Joint Submission to UN Challenges India
(Fremont, CA) In November 2011, Ensaaf partnered with international human rights organization REDRESS, to make a joint submission to the Universal Periodic Review on mass cremations, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings carried out in Punjab, India during the 1980s and 1990s.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process, under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. India's first review was conducted in 2008. During that review, States encouraged India to ratify the UN Convention on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Ensaaf/REDRESS joint submission discusses the failure of the Government of India to hold the individuals responsible for these violations to account and to provide victims with effective remedies and full reparation. It focuses on the mass cremations case:
In 1995, human rights activists used government records to reveal that security forces had secretly and illegally cremated over 6,000 individuals in three crematoria in Amritsar district—then one of thirteen districts in Punjab. In 1997 India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was empowered by the Supreme Court to examine the role of state actors in the perpetration of these human rights violations and to provide redress to victims and their beneficiaries. However, despite its powers to do so, and despite substantial evidence of systematic human rights violations presented to it by victims, the NHRC failed to establish the extent of human rights violations and to provide victims with an adequate remedy and reparation.
The submission ends with a list of recommendations to India that include, among others: establishing an independent monitoring mechanism to ensure accountability of the NHRC in this case; prosecuting the individuals responsible for these violations; repealing legal provisions that provide immunity to security forces for human rights violations; and ensuring access for survivors to effective remedies and full reparation.
To read the joint Ensaaf/REDRESS submission, click here.
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