A panel led by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma, appointed by the authorities in December 2012 following widespread protests against the rape and killing of a young woman in Delhi, Wednesday made public its recommendations.
Amnesty International observed that key points included comprehensive changes to laws dealing with crimes of sexual violence, and key judicial and police reforms to ensure transparency and accountability in those institutions, as well as a reiteration of the rights guaranteed to women under India’s Constitution.
“The Indian authorities must follow up on their promise to give top priority to considering the Verma Committee recommendations. The Government must also actively initiate public education and other measures that need to be taken to change discriminatory attitudes towards women,” said Tara Rao, Head of Education for Rights, Spokesperson, Amnesty International in India.
Amnesty International hailed the panel’s recommendation for an urgent review of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) - the “draconian” law that guarantees impunity for members of armed forces accused of violence against women in conflict areas, including in Jammu and Kashmir and north-eastern states.
“The calls for review of the AFSPA are very welcome – this is a ‘lawless law’ that is only increasing frustrations and suffering among people in the areas of conflict. Amnesty International has consistently demanded repeal of this legislation,” said Rao.
“The recommendation to appoint special commissioners to monitor and initiate action for redress and criminal prosecution in all cases of sexual violence against women by armed personnel in conflict areas in particular needs to be studied in detail,” Rao added.
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