[Assam] UN panel urges India to repeal Armed Forces Act

Pradip Kumar Datta pradip200 at yahoo.com
Tue May 8 00:02:18 PDT 2007

UN panel urges India to  repeal Armed Forces Act
>From Our  Correspondent
 IMPHAL, May 7 – The United Nations Committee on Racial  Discrimination under the International Convention on Elimination of all forms of  racial discrimination has urged the Government of India to repeal the Armed  Forces (Special Powers) Act within a year and replace it “by a more humane Act”  in accordance with the recommendation contained in the 2005 report of the Review  Committee set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs. It also requested the  Government of India to release the report.

U Nobokishore, convenor of  Dialogue Forum, conveyed the United Nations’ move during an interaction with the  reporters here on Sunday. He said, “The Armed Forces Act was designed in 1958 by  Government of India specially for the North Eastern States of India, therefore  the Act is discriminatory to the people in this part of the world”.

North  Eastern states, particularly Manipur have been witnessing widespread public  outcry now and then in view of the unwanted atrocities by the security forces in  the name of Counter-Insurgency operations.

Considering the sentiment of  the people,Government of India constituted a five-member review committee and  the report has been submitted to the concerned authority two years back. But  till date the authority is neither releasing the report nor implementing it’s  recommendations.

Acknowledging the move, UN’s International Convention on  Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination seriously discussed the  periodic reports of India at Geneva on February 23 and 26 last, says the  Convenor.

According to the observations of the Convention, the Committee  noted with concern that the state party has not implemented the recommendations  of the committee to review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act to repeal the  Act under which members of the armed forces may not be prosecuted unless such  prosecution is authorised by the Central Government and have wide powers to  search and arrest suspects without a warrant or to use force against persons or  property in Manipur and other North-eastern States which are inhabited by tribal  people.

The authority should seek the prior informed consent of  communities affected by the construction of dams in the North East or similar  projects on their traditional lands in any decision making processes related to  such projects and provide adequate compensation and alternative land and housing  to those communities.

The UN’s observations were made in connection with  Government’s move to construct mega dams like Lower Subansiri at border between  Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and Tipaimukh Dam in Manipur’s Churachandpur  district.

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