In June, Amnesty International began its campaign to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 (AFSPA). The AFSPA was introduced along with other “special” security legislation in response to increased militancy, and has resulted in violence and numerous human rights abuses against Indian civilians.

The AFSPA’s provisions enable security forces to arrest people and enter property without a warrant, and to shoot to kill even in circumstances where they are not at imminent risk. It is widely believed that the AFSPA has facilitated grave human rights abuses, including extrajudicial execution, “disappearance”, rape and torture…

Between 1992 and 2004 a reported 12,000 civilians have died in northeastern India as a result of such violence. And in Jammu and Kashmir, it is widely believed that some 40,000 people have died since the rise of militancy in 1989.

The provisions of the AFSPA have allowed many perpetrators of human rights abuses to go unpunished.

Under the AFSPA no one can start legal action against any member of the armed forces for alleged abuses under the AFSPA without the permission of the central government. Some action has been taken in recent years to bring those guilty of human rights violations to justice, but government approval to prosecute those accused of abuses is very rarely given.

In Manipur, civilians have protested against the AFSPA. In July 2004, a woman from Manipur named Manorama was detained by security forces, then raped and killed. This triggered months of protests in the north-east, causing the Manipur state government to withdraw the AFSPA from the Greater Municipal District of Manipur’s capital, Imphal, and the Indian government to appoint a committee to review the Act.

In March 2005, Arundhati Roy joined Amnesty International in demonstrating in Delhi for the total repeal of the AFSPA. There were simultaneous demonstrations by Amnesty International across several Indian cities, including Pune, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai and Agra. Amnesty International also submitted a briefing to the AFSPA Review Committee urging it to recommend the government repeal the AFSPA, sanction investigations into human rights abuses by security forces, and ensure that future legislation complies with international human rights standards.


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