India: authorities must fully investigate Manipur killings as ordered by Supreme Court
Indian authorities must ensure full compliance with the Supreme Court’s historic judgment directing independent investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings by the police and security forces in Manipur from 1979 to 2012, the ICJ said today.
The ICJ is calling for independent, impartial and thorough investigations into all cases, in line with international standards.
It is further calling on Indian authorities to ensure all accused are brought to justice in fair trials in ordinary civilian courts, and that the families of victims are accorded access to an effective remedy and reparation for any human rights violations.
“Through this judgment, the Indian Supreme Court has given fresh hopes to the victims of human rights violations in India who seek justice,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Asia Pacific Programme Director.
“This bold and principled decision should finally end the cynical attempts by Indian security forces and law enforcement agencies to shield themselves from criminal accountability,” he added.
On 14 July 2017, the Supreme Court ordered the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) within two weeks to go through the records of at least 85 cases of alleged extrajudicial killings that took place in Manipur between 1979 and 2012, lodge First Information Reports (FIRs), and complete investigations where required.
The Court also directed that the investigations must be completed by 31 December 2017.
The Court noted that the Manipur Police had not registered any FIR at the instance of the family members of the deceased.
It also held that the Manipur Police could not be expected to carry out impartial investigations as some of its own personnel were said to be involved in the “fake encounters”.
India has a legal obligation under Articles 2(3) and 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which it is party, to investigate allegations of violations of the right to life promptly, thoroughly and effectively through independent and impartial bodies and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
On 27 July 2017, the CBI constituted a five-member Special Investigating Team in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directions.
“The CBI’s compliance with the Supreme Court’s directions through the prompt constitution of an investigation team is a welcome step,” added Rawski. “It must now ensure that investigations are thorough, independent, impartial and in line with international standards, including the ICCPR.”
The ICJ urged the State of Manipur and the Union of India to extend full cooperation and assistance to the Special Investigating Team to complete the investigations without any hurdles or delays.
Other allegations of human rights violations in the petition must also be investigated in line with international standards, the ICJ said.
Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Asia Pacific Regional Director (Bangkok), e: frederick.rawski(a)icj.org
Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur (EEVFAM) and Human Rights Alert filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India in 2012, alleging that from 1979 to 2012 over 1,528 cases of fake “encounter killings” had taken place in Manipur.
They further alleged that the State government had not conducted proper investigations into the allegations of excessive use of force by the security forces and the police and requested the Court to constitute a special investigation team, comprising police officers from outside the state of Manipur, to conduct a probe into the alleged unlawful killings.
In July 2016, the Supreme Court emphasized the need for accountability for human rights violations by security forces, including under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), and directed the petitioners to present detailed documentation in support of their allegations.
In April 2017, the Supreme Court dismissed the Central Government’s curative petition requesting the Court to reconsider its July 2016 judgment on the ground that it hampered the security force’s ability to respond to insurgent and terrorist situations.
The killings mentioned in the petition all took place in areas considered “disturbed” under AFSPA. Once an area is declared “disturbed”, armed forces are given a range of “special powers”, which include the power to arrest without warrant, to enter and search any premises, and in certain circumstances, use lethal force.
AFSPA has facilitated gross human rights violations by the armed forces in the areas in which it is operational.
Human rights organizations, including the ICJ, and several UN human rights bodies have recommended that the AFSPA be repealed or significantly amended.NewsWeb stories