Repeal CAA, order probe into police brutality: Human Rights Watch to Centre

The international human rights body condemned police action against students and said the government should address the concerns raised about CAA instead of trying to shut down the protests with excessive force

December 17, 2019 04:13 pm | Updated 04:21 pm IST - New Delhi

Police personnel attempt to disperse protestors during a demonstration demanding withdrawal of Citizenship Amendment Act, at Seelampur in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Police personnel attempt to disperse protestors during a demonstration demanding withdrawal of Citizenship Amendment Act, at Seelampur in New Delhi on Tuesday.

The Human Rights Watch has urged the Centre to immediately repeal the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in view of nationwide protests against it, and said there should be an independent probe into police “brutality and excesses” against students and other protesters.

In a statement on Tuesday, the international human rights body’s South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly said the “government failed to grasp the extent of public opposition over erosion of basic rights evident in these protests”.

Its “strongest response to the protests would be to repeal” the Act and “withdraw its plan for citizenship verification that threatens marginalised communities”, the organisation said.

On the police action against students of Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and others in northeastern States protesting against the law, she said the authorities should immediately order all police personnel to abide by international standards on policing assemblies.

“The police may have used excessive force against demonstrators across the country” and the government “should establish a credible independent investigation into allegations of excessive force, brutality, and vandalism” by policemen, Ms. Ganguly said.

The CAA enactment had prompted international condemnation, including from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which urged Indian authorities to respect the right to peaceful assembly and to abide by international norms and standards on the use of force when responding to protests, she said.

India “should address the concerns raised about CAA instead of trying to shut down the protests with excessive force”.

“The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental right protected under international law, and one of the cornerstones of a society built on respect for human rights and rule of law. International human rights standards provide that law enforcement agencies should protect and facilitate that right, and should as far as possible apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force,” she said.

“HRW is concerned about the police using unnecessary or excessive force against protesters. While some protesters’ action may warrant police use of force, international human rights standards limit the use of force to situations in which it is strictly necessary,” she said.

About internet services being shut down in various states with the government claiming it was necessary to maintain law and order, Ms. Ganguly said India had used such measure several times in response to protests and “these shutdowns have largely been disproportionate, unnecessary, and in violation of India’s international legal obligations including the rights to freedom of expression and assembly“.

It also affected access to essential activities and services, including emergency services and health information, mobile banking and e-commerce, transportation, school classes, reporting on major crises and events, and human rights investigations, the HRW said.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.