New Delhi: India is the best human rights performer in South Asia, while Sri Lanka has the worst human rights record, according to a report released by human rights watchdog Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) on Friday.
The South Asia Human Rights Index 2008 finds that under the ACHR's index scoring system, Sri Lanka with 52 points was the worst human rights violator in South Asia followed by Bangladesh (45), Bhutan (43), Pakistan (41), Maldives (23), Nepal (24) and India (24).
“India is the best human rights performer in the South Asian region because of the existence of institutional mechanisms. However, its record on human rights continued to be poor,” said ACHR Director, Suhas Chakma.
India continues to fail to ensure political freedom and inclusion to vulnerable groups like Dalits, Sikhs who migrated from Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 and the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh, the report said.
“India records high number of cases of blatant violations of the right to life due to custodial deaths, fake encounter killings, torture and killings through the disproportionate use of fire-arms. From April 1, 2007 to Dec 31, 2007, a total of 1,459 cases of custodial deaths were registered. It implies over five persons were killed in custody every day."
“It is impunity which directly contributes to such large-scale custodial deaths,” Chakma said.
According to the index, Sri Lanka had the worst human rights record for violations of the right to life, child rights, attacks on human rights defenders and violations of the rights of the minorities. On press freedom, it ranked as the second worst violator only after Bhutan - which has no independent press.
“Discrimination lies at the heart of the war with the Tamils and the introduction of restrictions on Tamils travelling to Colombo are a powerful symbol of government intent. The political ramifications of the exclusion - not least in terms of prospects for a peaceful settlement of the conflict - of an entire ethnic group from the nation's capital are of deep concern,” the report stated.
The human rights situation in Pakistan, according to the report, deteriorated in 2007 as President Musharraf increased repression in an attempt to retain position and power. In 2007, hundreds of people have been disappeared, arbitrary detention and torture in detention remained routine and impunity for human rights violations remained very high, it said.
The indexing system is based on a comparative assessment of nine issues crucial for the enjoyment of human rights: political freedom, right to life, judiciary and administration of justice, status or effectiveness of National Human Rights Institutions, press freedom, violence against women, violations of the rights of the child, violations of the rights of the minorities and tribal peoples and repression on human rights defenders.
Afghanistan has not been included in the index as its security is ensured by international forces over which the Afghan government has no mechanism to establish accountability - a necessary condition for indexing.
”Bangladesh was ranked as the No. 2 human rights violator in the region. On political freedom, Bangladesh scores the worst in the region with an effective ban on politics," the report said.
“In the first 10 months of 2007, a total of 440,684 people had been arrested and of these, only 239,480 were issued arrest warrants. Only 778 were wanted by the police for criminal offences,” the report said.