S.O.S e – Voice For Justice – e-news weekly
Spreading the light of humanity & freedom
Editor: Nagaraja.M.R.. Vol.09..Issue.35….….30/08/2014
JUDGEs or Brokers of Justice ?
Release Irom Sharmila
Hunger striking activist Irom Sharmila re-arrested – police
Human rights activist Irom Sharmila, on hunger strike for the last 14 years in protest against alleged army atrocities, was arrested again on Friday two days after being released from hospital detention.
“Sharmila has been re-arrested. It is clear that she is attempting suicide and we cannot allow her to do so,” said M.C. Singh, a police official in Imphal, capital of Manipur.
Sharmila, 42, went on hunger strike in 2000 in protest against a law originating in the British colonial era that gives security forces wide powers to search, enter property and shoot on sight. During her detention, she was force-fed by doctors through a tube going into her nose to keep her alive.
Singh told Reuters that doctors had been ordered to force-feed her again and the police would produce her before a judge to press suicide charges against her. Under Indian law attempting suicide is a punishable offence.
The activist was released from a state hospital on Wednesday after a trial judge found no evidence to support earlier charges filed by state prosecutors that she was trying to commit suicide by refusing food.
After her release, she vowed to continue her hunger strike and refused to return home.
“The government is scared of Sharmila. The authorities do not want her to fight for our rights but nothing can break her determination,” said her lawyer, Babloo Loitongbam.
Sharmila, known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, began her fast in November 2000 after 10 people were killed in a shooting at a bus stop near her home in Manipur. Activists blame the army for the killings but no arrests have been made in case.
Despite calls from judicial inquiries and human rights groups, the federal government has kept in force the anti-terror law in parts of northeast India and mainly-Muslim Kashmir to allow the military to contain insurgencies.
Honourable Chief Minister ,
Government of Manipur ,
Subject: END 14 YEARS DETENTION OF IROM SHARMILA
We are writing to urge you to drop all charges against Prisoner of Conscience Irom Sharmila Chanu and release her immediately and unconditionally.
Irom Sharmila has been on an indefinite fast since 2 November 2000, demanding the lifting of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA).
She was arrested by the Manipur police shortly after she began her hunger strike and charged with attempting to commit suicide. In March 2013, a Delhi court also charged Sharmila with attempting to commit suicide in October 2006, when she staged a protest in Delhi for two days.
Irom Sharmila has never been convicted of attempting to commit suicide. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and has said she is holding a non-violent protest.
Irom Sharmila is a Prisoner of Conscience, who is being held solely for her peaceful expression of her beliefs. Her hunger strike is a protest against human rights violations, and is different from self-starvation as a way to commit suicide.
As the Supreme Court has recognized, hunger strikes have long been accepted as a legitimate form of protest in India.
We urge you to recognize that Irom Sharmila’s protest is based on principles of non-violence, justice and accountability, like those of many other Indian activists before her.
We ask you to release Irom Sharmila and consider the validity of her demands, not punish her for exercising her constitutional rights.
Nagaraja Mysore Raghupathi ,
An Open Letter to Honourable Chief Justice of India
Honourable Chief Justice of India ,
Supreme Court of India ,
Kind Attn: Justice Shri. R L Lodha
We are writing this letter to you with my faith in judiciary and deep pain in my heart. The pain is there because as a citizen of this democracy, we would like to have every right to be heard and to raise our voice.
By this public letter, we want to raise our voice before you (before the highest institution of law in my country) as the issue about which we are requesting, is associated with the interest of public by and large and thus your intervention will be helpful in protection of law as well as in establishing and maintaining our faith in constitution and its values.
We are talking about Irom Sharmila, a lady who is domicile of Manipur and who is observing a hunger protest since last 11 years (since the year 2000). The objective is to register the grievance against human rights violations in Manipur and the demand is to repeal the AFSPA (Armed forces special power act).
The lady has every right to register and to protest as she is associated with the people of Manipur who faced the ill effects of this draconian law. However, through this letter, we would like to make it clear that like in every other such protests, government always try to come with solution including visits, negotiation, reviews, public debates and hearings, referendum etc; however in this case/demand, no such steps have been taken from the side of government yet.
It has also to be noted that some human rights activists have submitted petitions before NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) , but NHRC disposed off almost all such petitions and replies that the matter is political.
We, the citizens of India, who understand the issue, may be divided in two parts , one is the indians who support AFSPA, another is the indians who oppose AFSPA. But still, both of these categories supports Irom Sharmila on democratic and humanitarian grounds and criticize government/ courts/ NHRC because no concrete steps have been taken by such responsible agencies/institutions.
I believe that the ongoing fast of Irom Sharmila is the symbol of her faith in democratic values and non violence. The fact that the Government has not taken any positive steps also hurts us and our faith in democracy.
We would like to bring to your kind attention these facts:
- She is a human rights activist and has been fighting not for the cause of one individual or herself, but for the society as a whole . The charge of “ attempt to suicide ” is disgraceful.· She is charged under “ attempt to suicide ” and facing ‘arrest’ for this attempt. Every time she move to court and repeat her statement for not to break her fast and her arrest extended. Is it right to provide order of ‘arrest’ for the same charge repeatedly?
