COLOMBO: Margaret Sekaggya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in India, has called upon New Delhi to ensure the abrogation of Acts, including the National Security Act (NSA), the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Unlawful Activities Act as they drastically restricted the legitimate activities of human rights campaigners.
Addressing the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Monday, Sekaggya recalled that during her visit to India in January last year, she had come across “numerous testimonies about female and male human rights defenders, and their families, who have been killed, tortured, ill-treated, disappeared, threatened, arbitrarily arrested and detained, falsely charged, placed under surveillance, forcibly displaced or had their homes raided and files stolen, because of their legitimate work in upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
Sekaggya went on to state that the human rights campaigners were “often” labelled as Maoists or terrorists. She added that “most” of the reported human rights violations were attributed to the law enforcement authorities, especially, the police.
“Impunity for such violations was reported as a chronic problem. This is of great concern,” she said.
The Indian delegate, who also addressed the Council on the same day, though, dismissed Sekaggya’s charges as being “unsubstantiated and generalised”. “(They were based on the testimony of) some NGOs, that do not represent the eminent ones which did good work in India,” the delegate said.