Make Torture Completely Alien To Our Culture
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India is the largest democracy in the world. It has a population of 1.3 billion and it is known for its diverse culture. However, democracy and freedom can no longer be considered a jewel when the survival of its citizens itself is in question. Every year the 26th of June is observed as the ‘United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture’. This year, we would like to bring to your attention and show solidarity with the thousands of victims of torture in India, many of whom have also lost their lives.
Torture most certainly prevails in India today, in most states and departments, as a routine practice and this erodes the faith in the system, little by little. According to a NHRC report, an estimated 1,203 custodial deaths take place every year. Another study by the National Project on Preventing Torture in India has estimated about 1.8 million cases of torture, ill treatment and inhuman behavior recorded annually. Instances of torture continue to rise and thousands of citizens are subjected to inhuman treatment in custody, resulting in grave infraction of their fundamental human rights and dignity.
India has undergone her 3rd UPR (Universal Periodical Review) process at the United Nations Human Rights Council on the 4th of May, 2017. As many as 41 countries recommended that India ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) and enact a domestic law on torture. India has signed the UNCAT on the 19th of April 1997. However, even after 20 years, India has done very little to ratify the same. In 2010, the Lok Sabha introduced the ‘Prevention of Torture’ bill, which was passed and sent to the Rajya Sabha for further consideration. However, the Rajya Sabha referred the bill to a select committee which failed to pass the bill.
Torture is a gross human rights violation that affects us all, irrespective of who we are and where we are. Therefore, this year on the occasion of the ‘United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture’, we urge the Government of India to immediately consider the following:
1. To swiftly ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and its optional protocol;
2. To ensure that domestic legislation defines torture in line with international standards;
3. To extend an invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for an official visit.
The Attorney General of India Mr. Mukhul Rohatgi at the 3rd UPR process stated that, “India remains committed to ratify the Convention against Torture. We believe in peace, non-violence and upholding human dignity. As such the concept of torture is completely alien to our culture and it has no place in the governance.”
Dear Mr. Prime Minister, we can only hope that the government will listen to its own Attorney General and truly make torture a completely alien concept to our Indian culture of ahimsa.
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