- Sharmila’s fight is based on non violence. She talks about peace, love and non violence in her each message. But the Government has ignored her. In these 11 years, no parliamentary delegation or all-party representative group was ever sent to Manipur. There hasn’t even been any continuous approach of communication.
- NHRC has also not arranged any official visit of members of this institution to meet Irom Sharmila and people of Manipur.
- The meeting procedure is also very difficult. It is, unlike, as in all other cases of suicide attempt or as in case of an ordinary prisoner. She has been charged under the attempt to suicide but doesn’t forced solitary confinement increase the chances of suicide?
- She is not allowed to meet the public . When other prisoners charged with the same or more serious charge are allowed, then why not her? It violates the Right to equality before law. is it not violating Article 19 under which she has right to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, move freely.
- The suppression of a non-violent voice may discourage people from using this method of protest and will encourage violent ways.
- It has been seen that government has a practice to make efforts for negotiation and to take action and to initiate a process when any such fast has been organized in New Delhi in past, however government has not approached to Irom in spite of her 11 years long fast. Is it not the violation of right where it is told that ‘The state shall not discriminate against any citizen on the basis of caste, religion, race , place of birth etc’
- Many national/international agencies, eminent persons like Nobel peace prize winners, Padma awardees, Magsaysay awardees, many social activists and intellectuals and general public have been raising this issue. In view of this suppression by the Government, and the necessity to protect the values of humanity and democracy, I request here to you (Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India) for protection of human rights.
The issue has not only appealed to the general public but has become known on an international scale as well. I request you
- To issue notice to the Government of India on the issue
- To constitute a committee of retired/sitting judge, human rights activists, parliamentrians to submit reports on this issue and review condition
- To make Irom Sharmila free
- To advise NHRC to arrange an official visit of members of NHRC at Manipur to meet Irom Sharmila
We hope that our faith in this institution will be maintained by the actions of the institution in favor of protection of human rights in this case.
Editorial : REPEAL ARMED FORCES SPECIAL POWERS ACT in Manipur – An Appeal to H.E.Honourable President of India
I am writing to express solidarity to the ten-year-long fast of Ms. Irom Sharmila Chanu, the Iron Lady of Manipur and her cause.
I am informed that Sharmila has started the fast on 5 November 2000, protesting against the violence committed by state and non-state actors in Manipur. I am aware that the protest also demands an immediate end of impunity in the state, for which the withdrawal of the martial law, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), from Manipur is a prerequisite.
I am worried about the sufferings of the ordinary people of Manipur at the hands of the underground militant organisations as well as the state agencies.
I am aware that the AFSPA is enforced in Manipur to support government actions in the state in countering secessionist activities and underground militant acts. Yet, it is now certain that the AFSPA has not helped in countering militancy in Manipur, but in fact has enraged it.
I am informed that the climate of impunity is one of the reasons why conflict continues in Manipur.
The AFSPA, as far I understand is an addition to the overall impunity framework that has contributed to the deterioration of the state of rule of law in Manipur. My opinion is also shared by national bodies including Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee; the Second Administrative Reforms Commission; and the Prime Minister’s Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir. I am informed that these eminent bodies have recommended the government to withdraw AFSPA from operation since they are of the informed opinion that a law like the AFSPA will only facilitate violence and not prevent it.
I am convinced that under the current circumstances in Manipur the withdrawal of AFSPA will not in itself solve the Manipur crisis.
Yet, it could be a bold and open step by the government to show that it is determined to find solution to an armed conflict that has haunted an entire generation in the state. The withdrawal of AFSPA from Manipur will be recognition to the sufferings of the state’s people and an expression of respect and acknowledgment of their rights.
Additionally, withdrawing AFSPA from Manipur will be a catalyst to end the climate of impunity in the state. Jai Hind. Vande Mataram.
Your’s sincerely ,
INDIA: 10 questions to Union Home Minister Mr.Rajnath Singh on Manipur
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) appreciates the effort taken by the Home Minister of India in undertaking a visit to Manipur. Manipur is one of the states in India with a poor human rights record. During the past three years the number of encounter killings reported from the state has steadily increased, until the state administration faced severe criticism for the public execution of two persons on July 23, 2009 by the state police. Mr. Shinde and a team of officers from the Union Home Ministry are visiting Manipur today and tomorrow.
The Home Minister is known to be having a professional as well as no-nonsense approach in work. Many in India hold him at a high esteem, referring to the Minister as a person who assesses officers and institutions under his command on the basis of their performance. Based on these references, the AHRC wishes to place before the Home Minister the following questions, so that the Minister will be able to help the state administration and the people of Manipur in finding a sensible solution to the six decade long internal conflict in that state.
1. Can the state administration account for the money that it has spent in the past five years for countering insurgent activities in the state? Can it provide the exact details as to who was paid what amount? It is not required for the state government to publically account every single Rupee of the tax money that it has spent on countering insurgency. But it must be able to produce records to the satisfaction of the Union Home Ministry for at least those expenses, where the spending was Rs. 200,000 or above in a single payment.
