TODAY -

Repeal AFSPA: UN expert to India
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Agencies

Imphal/New Delhi , May 02 2013: UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences (UNSRVAW) Rashida Manjoo has appealed India to withdraw the draconian law, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Kashmir and India's troubled North East.

Addressing a press conference at UN's office in New Delhi yesterday at the end of her 10-day long official mission visit to India, Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo, who has been charged by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to monitor violence against women, its causes and consequences worldwide, observed that implementation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act should be repealed as it perpetuates impunity, and is widely used against human rights defenders.

The Act also violates international laws of which India is obliged to follow, and the Act, which has been blamed for fake killings, promotions and rewards in Kashmir and seven north eastern Indian states, gives sweeping powers to troops to arrest, search and even shoot with impunity from local laws, she added.

Manjoo, who was in India since April 22, to assess the situation on violence against women, went on to note that ,"The AFSPA and Public Safety Act (PSA), which is used to arrest any suspect and keep him/her jailed for more than a year without any trial, has mostly resulted in impunity from human rights violations.

AFSPA protects the armed forces from effective prosecution in non-military courts for human rights violations committed against civilian women among others, and it allows for the overriding of due process rights.

"In testimonies received, it was clear that the interpretation and implementation of this Act, is eroding fundamental rights and freedoms including freedom of movement, association and peaceful assembly, safety and security, dignity and bodily integrity rights, for women, in Jammu and Kashmir and in the North-Eastern States.

Unfortunately in the interests of state security, peaceful and legitimate protests often elicit a military response, which is resulting in both a culture of fear and of resistance within these societies," she added.

On the cases of crimes against women in Manipur, the UN Special Rapportuer observed, 'in consultations in Manipur, I heard anguished stories from relatives of young women who have disappeared without trace or who were found dead shortly after going missing.

The lack of response from the police is the norm in such cases, with the attitude being that these are mostly elopement cases.

I am deeply concerned about other consequences of such disappearances of young women, including exposure to sexual abuse, exploitation or trafficking.

More generally, many tribal and indigenous women in the region are subjected to continued abuse, ill-treatment and acts of physical and sexual violence.

They are denied access to healthcare and other necessary resources, due to the frequency of curfews and blockades imposed on citizens.

Moreover, the chronic underdevelopment prevalent in the region, coupled with frequent economic blockades, is having an impact on the overall cost of essential items, and is exacerbating the already vulnerable situation of women and children living in the region.

Manjoo, who was appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence against women in June 2009 by UNHRC, would be presenting her India report to the Council in June 2014 .

The UN expert's visit to India comes at a time when violence against women has increased exponentially in Indian capital and elsewhere.

As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity.

Ms.Manjoo also holds a part-time position as a Professor in the Department of Public Law of the University of Cape Town.


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