Four people die in police custody every day: report

June 25th, 2008 - 9:28 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) In a grim remainder of the human rights situation in the country, a report by a rights group has revealed that nearly four people die in police custody every day. The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), on the eve of international day in Support of victims of Torture, released a report Wednesday titled “Torture in India: A State of Denial”.

“According to the data provided by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) 7,468 people have died or have been killed in prison and police custody during 2002 to 2007. This comes down to about four people per day,” said ACHR’s director Suhas Chakma while unveiling the report here.

The report also cites instances of torture and custodial deaths in areas where there are no armed conflicts, underlining the institutionalisation of use of force.

According to official figures quoted in the report, only four police personnel were convicted in 2004 and three in 2005 for custodial deaths.

“Hundreds are killed, dozens are paid compensation but only three to four persons are convicted each year. Nothing more can expose the pervasive impunity,” Chakma added.

The report also cites incidents of torture by the army, central paramilitary forces and states paramilitary forces in insurgency-affected areas.

“The armed forces are the sacred cows in the country. The NHRC has the mandate to intervene in matter of torture by police but it cannot look into the matter involving the armed forces,” Chakma said.

Citing non-cooperation on the part of the Indian government, the ACHR has recommended the government to enact a legislation putting the onus of proving innocence on the state in all cases of torture and provide compensation to the victims.

“India has not ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture even as its neighbouring countries Nepal and Sri Lanka have already done so. India has also been refusing an invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture since 1993,” Chakma said.

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