U.N. says India should scrap AFSPA in Kashmir

NEW DELHI Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:53pm IST

An Army soldier checks the identity papers of a motorist during a curfew in Jammu August 7, 2008. REUTERS/Amit Gupta/Files

An Army soldier checks the identity papers of a motorist during a curfew in Jammu August 7, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Amit Gupta/Files

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India should scrap the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which gives security forces, battling militancy in the troubled regions of Kashmir and the northeast, sweeping powers to search, arrest or shoot people, the United Nations said on Friday.

Human rights groups say the AFSPA is a draconian law which the military arbitrarily uses to violate civilians' rights.

The authorities and the army deny those charges, and say the legislation is essential to root out insurgents. Kashmir, the country's only majority-Muslim region, has been the trigger for two out of three wars between India and its neighbour Pakistan.

After a 12-day visit to India, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, urged New Delhi to repeal the law, saying it was "a symbol of excessive state power" that "clearly violates international law."

"A law such as AFSPA has no role to play in a democracy and should be scrapped," Heyns told reporters.

A defense ministry spokesman declined on Friday to comment on Heyns' remarks.

Heyns, who will submit a report of his findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council next year, said he heard numerous testimonies from families of victims who had reportedly been killed in arbitrary executions carried out by security forces.

Among other powers, the AFSPA allows security forces to fire upon, or use force against, an assembly of five or more people, or anyone in possession of a deadly weapon. It gives legal immunity to the officials, so they can be neither sued nor prosecuted.

In 2010, over 100 people were killed by government forces in protests against the AFSPA in Kashmir. Local authorities in some areas have said they will stop using the law, but this has been blocked by the Indian army.

"The position may have improved in some respects, but has not been resolved, and the legacy of the past is bound to continue into the future," Heyns said.

(Editing by Anurag Kotoky and Daniel Magnowski)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
CentralGovt wrote:
I am afraid the depiction of the AFSPA in the above article is far too partisan and more importantly, inaccurate. The AFSPA applies only to select areas which the State/Central Govt notifies as “disturbed areas” in the Official Gazette (Sec. 3) which need to be reviewed periodically (AIR 1998 SC 431)and cannot be imposed for arbitrary reasons (AIR 1983 Del. 514). Only NCO+s can, after giving due warning, use force against a person carrying a weapon. (Sec. 4) Where arrests are made they are required to hand over the accused to the civilian State Government police (Sec.5). Prosecution can be initiated against any armed forces personnel for violating the AFSPA after Central Govt. approval. In short, this only extends the existing powers under the Indian Penal Code available to the civilian State police, to the Central armed forces as well.

Mar 31, 2012 7:57pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Public Health

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Airtel Profit Jumps

Airtel Profit Jumps

Bharti Q2 net profit more than doubles   Full Article 

Maruti Earnings

Maruti Earnings

Maruti Suzuki net profit up 29 percent, beats estimates.  Full Article 

ICICI Results

ICICI Results

ICICI Bank Q2 profit up 15 percent, beats estimates.  Full Article 

Cost Cutting

Cost Cutting

PM Narendra Modi boots officials out of the first class cabin  Full Article 

Market at Record

Market at Record

Sensex, Nifty hit record highs; reforms outpace hawkish Fed.  Full Article 

Moody's on India

Moody's on India

Moody's welcomes India's policy steps, but wants to see more.  Full Article 

End Of QE

End Of QE

U.S. Fed ends bond buying, exhibits confidence in U.S. recovery.  Full Article 

Samsung Results

Samsung Results

Smartphone woes drag Samsung Elec Q3 profit to more than 3-year low.  Full Article 

Refining Margins

Refining Margins

BPCL aims to double refining margins with refinery expansion.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage