05, Jul 2018 | CJP Team
Two United Nations human rights experts have called on Indian authorities to complete thorough investigations into alleged killings by security forces in Manipur. The experts in question are Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
“We are extremely concerned that the delay appears to be deliberate, undue and unreasonable, and we condemn this lack of progress,” the experts said.
In 2012, the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association had filed a petition with the Supreme Court that alleged that Manipur had seen more than 1,500 extra-judicial killings in the period between 1979 and 2012, and that those responsible had not been held accountable, Scroll.in reported. In many cases, police had attributed these deaths to crossfire between security forces and armed persons or groups, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said, adding that the families have, however, alleged that the individuals were purposefully killed in ‘fake encounters’.
The OHCHR noted that, in 2013, a Supreme Court-appointed Commission scrutinised six cases chosen at random and found that in all instances, the security forces’ conclusions were not genuine, and that those who were killed lacked established criminal records. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was directed to investigate several other cases. As the UN experts highlighted, the Supreme Court established three deadlines, all of which the CBI has failed to meet. The Court established December 31, 2017 as the deadline to complete probes into 89 cases, but just 12 cases were registered by that date. Another deadline was set for February 28, 2018, but by March 12, just 42 cases had been registered. The Court set the final deadline to complete the probes and file a report for June 30, 2018. However, in a hearing on Monday, July 2, the CBI did not file the report and also said it had finished investigating just four cases, the OHCHR said.
“Some of these families have been waiting decades for these cases to be fully investigated. It is unacceptable that the CBI is failing to meet these deadlines and appears to lack good faith,” the experts said. According to the OHCHR, they also expressed concern that the court orders applied to just a small number of cases, and that it was not certain when the remaining cases, amounting to several hundred, would be investigated.
“The government of India has an obligation to ensure prompt, effective and thorough investigations into all allegations of potentially unlawful killings, and a failure to do so is a violation of its international obligations. Justice delayed is justice denied,” the experts emphasised. The OHCHR said that they also conveyed serious concerns regarding information that human rights defenders associated with the cases had been harassed by authorities and attacked by unknown persons.
The entire statement may be read here.