November 13, 2014 | By Parmjeet Singh
New Delhi/ Bangalore: Amnesty International India has welcomed recent measures taken by Indian Army authorities indicating a commitment to deliver justice for victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
On 12 November, an army court-martial convicted five soldiers for shooting and killing three men in a ‘fake encounter’ – a staged extrajudicial execution – in Machil, Jammu and Kashmir, in 2010. The court-martial sentenced the soldiers to life imprisonment.
On 7 November, the Army accepted responsibility for the killing of two Kashmiri teenagers by soldiers in Budgam district on 3 November, and stated that it was willing to cooperate with a state police investigation into the incident.
“The military court verdict in the Machil case should be followed by justice for the many other cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Shailesh Rai, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.
“Too often, military authorities dismiss the complaints they receive about human rights violations. The government has told UN bodies that nine out of ten complaints about human rights violations by armed forces were found to be ‘false’, but refuses to disclose more details. The Pathribal case – where soldiers charged by the CBI with murder were let off by the army – was also a reminder that the military justice system do not always lead to justice.
“For justice to be the rule and not the exception, all cases of human rights violations should be investigated and prosecuted by independent civilian authorities. The Machil verdict should mark a turning point for human rights in Jammu and Kashmir. ”
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