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Friday, 28 February 2014 – 8:59am IST | Agency: PTI
A US Congress-mandated report today said that abuses by police and security forces are the most significant human rights problems in India, but that the government had made some "progress" in cases seeking to punish officials for killings during the 2002 Gujarat riots. "The most significant human rights problems were police and security force abuses, including extra-judicial killings, torture, and rape; widespread corruption at all levels of government, leading to denial of justice; and separatist, insurgent, and societal violence," said the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Other human rights problems included disappearances, poor prison conditions that were frequently life threatening, arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pretrial detention, the report said. It noted that the judiciary remained overburdened, and court backlogs led to lengthy delays or the denial of justice.
Authorities continued to infringe on citizens' privacy rights, the report said adding that the law in some states restricts religious conversion, and there were reports of arrests but no reports of convictions under those laws and religion-based societal violence remained a problem, it said. Forced labour and bonded labour were widespread while child labour, including forced child labour, was also a serious problem, it added.
In its report the State Department said that the government made some progress in cases that seek to hold police and security officials accountable for killings during the Gujarat riots in 2002.
Noting that there were allegations of bias in cases stemming from the 2002 Gujarat violence, the report said a decade after the communal riots, the 2013 Study on Internally Displaced Persons of India (IDPs) by the Centre for Social Justice reported 3,964 internally displaced families in 86 settlements in Gujarat, all of them Muslim. "The study reported that 30 percent of the IDPs had not received any aid and the rest had been inadequately compensated," it said.
Civil society activists continued to express concern about the Gujarat government's failure to protect the population or arrest many of those responsible for communal violence in 2002 that resulted in the killings of more than 1,200 persons, the majority of whom were Muslim, although there was progress in several court cases, the report said.