To bring itself into compliance with domestic and international law, the government of India must act immediately to restore security, prevent further attacks, and end the environment of impunity in Gujarat. Those responsible for the attacks in Godhra and its violent aftermath must be prosecuted, including police and state officials complicit in the attacks. Specifically, Human Rights Watch makes the following recommendations:
To the State Government of Gujarat:
Improve security in violence-affected areas and relief camps by increasing the number of police officers-including officers from minority communities-and the number of outposts where needed. Where necessary, army units should continue to be deployed to keep the peace.
· Suspend all police officers implicated in the attacks, pending investigation.
· The government should act without delay to implement the recommendations of the NHRC on the violence in Gujarat (see appendix), including that:
· The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) take over investigations of certain critical incidents in Gujarat, including the attacks in Godhra, Naroda Patia, and Gulmarg Society.6
· The chief justice of the High Court of Gujarat establish courts expressly to try the cases investigated by the CBI.
· The government set up police desks in temporary camps, to receive and record complaints, and forward them to police stations having jurisdiction.
· Turn over investigations implicating state and police officials to external agencies such as the CBI. Ensure that these investigations address the conduct of state officials, including police and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, who incited, took part in, or were complicit in the attacks. The investigations should also focus on:
· Instances in which government documents noting the religious affiliation of persons were given to groups responsible for inciting violence or conducting abuses.
· Malfeasance in investigating and arresting leaders involved in attacks.
· Excessive use of police force, including executions of Muslims.
· The arbitrary detention and filing of false charges against Muslims.
· Ensure that state police register and investigate all cases of communal violence regardless of the religious background of the victim. Police posts should be set up in relief camps expressly for this purpose. The national government and government of Gujarat should establish civilian review boards or civilian ombudsman committees composed of judges and lawyers to examine whether cases are being adequately investigated. Police found to have violated their duties should be dismissed and prosecuted where appropriate.
· Collect and preserve forensic evidence for use in the identification of the dead and to support criminal prosecutions.
· Members of the media and media organizations responsible for the incitement of specific acts of violence should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
· Take decisive steps to ensure that police use deadly force only as a last resort to protect life. Police agents should act in accordance with international standards on use of force. The U.N. Basic Principles on the Use of Force or Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials emphasize that the use of force and firearms should be in consonance with respect for human rights and that deadly force should not be used against persons unless "strictly unavoidable in order to protect life."
· Launch public awareness campaigns in Gujarat and other states aimed at preventing future communal violence. This campaign should reaffirm legal provisions, explain what recourses are available to minorities, and publicize the procedures for filing a First Information Report (FIR). This campaign should also include public service announcements aimed at educating the population through efforts to raise awareness of minority rights and condemnation of religious violence and extremism.
· Implement state and federal relief packages for victims of communal violence-including disbursement of compensation for family members of victims killed in the violence, the reconstruction of homes and places of business, and the provision of food rations and other relief supplies for all persons displaced or dispossessed by the communal violence in a nondiscriminatory manner and in accordance with international human rights law and the U.N. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
· Restore without delay all documents necessary for the enjoyment and exercise of legal rights that were lost or destroyed in the course of the communal violence. These include passports, personal identification documents, and birth, marriage, and education certificates.
To the Government of India:
The government of India should ensure that the government of Gujarat investigates and prosecutes perpetrators of violence and where necessary, cooperates with external agencies such as the CBI in doing so. The government should also take appropriate measures to ensure the security and safety of all citizens of Gujarat, including assistance to those who have been displaced or dispossessed by the violence. In addition, Human Rights Watch recommends that:
· Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), which stands in violation of international due process norms. The Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), that preceded POTA, has been discriminatorily applied against Muslims in the state of Gujarat and elsewhere.
· Establish state branches of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), and the National Commission for Women (NCW) in Gujarat, with adequate financial resources and powers to initiate prosecution where appropriate. The 1993 Protection of Human Rights Act should also be amended so that the NHRC is not excluded from inquiring into matters already pending before state commissions.
· Implement recommendations on police reform made by the National Police Commission in 1980.
· End impunity for past campaigns of violence against minorities. That is, prosecute and punish those found responsible for serious offenses during the anti-Sikh violence in Delhi in 1984 and the post-Ayodhya violence of December 1992 and January 1993. The recommendations of the Srikrishna Commission on the post-Ayodhya violence in Bombay should be implemented without delay. Police responsible for excessive use of force should be prosecuted; those who having the power and duty to stop the violence but did not intervene should be punished accordingly.
