The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, has claimed that of the 109 civilian deaths that occurred in India due to police firing in 2011, a majority of them took place in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Quoting a report of the National Crime Records Bureau, Mr. Heyns, who toured various Indian cities in his mission between March 19 and March 30 at the invitation of government of India, claimed that most of such deaths occurred when the security forces took up “riot-control, anti-extremism and anti-terrorist activities.”
The Special Rapporteur’s report, which will be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in June 2013, said the situation was no better in Jammu and Kashmir either. Disproportionate use of force during demonstrations has also caused many deaths in various parts of the country. In J&K, at least 100 deaths were caused due to excessive use of force against demonstrators in 2010.
Mr. Heyns asked India to “set up a credible Commission of Inquiry to go into the extrajudicial executions, at least in the areas most affected by extrajudicial executions,” which would “inspire the confidence of the people.”
The Commission should serve a transitional justice role and investigate allegations concerning past and recent violations of the right to life; propose relevant measures to tackle them; and work out a plan of action for the future to eradicate practices of extrajudicial executions. It should submit recommendations on legal reform; the reform of State structures, including security bodies; and the fight against impunity, he suggested.
On the demands made by various civil rights/human rights groups for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), especially in J&K and in the North-Eastern States, the Special Rapporteur wanted India to repeal, or at least radically amend, such legislations with the aim of ensuring that the law regarding the use of force by the armed forces provided for the respect of the principles of proportionality and necessity in all instances, as stipulated under the international human rights law.
India should also remove all legal barriers for the criminal prosecution of the members of the armed forces, he said.
“The level of extrajudicial executions in India is a serious concern. Vulnerable persons, including women, are at particular risk of killing,” Mr. Heyns added.
On the “fake encounters,” Mr. Heyns, quoting the statistics of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said 2,560 deaths during encounters with police were reported between 1993 and 2008. Of these, 1,224 cases were regarded by the NHRC as “fake encounters.”