CCTV cameras alone do not end human rights violations, say activists
Though the state government had partly installed CCTVs at all police stations, most custodial torture victims alleged that they were tortured at undisclosed places.
THOOTHUKUDI: In view of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture observed on June 26, victims and activists on Sunday have urged the government to bring in an Act to prevent custodial torture and to ensure that every citizen gets the fundamental rights guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Though the state government had partly installed CCTVs at all police stations, most custodial torture victims alleged that they were tortured at undisclosed places. The victims and activists said that merely installing CCTV cameras in police stations may not end human rights violations.
Somu (name changed) said he was tortured at an abandoned building under Pudukottai police station limits, in connection with a murder-attempt case foisted on him. He alleged he was tortured after being produced before the magistrate and hospital.
Another victim alleged he was brutally assaulted inside a van, while a person from Kovilpatti claimed he was attacked at a lodge. An advocate dealing with a woman victim said she was stripped naked and tortured at the Kovilpatti police station and the case is pending with Human Rights Commission. “In most violation cases, doctors collude with police to give fitness certificates, covering up injuries,” said Saravanan, an activist and advocate from Kovilpatti.
Speaking to TNIE, activist Henri Tiphagne said though the state has been slowly implementing Supreme Court and High Court orders to bring all police stations under CCTV surveillance, the premises lack CCTVs at all spots and posters (mandated by SC) displaying the rights of a person to contact human rights panel or authorities in the event of custodial torture.
The Supreme Court, in the case of Paramvir Singh Saini vs Baljit Singh and others, had mandated that all police stations should display posters saying ‘the station is under surveillance’ in English, Hindi, and regional language.
Joint Action Against Custodial Torture state convener Thiyagu told TNIE that laws pertaining to crime investigation have never allowed corporal punishment and illegal detention after the abolition of the pre-Independence Whipping Act, 1864, by 1955. “Police investigations take place at undisclosed locations without serving arrest memos to suspects' families. There is a dire need for an Act to curb custodial torture. The Act can be called the Jeyaraj-Bennix Act as the death of the father-son duo at the hands of the Sathankulam police drew wide attention to custodial torture in India," said Thiyagu.