STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 6th May:
Speakers at a two-day consultation meet of human rights defenders held at Siroy Hall of Hotel Imphal accused the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of dereliction of its duties and failure to name the specific perpetrators in several fake encounter cases.
Informing about the resolutions adopted during the meet to media persons on Sunday, Human Rights Alert (HRA) director Babloo Loitongbam said that the meet resolved for unequivocal support and solidarity to Extrajudicial Execution Victims Families’ Association Manipur (EEVFAM) and Human Rights Alert (HRA) in their efforts for ensuring justice to the victims of fake encounters and also recognise the spirit of EEVFAM members, extraordinary courage of its women members in seeking justice.
Expressing disappointment over the tardiness of CBI in filing FIRs and filing charge sheets as well as failure to name specific perpetrators even though credible actionable evidences are there in the complaints filed by the families of the victims, the meet termed it as a dereliction of CBI’s mandate and failure to uphold the professional standards before the Supreme Court.
Reminding CBI that their allegiance is to the constitution of India, the meet contended CBI’s works must be based on, and informed by the relevant national laws and international human rights conventions that India has signed and ratified. It also drew attention of CBI to the universally accepted Minnesota Protocol, which holds that investigations must be effective, thorough, impartial, independent, and transparent, and highlighted that all investigative processes must be open to the scrutiny of the general public and victims’ families. It also urged CBI to protect the witnesses and victims’ families, Babloo said.
Observing that addressing impunity requires a multifaceted approach of inquiry to trace the implications of the instrumentalities of the state taking on their own population for violent reprisal, the meet further resolved to evaluate, through an analysis of the case law and its appraisal by the victim communities, human rights defenders and experts, the impact of the doctrine in establishing the standards to determine the existence or absence of the state’s intent behind the mass atrocities of the kind recorded in Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, north eastern states of India, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, Babloo recalled.
It further observed that the State must uphold principles of liability including the command responsibility principle, develop a regime of accountability, end impunity and pay reparations on that basis. The speakers also lamented that those who have come forward to testify against the excesses by the perpetrators, and individuals and organisations that have accompanied the victims in this process are facing threats from the state actors, Babloo said.
The meet then demanded the governments, courts and National Human Rights Commission to ensure that the victims, witnesses and defenders, including their families, engaged in the case are not threatened, harassed and intimidated.
It also reminded the state and central governments of their obligations under the Constitution of India and international human rights and humanitarian law while adding that India adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), their emphasis on accountability for the achievement of the goals, and the clear obligation under Goal 16 to provide access to justice for all. Furthermore, it emphasised on the underlying principle of Agenda 2030 that peace, human rights and effective governance are essential for the achievements of the SDGs, Babloo added.
The meet further urged the apex court, CBI, Central government and state government to take all necessary actions to alleviate the pain of victims of human rights violations and secure justice for them at the earliest.
Hailing the verdict of the Supreme Court, South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre chairperson Ravi Nair told media persons that Central and state governments should cooperate in the investigation and provide justice to the victims’ families if the governments respect constitutions and laws. However, the dereliction of duty on the part of CBI in its investigation should be termed as a violation of fundamental rights and violation of the law, he added.
He further said that BJP in its manifesto declared that AFSPA would be repealed if it comes into power. Even after transferring the power to remove AFSPA from Assam and Manipur to the respectively state governments, the party, which rules both the states, is not willing to remove the Act till now though the same has been lifted from Tripura and Meghalaya. He also decried the failure of the Manipur government to revive the Manipur State Human Rights Commission till now.
Ravi Nair further urged the state government to submit suo-motto affidavit to assist the Supreme Court cases. Besides, the state government can also serve its people by enforcing effective investigation into the cases in trial in the district courts, he said while adding that the government can also provide interim relief to the victims of rights violation.
Banglar Manav Adhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) representative Kirity Roy; Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) chairperson Khurram Parvez; Punjab Documentation and Advocacy Project (PDAP) representative Satnam Singh Bains; EEVFAM president Edina Yaikhom; People’s Watch Tamil Nadu representative Mathew Jacob; and Quill Foundation representative Sharib Ali also attended the consultation meet.