The AHRC appreciates the value and sensitivity of ‘human.int.’ in counter insurgency work. Yet, the state administration must be able to account to the Union Home Ministry that supports the release of such ‘Central Funds’ to state government.
2. What training was provided to the Manipur State Police and its State Police Commando Unit in the past two years to deal with insurgency? Does it meet the requirements of training offered to a civilian police force that is to undertake counter insurgency activities respecting the rule of law? How many police officers have received such training?
3. What is the process of recruitment to the state police in Manipur? What is the guarantee that the candidates selected for training and appointment in the state police are not selected on the basis of bribes paid to the Chief Minister or to his party’s MLAs?
The AHRC has credible information that to secure appointment as a Trainee Sub-Inspector in Manipur, a candidate is required to pay Rs. 1,400,000 to Rs. 1,800,000 as bribe to the Chief Minister or to a designated MLA as of 2010. The AHRC is informed that the officers upon appointment, realises through various means from the public the bribe they have paid to secure a job in the state police service. The AHRC also has credible information that in the process police officers are engaged in extortion, conniving with some of the criminal elements that are also listed in the prohibited organisations’ list by the Union Government. It is reported that such widespread corruption is one of the important reasons for a high number of encounter killings and unabated criminal extortion in the state.
4. How many police officers have been investigated in the past three years for crimes alleged to have committed by them, in particular torture and criminal extortion? If any such investigation has been conducted, who has been prosecuted?
If not why?
5. How many instances of encounter killing — other than the July 23 incident — have been investigated in the past three years in Manipur? What prevents the state from complying the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission concerning encounter killing? If the state administration has conducted such investigations, why is that the reports not sent to the Commission?
6. Why is that most cases of encounter killing show the same pattern?
Most of the cases of encounter killing documented by human rights organisations in Manipur, shows the following pattern: a person is arrested by unidentified police commandos who are often accompanied by officers from a para-military unit or from a military detachment stationed in the state; the arrested person is detained in custody illegally, often for days; later the person found dead at a distant place; the state police immediately release a press note saying that the person was shot dead in an armed encounter; weapons (mostly 0.9 mm pistols, grenades, live cartridges) are shown as recovered from the deceased insurgent.
It would be interesting for the Union Home Ministry to verify how many such recovered/seized articles are produced in courts as material objects recovered from armed insurgents. How many of such recovered materials are kept in police custody? Do they all have separate identification marks? Does the articles and their number tally with the statements issued by the state police in each case? Does the state police have any such accounting system? If so, will the state police dare to make the list public? If not why?
Will the Home Ministry be willing to undertake an impartial accounting of recovered articles? The AHRC is willing to collaborate in such a process with the Union as well as State administration.
In 2009, between January and November, the state police have reported 272 executions, which was publically admitted by Mr. Joykumar Singh, the current Director General of Police. In most of the cases, the above pattern has been noted.
This proves two things. One, it defies logic. Further it could also suggest that the state police are ill equipped and ill prepared that many persons they arrest escape from their custody. Or, it has to be assumed that the state police is well informed that at least 24 times each month in 2009, the state police were able to intercept and engage an armed insurgent invariably resulting in the murder of the armed insurgent. If the latter were the case, there must be no more armed insurgents operating openly in the state, or the insurgents are so naïve that they always expose their armed presence to the state police.
- Will the state administration put an end to the illegal tax collection of some of the armed insurgent groups in Manipur? It is common knowledge that in Manipur many armed insurgent groups prohibited by the Union Government have setup illegal tax collection (criminal extortion) counters adjacent to police check posts on public roads. Every person, particularly drivers in Manipur know this or are their victims. Why have the state police not stopped it? Or are they hand-in-glove with the insurgents? Or is it the police themselves posing as insurgents?
The Home Minister must know that today in Manipur, it is hard to distinguish between an insurgent and a police officer. Both kills with impunity, extorts money by force from the people and are unaccountable to everything under the sun. Can the Home Minister contribute to change this situation?
8. What plans has the state administration made and executed to regain the confidence of the public? At the moment, Manipur is like a volcano that could erupt anytime. Has the state administration taken the effort to make public its public confidence building plans if they have any? If not, what prevented them in doing so?
9. Will the Home Minister meet Ms. Irom Chanu Sharmila? Reports from India inform that the Home Minister will meet human rights activists in Imphal. Does the Home Minister see Sharmila as a threat to the peace of Manipur or a unifying factor to its fragile social fabric?
10. Will the Home Minister make a public report about his visit to Manipur? The public need not know the nuances of the state’s security scenario. But every Indian, especially each person in Manipur has a right to know what is their future in terms of their safety and security. Today they have only stories of fear and anger to say about their Chief Minister and the administration he leads. Can the Union Home Minister bring a difference?
If not what hope does Manipuries have of being part of the world’s largest democracy?
