UN Documents on Punjab

Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions

2007 Report (pdf): On page 19, the Rapporteur states his outstanding mission request to visit India, which as of November 2006 had received no response.

2003 Report (pdf): In paragraph 289, the Rapporteur relays the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar (also included in the 2003 report by the Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture) who was sentenced to death by a Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA) court. The death sentence was based on a confession extracted under duress, as the Punjab police forced him to sign blank pieces of paper or face death in a "false encounter." Out of 133 prosecution witnesses, not one was able to identify Professor Bhullar. This report adds that in 1991, Singh's father was a victim of enforced disappearance.

1998 Report (pdf): The Rapporteur expresses his concern about the volume of reports alleging deliberate killings, deaths due to excessive force, and deaths in custody (paragraph 202). He also mentions that no substantial progress has been made in regards to a proposed visit to India.

1996 Report (pdf): The Special Rapporteur received allegations, from Indian civilians, regarding issues such as deaths in custody; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; violation of the right to life because of excessive force used by police; and deaths of those participating in demonstrations; among other concerns.

1995 Reports (pdf): : In paragraphs 157 to 172, the Special Rapporteur discusses cases of executions, and the responses and explanations made by the Indian government for these as well as earlier cases. The Rapporteur concludes his notes on India, citing the contradictions between the submissions made on behalf of the victims and the information provided by the government, reiterating his desire to visit India to ascertain the truth of the allegations. The Rapporteur has requested a visit three times since 1993.

1994 Report (pdf): In paragraphs 327 to 342, the Rapporteur discusses violations in Kashmir and Punjab, as well as the nature of replies received by the government of India. Furthermore, in paragraph 329, the Rapporteur adds that a large number of opposition group sympathizers and their relatives have been tortured and killed in Punjab. He also believes deaths in custody and disappearances are perpetuated by the fact that appropriate legal safeguards are not used.

1993 Reports (pdf): In paragraphs 330 to 347, the Special Rapporteur discusses the climate of impunity in which perpetrators of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions act in India, in areas such as Assam, Kashmir, and Punjab. The Rapporteur highlights the requirement of prosecution sanction for bringing cases against public servants and provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act as contributing to impunity. In 1992, the Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal regarding the disappearance of Harjit Singh, whose case was also highlighted by Amnesty International. The report lists all 95 communications sent to the government of India in 1992. In its reply, the government of India maintained that the police always acted within the criminal code and that every allegation of human rights was "scrupulously investigated and most of them were found inaccurate, highly exaggerated or deliberately false."

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Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture

2007 Report (pdf): Paragraph 82 details the case of Darshan Singh, a farmer in Punjab. In August of 2006, Singh was arrested during a police raid in Amritsar. After being detained in a compound, he was tortured. The police applied rollers to his knees and stretched his legs apart until he lost consciousness. Police then poured water on his face to wake him, and resumed the torture.

2003 Report (pdf): The Rapporteur recaps an urgent appeal sent on behalf of Manjinder Pal Singh in paragraph 276. Singh, a Sikh from Punjab living in Canada, was facing forcible repatriation to India where he would likely face torture and other forms of ill-treatment. In 2000, he was detained and tortured by Punjab police because they believed his brother-in-law to be a member of Dal Khalsa, a pro-Khalistan organization. Singh was suspended and beaten on the soles of his feet. Soon after he fled to Canada, and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In addition, in paragraph 635, the Rapporteur describes the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar (also included in the 2003 report by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions), who was sentenced to death by a Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA) court. The death sentence was based on a confession extracted under duress, as the Punjab police forced him to sign blank pieces of paper or face death in a "false encounter."

2002 Report (pdf): Paragraph 617 relays the case of a migrant laborer working in Punjab, who was arrested by police on suspicion of misappropriating funds. At the sector 26 police station, he was beaten with leather belts, lathis, and iron rods, and suffered electric shocks to his ears and genitals.

In paragraph 618, the Rapporteur describes the severe torture inflicted on Sapinder Singh. Arrested for the illegal possession of a rifle and detained by the CIA at Ropar, Singh's genitals were doused with petrol, his legs were stretched out to 180 degrees, and his back and legs were beaten with a lathi.

2001 Report (pdf): Paragraph 540 describes the case of Kesar Singh, the Block President of the Punjab Human Rights Organization (PHRO). Singh was told to stop working with PHRO or else face false charges against him. In July 1999, he was arrested from his home along with another man and subsequently tortured by police. The men were stripped, dragged by their hair, and had their legs stretched far apart. This occurred in the presence of the Superintendent of Police. The Deputy Inspector General of Police is said to have told Singh that the police were going to eradicate human rights defenders by holding them in jails. Singh was also associated with the Committee for Coordination on Disappearances in Punjab.

This report also touches on the case of activist Deshpal Singh of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) (a farmers union) and farmer Gurmeet Singh (paragraph 550). Both were killed in Punjab during a demonstration protesting the detention of BKU leaders. The protest included a sit-in on a railroad, which police countered with teargas. When the protesters responded by throwing stones, the police responded by opening fire on hundreds of people. Deshpal Singh and Gurmeet Singh were shot to death, and several other protesters were injured.

1999 Report (pdf): In paragraph 298, the Rapporteur describes the case of Nana Kaur, a woman from Jammu and Kashmir who was arrested by Punjab police after they crossed over into the next state to seize and interrogate her about a relative who was supposedly involved in a pro-Khalistan group. She was allegedly beaten prior to her release.

