Imphal, Nov 22:
At least five countries of the world had raised issue of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the review meeting of the India’s Human Rights record in the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHR) held on November 10, 2022 at Geneva under the 4th Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert (HRA), Mr. Khuraijam Athouba, of the International Peace and Social Advancement (IPSA) and Mr. C. Lalreruata of the Zo Indigenous Forum participated in the review meeting from the state of Manipur.
During the review, 130 member states made 339 recommendations highlighting some of the most urgent human rights concerns in the country including the protection of minority communities and vulnerable groups, tackling gender based violence, upholding civil society freedoms, protecting human rights defenders, and ending torture in custody.
Five countries, namely Germany and US in the advance question prior to the session and Norway, Belgium and Pakistan had raised the issue of AFSPA during the session.
As per report , Germany, in the advanced question prior to the session, raised the issue of AFSPA as the first issue.
“Does the Indian government consider to revise the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) with a view to bringing it into compliance with obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and fighting impunity?”, The Germany raised.
United States of America also raised the issue in its advanced question stating that – “We note the Government of India’s rollback of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to promote accountability and justice. We continue to have concerns about section 197 of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure, which does not fully address accountability for security forces and prevents victims from accessing justice”.
During the session, USA who spoke as 92nd speaker stated in its 2nd recommendation to “Ratify the Convention Against Torture and to prosecute those responsible for human rights abuses”
Norway, as the 53rd speaker, in its 4th recommendation stated, “Revise the Armed Forces [Special Powers] Act to ensure compliance with obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and consider reducing the Act’s geographic scope”.
Pakistan, as the 55th speaker, in its 5th recommendation stated, “Repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, National Security Act, Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, and the National Register of Citizens”.
Belgium, as 109th speaker, in its 4th recommendation stated, “Withdraw the Armed Forces Act 1958 and 1990 from the districts where it remains fully or partially in jurisdiction”
As done in the 2nd and 3rd cycles, the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the United Nations (CSCHR), the representatives from Manipur, submitted a stakeholder report for the 4th cycle of UPR, available online in the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as JS47_UPE41_IND_E_Main.
In its national report submitted to the UN ahead of its UPR review, the Indian government claimed “it is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights.”
Ten CSOs from North East region viz.,- Apunba Manipur Kanba Ima Lup (AMKIL), Arunachal Citizen Rights (ACR), Borok People’s Human Rights Organisation (BPHRO), International Peace and Social Advancement (IPSA), Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur (EEVFAM), Human Rights Alert (HRA), Human Rights Defender, Manipur (HRDM), Human Rights Initiative (HRI), Indigenous Perspective (IP) and Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR) engaging with the UPR process hope that Government of India Accept these recommendations and not simply Take Note of the recommendations. What actually matters to the citizens is the implementation of human rights on the ground.