The much-criticized Armed Forces Special Powers Act known as the A-F-S-P-A used by India in Kashmir and troubled northeastern states has once again come under fire — this time by the UN.

The body has asked for an immediate repeal of the controversial law throughout the troubled zones.

Rashida Manjoo, the Special UN Rapporteur says the act, which has been blamed for arbitrary executions in and seven northeastern Indian states, gives sweeping powers to troops to arrest, search and even shoot people with impunity from local laws. She believes the act violates international laws.

introduced AFSPA in 1958 to put down separatist movements in the country’s northeast which extended to most parts of Indian-administered Kashmir soon after the outbreak of armed insurgency against ’s rule in 1989.

Hafiza is one of the many thousands of victims hit hard by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Her 15-year-old son was taken away by government forces in Kashmir and his whereabouts remain unknown to date.

Manjoo was in India to assess the situation of violence against women. The UN expert’s visit to India comes at a time when has increased exponentially in India’s capital as well as other cities.

According to the national crime records in India, rape cases more than doubled between 1990 and 2008. Statistics show 228,650 of the 256,329 victims of violent crimes recorded in the country last year were women. The conviction rate for rape cases in India is 26%. Investigations also reveal every 20 minutes one rape happens in the country. Despite the increase in sexual violence, the number of convictions is falling.

Human rights defenders have repeatedly requested the Indian government to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. But the administration still seems least interested in responding to the calls and this has created an atmosphere of impunity and lack of accountability for the crimes security forces have perpetrated… Shahana Butt, Press TV, New Delhi, India

 

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