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Rights body asks India to check HR violations

world Updated: Apr 07, 2008 23:23 IST

Describing India as a "vibrant electoral democracy with an abysmal human rights record", a prominent international group on Monday urged it to take steps to check rights violation by its security forces.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) also asked the country to remove all "immunity clauses" in its laws that protect abusers of human rights.

"India should accept the recommendation of various government-appointed experts and repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which has allowed widespread human rights violations by security forces with impunity," the US-based rights watchdog said in a report released here.

"The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council should also demand that the Indian government fulfil its responsibility to protect and support vulnerable communities, including Dalits, tribal groups, religious minorities and women," it said.

"India is a vibrant electoral democracy with an abysmal human rights record," said Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director.

The HRW, however, welcomed the government's efforts to "properly train its security forces and other officials".

"Security forces in India continue to be responsible for grave human rights abuses during counter-insurgency operations, such as in Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Manipur."

Religious minorities continue to face discrimination, particularly in access to housing and employment, it claimed.

Human Rights Watch also called on the HRC to press India to strengthen its "official human rights mechanisms".

"India also urgently needs to reform its policing systems," it said.