AFSPA Must Go–The Draconian Law Completes 55 Years
On 4th of March 2009, when it was touching noon,(around 11:50 am), Mohd Azad Khan was reading a newspaper in the courtyard of his house along with one of his neighbouring friends, in Phoubakachao Makha Leikai Yumnan village of west Imphal district, Manipur. Azad, a barely 12 year old boy and a student of class seventh at the local high school, was sitting with his friend Kiyam Anad Singh (14 years), when some personnel of the Manipur Police Commandos rushed in to his house. One of the personnel dragged Azad by both of his hands and started beating him severly. Meanwhile, the commandos asked Kiyam the reason for keeping company with Azad. Didn’t he not know, Azad was an activist of an underground organisation. The commandos showed him a gun saying that it belonged to Azad and slapped him on his face. Subsequently, Azad was dragged out some 70 metres towards the north.
While Azad was being dragged out of the courtyard, the commandos fired some rounds in the air and at the same time other commandos prevented his mother and family from following them, pointing guns and forcing them to go inside their house. After dragging Azad, he was pushed down on the paddy field and shot dead. Almost immediately, the commandos threw a pistol near the dead body. The whole incident was witnessed by his family members as well as neighbouring villagers, as all of this happened in broad daylight. After the killing, the dead body was taken away by the raiding commandos in their vehicles. The villagers tried following the police commandos but were stopped.
Azad is not alone
Believe me, this is not the script of a horror/action film but a real life story. What is most disturbing is that the case of Azad is only one amongst the hundreds killed in cold blood. Over the years, cold blooded murder, or ‘encounter’, as they call it, has become a routine of Manipur. Like Azad, you would be reading the newspaper today and be a news item in tomorrow’s newspaper, which too would be limited to those published in Manipur and neighbouring areas. In the same year, on 23rd July, Chongkham Sanjit (27 years old), was killed in cold blood in broad daylight, barely 500 metres from the state assembly. But it was only when the newsweekly Tehelka, published the photographs of the episode by an anonymous photographer, that news of Sanjit’s cold blooded murder reached us.
Cold blooded killings, and, in particular, fake encounters by the Manipur Police Commandos (MPC) have become a day-to-day affair in the life of Manipuris. In 2008, there were 27 recorded cases of torture and killings by the MPC. In several cases, ordinary civilians carrying money and valuables have been robbed and sometimes killed. In few of the cases, official ‘action’ has been taken but for the most part, their extra-judicial activities goes scot free. In fact, it happens the other way around. Take the case of Azad. Her mother Garamjan Bibi deposed before an Independent People’s Tribunal headed by Justice (retired) K K Usha of Kerala High Court, during 11-13 December 2009. “When I tried to bring out the truth, filling a case with police, the police commandos, warned me to withdraw the case if I wanted to save my life.” It must be mentioned, in all of the cases, Commandos repeatedly threatened the petitioners to withdraw the cases. What is more glaring is that it is not just happening in Manipur only, but different parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Kashmir as well.
The root Cause
Why is it happening so? What makes these forces so powerful, or rather, so brutal? The answer is, Arms Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)-1958, a draconian law in the name of maintaining law and order in the so-called disturbed areas. According to the Act, in an area that is declared as ‘disturbed’, even a non- commissioned officer of the armed forces has powers to: “Fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the extent of causing death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law”, against “assembly of five or more persons” or possession of deadly weapons. To arrest without a warrant and with the use of “necessary” force on anyone who has committed certain offenses or is suspected of having done so and to enter and search any premise at any time in order to make such arrests. It gives army officers legal protection for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under the law.
The act is not only problematic because of violation of rights that occur in ‘disturbed areas’. But it is also problematic because once the AFSPA is in force – as it is in all Northeast Indian states – the government through a simple notification can declare any area, the entire state, or parts of the state, as ‘disturbed’ without any public debate. The deployment of the armed forces, the suspension of fundamental freedoms and the ‘special powers’ of the armed forces can immediately come into force. An area can remain ‘disturbed’ for years with no end. The act legitimizes a localized form of indefinite emergency rule in the areas. Ironically, the Act is nothing but a replica of the 1942 Ordinance framed by the colonial powers to control the wave of Indian freedom struggle.
AFSPA must go
It has been 53 years, since the act came into being. And over the years, it has become an established fact that due to the draconian law, hundreds of ordinary citizens of the so-called disturbed states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Kashmir have lost their lives. Extra-judicial killings, illegal detention, rape, torture has become a routine affair for the people—men, women, old and child all alike, of these ‘disturbed areas’. The act has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high handedness by the one who is supposed to protect their life, liberty and dignity. Even the Justice Reddy Committee, appointed by Government to study the issue during UPA-I admits it, “the Act, for whatever reason, has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high handedness.” And without an iota of doubt, the impacts of the draconian laws like AFSPA are far reaching and disastrous. These are tools of the Indian government, through which it is alienating and pushing towards the wall its ‘own-people’. Government after government, no matter which party is at the helm of affairs, is not worried about these people, nor ready to scrap this tool of oppression.
This 22nd May, when the draconian law is completing its 53th year of enactment and going to enter the 54th, it is the duty of us, the people from the so-called mainland India to stand up by the side of (or with) the oppressed and demand to scrap the AFSPA. After all, injustice anywhere is everywhere. It is time to join Irom Chanu Sharmila, who is on her fast unto death, now going to enter in eleventh year, with the firm resolution to see the Act meet its end and an end to the injustice (mostly unaccounted) by the armed forces on the innocent civilians. Today when hundreds and thousands of people from Kashmir to Manipur are demanding to scrap the AFSPA, let us come together and join hands, stand in solidarity with the people of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Kashmir and say : AFSPA must go now and by now. Enough is enough.
