UN recommends repeal of AFSPA

The Working Group of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) on 30 May 2012 adopted the draft report on India’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Among their various recommendations, the 80 UN member states also recommended the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 (AFSPA).

UPR, a peer review process of human rights records of all UN member states, took place on May 24, 2012 in Geneva where India’s entire human rights record was examined thoroughly by other UN member states.

The government of India’s oral response during the UPR session was marked by a general lack of acceptance of human rights challenges in the country and a mere reiteration of domestic laws, policies and constitutional provisions. Eighty countries participated in India’s UPR and made a total of 169 recommendations on a whole range of critical human rights issues. Recommendations made to India include: prompt ratification of the UN convention against torture and the UN convention on enforced disappearances, repeal or review of the AFSPA, the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, comprehensive reforms to address sexual violence and all acts of violence against women, improve human rights training to police officers, abolishing death penalty, banning all forms of child labour, etc. India declined to comment on any of these 169 recommendations at the HRC review meet.

The government of India decided to examine all the recommendations back in the capital and respond to them prior to the plenary session of the HRC in Geneva in September 2012, when it will take a stand on recommendations. Miloon Kothari, convener of Working Group on Human Rights (WGHR), said: “We look forward to a constructive response from India as it formulates responses to the many useful suggestions that are contained in the document adopted by the UN on May 30, 2012. These responses from India should be formulated after thorough consultations with the Parliament, human rights institutions, civil society and independent institutions”.

The WGHR is a platform of human rights groups and individual experts working with the UN human rights mechanism form India. The group took active part in the UPR process with a separate stakeholders’ report on human rights situation India that was prepared through consultations with several human rights organisation and independent experts. The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee also participated in the process.

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