India: investigation of extrajudicial killings and the right to truth and justice

Today at the UN Human Rights Council, the ICJ emphasised the importance of effective investigations capable of leading to truth and justice, highlighting recent developments in Manipur, India as an example.

The statement read as follows:

“Justice processes in situations of conflict or transition require fighting impunity and re-establishing public trust.[1] An example is the new prospects for justice in relation to 1528 alleged extrajudicial killings cases in Manipur, India, which would make an important contribution to a transition out of the long-standing conflict.

In July 2016, in response to a petition filed on behalf of the victims, the Indian Supreme Court stated that “there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial…”,[2] opening the door to ending impunity. As of August 2018, the Central Bureau of Investigation has registered 29 complaints against security forces.[3] Recent reports suggest that the Government is also considering amending the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to remove or restrict existing overbroad authorizations for use of lethal force.[4]

These are welcome developments. However, concerns remain, as the investigation status of the majority of the cases is unknown. Two UN Special Rapporteurs in July 2018 also affirmed that justice must be done in all cases.[5]

The ICJ calls on India to ensure independent, impartial and thorough investigations into all cases in Manipur, amend AFSPA, and to uphold the right to truth of victims and society about acts committed and the identity of perpetrators, in line with its international and national legal obligations, including as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

[1] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, A/HRC/39/53 (25 July, 2018),

[2] Para 163, Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM) & Anr. v. Union of India & Anr. Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 129/2012.

[3] TNN, “Army Major named in FIR for killing 12-yr-old in fake Manipur encounter”, Times of India, August 3, 2018,

[4] “In AFSPA, Government Considering Crucial Changes”, NDTV, September 13, 2018, available at

[5] Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, “India: UN experts call for urgent progress in investigation of hundreds of ‘fake encounter’ killings” (4 July 2018), .

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