The international rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has appealed to the Indian government to repeal a Draconian law granting immunity to security forces who have been accused of violating human rights in Kashmir. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was first brought about in 1990 to protect security forces against prosecution during the Kashmir conflict.
What is AFSPA?
AFSPA was introduced after the start of militant uprising in the Indian-controlled Kashmir in the 1980s. Since several security forces are deployed there to keep insurgency down, AFSPA was passed granting troops the power to shoot and kill any suspected militants, or arrest them without a warrant. This has, in turn, led to several human rights violations in the region which have gone unchecked due to the questionable law, Amnesty International argues. The watchdog has called for an independent and impartial inquiry in the historic cases of human rights abuses by these security groups under protection of AFSPA.
What Has This Meant?
Since the law’s introduction in 1990, not a single service person in the armed forces has been tried for human rights violations and criminal law cases, states the report by Amnesty International. In addition to this being a failure of the legal system and the government to uphold human rights in courts, Amnesty International has expressed concerns that not trying service people for their part in human rights violations has failed the Indian constitution, leading to alienation amongst the general population. In addition, they argue that the lack of accountability on behalf of these security personnel has paved the way for other abuses of human rights in India and elsewhere. They argue that India has failed its own people and constitution as well as its international obligations, which could cause serious problems for the country later on down the road. The report details the violations and excesses carried out by these security forces since the start of the Kashmir conflict in the 1980s, stating that the government has failed to deliver proper justice in response to these excesses. The government has yet to make an official response to the report and its accusations.
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