Amnesty report advocates repeal of Public Safety Act

Amnesty International (AI)

Amnesty International (AI) India on Wednesday cancelled a press briefing in Srinagar after the district administration denied the permission.

The press briefing was scheduled for 2 pm on 12th June in Srinagar. "We have been told that we have been denied official permission to hold the event, citing 'prevailing law and order situation',” a spokesperson of Amnesty International India said in an emailed statement.

However, the AI released, its report: “Tyranny of A ‘Lawless Law’: Detention without Charge or Trial under the J&K PSA” by emailing it to media.

“The PSA circumvents the criminal justice system in Jammu and Kashmir to undermine accountability, transparency and respect for human rights,” the report says.

The report has analysed the cases of 210 detainees who were booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a legislation that allows for administrative detention for up to two years, between 2012 and 2018.

“The briefing revisits the PSA in the 42nd year of its existence and studies how it continues to facilitate administrative detentions and violate Indian and international human rights laws. This Act is contributing to inflaming tensions between the state authorities and local populace and must be immediately repealed,” said Aakar Patel, Head of Amnesty International India.

AI India, according to the report, found 71 cases of revolving-door detentions, where authorities had either issued a new detention order, or implicated a detainee in a new FIR, to ensure that they remain in detention. “In 90% of the cases analysed, detainees faced both PSA detentions and criminal proceedings in parallel, on the basis of the same or similar allegations,” it said.

Zahoor Wani, who led the research of the briefing for the rights body, said: “The police appear to use the PSA as a safety net, using it to secure the detention of suspects who are released, or likely to be released, on bail. Conversations with the local lawyers suggest that the state police do not favour criminal proceedings as they involve a higher standard of proof and a presumption of innocence.”

The AI urged the state government to initiate prompt, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of ‘unlawful detention and torture or other ill-treatment’ in custody and bring to justice those responsible.

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