Human Rights concerns about the KCOCA Amendment passed by the Karnataka assembly- Appeal not to give consent sign now

Governor of Karnataka.
Raj Bhavan Road

Your Excellency

May we please request you to consider our views on the amendments to the KCOCA Amendment Bill passed in the Karnataka assembly on July 28th 2009, which could lead to serious human rights violations.

With this bill, Karnataka unnecessarily sharpens the rigidity of the already existing this draconian law. It includes acts of terror under the purview of organised crimes, provides for deterrent punishment of death or imprisonment for life. Also, it provides for the attachment of property of the accused pending investigation, increases the period for filing the chargesheet from six months to one year. It provides for fines of up to Rs. Ten lakh for committing an act of terrorism.

It is not just that we do not understand the point of sharpening the existing laws, since we do not believe that a convinced terrorist willing to sacrifice his life for some cause will ever be stopped by a high fine or even the threat of death penalty. Also, the terrorists actually carrying out attacks and most likely to be picked up by the police are rarely the ones really initiating, planing and organizing the attack and therefore at the heart of the problem. A terrorist/perpetrator is just a single person, but backed by a well organised and well financed groups. Therefore executing the individual terrorist/perpetrator will neither stop the activities of the terror groups nor bring justice to the victims. Hence we doubt the effectiveness of this legal measure purely designed to soothe alarmed voters.

The only possible use we can see in this amplification of the act's scope is the possible misuse by authorities. Since the accused detained for up to one year without filing a chargesheet, there is maximum possibility of innocent people being locked up. Imprisonment however is a severe restriction to a person's personal liberty, and here we are we are dealing with a very extended period of time. The necessity of a speedy decision by a magistrate is also emphasized by art. 22(2) of the Indian Constitution.

Also, this extended time of imprisonment without charge is a violation of the presumption of innocence provided by art.14 ICCPR.

Furthermore there is a serious danger of misuse of these provisions for arbitrary detentions targeting minority groups. We hence believe the new provisions to violate the individuals rights as guaranteed by art. 9 and 14 ICCPR.

Therefore, even if the authorities involved in the implementation of the act do not misuse the discretion and power vested in them, the amended act itself is violation of existing human rights.

We also strongly oppose the insertion of death penalty as possible punishment for terrorists.

We believe, that death penalty itself is a violation of the most basic human rights. A state obliged to ensure all individuals' personal life and liberty (Art.21 Constitution, Art.6 ICCPR, Art.3 UDHR) does not fulfill this obligation by killing a person. Human Rights are designed to protect a human being's dignity, and the very nature of a human right implies that no human being can forfeit these rights not even by committing a major crime.

Furthermore, by passing a death sentence, the state professes its own infallibility, for by executing a single innocent person the state itself would commit the crime it is attempting to prevent. Now, history shows that the criminal justice system is subject to human fallibility and death penalty is irrevocable.

Also, we do not believe the threat of death penalty to effectively prevent crimes. The logic is that citizens are intimidated by the threat of incurring the ultimate punishment, which in turn leads to a lower crime rate. However, this argument has largely been discredited by the numerous studies and has limited empirical support. E.g. in Canada, the death penalty was abolished in 1976 and the number of murders committed per year has steadily reduced; in the former princely states of Travancore and Cochin (Kerala) the number of murderers registered after the reinstatement of death penalty in 1950 was higher than before during the abolishment of death penalty.

We therefore strongly urge you not to give consent to this amendment.

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