· Request and encourage United Nations relief agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as well as international humanitarian organizations to provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to all those displaced and dispossessed by the communal violence, without discrimination.
· Provide U.N., international humanitarian organizations, and local nongovernmental relief agencies full, free, and unimpeded access to all those displaced and dispossessed by the communal violence.
· United Nations human rights bodies and experts should be invited and encouraged to visit India:
· The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
· The special rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
· The special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.
· The special rapporteur on violence against women.
· The special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
· The Special Representative of the United Nations secretary-general on internally displaced persons.
· Include information on the recent communal violence in India's future periodic reports to human rights treaty bodies established for the:
· International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (submission due August 8, 2002)
· International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (overdue as of December 31, 2001).
To India's Donors and Trading Partners:
· Urge the Indian government to make an official request to U.N. relief agencies and international humanitarian organizations to provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to those displaced and dispossessed by the communal violence, and ensure that the U.N. and international relief agencies are allowed full, free and unimpeded access to all those displaced and dispossessed by the communal violence.
· Provide funding to the government of India to deliver relief and rehabilitation assistance to those displaced and dispossessed by the communal violence and take steps to ensure that such assistance is delivered in a nondiscriminatory manner and in accordance with international human rights law and the U.N. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
· Provide funding for preventative measures to ensure that communal outbreaks are prevented in the future. Such measures can include community education programs on communal issues and the establishment of independent review boards to act as checks on the functioning of the police and other state and local governmental institutions during communal outbreaks.
· Urge the Indian government to prosecute those responsible for the violence in Gujarat, including state government and police officials, and demand that the government invite relevant U.N. human rights experts and commissions to monitor the ongoing situation.
· Urge the Indian government to implement the recommendations of the NHRC concerning the violence in Gujarat; the Srikrishna Commission on the 1992-1993 Bombay riots; and the 1980 recommendations of the National Police Commission on national police reform.
To International Lending Institutions:
· Ensure that anti-discrimination measures built into World Bank and Asian Development Bank-funded projects are thoroughly implemented in areas where the problems of communal violence and religious discrimination are severe. As part of its commitment to good governance, the World Bank, as well as other international lending institutions, should establish ongoing dialogue with NGOs at all stages of the decision-making process-before a loan is released, while the project is being implemented, and in the course of any post-project evaluation.
· Prior to approval of projects, and in consultation with NGOs, investigate the effect of proposed policies and programs on religious violence and discrimination, and explore ways in which programs could help alleviate these ills.
· Assistance to state authorities should be conditioned on concrete actions to assist internally displaced persons who seek to return to their homes and ongoing provisions for monitoring programs to this end.
To International Humanitarian Organizations:
· Explore with the Indian government ways to expand existing relief programs to address the humanitarian needs of those displaced and dispossessed by the communal violence in Gujarat, without discrimination and in accordance with international human rights law and the U.N. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Assistance should focus on health and sanitation, food and nutrition, social and psychological support, shelter, and educational needs of the internally displaced, as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance to facilitate the safe return of internally displaced persons to their own homes and communities.
· Maintain close contact with local and international human rights organizations and develop procedures for regular consultation and information sharing.
To United Nations Agencies:
· The UNDP should immediately deploy a U.N. inter-agency assessment mission to Gujarat state to determine the assistance and protection needs of those displaced and dispossessed by the communal violence. Such a mission should include experts on health and sanitation, food and nutrition, shelter, social and psychological support, education, and protection drawn from U.N. agencies that have programs in India, such as UNDP, WFP, WHO, UNICEF, and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Particular attention should be paid to the protection and assistance needs of women, children, the elderly, and the disabled.
· Based on the findings of the inter-agency assessment mission, U.N. agencies should seek to provide emergency relief to those displaced and dispossessed by the communal violence in Gujarat on a nondiscriminatory basis and in full accordance with international human rights law and the U.N. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Special attention should be paid to the health, nutritional, medical, educational, and psychosocial needs of those affected by the violence.
6 CBI is a federal investigative agency that handles cases of corruption and cases of interstate and other crimes of national importance. CBI inquiries are often demanded in cases where local or state investigations are perceived to be biased.