Memorandum submitted to Inquiry Commission of Supreme Court
Imphal Press Club, 21 February 2013
CIVIL SOCIETY COALITION ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN MANIPUR AND THE UN
In a Memorandum submitted on 18 February 2013 to the independent Commission of Inquiry appointed by a directive of the Supreme Court of India on 4 January 2013, with a copy to the Chief Justice of India, Mr Altamas Kabir, the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN (CSCHR) raised critical concerns relating to the modus operandi of the Inquiry Commission. The Inquiry Commission is reportedly coming to Imphal on 1 March 2013.
1. The undated Public Notice published in one local vernacular daily newspaper and one English language daily newspaper only on 9 February 2013 inviting sworn affidavits in English, with three extra copies, to be submitted to its office established at the Manipur Bhavan in New Delhi within 10 days of its publication is deficient and objectionable, and having no precedence in the history of Inquiry Commissions in Manipur.
2. The undated Public Notice gives no contact details of this office except a postal address. No office is set up in Manipur where the terms of this Commission are to be met, its business conducted and where the alleged extra-judicial executions took place. With no office established yet in Manipur, what are the plans and schedules of the Commission in this State and where will the aggrieved families, witnesses and other interested parties meet the Commission when it visits Imphal on 1 March 2013 as reported?
3. Despite the Supreme Court directive, the Central and Manipur governments have not extended diligent necessary manpower and secretarial assistance to the Inquiry Commission after more than a month of its establishment.
4. The full Terms of Reference of this Inquiry Commission has not been made known to the public.
5. There are no mechanisms established for witness protection or safety. No confidentiality procedures have been established.
As the findings and conclusions of this Inquiry Commission will have direct implications in the ongoing petitions before the Hon’ble Supreme Court finally to bring justice and reparation within the grasp of the long aggrieved surviving families of the deceased, the Memorandum drew the attention of the members of the independent Inquiry Commission to the following:
I. Considering that the undated Public Notice of 9 February 2013 does not give satisfactory contact details thereby nullifying a feasible mechanism of communications by telephone, fax or email (Internet based channels) or otherwise, to make available contacts where the original statements, affidavits and evidence may be presented at Imphal before the Inquiry Commission.
II. An informed Public Notification to be re-published or broadcasted in both State and privately run information dissemination mediums like the radio, television, daily newspapers, etc., at least three times in English, Manipuri and other languages in the State.
III. The public to be informed of the full Terms of Reference of the Inquiry Commission through such a re-notification.
IV. The Inquiry Commission must immediately have an office established at Imphal, Manipur with the full cooperation and essential support including secretarial and financial assistance extended by the Central and Manipur governments. This office should be empowered to receive any material evidence or statements or affidavits to the Inquiry Commission, as such facilitation would greatly ease the hardships being faced by the interested parties in the cases being examined.
V. Last date for receipt of information by the Inquiry Commission regarding the facts and circumstances relating to the killing of the aforesaid seven persons to be extended till 28th February 2013 to lend more accountability and inclusivity to the process.
VI. The Inquiry Commission must establish due processes and effective mechanisms to protect the witnesses, surviving family members of the deceased and other interested parties who wish to submit information, depose or appear before it.
VII. The Inquiry Commission must also institute a confidential mechanism as established by similar communications procedures worldwide and in the United Nations Human Rights Council. This will further contribute to the personal security of witnesses and confidentiality for those who wish to appear and depose before the Inquiry Commission.
VIII. Reduce the number of copies of documents required to be submitted to one copy. The burden of making necessary copies must lie with the office of the Inquiry Commission, and not be imposed on the aggrieved families of the deceased.
IX. Apart from printed/written documents, the Inquiry Commission should allow the submission and inclusion of audio, video, photographs, object/material evidences including fact-finding visits to the alleged encounter sites in order to establish the true facts and circumstances of the killing of the seven persons in Manipur during 2009 for effective and speedy delivery of justice to the aggrieved parties.
The Commission was established under a directive of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 4 January 2013 (WP [Crl] No.1/2009 and WP [C] No. 445 of 2012) following a recent petition filed by Extrajudicial Execution Victims’ Families’ Association Manipur (EEVFAM), which pleaded for an independent probe into more than 1500 cases of extra-judicial killings in Manipur.
The three member Inquiry Commission, comprising of retired Supreme Court Justice N. Santosh Hegde, former Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh and retired DGP of Karnataka Police, Mr. Ajay Kumar Singh, is to conduct an independent probe into 6 different cases of extra-judicial killings, involving 7 (seven) victims including a child in the State of Manipur.
(Dr Laifungbam Debabrata Roy)
Blog site: http://humanrightsmanipur.wordpress.com
* This info was sent by CSCHR Manipur who can be contacted at cschrmanipur(at)gmail(dot)com
This Press Release was posted on February 21, 2013.
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