AI Calls Shopian Killings ‘Extra Judicial Murders’

Pictures of three Rajouri boys- Courtesy Twitter

Srinagar: Prominent human rights body Amnesty International on Wednesday demanded an independent and transparent probe into the alleged fake encounter of three Rajouri youth by government forces in south Kashmir’s Shopian district last month.

“Amnesty International India calls for the extrajudicial execution to be investigated and prosecuted by independent civilian authorities. Civilian investigations and trials offer a degree of transparency and independence that is missing from the military justice system,” Executive Director Avinash Kumar said in a statement issued to media on Wednesday.

The Amnesty statement further said that the UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which India is a state party has stated that in cases of human rights violations by security forces, investigations should be carried out by civilian authorities in order to ensure independence.

“This has also been affirmed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. The Supreme Court of India has also criticised the military justice system and recommended reforms on a number of occasions. Military law experts in India have acknowledged inherent defects within the Indian military justice system, particularly its lack of independence,” the Amnesty statement said.

It added that Amnesty International India has previously documented the ‘propensity’ of army authorities to almost categorically dismiss allegations of human rights violations against their personnel.

“In its latest Situation Update and Analysis from Jammu and Kashmir, Amnesty International India has documented the closure of the State Human Rights Commission along with six other commissions, including the State Commission for Protection of Women and Child Rights, which has left the people of Jammu & Kashmir with absolutely no redressal for their human rights violations. This is a violation of their right to remedy as guaranteed by the ICCPR,” the renowned rights body said.

The Amnesty statement said that it has repeatedly called for repealing of AFSPA since it “facilitates immunity and impunity for human rights violations”.

“The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which is in force in Jammu and Kashmir, is an abusive law that feeds a cycle of impunity for human rights violations. The law grants virtual immunity to members of the security forces from prosecution for alleged human rights violations,” the statement said.

Referring to the statement of the Ministry of Defence on 2018 in Parliament, the Amnesty said in the last 26 years zero permissions have been granted to prosecute soldiers in J&K, including the cases of soldiers accused of unlawful killings, torture and rape.

“In Jammu and Kashmir, ensuring accountability would include ensuring access to information for victims and families during police investigations, and guaranteeing due process when victims attempt to bring complaints against their abusers,” the statement added.

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