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editorial : AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA – Investigate mass graves in Kashmir and Jammu
Dear Prime Minister
I am writing to urge that the Government of India conduct urgent investigations into hundreds of unidentified graves discovered since 2006 in Jammu and Kashmir. These investigations must be independent, impartial and follow international standards.
The grave sites are believed to contain the remains of victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses which occurred in the context of armed conflict persisting in the state since 1989. The graves of at least 940 persons have reportedly been found in 18 villages in Uri district alone.
Unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture are violations of both international human rights law and international humanitarian law, set out in treaties to which India is a state party and in customary international law. They also constitute international crimes.
I therefore urge you to:
• ensure that prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all sites of mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir are immediately carried out by forensic experts in line with UN Model Protocol on the disinterment and analysis of skeletal remains; make available adequate resources; and seek and accept offers of assistance and cooperation from international experts, both in carrying out the work itself, and in training local personnel engaged in the work. As an immediate step, the grave sites must be secured in order to preserve the evidence;
• ensure that all past and current allegations of enforced disappearances are promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially investigated and that, where there is sufficient evidence, anyone suspected of responsibility for such crimes is prosecuted in proceedings which meet international fair trial standards;
• ensure that all victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearance and torture are granted full reparations, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.
Jai hind. Vande mataram.
AN APPEAL ALL HONOURABLE MEMBERS OF U.S SENATE & U.S CONGRESS , GOVERNMENT OF USA
Respect the Supreme Court, Respect Justice
Dear sir / madam ,
I hope you join me in welcoming the Supreme Court’s decision that detainees held by the U.S. government at Guantánamo have the right to habeas corpus—the fundamental right to challenge the legality of their detention. This is the third time since 2004 that the Supreme Court has rejected the Bush administration’s arguments that it can indefinitely detain people without charge or meaningful hearing.
Regrettably, the last time the Supreme Court ruled that detainees have the right to habeas corpus, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act in an effort to strip that right away.
I urge you to respect the Supreme Court’s ruling that detainees at Guantánamo have the right to habeas corpus. I also recommend that you stand against any new legislation attempting to strip habeas corpus or replace it with an inadequate substitute.
The Supreme Court’s decision is limited. It will not close Guantánamo. Nor will it guarantee detainees a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal; the military commissions regime remains in place. I therefore urge you to introduce or support legislation requiring all detainees held by the U.S. at Guantánamo and elsewhere to either be charged with recognizably criminal offenses and provided fair trials before an independent and impartial tribunal, such as a U.S. federal court, or be released immediately and unconditionally.
AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER OF WEST BENGAL INDIA
INDIA: The circumstances in which a serach was conducted at MASUM’s office in West Bengal must be investigated
Names of the victim: Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), 26, Guitendal Lane, Howrah-711101, West Bengal, India
Names of the alleged perpetrators:
1. West Bengal state government
2. Mr. Prabir Chatterge, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Detective Department, West Bengal state police, Kolkata, West Bengal
Date of incident: 12 June 2008
Place of incident: Guitendal Lane, Howrah, West Bengal
I am informed by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that the West Bengal State Police had conducted an arbitrary search at the MASUM’s office in West Bengal on 12 June 2008. MASUM is a human rights organisation of high reputation that is based in West Bengal, India.
I am informed that MASUM, a partner organisation of the PWTN (a Tamilnad – India based human rights group) in a national campaign against torture, held a public hearing on custodial torture on 9 and 10 June 2008 in West Bengal where about 1200 victims and their families were present and 82 victims deposed before the tribunal. The West Bengal Police tried to interrupt the proceedings which were chaired by well respected human rights activists and judges in India.
I am also informed that after the search at MASUM’s office documents and audiovisual equipments were seized by the police on grounds and reasons best known to the police. MASUM’s President Mr. Kirity Roy who was contacted by the AHRC informed that in spite of repeated requests, the MASUM was not informed why the police is searching their premise and for what purpose the documents were seized. The police have refused to divulge even the case number that relates to the search and insisted that they have a search warrant issued from a local court.
I am informed that while it is the prerogative of an investigating agency to conduct an investigation of a suspected crime, it is equally the right of an individual and an organisation in India to know under what crime they are being investigated and the reason for a search that is conducted in the premises of the organisation and what offense is registered against the organisation/individual. I am informed that that the police has refused to divulge this information to MASUM.
I am also aware that MASUM is reporting cases of police torture from West Bengal and that it is often a practice of the Indian authorities to interrupt the work of human rights organisations and activists whenever human rights work attracts international attention. It is presumed that MASUM has also fallen prey to this atrocious act by the Indian authorities.
I am further informed that it is highly probable that the police might register false charges against the MASUM and may even take into custody the staff associated with MASUM, in which case their security is at risk.
I therefore urge you to immediately intervene in this situation and ensure that the investigation of the case, if any, registered against MASUM or its staff is carried out in an independent manner. I also further urge you that the entire incident that led to a search at MASUM’s office need to be separately investigated and the real purpose be brought to light, even if it exposes state or central government involvement for harassing a human rights organisation.
AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE UNION EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER , GOI , INDIA
I am very concerned to learn of a draft decision which was tabled at the Human Rights Council on 12 June 2008 (L.15) by the governments of India and the Russian Federation. If passed, this decision will result in the inclusion in the list of vacancies for appointment of Special Procedures mandate holders the thematic mandates where the mandate-holder has completed his or her first term of three years. I urge the Government of [ ] not to support this decision.
The review of the Special Procedures mandates, which began in September 2007 and continued at the current 8th session of the Council last week, has demonstrated broad support for the renewal of the vast majority of mandates. However, in the last few days, a number of states have used the opportunity of the review to criticize the performance of some mandate-holders. The Council has adopted a Code of Conduct to establish professional standards for mandate-holders. If there is misconduct in the execution of a mandate, it should be addressed using the established procedures for the application of the Code of Conduct and with due process.
The implications of the draft decision which has now been tabled will reach far beyond a single mandate, with mandate-holders becoming the focus of negotiation. This would, among other things, put the mandate-holders at risk of undue political pressure by states, pressure that can only be detrimental to their capacity to carry out their functions in an independent and impartial manner while in office. It would also act as a disincentive for mandate-holders from developing and carrying out anything but short-term plans in their respective areas of work. It would seriously undermine the capacity of mandate-holders to fulfil effectively their mandates given by the Council.
I urge the Government of [ ] to review the mandates of the Special Procedures in accordance with agreed procedures, and to take action to ensure that mandate-holders who have completed only three years of their tenure are not removed from office.
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