Talk on UN Law of Armed Conflict and Armed Forces
Newmai News Network
IMPHAL, January 9
[dropcap]A [/dropcap]discussion on United Nations’ Law of Armed Conflict and Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 was held today at Puangringlong (Charoi Pandongba) Village in Senapati district, Manipur. The programme was jointly organized by North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF), People’s Action for Development NH-53 (PAD-53), Senapati district, Puangringlong (Charoi Pandongba) Village’s Authority, Women Society, Youth Club and Farmers’ Club.Giving the key note address, P. Ashen President, PAD-53, stated that the people of Manipur and other north eastern states have been reeling under violent armed conflict for the last more than 5 decades. The existence of armed conflict in the region has not been officially recognized by India. On the other hand, India responded the conflict by enacting AFSPA, 1958 with enormous powers to armed forces of India to kill with impunity and immunity. Extra-judicial execution, torture, enforced disappearances, rape, illegal detention, committed against the indigenous Manipuris with intention to destroy, a national or ethnic or racial or religious group in the pretext of counter insurgency is nothing but genocide, said Mr. Ashen. He also described AFSPA as “dated and colonial-era law that breach contemporary international human rights standards.”
Speaking as a resource person, U. Nobokishore Secretary United NGOs Mission-Manipur, said that International humanitarian law or simply Law of War is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. He added that International Humanitarian Law classifies armed conflicts as international armed conflict (IAC) or non-international armed conflict (NIAC).
He said that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 specifically applies in the case of conflicts “not of an international character”. Common Article 3, stipulates the minimum protection that must be afforded to all those who are not, or who are no longer, taking an active part in hostilities, for examples, civilians, members of armed forces of the parties to the conflict who have been captured, are wounded, or surrendered. It provides for humane treatment and non-discriminatory treatment for all such persons, in particular by prohibiting acts of violence to life and person specifically murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, the taking of hostages, and outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment. It prohibits also the passing of sentences and carrying out of executions without judgment being pronounced by a regular constituted court providing all judicial guarantees recognized as indispensable. Finally, it imposes an obligation on the parties to collect the wounded and sick and to care for them, stated Nobokishore.
Like common Article 3, Additional Protocol II provides the humane and non-discriminatory treatment of all those who are not, or who are no longer, taking part in hostilities. Most of provisions of Protocol II are now considered as a part of customary IHL and, thus, binding on all parties to NIACs, added Nobokishore.
He termed AFSPA as racist piece of legislation and a symbol of racist regime. He also described the Act as “dated and colonial-era law that breach contemporary international human rights standards.” Above all the Act is discriminatory and genocidal legislation. He said that Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee’s report also endorsed this aspect very briefly as “the Act has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and instrument of discrimination and high-handedness.” He also recalled the observation of Christof Heyns that stated “it is therefore difficult to understand how the Supreme Court (SC), which has been so progressive in other areas, also concerning the right to life, could have ruled in 1997 that AFSPA, did not violate the Constitution.”
Sobita Mangsatabam speaking on the topic, “Justice Verma Committee’s report and Rape as an Instrument of War” stated that United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820 of June 19, 2008 defined rape as an instrument of war. She further said that Verma Committee’s Report also reflected the same observation and recommended for trial of rape cases in the civil court even while AFSPA is in use. Citing some incidents of rapes as examples committed to Th. Manorama (Bamonkampu), Ningthoujam ongbi Ahanjaobi (Takyenthongbal), Miss Rose (Ngaprum Khullen Ukhrul) and Operation Bluebird by Indian Military, she said that rape and other sexual violence had been used as an instrument of war by different actors in the ongoing armed conflict. She called upon all the likeminded civil organizations and individuals to come together and build collective struggle to end the heinous crimes committed against women.
The consultation concluded by adopting the following recommendations addressing to both the Government of India and political armed opposition organizations.
At the end of the programme, four recommendations were made to the Government of India which include to urge to immediately investigate into the cases of rape, torture, disappearances etc. committed by Government’s Security Forces in Manipur and also to urge to respect and implement the common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, 1949 and Additional Protocol-II of 1977. It also recommended to urge to repeal AFSPA, 1958 and to urge to provide compensation and assistance to the victims of rape, torture, trafficking and families of those civilians killed by the Indian Security Forces.
Recommendations were also made to the underground groups such as to urge to respect and implement the common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, 1949 and Additional Protocol-II of 1977 and also to urge to reconcile and stop factional fights in the interest of the civilians.
“All the political armed organizations (underground groups) are urged to sign and respect the Deed of Agreement of Geneva Call,” one recommendation stated.