Amnesty Hails Machil Verdict

Bangalore/New Delhi: Amnesty International India on Thursday welcomed the jailing of seven Indian soldiers over a fake encounter as a turning point for human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Recent measures taken by Indian Army authorities indicating a commitment to deliver justice for victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir" were welcome, the rights body said.

On 12 Nov, an army court-martial convicted the soldiers for shooting and killing three men in a ‘fake encounter’ - a staged extrajudicial execution - in Machil in Jammu and Kashmir in 2010.

The court-martial sentenced the soldiers to life imprisonment. On 7 Nov, the army accepted responsibility for the killing of two Kashmiri teenagers by soldiers in Budgam district and said it was ready to cooperate with a police investigation into the incident.

Representational Image. ReutersRepresentational Image. Reuters

“The military court verdict in the Machil case should be followed by justice for the many other cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Shailesh Rai at Amnesty International India.

“Too often, military authorities dismiss the complaints they receive about human rights violations. The government has told UN bodies that nine out of 10 complaints about human rights violations by armed forces were found to be ‘false’, but refuses to disclose more details."

"The Pathribal case - where soldiers charged by the CBI with murder were let off by the army - was also a reminder that the military justice system do not always lead to justice," Amnesty said. “For justice to be the rule and not the exception, all cases of human rights violations should be investigated and prosecuted by independent civilian authorities.

"The Machil verdict should mark a turning point for human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.”

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