(Mahtab Alam is a Civil Rights Activist and an independent Journalist. He can be contacted at email@example.com)
Read Armed Forces Special Powers Act
INDIA: Use of torture to extract confession, anyone surprised?
The latest news by the WikiLeaks claims that India has systematically used torture to extract confessions and has allowed its armed forces to resort to brutal human rights abuses like extrajudicial executions and disappearances to instil fear, and thus control the population in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The report asserts that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was concerned about New Delhi’s despicable tolerance of the issue and that the government practically did nothing to prevent torture and has consistently condoned it. The lack of action by the government and the impossibility of the government soldiers to be investigated or punished for engaging in torture has contributed in no less terms towards the alarmingly high number of extrajudicial executions and disappearances in that state, the leaked wires claim.
Torture, extrajudicial execution and disappearances are no news to Indians though. The diplomatic wires leaked by the WikiLeaks and the sudden news value it has attained in India and abroad is similar to someone expressing surprise after hearing that the earth’s shape is very close to that of an oblate spheroid and not a perfect sphere. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), AHRC’s national partners, as well as other civil society groups in the country and aboard have been contenting for years, with sufficient proof, that the practice of torture and encounter killings – a euphemism for extrajudicial executions in India – is consistent and widespread in the country. During the past six decades, the practice of torture and the number of encounter killings have only increased steadily and it never showed a tendency to decrease.
The AHRC has analysed this issue, and has been arguing that torture is used as a tool for social control in India. The AHRC has contented that similar is the state of affairs in other South Asian states like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In fact more than 80 percent of AHRC’s human rights interventions on its engagement in South Asia is against torture, all of which is available at http://humanrights.asia The AHRC has consistently argued that the widespread use of torture in the region is the result of the failed domestic institutions, in particular, the police, prosecution and the judiciary and hence is the central deficit in realising human rights in the region. The AHRC has been drawing the attention of national governments as well as that of the international human rights community to this issue, and has been consistently urging the international community in particular, to work with the national governments and the civil society in the region to address this perennial issue, without which there can be no visible improvement to the protection, promotion and fulfilment of human rights in the region.
Concerning India, the AHRC has reported, in the past six years, more than 500 cases with meticulously documented details, including names, dates, places and even affidavits of victims of torture. Each of these cases, reported through the Urgent Appeals programme of the AHRC, has been reported to the Government of India, the respective state governments and the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture calling for an immediate intervention and necessary action. The AHRC has reported when the elected representatives and the law enforcement officers in the country have publically stated that they believe in torture as an effective and necessary tool for crime investigation. The national media has reported at least a dozen incidents in the past 36 months where uniformed police officers where documented torturing suspects in full public view. The AHRC has consistently argued with evidence, that today torture in India is not a mere tool for crime investigation, but it is more often used for extracting bribes, that it promotes corruption, is used for silencing political dissent and to instil fear in the population. The AHRC has argued with proof that torture is most often used against the poor and members of the minority communities. The Supreme Court of India, over the years and on several occasions, has held that the practice of torture is widespread in India and the Court has repeatedly ordered the government to take remedial actions to contain it. The National Human Rights Commission and the short-lived National Police Commission has recommended the Government of India that unless the police is trained and equipped to discharge their responsibilities, that meets the operative standards of a civilian service in a democratic state, the police will continue to use torture as a crude tool to meet their ends. Yet, the government of India has done nothing to address the issue so far.
The farcical approach of the Government of India concerning this serious issue that has made disastrous dents upon the very notion of democracy in the country is evident from the 242-worded law that it passed in the lower house of the Indian Parliament – the Lok Sabha – this year and claimed it to be the law that would suffice the need of the time and will enable the country to ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and is thereby equipped to end torture in India. The AHRC’s analysis of the issue is now available in its most recent issue of Article 2, which is available here.
In states like Chhattisgarh and Orissa, where the national government as well as the state administrations are engaged in countering modern India’s product to the region – the Naxalites – resulting out of the despicable neglect of the needs of its rural population, the police as well as state sponsored private militia like the Salwa Judum, are engaged in widespread use of torture with impunity. Conditions in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir is the several folds multiplied effect of the same nemesis, where the Indian armed forces, armoured with the statutory immunity provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 is in operation. It defies commonsense and insults intellect to expect a government that has done practically nothing to prevent torture in rest of the country where it has to fight no armed insurgents, not to allow its armed units stationed in Manipur or Jammu and Kashmir to practice torture or murder civilians.
Those who are from these states, including human rights defenders who have dared to speak against the government, have faced the wrath of the Indian administration. Internationally acclaimed human rights defender and lawyer, Mr. Parvez Imroz, from Jammu and Kashmir is yet to be allowed to travel outside India, since the government has denied him a passport. Human rights defenders in Manipur are afraid that they would be arrested, tortured and even murdered at the behest of the central government or the absolutely corrupt state administration, should they dare to speak about torture or about state-sponsored murders. Environmental activist and human rights defender, Mr. Jiten Yumnam, in Manipur was arrested last year and charged with a fabricated case registered under the non-bailable provisions of the draconian National Security Act, 1980 only because he has been vocal against corruption within the Manipur state administration. Jiten was arrested from Imphal airport, while he was preparing to travel to New Zealand to participate in an international human rights consultation.
