Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Activists seek justice for wrongful convictions in India

Syed Wasif Haider was arrested by plainclothes policemen on July 31, 2001, from Kanpur, an industrial city in northern Uttar Pradesh state of India. He was accused of being a member of Hizbul Mujahideen, which is designated as a terrorist organisation by India, the European Union and the United States.
After languishing in prison for eight years, he was finally acquitted of all the charges in court.
On October 2, he was among 15 people wrongfully imprisoned, who gave evidence before the People's Tribunal on those acquitted in terror cases.
The Tribunal, which released its report on Saturday in New Delhi, called for Indian officials responsible for wrongful arrests and prosecution to be held accountable.
The Tribunal, organised by Innocence Network - an Indian collective of individuals and organisations working for the rights of those who have been wrongfully prosecuted - said the government should be made to pay compensation for the wrongful convictions.
"The dignity of those acquitted must be restored. Thus it is imperative that the harm inflicted on them must be redressed within the framework of rights rather than charity," retired Justice Ajit Prakash Shah, part of the jury at the Tribunal, said at the official release of the report in New Delhi.
"Those who had been wrongly convicted should be entitled to compensation from the state," Shah, a former chief justice of Delhi High Court, said.
The report, which Justice Shah released on the behalf of the Innocence Network, said the testimonies make it amply clear that the investigating agencies needed greater accountability and transparency.
"The erring officers must be suspended with immediate effect," Shah told Al Jazeera.

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