UN urged to press India to improve ‘abysmal’ rights record

April 8th, 2008 - 10:15 am ICT by admin  

New York, April 8 (IANS) Describing India as a “vibrant electoral democracy with an abysmal human rights record”, an international rights body has urged the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) to press India to check rights violations by its security forces. The New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) Monday called on the HRC to demand that India accept the recommendation of various government-appointed experts and repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, “which has allowed widespread human rights violations by security forces with impunity” as well as immunity clauses in Indian law.

India’s human rights record comes under the first-ever Universal Periodic Review (UPR) when the HRC meets in Geneva April 10.

UPR is a new mechanism to scrutinise the human rights record of every UN member state. Over the next two weeks, 16 countries’ records will be reviewed.

HRW wants the UN rights body to press the “Indian government to take strong steps to hold accountable members of its security forces responsible for torture, arbitrary detentions, killings, and disappearances”.

While welcoming the government’s efforts to “properly train its security forces and other officials”, HRW said: “Security forces in India continue to be responsible for grave human rights abuses during counter-insurgency operations, such as in Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Manipur.”

The HRC should also demand that the government fulfil its responsibility to protect and support vulnerable communities, including Dalits, tribal groups, religious minorities and women, the human rights watchdog said.

“India is a vibrant electoral democracy with an abysmal human rights record,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Victims of abuse in India are counting on the HRC to put maximum pressure on the government to address these problems.”

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