Terming the Armed Forces Special Powers Act a ‘colonial-era law’, Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on India to repeal the Act.
Pillay, who is on an official visit to the country, raised the issue during her meetings with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P. Chidambaram here on Monday but was told that the Act was not used all over the country but in certain areas which under conflict.
While addressing members of the National Human Rights Commission and state commissions, Pillay said, “India should repeal those dated and colonial-era laws that breach contemporary international human rights standards. These range from laws which provide the security forces with excessive emergency powers, including the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, to laws
that criminalise homosexuality.”
“Both internal and external terrorist threats have led to counter-terrorist measures that put human rights at risk. The horrific terrorist attack in Mumbai has also polarised society and risks stoking suspicions against the Muslim community,” she said.
“I am aware of the landmark report by the Sachar Committee on the socio-economic status of the Muslim minority, and I encourage the Government to follow-up on its important recommendations.”
These discrepancies in implementation, she said, have emerged in the course of the Universal Periodic Review process (UPR) conducted by the Human Rights Council, the intergovernmental body, which is mandated, to promote and protect human rights. India underwent such review in April 2008. “I urge India to pay heed to the recommendations that stemmed from the UPR. It should also welcome the visits of independent experts who can help the government identify and address pitfalls in implementation, as well as structural obstacles standing in the way of human rights,” she said.