News

Human Rights Watch Labels Indian Police Anachronistic, Abusive Force

Multimedia

Audio

A new report by Human Rights Watch says India is modernizing rapidly, but that its police forces have failed to evolve from the repressive forces designed by colonial rulers.  It has called on the government to transform the institution from one that is anachronistic and abusive into one that promotes the rule of law.  

Human Rights Watch says it has compiled the new report not just by talking to victims of police abuse, but to police officers, as well, to see what leads to an abusive pattern of behavior on their part. 

The human rights abuses which the report investigates have been documented in the past. The report says the most pressing are the police failure to register crimes, arrests on false charges and illegal detention, torture to elicit confessions, and extrajudicial killings.

Naureen Shah at the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch says a police culture where abuse is an institutional practice has been handed down from the time when India was ruled by the British.

"They are often relying on old methods of policing," Shah said. "When they were first constituted as a colonial force in the 1800's they were taught to use repression, fear - the public's fear rather than its cooperation.  And, that is still the way they are doing policing today."

The report says this has led to an unprecedented public distrust and fear of police and to people avoiding it, fearing demands for bribes, illegal detention or torture.

The problems are aggravated by what Human Rights Watch terms the "dangerous state of disrepair" in the police force.  It says the force is "overstretched and ill equipped".  India has just one police officer for every 1,000 residents, compared to the global average of 333.  The report says police infrastructure is crumbling and decaying police stations lack vehicles, phones or computers.  The working environment for low-ranking police is often dismal.

Naureen Shah, who spent time at police stations, says constables and junior police officers are given no training or equipment for professional crime investigation techniques.

"A lot of the police we spoke to did not seem to realize or did not seem to understand that there were other ways of doing things," Shah said. "If we said 'why is it you torture so much to get a confession,' one police officer said to us, 'What do you expect me to do?  Do you expect me to sit the fellow down and ask him politely if he committed the crime?  He is not going to tell me anything. These harsh methods are necessary.'  So, there is a lack of awareness that there are other ways of doing things. "

The report also says police often face interference from state and local politicians and are routinely asked to drop charges against those with political connections.

Human Rights Watch calls on the government to increase accountability for abusive police officers and for a change in the police structure and working conditions.

Demands for police reforms have been on India's political and public agenda for many years. A 2006 Supreme Court judgment directed the government to insulate the police force from political interference, enhance its accountability and give police autonomy in staffing.  The government elected this year has promised to initiate such reforms, but similar commitments by successive governments have remained unfulfilled.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs