Lawyers discuss removal of AFSPA

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IMPHAL, February 2: The All Manipur Bar Association in collaboration with the United NGOs Mission Manipur today conducted a one day discussion on Armed Conflict, Right to Life and Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 in Manipur at the Uripok Cheirap Court Complex.

President AMBA, advocate Khaidem Mani acted as the moderator of the discussion.

While indicating that AFSPA will go on its own, once the law and order situation in the state improves, senior advocate RK Nokulsana said the law and order situation is distressing as of now.

He said that the state has the authority for the imposition and lifting of the Disturb Area Status anywhere in the state, and so the first step should be to review the status.

Once after the Disturb Area Status is lifted, the centre will also automatically lift the AFSPA, he observed.

Meanwhile, District Session Judge, Manipur east, A Guneshor Sharma said modification of AFSPA is the need of the hour. The country’s Constitution provides for modification and appending of all Acts, he observed.

A statement from the AMBA president said the advocates and the concerned civil society groups participating in the discussion have appreciated the fact that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, almost all the Committee monitoring the major UN human rights treaty bodies to which Government of India is a party, all the UN Special rapporteur who visited recently as well as Working Group on Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council that reviews India in both the 1 st and 2nd cycle have called for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 as a blot in democracy.

The participants had also seriously noted that the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, who promised to consider “replacing AFSPA with a more humane law” seems to be still complacent to the matter despite his United Progressive Alliance (UPA) holding power throughout the intervening decades, it said.

“Urging the centre to officially recognize the present political conflict to be armed conflict as de jure armed conflict rather than mere law and order problem” and after considering other issues, the participants had recommended to the governments at the centre and the state to repeal the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 immediately.

Further according to the statement, it was recommended that the government of India should become a party to the two Additional Protocols to the  1949 Geneva Conventions of 1977.

During the discussion it was also recommended to the political armed groups/armed opposition groups operating in Manipur and North East India in general to abide by the Article 3 Common to four Geneva Convention as a minimum standard and to sign the deed of agreement of Geneva Call.

Meanwhile, the North East Dialogue Forum, Village Authority, Women Society, Youth Club and Women Development of Kangchup Chiru Village, had also jointly organised one such consultation at Kangchup Chiru, Senapati district.

The function was attended by Soraisam Dhanabir, Maisnam Kalanjoy and Adam Kharam of the North East Dialogue Forum were present at the consultation as resource persons, informed a press release of the North East Dialogue Forum.

In the key-note address, advisor of the NEDF I Pratap Singh said that the people of Manipur have experienced enough suffering due to armed conflict for the last more than five decades.

At the end of the consultation, the participants unanimously resolved to recommend to the centre to repeal the AFSPA; to respect and implement the common article 3 of Geneva Conventions, 1949 and Additional Protocol-II of 1977; to establish Special Investigation Team to investigate into all cases of rape, torture and killing of innocent civilians, women and children and deliver justice to the victims and compensate them; to provide assistance to the victims of rape, torture, assault and harassment.

Other recommendations of the consultation include to urged the centre to immediately stop torture and summoning of civilians by security forces; the Governor of Manipur to visit the victim families of those who were raped, killed, tortured etc.

The consultation had also unanimously resolved to asked the armed opposition groups and urged to respect and implement the common article 3 of Geneva Conventions, 1949 and Additional Protocol-II of 1977; to reconcile and cease factional fights and to sign and respect the Deed of Agreement of Geneva Call on the use of landmine, on gender based violence and on violence against children.

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