Sunday, December 18, 2016

HRW: Indian Police Killings Go Unpunished

A human rights group says detained suspects in India are dying in custody because Indian police “bypass arrest procedures and torture suspects in custody to death.”

Human Rights Watch said in a report released Monday at least 591 people died in police custody in India between 2010 and 2015.

The report, “Bound by Brotherhood: India’s Failure to End Killings in Police Custody,” examines police disregard for arrest regulations, custodial deaths from torture, and impunity for those responsible.

HRW’s South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly said “Police in India will learn that beating suspects to confess is unacceptable only after officers are prosecuted for torture.”

Ganguly said too often “the police officers investigating death in custody are more concerned about shielding their colleagues than bringing those responsible to justice.”

Indian law and the Supreme Court have established guidelines for various aspects of police work, including registering cases, the treatment of arrested persons and conducting questioning. The report says, however, police continue to mistreat detainees to collect information and confessions because they have not received the proper training, oversight and resources to gather evidence.

Established procedures also require suspects to have a medical examination with a doctor to list any pre-existing injuries. By law, every person taken into custody must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours.

The guidelines are widely ignored, HRW says. In 2015, in 67 of 97 deaths, the police either failed to produce the suspect before a magistrate within 24 hours or the suspect died within 24 hours after being arrested.

“If police follow the rules designed to deter torture and mistreatment, deaths in custody could be prevented,” Ganguly said. “India can only boast of rule of law when those charged with enforcing it are held accountable.”

There has been no immediate response to the report from the Indian government.

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