US clears India on rights issue, but rues graft everywhere

April 9th, 2011 - 1:09 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 8 (IANS) In its latest assessment of human rights worldwide, the US has generally given India a clean chit, but said problems included corruption at all levels of government and police.

Human rights problems in India included reported extra-judicial killings of persons in custody, killings of protesters, and torture and rape by police and other security forces, the congressionally mandated annual State Department report released Friday said.

“Investigations into individual abuses and legal punishment for perpetrators occurred,” the report noted.

“But for many abuses, a lack of accountability due to weak law enforcement, a lack of trained police, and an overburdened court system created an atmosphere of impunity; lengthy court backlogs prolong the latter,” it said.

Poor prison conditions and lengthy detentions were significant problems, but unlike in previous years (2008 and 2009), there were no instances of officials using anti-terrorism legislation to justify excessive use of force, the report said.

However, indiscriminate use of force by Border Security Forces was a problem, it noted.

“Corruption existed at all levels of government and police. There were reports of delays in obtaining legal redress for past attacks against minorities,” the report said. “The law in some states restricted religious conversion, but there were no reports of convictions under these restrictions.”

Violence associated with caste bias occurred, the report noted, adding: “Domestic violence, child marriage, bonded labor, dowry-related deaths, honor crimes, and female foeticide remained serious problems.”

Separatist insurgents and terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, the northeastern states, and the Naxalite belt committed numerous serious abuses, including killing armed forces personnel, police, government officials, and civilians, the report said.

Insurgents engaged in widespread torture, rape, beheadings, kidnapping, and extortion, the report said but noted the number of incidents, however, declined compared with the previous year.

There were numerous reports that the government and its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals and insurgents, especially in areas of conflict such as Jammu and Kashmir, the northeastern states, and the Naxalite belt, where non-governmental forces also committed such killings, the report said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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