Yet, in response to the WikiLeaks news, the government of India has officially responded that torture in India is its internal affair. The government spokesperson has claimed that the government views the news as not serious enough to make a detailed response. Indeed this is expected. It is the same response of the government whenever it is questioned about yet another brutal form of human rights violation practiced in India, caste-based discrimination. What the government fails to admit is that discrimination has never been an internal affair of India, though India still has a caste-enslaved population estimated to constitute 20 percent of the country’s population, unable to free from this brutal social and structural evil. Neither are torture or extrajudicial executions, issues remote and irrelevant, to remain as a miniscule family feud between Indians. These are crimes having universal jurisdiction, that today, the rest of the world consider these crimes as crimes against humanity.
If the arguments advanced by the government of India are to be accepted, by condoning apartheid, India was interfering in South Africa’s internal affairs and thereby breaching international law. India could also be held responsible for violating state sovereignty and international law for participating in the UN intervention in Rwanda. Lt. General Shiva Kumar, the third and the last Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda could be then held for leading an international invasion of Rwanda.
A government that condones caste based discrimination, or torture or extrajudicial executions disserve only contempt. Any government that obstructs the punishment and prevention calls for global humiliation. Its leaders can be prosecuted and punished if they travel to civilised jurisdictions.
Or is it that the government of India believes that Indians are not human. Conversely, is it that the government of India that is inhuman?
Notice to CJI Justice R M Lodha
New data suggest more than 340 U.S. inmates that could have been exonerated have been sentenced to death since 1973
DINA FINE MERON, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
This article was originally published by Scientific American.
Just how many individuals on death row are incorrectly convicted? The question has dogged attorneys and civil rights advocates for years, but a simple answer is almost impossible because few wrongful cases are ever overturned. A new analysis is adding a level of much-needed detail, and it concludes that more than twice as many inmates were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death than have been exonerated and freed.
Borrowing a statistical method often used to evaluate whether new medical therapies help patients survive, a team of researchers has concluded that about 4.1 percent of criminal defendants who are sentenced to death are falsely convicted. The approach allows researchers to “actually come up with a valid estimate of the rate of false convictions—knowing something that people say [in criminal justice] is not knowable,” says study author Samuel Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School and editor of the National Registry of Exonerations, a U.S.-focused exoneration database. What makes the analysis possible is that data on the potential need for exoneration from death penalty cases come to light more often than it does for other types of criminal proceedings. All death sentences in the U.S. are based on crimes that include homicide.
The study, led by a team of lawyers and statisticians, examined data on both 7,482 defendants who were given death sentences between 1973 and 2004 and death row exonerations during that time. By applying survival analysis—a statistical method often used to calculate how well new treatments help patients survive—they determined how often a prisoner under threat of execution was exonerated. The method usually tracks patients to see if a new therapy prolongs the period of time until a person dies from the illness in question but it can also be applied to policy questions that have clear end points. In this study the end point of tracking was exoneration (being found innocent and freed) or the actual execution. “Survival” was defined as remaining in prison. The “therapy” here would be removal of the threat of execution.
Here’s how their analysis works. It says that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under this sentence indefinitely, as opposed to being taken off death row due to being resentenced to life in prison or their fate being artificially cut off by the study ending, then 4.1 percent of those prisoners would have otherwise been exonerated. (And being exonerated and freed by legal action here is used as the best proxy for innocence.) The analysis also takes into account other occurrences such as suicide or death of a prisoner from natural causes. The number of false convictions among the death-sentenced has been particularly hard to estimate, Gross says, because many prisoners who are on death row are eventually moved off of it but remain in prison, which often reduces their chances of exoneration.
The issue affects a significant number of people. Since 1973 144 death-sentenced defendants have been exonerated in the U.S. But Gross says that the analysis indicates that at least 340 people would have been put to death unjustly in that same time period. “There are no other reliable estimates of the rate of false conviction in any context,” the researchers wrote in the study, published online on April 28 inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers also note that a 4.1 percent rate of false conviction is conservative, given that separate calculations gauging the accuracy of the assumptions that took an even more conservative stance—assuming that people who were executed had zerochance of false conviction and that the chances of exoneration after retrial would be twice that of people on death row—would still produce a larger figure than their 4.1 percent estimate. Although their analysis does not include data after 2004, the researchers note that they doubt that the use of DNA identification technology would have much impact on false conviction rates—because DNA evidence is primarily used in cases such as rape rather than homicide. Only about 13 percent of death row exonerations have resulted from DNA testing.
For more on death penalty considerations, see Scientific American’s editorial in the May edition of the magazine that details how the use of drugs to carry out capital punishment is inadvertently putting medical patients at risk.
Statistical study estimates that some 4% of US death-row prisoners are innocent.
