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Amnesty blames police, armed groups

New Delhi: Increasing vulnerability of socially and economically marginalised sections of society, Prevention of Terrorism Act, harassment of human rights defenders by police and abuses by armed groups — these are some of the issues for which India’s human rights record has been severely criticised by the Amnesty International’s 2002 annual report. The report also mentions the December 13 attack on Parliament and the subsequent army build-up on the border by India and Pakistan. At the same time, the National Human Rights Commission has been praised for taking an independent view in favour of the inclusion of caste discrimination as a form of racism at the Durban Conference as well as for criticising the enactment of Poto.

The report, which was released on Tuesday, notes that ‘‘inter-caste and inter-religious tensions were often politically exploited, leading to several violent incidents throughout the country in which police were believed to have taken a partisan role’’. 

According to Amnesty, the government in order to address the security concerns has come up with ‘‘new and stringent special legislation which grants wide powers of arrest and detention to law enforcement personnel.’’

On the other hand, it says, criminal justice system remains ‘‘extremely slow, under-resourced’’ which provides ‘‘weak safeguards’’ to the accused. Releasing the report here Tuesday, noted jurist and columnist, AG Noorani, said the government should not worry about international criticism of rights violations but should instead allow groups like Amnesty full access to the country. When the external affairs ministry can criticise the race-based constitution of Fiji, it should not cavil at the EU expressing concern about the communal massacres in Gujarat, he said. (Times News Network, May 29, 2002).

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