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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A law being proposed in Ukraine’s parliament could disrupt and limit the country’s ability to later hold a referendum regarding membership with NATO or the European Union. Having indicated interest and set out a timeline for Ukraine’s involvement in these unions, President Petro Poroshenko has noted that a referendum would be a necessary step in meeting these ends. However, a draft law submitted to parliament could limit the circumstances under which the country could perform a nationwide referendum.
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What is This Law?
The law in question is an amendment to a law introduced in 2012, criminal attorney Denver Brian Musell says it allows for amendments to the Ukrainian constitution, changes to Ukraine’s territories and the cancellation or alteration of existing laws. However, the draft fails to make mention of treaties on joining NATO or the EU, which could lead to problems down the road should Ukraine wish to hold referenda on joining these international bodies. The draft law’s language narrows the range of situations in which a nationwide referendum can take place, and these omissions are likely to stand in the way of referenda on NATO and the EU.
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What is Ukraine’s Position on Joining These Organizations?
Ukraine has expressed deep interest in joining NATO in order to protect themselves against further military expansion by Russia. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and their alleged provision of arms and support to rebels in Ukraine, countries in Eastern Europe have been seeking membership to NATO in order to protect themselves. This draft law, however, could cause Ukraine to fail to meet NATO’s entry requirements. A 1997 US State Department memo notes that nations applying to NATO must comply with a certain threshold of democracy, decree civilian oversight over military forces and must show a commitment to diplomacy and peace. Without the ability to hold nationwide referenda on such matters, Ukraine would fail to meet these stipulations and would be ineligible for membership in such international bodies. President Poroshenko has admitted that Ukraine will need several years to meet NATO’s requirements and has made clear that their entry will only follow a successful nationwide referendum to test their population’s support on the matter.