The 1999 Report also discusses the detention of Sucha Singh, who was arrested by Punjab police and detained in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) office in Jalandhar (paragraph 291). Police stretched his legs apart, hung him upside down, and repeatedly tortured him. Upon his release, he complained to the Punjab Ministers Cabinet who did not register his allegations.

Finally, in paragraph 307, the Rapporteur notes that human rights activists were being harassed by Punjab police. A First Information Report (FIR) (police complaint) was filed in regards to four such activists. Acts of torture included the burning of feet with charcoal, electrical shocks to the body, and beatings. One activist was interrogated specifically about his human rights work.

1997 Report (pdf): In paragraph 206, the Rapporteur relays a report of Balwinder Singh's death by torture at a Gurdaspur police station. The police not only claim that Singh was never detained at their station, but that he was never even arrested.

1995 Report (pdf): Paragraph 331 details the case of Kanwar Singh Dhami, stated to be a leader of the Sikh separatist movement. Dhami, at his public surrender, described being illegally detained and tortured by the police for 10 months along with his wife and six-year-old son.

1994 Report (pdf): In paragraph 280, the Rapporteur is concerned about TADA, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act, which he states "grants security forces arbitrary powers to arrest and detain people without ordinary legal safeguards and without charge or trial." Reports were made of prisoners in Punjab being detained for weeks or months without being brought before a judge, which the Rapporteur insists gives rise to a climate of torture.

1993 Report (pdf): The report discusses the relationship between torture and security legislation, practices of torture in Punjab and Kashmir, impunity for police officers, as well as specific cases of torture.

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Special Representative on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

2009 Report (pdf): In paragraph 1253, while the Rapporteur appreciates the communications she did receive from India, she remains concerned at the number of responses compared to the numbers of communications sent.

2008 Report (pdf): In paragraph 1106, the Rapporteur regrets the lack of response in regards to her fourteen communications to India.

2006 Report (pdf): The Rapporteur regrets that she has received no response from the Indian government in 2005 (paragraph 248).

2005 Report (pdf): In paragraph 308, the Rapporteur once again reiterates her concerns, especially related to the ill-treatment and possible torture of human rights defenders by the Indian police. She is also concerned with the level of impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators.

2004 Report (pdf): In paragraph 258, the Rapporteur regrets that her request for an invitation to conduct an official visit has received no response, nor has the government replied to her communications.

2003 Report (pdf): In the 2003 report, in paragraphs 291-299, the Special Representative highlights specific cases in detail. She received no response to her communications from the Indian government. She discusses India as one of several countries where human rights defenders have been victims of execution, death threats and intimidation, State obstruction of their meetings, and the denial of visas. In the 2002 report, the Special Representative mentions that her request to visit India is still outstanding.

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Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee evaluates the compliance of a State Party with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). State Parties are required to regularly submit reports regarding their compliance, which are then evaluated by the independent experts comprising the HRC. India submitted its last report, which was due in 1992, in 1996. It was evaluated in July 1997. The HRC’s Sessions webpage shows that India has not had a state report reviewed since 1997.

A 2009 report (pdf) (page 16) indicates that India is 6 years late in submitting a state report.

1996 State Party Report (pdf)

Summary Record of First HRC Meeting (pdf): The summary discusses the right to compensation in Indian case law; emergency powers; the National Security Act and preventative detention; and an individual’s right to be informed of charges at the time of arrest.

Summary Record of Second HRC Meeting (pdf): The summary discusses personal laws, anti-terrorism legislation in India, torture, the excessive use of force by police, and threats to human rights defenders, among other human rights issues.

Summary Record of Third HRC Meeting (pdf): The summary discusses the variances between Indian law and the ICCPR, such as issues of freedom of expression, torture, preventative detention, the National Security Act, emergency powers, the prohibition of legal proceedings against members of the armed forces, the caste system, facilitation of police violence through certain legislative provisions, and India’s reservations to the ICCPR. The HRC stated that the Special Rapporteur on torture must be allowed to visit India and that India should consider ratifying the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

HRC's Concluding Observations/Comments (pdf): The Human Rights Committee recommends that India take steps to incorporate the Covenant into its domestic law and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Covenant. It expresses concern over the reservations made by India to specific articles of the Covenant; the reliance on special powers granted through anti-terrorism legislation such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the National Security Act; the requirement of prosecution sanction in order to bring criminal or civil proceedings against members of the security and armed forces; police abuse; the continued detention of individuals under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, despite its lapse in May 1995; and the lack of compliance with court orders for habeas corpus, among other issues.

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Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

2009 Report (pdf):Paragraph 176 states that the Working Group transmitted 32 new cases to the government, all of which consisted of male victims last seen in Punjab, in either their homes or at police stations. Most of the cases occurred between 1986 and 1994, with a heavy concentration in 1992 and 1993 Ensaaf submitted these cases and made a presentation to the Working Group in November 2007.

Paragraph 180 highlights the lack of remedies to address enforced disappearances, in particular, those that occurred in Punjab between 1984 and 1995. The report further goes on to assert India’s lack of accountability, saying "the Government . . . has allegedly refused to take effective legislative, judicial, and administrative measures to end enforced disappearances."

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