The chances of exoneration increase the longer a person remains on death row, according to a study.
At least one in 25 people on death row in the United States would be exonerated if given enough time, researchers have found. The study, which used statistical methods to extrapolate from available data, is one of the first to try to quantify the rate of false convictions.
- First rotation rate of an exoplanet measured
- Tanker disaster cut bird fertility in half
- Searching mummies for ancient smallpox viruses
The work attempts to shed light on a notoriously difficult task: gauging the number of people falsely convicted of crimes. Few convictions result in an exoneration, most of those convicted never manage to prove their innocence and many cases do not have their final outcomes recorded, so data are not available to researchers. Innocent people also frequently plead guilty in the hope of reducing their sentence, effectively eliminating themselves from any analysis. Therefore, quantifying exonerations is the only way to get a glimpse of the extent of wrongful convictions, says lead author Samuel Gross, a criminologist at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor.
Gross and his colleagues analysed the rate of exonerations among prisoners on death row, whose outcomes are carefully tracked by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics in Washington DC. In a previous report, the researchers found that less than 0.1% of prison sentences are death sentences, yet capital cases accounted for 12% of exonerations between 1989 and 2012. Gross attributes the disparity to the tendency of lawyers and courts to work harder to definitively determine guilt when a person’s life is on the line.
But many death sentences are never carried out. Courts often change a convict’s sentence to life imprisonment, or the accused dies from suicide or natural causes while on death row. To determine what would have happened to these prisoners had they remained there, Gross’s team relied on a statistical method known as a survival curve, which is commonly used in epidemiology to measure the number of people in a population who die from a specific cause over a certain period, and so extrapolate the rate of deaths for longer periods of time.
- Faulty forensic science under fire
- Forensic investigation needs more science
- Eyewitness identification: Line-ups on trial
The longer a person stayed on death row, the team found, the higher the chance that he or she would be exonerated. Furthermore, the researchers calculated that if all of those sentenced to death were kept on death row indefinitely without being executed, receiving a life sentence or dying of another cause, at least 4.1% would eventually be exonerated. That number still underestimates the rate of false convictions, Gross says, because many innocent people never manage to prove their innocence.
Because a longer death row stint means a greater chance of exoneration, people who are put to death quickly after their convictions could be more likely to have been innocent than the population of convicts as a whole — likely because there has not been as much time for subtler pieces of evidence to come to light.
According to James Liebman, a lawyer at Columbia Law School in New York City who was not involved in the study, the statistics suggest something of a paradox. Often a convict is lucky enough to have his death sentence commuted to life in prison, by a state governor for example, because of lingering doubt about his guilt. But because fewer people with life sentences are exonerated, Liebman says, “that luck will be bad luck because there’s a lesser change of having that error discovered.”
- Gross, S. R., O’Brien, B., Hu, C. & Kennedy, E. H. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USAhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1306417111 (2014).Show context
04 February 2014
23 August 2012
21 May 2008
Editorial : PIL – DEATH PENALTY RIGHT OR WRONG ? ABLOLISH DEATH PENALTY
– AN APPEAL TO H.E.Honourable PRESIDENT OF INDIA & HONOURABLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
WHY DO WE KILL PEOPLE WHO KILL PEOPLE TO TELL PEOPLE THAT KILLING PEOPLE IS BAD ???
Just consider the following facts persons convicted in rarest of rare cases that of Assassinating a former prime minister of india are commuted to life sentence & within hours released by state government of Tamil Nadu. Where as some convicts convicted in heinous crimes but not heinous or rarest of rare like PM Rajiv Gandhi assassination were hanged without alternatives like commuting their sentances to life term.
Poor , tribal people in chattisgarh , Andhra Pradesh , Jharkhand & other states infested with terrorism / naxalism (even without any material incriminating evidences) are charged with charges like giving food , cloth & medical aid to terrorists / naxalites, therby waging war against the nation . Those poor tribals rae put behind bars and tried under draconian laws like TADA , POTA , MOCA , etc. Where as movie star Sanjay Dutt who knowing fully well the intentions kept deadly arms in his house . Arms were given to him by master minds of Mumbai attacks. Initially he was booked under TADA , then TADA charges were dropped and awarded a lesser prison term than actually deserved. Further , he is getting paroles week after week which other ordinary prisoners are unable to get even once.
Consider the case of Bhopal Gas Tragedy , the company & top most officials were well aware of safety procedural lapses in the Bhopal plant , still continued the operations. When the accident happened slaughtering thousands & maiming lakhs of people , the government first charged the head of the company with charges of man slaughter. Afterwards , he was arrested but stealthily facilitated to escape to his home country literally flown out by the police , chief minister of the government. Subsequently chief Justice of India dropped man slaughter charges against him & filed lenient charges against him making the way for lenient punishment in future (JUDGEMENT FIXING). CJI benefitted from it ? Paradoxically after retirement , CJI became head of the trust controlling crores of rupees monitoring the rehabilitation of Bhopal gas victims.
In this context it is quite pertinent to note that In India with money power , right political connections any crime can be done & be scot free . In India Legal system is for Sale , Judicial orders can be manipulated. The convict in a case may be an innocent without recourse to right connections & legal aid. So , one cann’t be 100% sure whether the death convict has actually committed the crime.
