Mount pressure on India to ratify UNCAT without further delay: CSCHR to UN

The CSCHR pointed out that torture has become endemic in Manipur since the imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, which allowed the armed forces of the union to operate with impunity.

The ‘Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN’ (CSCHR), has urged the ‘UN special rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment’ to mount pressure on India for ratifying the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) without any further delay.

The CSCHR pointed out that torture has become endemic in Manipur since the imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, which allowed the armed forces of the union to operate with impunity.

In connection with the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture that fall on June 26, the CSCHR submitted a memorandum signed by representatives of as many as 14 rights groups to the Special Rapporteur in this regard.

According to the memorandum, the government of India has signed UNCAT in 1997. However, despite recommendation by the Law Commission of India and the recommendation of several governments to ratify UNCAT in all the three cycles of Universal Periodic Review, the government of India has not done so till date, it said.

The memorandum said that the military has obtained an order from the Supreme Court of India in 2001 authorizing them to interrogate ‘suspected militant’ in order to obtain ‘operational intelligence’.

Besides, the police is also a highly militarized institution in Manipur and is geared up for counter insurgency enjoying virtual impunity, it alleged adding that torture is systematically carried out not only in isolated military camps and police stations but even in the heart of the capital at Kangla where a Joint Interrogation Cell is in operation, it said.

It further stated that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) is another instrument facilitating torture and ill-treatment by sanctioning arbitrary arrest and detention as well as by providing stringent conditions of bail.

“Even though the population of Manipur is less than 0.4 percent of the whole population of India, its share of the UAPA detainee is more than 35 percent. Out of the 30 organisations banned under the UAPA all over India at least five organisations are banned for their assertion of the right to self-determination of Manipur,” it pointed out.

It further said that the hardships faced by the people during the unprecedented lock down in the name of COVID-19 pandemic is compounded by the heavy handed and opportunistic ‘counter terrorism measures’ of the government.

The UN’s call for a global ceasefire has no resonance in the on-going armed conflict in Manipur, it said and also invited the special rapporteur to visit Manipur and study the endemic phenomena of torture in this part of the world at the earliest.

First Published:June 27, 2020, 10:48 p.m.