Amnesty International (AI) India Tuesday said that Indian authorities should ensure that soldiers allegedly responsible for the killings of two people in Bandipora, Jammu and Kashmir on June 30, 2013 are investigated and prosecuted,
“These deaths must be investigated promptly, thoroughly and impartially, and where sufficient admissible evidence is found, a competent, independent and impartial civilian court should prosecute the suspects,” said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director, Amnesty International India.
“Authorities must ensure that the process is not impeded, either by the army taking the matter to a military court or by the central government blocking prosecution using the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act”, he added.
According to the statement, AI said that allegations of human rights violations by members of the armed forces in J&K have rarely been fully investigated and prosecuted.
“Court rulings have reinforced the powers of military authorities to try personnel accused of rights violations in military courts. Authorities have consistently withheld information about the outcomes of these cases. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) mandates prior permission from the central government before any soldier can be prosecuted for exercising powers conferred by the Act. Such permission is almost never granted,” read the statement.
“The AFSPA gives armed forces sweeping and unfettered powers, including to shoot and even kill ‘any person who is acting in contravention of any law or order’, and then protects them from being prosecuted,” said Shashikumar Velath.
“The result has been numerous violations of the right to life – a key human right under international and Indian law – with virtually absolute impunity.
“Authorities must ensure that investigations into these two incidents are taken to their logical end, those responsible are brought to justice in fair trials, and the AFSPA is repealed in J&K and elsewhere.”