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Amnesty India asks PM candidates to clarify their stance on key human rights issues
Amnesty International India has asked the declared and probable prime ministerial candidates of various political parties to clarify their positions on key human rights issues ahead of the Parliamentary elections.

“Political parties have sworn to uphold Constitutional values of justice, liberty, equality and dignity. But their leaders’ actions must reflect this pledge. It is essential for everyone to know where prime ministerial candidates stand on important human rights questions,” said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.

Amnesty’s “14 for 2014” Campaign asks candidates to state their positions on issues including police reforms, marital rape, undertrial detention, impunity for armed forces, land acquisition, decriminalization of homosexuality, and freedom of expression. The candidates approached include Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh, Naveen Patnaik, Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal.

“The next five years will show whether India is willing to be seen as a true global power by upholding human rights at home and abroad, or whether it will continue to be driven by politics and narrow conceptions of national interest,” said Mr. Velath.

The “14 for 2014” human rights charter calls on political parties to incorporate 14 key human rights issues in their election manifestos. It includes issues of business and human rights, reforms to the criminal justice system, violence against women, the death penalty, migrant workers’ rights, human rights through education, a principled approach to human rights abuses abroad, and ensuring the passage of an anti-torture bill in Parliament.

Importantly, it wants the probable prime ministers to hold armed forces accountable for human rights violations by repealing AFSPA and enact a law to abolish death penalty.

“Will you repeal Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code — which deals with the offence of sedition — which is inconsistent with international standards on freedom of expression? Will you disclose the details of the Central Monitoring System — including its permitted grounds of surveillance and the safeguards on its misuse — and ensure that it proceeds only after due consultation with the public deliberations in the Parliament,” are some questions submitted to political parties.

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