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Friday, February 27, 2009

India Human Rights Record

State Department's Human Rights Report for 2008 was issued this
week. The introduction is given below. Go to the link for the full


2008 Human Rights Reports: India
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
February 25, 2009

India is a multiparty, federal, parliamentary democracy with a
bicameral parliament and a population of approximately 1.1 billion
with an active civil society. Manmohan Singh became prime minister
following his Congress Party-led coalition's victory in the 2004
general elections, which were considered free and fair, despite
scattered instances of violence. Serious internal conflicts affected
the states of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as several states in the
north and east. While civilian authorities generally maintained
effective control of the security forces, security forces occasionally
acted independently of government authority during incidents of
communal tensions in states such as Karnataka.

The government generally respected the rights of its citizens;
however, serious problems remained. Major problems included
extrajudicial killings of persons in custody, disappearances, and
torture and rape by police and other security forces. Investigations
into individual abuses and legal punishment for perpetrators occurred,
but for the majority of abuses, the lack of accountability created an
atmosphere of impunity. Poor prison conditions and lengthy detentions
during both pretrial and trial proceedings remained significant
problems. Officials used special antiterrorism legislation to justify
the excessive use of force. Corruption existed at all levels of
government and police. The government applied restrictions to the
travel and activities of visiting experts and scholars. Significant
restrictions remained on the funding and activities of NGOs.
Increasing attacks against religious minorities and the promulgation
of antireligious conversion laws were concerns. Violence associated
with caste-based discrimination occurred. Domestic violence, child
marriage, dowry-related deaths, honor crimes, female infanticide and
feticide remain serious problems. Trafficking in persons and
exploitation of indentured, bonded, and child labor were continuing

Separatist guerrillas and terrorists in Kashmir, the Northeast,
and the Naxalite belt committed numerous serious abuses, including
killing armed forces personnel, police, government officials, judges,
and civilians. Insurgents engaged in widespread torture, rape,
beheadings, kidnapping, and extortion; however, the number of
incidents declined compared to the previous year.


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