International civil liberty watchdog Amnesty International has expressed concern over the continued use of Public Safety Act to detain individuals without charge or trial in J&K in violation of their human rights.
An Amnesty International briefing released today – “Still A Lawless Law” – shows that despite legal and policy developments in the region, J&K authorities still use the PSA to facilitate a range of rights-violating behavior.
In 2011, Amnesty International released a report documenting how the PSA violates human rights. Not much appears to have changed in 2012, a staement issued by the Amnesty said.
The PSA, the watchdog said, provides for arbitrary detention, in violation of the right to liberty which India is obliged to respect under international human rights treaties. Further violations facilitated by the PSA include ‘revolving door detentions’, ill treatment in detention, the denial of medical care to detainees, and lack of reparations for victims. “Amnesty International also found that PSA detention orders were still being used against children despite it now being prohibited,” the statement added.
“The J&K authorities continue to use the PSA to circumvent the rule of law and the criminal justice system. They resort to PSA detentions instead of charging and trying persons suspected of offences in court” said Ananth Guruswamy, Director, Amnesty International India. “J&K authorities often keep persons in detention even after the detentions have been quashed by the High Court”.
Amnesty said J&K state police chief has acknowledged that around 15,600 people were detained under the PSA without charge or trial in the last two decades. Detainees include political leaders and activists, suspected members or supporters of armed opposition groups, lawyers, journalists and protesters, including children.
In recent months, Amnesty said, UN officials have visited Srinagar and have recommended that the PSA be repealed. “While Indian authorities have the right and duty to defend and protect their population from violence, this must be done while respecting the human rights of all concerned and abiding by international law,” the statement said.
“The Public Safety Act violates international human rights law and must be repealed” said Ananth Guruswamy. “All PSA detainees must be charged and prosecuted through a fair trial in a court of law or else released”.