Abuses by the police and security forces including extrajudicial killings, torture and rape, as well as corruption at all levels of government, are the most significant human rights problems in India, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Congress and published by the State Department this week.
The world’s largest democracy is also dogged by separatist violence, life-threatening prison conditions, sex trafficking of children and an atmosphere of impunity resulting from the overburdened judicial system, the “India 2013 Human Rights Report” said.
The 68-page document, released by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday to mark the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out a timeline of recent human rights abuses by the police, bureaucrats and security forces.
The U.S. report found continuing allegations that the police raped women, including while in police custody. Tribal girls were gang-raped in government hostels, and 48,338 child-rape cases were recorded from 2001 to 2011, the authors said.
“Some rape victims were afraid to come forward and report the crime due to social stigma and possible acts of retribution, compounded by lack of oversight and accountability, especially if the perpetrator was a police officer or other official,” they added.
The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives state governments the right to declare any state a “disturbed area,” allowing security forces to fire on any person to maintain law and order and to arrest anyone without informing the detainee of the reason for doing so, was also a cause for concern, according to the report. The law gives security forces immunity from civilian prosecution in regions where it operates.
A government-commissioned report on changes needed to the law after the gang rape of a young woman in Delhi in Dec. 2012 had said the AFSPA was being used to legitimize “impunity for systematic or isolated sexual violence in the process of internal security duties” and needed to be reviewed. The government had taken no action in this direction during 2013, according to the authors of the human rights report.
They also provided evidence of a complaint long-held by Indians: that corruption exists at all levels of government and leads to a denial ofjustice.
Nonprofit organizations, the report said, had noted that bribes typically were paid to expedite services, such as police protection, school admission, water supply, or government assistance.
“The CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] registered 583 cases of corruption between the months of January and November,” of last year the report said.
via Report Details India’s Worst Recent Human Rights Abuses – India Real Time – WSJ.