Human rights activists meet in Imphal

Disappointed with CBI’s ‘tardiness’ in filing FIR

 

Newmai News Network

Imphal | May 6

 

Human rights activists from various parts of the country after two-day meetings in Imphal have reached several “conclusions”.

 

The participants of the meetings were Ravi Nair of South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre, Kirity Roy of Banglar Manab Adhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), Khurram Parvez of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), Satnam Singh Bains of Punjab Documentation and Advocacy Project (PDAP), Mathew Jacob of People’s Watch Tamil Nadu (PWTN), Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert (HRA), and Edina Yaikhom of Extra-judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur (EEVFAM).

 

Talking to reporters here today, the human rights activists expressed their “unequivocal support to, and solidarity with” the efforts of Manipur civil society, in particular the EEVFAM and HRA, in their efforts to combat the endemic climate of impunity.

 

The activists said they recognized the “indomitable spirit” of all the members of EEVFAM, appreciating in particular, the “extraordinary courage” of its women members who, despite numerous “ongoing challenges throughout this process and in their daily lives, are resolute in their efforts to seek justice for their loved ones”.

 

The activists meanwhile were disappointed with the “tardiness” of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in filing First Information Reports (FIRs), completing the investigation and filing the charge-sheets identified by the Supreme Court.

 

They added they were perturbed by the “attempt” of the CBI to obfuscate issues through its failure to name specific perpetrators even though credible actionable evidence exists in the complaints filed by the families of the victims.

 

The CBI was reminded that its allegiance is solely to the Constitution of India and its work must be based on, and informed by, the relevant national laws and international human rights conventions that India has signed and ratified. “The apparent reluctance to bring on record the details of law enforcement and armed forces personnel who might be implicated in these cases is a dereliction of the CBI’s mandate and demonstrates its failure to uphold the highest professional standards in a case before the Honourable Supreme Court,” the human rights activists added.

 

The activists then drew the attention of CBI to the universally accepted Minnesota Protocol which holds that investigations must be effective, thorough, impartial, independent, and transparent, highlighting that all investigative processes must be open to the scrutiny of the general public and of victims’ families. It further states that interviewees, interviewers, victims’ families, and other witnesses must be protected. They urged the CBI to uphold these standards.

 

“We understand that addressing impunity requires a multifaceted approach of inquiry to trace the implications of the instrumentalities of the state taking on their own populations for violent reprisal,” the activists said.  “We, the undersigned, will 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 mass atrocities of the kind recorded in Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, the states of North East India, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and in the 1970s in West Bengal, all of which continue to this day.”

 

It was further demanded 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 activists further noted that those who have come forward to testify against the “excesses” by the perpetrators and individuals and organizations that have accompanied the victims in this process are coming under threats from the state actors. “There are documented cases of reprisals in the form of threats, intimidations and harassment faced by victims and others involved in the case. Governments, courts and the National Human Rights Commission should ensure that the victims, witnesses and defenders, including their families, engaged in the case are not threatened, harassed and intimidated,” they added.

 

The State and the Central governments were also reminded of their obligations under the Constitution of India and international human rights and humanitarian law. “We also remind the government of its adoption of the 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.”

 

The human rights activists further urged all concerned – the Supreme Court, CBI, the Central Government, and the Government of Manipur – to take all necessary actions to alleviate the pain of victims of human rights violations and secure justice for them at the earliest.