TAMIL NADU

“Torture is infliction of pain on one’s soul”

Facts found: S. Balaraman, former acting chairperson, Kerala State Human Rights Commission, releases an interim report in Madurai. Henri Tiphagne, Director, People’s Watch, receives it.

Facts found: S. Balaraman, former acting chairperson, Kerala State Human Rights Commission, releases an interim report in Madurai. Henri Tiphagne, Director, People’s Watch, receives it.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: G. Moorthy

Staff Reporter

Interim report of public hearing on torture released

MADURAI: Torture was to silence people and make sure that they did not raise their voice against injustice and remain docile, said H. Suresh, former Mumbai High Court judge and human rights activist.

Speaking on the interim report of the public hearing by People’s Tribunal on Torture held here on Saturday, he said that torture was not an infliction of pain on the body but on the soul.

The public hearing was part of a democratic exercise with an objective to restore human dignity, as it was important since the government machinery had failed to deliver justice.

“Not even a single police station is following the guidelines of the Supreme Court in ‘D.K.Basu’ case.” High courts should be empowered to call for reports from the respective State governments on implementation of guidelines detailed in the ‘D. K. Basu’ case.The judiciary as an institution had totally restrained itself from looking at torture.

“Even the Supreme Court, after recording the confessions and wounds inflicted upon the victim, fails to enquire about the torture.”

Vahida Nainar, Chairperson, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, and Ex-Adjunct Professor of Law, City University of New York, School of Law, in her address, said that the Sadashiva panel and deposition by victims of torture by Special Task Force had revealed a clear and established pattern of violence which was systematic and targeted.

Sexual violence by the task force had been institutionally undermined and needed to be exposed.

About 260 witnesses deposed in front of the panel in three days and the interim report based on the depositions constituted observations made by the jury on the forms of torture which included sexual abuse, extra judicial killings, custodial deaths, impunity, culture of oppression, reparation and compensation, human rights institutions and the role of civil society.

Recommendations

The recommendations made by the jury included ratification of all relevant treaties on torture, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Hospitals should be set up in areas where the Special Task Force operated for post-trauma disability. The jury recommended to the State to investigate all encounter deaths and initiate prosecution and also to follow National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) guidelines regarding encounter deaths. It called for an enquiry by a judicial magistrate into every custodial death by following the amended Criminal Procedural Code. Protection should be ensured for the victim and witness, it said.

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