A criminal is not born, but made by social circumstances. For the crime
scenario in India , every citizen of India is indirectly responsible.
Our present inefficient, corrupt legal system , is wholly dependent on
evidences which a rich criminal can create or destroy at his sweet
will. Police forcibly take confessions from the accussed , by applying
3rd degree torture methods. Some of the judges are literally auctioning
” judicial orders” for bribe. Due to all these reasons one cann’t be
100% sure about one criminal’s conviction. In such cases, capital
punishment will be unfair & inhuman. It must be made mandatory, in all
death penalty cases that polygraph, lie detector tests, etc must be
conducted on ” death convicts ” , to know whether they are innocent or
guilty inspite of hostile evidences. Fundamentally, the capital
punishment has failed
as a deterrent.
The people who clamour for continuance of death penalty are BIASED,
INHUMAN, BUTCHERS & CANIBALS. Why don’t they ask for death penalty to
policemen, who murder people through 3rd degree torture, in lock-ups &
fake encounters ? why don’t they ask for death penalty to corrupt
judges who sells judicial orders for bribe ? why don’t they ask for
death penalty to builders who cause building collapses, resulting in
mass murders ? why don’t they ask for death
penalty to corrupt government doctors who refuses to treat poor patient
without bribe, causing the murder of poor patient ? why don’t they ask
for death penalty to industrialist/ traders who sell adulterated food
items, spurious drugs/ medicines, in turn causing mass murders ? why
don’t they ask for death penalty to corrupt government officials , who
help criminals, industrialists? Why don’t they ask for death penalty to
politicians who create communal & other riots, who have ties with
foreign intelligence agencies, terrorist outfits ? Why don’t they ask
for death penalty to mole in the P.M.O & the senior officers of
National Security Council who passed on national secrets ? Why don’t
they ask for death penalty to public servants , ministers who gave aid
, support to terrorist outfits like L.T.T.E out of government of india
coffers , killing hundreds of srilankans , tamils ?
These are the guilty persons , criminals who don’t personally ,
directly murder human beings but cunningly murder hundreds which go
unnoticed by any. For the person who barbarically murders one human
being you prescribe CAPITAL PUNISHMENT but for those who murder
hundreds you say nothing why ? THEY WON’T ASK FOR IT, BECAUSE MOST OF
THE PERSONS WHO ARE DEMANDING DEATH PENALTY ARE BIASED, SELFISH &
BELONG TO ONE OF THE SECTIONS OF CRIMINALS MENTIONED ABOVE. They lack
Death penalty is the ultimate . cruel , inhuman and degrading
punishment. It violates the right to life Article 1 of universal
declaration of human rights. It is irrevocable , prone to judicial
errors and can be inflicted on innocents. It has never been shown to
deter crime more effectively than other punishments. In most of the
countries including india , judicial system is ineffective ,
inefficient to prosecute impartially both poor & rich criminals. Those
condemned to death penalty mostly come from poor background who are
unable to afford wise & articulate Advocates who can efficiently argue
their case. Against these poor accussed , the criminal nexus of
police-criminal-bureaucrat builds up fake evidences , extracts forced
confessions by 3rd degree torture. Most of death convicts world over
belongs to either poor , TRIBALS , DALITS , etnic minorities ,
political dissidents , children , mentally ill. No rich & mighty
criminal is ever prosecuted let alone hanged.
The judicial system which depends on technical facts like evidences
lacks sense to figure out truth out of fake evidences , also as judges
are human beings they are prone to err. Add to this corruption in
judiciary. Death penalty is irreversible & irrevocable. In a mature
democracy like U.S.A with relatively efficient judicial system itself
hundreds of cases of death convicts were found to be wrong , convicts
were found to be innocents upon review & were let free. Where as in
india , the accussed lacks the wherewithal to argue his case in the
first place then how can he arrange for case review ? no judge is god ,
if a hanged person is found to be innocent the judge doesn’t has the
ability to bring back the hanged person to life , do such judges have
right to snatch away lives ?
Hereby HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH’S Urges H.E . PRESIDENT OF INDIA & HONOURABLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA ,
- to stay all death penalties until equitable criminal justice system
with respect to above mentioned rich & mighty criminals is put into
- until death penalty is abolished, to make poly graph, lie detector
tests mandatory for all death convicts in a free & fair manner by a
neutral authority , to ascertain whether the convict is really guilty
or innocent of the alleged crime .
- until death penalty is abolished , to give a peaceful choice of
death to the death convicts like sleeping pill, injection, gun shot,
etc instead of medieval & barbaric ” death by hanging”.
- finally, to abolish death penalty from statuette books.
JAI HIND. VANDE MATARAM.
Edited, printed , published owned by NAGARAJA.M.R. @ # LIG-2 No 761,HUDCO FIRST STAGE ,
OPP WATER WORKS , LAXMIKANTANAGAR , HEBBAL ,MYSORE – 570017 KARNATAKA
INDIA… cell : 91 9341820313 , 91 8970318202
Home page :
A Member of Amnesty International