UA on torture and ill-treatment in India

Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh

Box-5, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh

To:      Shri Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister of India,

Prime Minister’s Office,

Room number 152, South Block,

New Delhi

Subj.: Express concerns over the torture and ill-treatment including rape and request for an impartial investigation to bring out the truth

Dear Sir,

  Hotlie HumanRights Bangladesh has been informed by Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a member of our Network, about serious events that took place on 16 May 2009 in the village of Char Bathanpara, in Murshidabad, near the Indo-Bangladesh border, during which Ms. Sahanura Bibi, 25, was raped, Juwel Sk., a minor boy, and Mr. Babu Sk. were severely beaten by security forces.

  As for information received, Ms. Sahanura was raped in front of her deaf and mute sister by three officers of the Rapid Action Force (RAF), in the attendance of two police officers of Raninagar Police Station after they had forced into the family house looking for male members. When police could not find any man, 2nd police officer of Raninagar told RAF officers to do whatever they wanted with the remaining family members.   

  On May 27, 2009, Ms. Sahanura lodged a complaint with the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Berhampore, against the alleged perpetrators. The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr. Shantanu Jha, recorded the statements of the complainant and later requested a report from the concerned Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) as well as to submit the names of the RAF on duty with the police officers of Raninagar Police. The Court ordered the victim to be examined by the District New General Hospital, in Berhampore.

  A source informed, Mr. Juwel Sk. and Mr. Babu Sk. were severely beaten with kicks, fists, blows and batons by Raninagar Police who had forcefully entered their house on 16 May 2009. Both lodged a complaint with the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Berhampore, on 28 May 2009, following which a report was requested to the Sub Divisional Police Officer.

  It is reported that all three victims and their families have been harassed and threatened by police officers since they have lodged their complaints, raising fears for their safety.

  We are gravely concerned about the possibility of the rape of Ms. Sahanura may go unpunished, and the consequences to her physical and psychological integrity. We condemn the failure of the relevant authorities to provide her with adequate protection and medical and psychological assistance.

Hotline recalls that article 4(c) of the CEDAW states that States should “exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons.

  Hotline further expresses concerns about the physical abuses of Mr. Juwel Sk, a minor, and Mr. Babu Sk in the same event. As India is a part of the Int’l Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is Party, “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment“. We would like to remind India that under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is party, “States Parties shall ensure that: no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (article 37 (a)).

  Being particularly preoccupied that the victims and their families are being threatened by security forces, OMCT also recalls that the competent authorities have to ensure that any individual who alleges to have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment has the right to complain to and to receive adequate protection against ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint.

  Finally, Hotline calls on the competent authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into these allegations as well into the events that took place on 16 May 2009, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law. Therefore, we would llike to request your government the folloewing steps to be taken:

i.                     Guarantee in all circumstance the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Sahanura Bibi, Mr. Juwel Sk. and Mr. Babu Sk;

ii.                   Guarantee that they are provided with adequate medical care and protection;

iii.                  Carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

iv.                 Ensure that adequate, effective and prompt reparation, including adequate compensation, proper medical care and rehabilitation, is granted to the victims; 

v.                   Guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards

With thanks and regards,

Rosaline Costa

Human Rights advocate &

Coordinator

Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh

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