US says India respects citizens’ rights, but problems persist

February 26th, 2009 - 1:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 26 (IANS) Even as it noted that the Indian government generally respected the rights of its citizens, the US State Department has expressed concern that there were increasing attacks on religious minorities in the South Asian nation.
The India chapter of the US State Department’s 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which was released here Wednesday, said promulgation of anti-religious conversion laws and violence associated with religious and caste-based discrimination were matters of concern.

It noted that despite the government’s respect for human rights, serious problems persist. Major problems included extra-judicial killings of people in custody, disappearances, and torture and rape by police and other security forces.

Investigations into individual abuses and legal punishment for perpetrators occurred, but the lack of accountability created an atmosphere of impunity for the majority of abuses, the report alleged.

While civilian authorities generally maintained effective control, security forces occasionally acted independently of government authority during incidents of communal tensions in states such as Karnataka, it alleged.

According to the US State Department, corruption existed at all levels of government and police in India. The government also applied restrictions to the travel and activities of visiting experts and scholars.

The report added that serious internal conflicts affected Jammu and Kashmir as well as some states in the north and east.

Separatist guerrillas and terrorists in Kashmir, the northeast and the Maoist affected areas committed numerous serious abuses, including killing armed forces personnel, police, government officials, judges and civilians.

Insurgents engaged in widespread torture, rape, beheadings, kidnapping and extortion. However, the number of incidents declined compared to the previous year, the report said.

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