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Amnesty urges Centre to heed SC ruling

By Correspondent

IMPHAL, July 13 - The Union Government must heed the Supreme Court ruling on the importance of holding security forces accountable for human rights violations and repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which grant soldiers virtual immunity from prosecution in civilian courts, Amnesty International India (AII) said in a press release.

The Court is hearing a public interest litigation filed by Manipur-based NGO Human Rights Alert (HRA) and a victims� group - Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur, seeking its intervention in the cases of 1,528 alleged extrajudicial executions in Manipur from 1979 to 2012.

In its ruling on July 8, it observed that all the allegations needed to be looked into, and offences committed by security forces could be prosecuted in civilian courts. Proceedings will resume in four weeks.

�The Court�s ruling makes it clear that security force personnel accused of human rights violations must not be allowed to get away with impunity. It offers a ray of hope to the families of hundreds of people who were allegedly extrajudicially executed in Manipur over decades,� said Arijit Sen, Project Manager at AII.

�We welcome the judgment. It is a positive one. We shall have to wait on what the court decides on our demand for a special investigation team to investigate all the cases�, said Babloo Loitongbam, Executive Director, HRA.

In January 2013, the Court had appointed a three-member Commission to determine whether six cases identified by the court were �encounter� deaths � where security forces had fired in self-defence against members of armed groups � or extrajudicial executions. The Commission found that all the cases involved extrajudicial executions, and also said that the AFSPA was widely abused by security forces in Manipur.

�The AFSPA violates constitutional rights to life and liberty and shields soldiers from justice. This judgment underlines that no one should be above the law. The government must recognise the import of this ruling and repeal the AFSPA,� Arijit Sen said.

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