SHILLONG, May 30 – The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has never recommended repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) but asked State governments to consider review of the controversial Act.
Justice KG Balakrishnan, chairperson of NHRC, said that the Commission has no jurisdiction when it comes to asking States to repeal the Act as it is a State policy. “The State governments have to take a decision to repeal the Act as it is a policy decision. The NHRC has therefore never recommended for its repeal,” he said at the sidelines of the NHRC’s camp sittings here.
“The Commission has asked the State governments to review the Act as it cannot be viewed as a permanent feature. Now it is up to the wisdom of the State governments to do so,” he added.
He further informed that the Commission has taken up complaints from Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir in cases relating to AFSPA’s alleged abuses and most of the cases were settled. “The Union Home Ministry has sent its reply on the cases and on several occasions the cases were settled,” he added.
Justice Balakrishnan said nine cases relating to Meghalaya were taken up by the Commission here. Prominent amongst these were cases relating to child labour and ostracisation of families.
Regarding child labour in coal mines of Jaintia Hills, he said that it was a case of “bonded labour” and the Commission has taken serious exception to such child rights violation.
“The State government has said that there were 200-odd children working in the coal mines and they have now been rehabilitated but compensation has not been provided so far by the State government or by the coal mine owners,” he added.