act was produced at the Indian Parliament in the form of an ordinance on May 22, 1958.
Coincidentally, Irom Sharmila was produced before the CJM, Imphal, at Uripok Cheirap Court today. The delegates of CSCHR met her at the spot.
Sharmila had told the delegates that AFSPA was utilized during the monarchial British rule, but being imposed in the present democratic society is heartbreaking to her.
She also lamented that fact that her ‘visitors rights’ have been denied as only government approved persons are able to visit her. Her aspiration is of a normal person but has to sideline them for the cause of removing AFSPA, she had stated.
Meanwhile, the proposed recommendations for India in the joint report includes to take appropriate measures for removal of AFSPA, politically resolve the armed conflict in Manipur, to take informed consent of indigenous peoples before construction of mega dams in the north east, to stop oil exploration in Manipur for failure to take consent of affected people, to take effective measures to implement the recommendations of the Committee of the Rights of the Child, etc.
It may be mentioned here that various international committees had urged the Indian government to repeal AFSPA in the first Universal Periodic Review of India held on February 2007 and the government’s non compliance was raised by the governments of UK, Canada and Germany.
The Indian government, on the other hand had insisted on administrative review of AFSPA at the Supreme Court in response to the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Margaret Sekaggya at the UN Rights Council held on March 5, 2012.