NHRC issues guidelines for post mortem video filming of custodial deaths

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IMPHAL, June 9: The Government of Manipur, Secretariate Home Department has stated that to ensure better quality of post mortem and video filming in cases of custodial death and encounter deaths, the National Human Rights Commission had on March 19, 2014 informed the State Government to follow certain guideline to help better analysis of cases.

In case of death in police action, while conducting post-mortem examination of the deceased, the aim of video-filming and photography of post-mortem should be to record the detailed finding of the post-mortem examination, especially pertaining the marks of injury and violence which may suggest custodial torture, to supplement the finding of post-mortem examination (recorded in the post-mortem report) by video graphic evidence so as to rule out any undue influence or suppression of material information and to facilitate an independent review of the examination at a later stage if required, according to the guideline.

It also said that precautions should be taken that both hands of the deceased are wrapped in white paper bags before transportation and the dead body afterwards will be covered in Special Body Bags having zip pouches for proper transportation, clothing on the body of the deceased should not be removed by the police or any other person as it must be collected, examined as well as preserved and sealed by the doctor conducting the autopsy and it will be sent further examination at the concerned forensic science laboratory, a detailed note regarding examination of the clothing will be incorporated in the post-mortem examination by the concerned doctor, in case of alleged firearms death, the death body should be subjected to radiological examination (X-ray/CT Scan) prior to autopsy.

Further according to the guideline of the National Human Rights Commission, at the time of video-filming and photography of the post-mortem examination, the voice of the doctor should be recorded and must narrate his prima-facie observation while conducting the examination.

It also said that a total of 20-25 coloured photographs covering the whole body should be taken and some photographs should be taken without removing the clothes. The photographs should include profile photo-face (front, right lateral, left lateral views), back of head, front of body (up to torso-chest and abdomen) and back, upper and lower extremity-front and back, focusing on each injury/lesion-zoomed in after properly numbering the injuries, internal examination findings (two photos of soles and palms each, after making incision to show absence/evidence of any old/deep seated injury).

However, for firearm injuries while describing, the distance from heel as well as midline must be taken in respect of each injury which will help later in reconstruction of events, it said.

The photographs should be taken after incorporating post-mortem number, date of examination and a scale for dimension in the frame of the photographs itself and the camera must be held at right angle to the object being photographed and the video-filming and photography of the post-mortem examination will be done by a person trained in forensic photography and videography with a good quality camera with 10X optical zoom and minimum 10 MP will be used.

All post-mortem examination done in cases of custodial deaths or in encounter deaths should be video-filmed and cassettes be sent to the National Human Rights Commission along with the post-mortem reports, it said.

 

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