Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Torture main reason of death in police custody: Study

Torture main reason of death in police custody: Study
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Deadly facts about torture during interrogation in Punjab have come alive in a study on custodial deaths by the Institute of Correctional Administration. As many as 50 per cent of the police officials talked to have admitted that third degree methods are used against the suspects due to social and political pressures.

The study, carried out by the institute’s deputy director Dr Upneet Lalli, has further revealed that need for conducting speedy investigation is another reason. “There is a pressure (on the cops) to perform as also pressure to conform”, the report says. For the purpose of the conducting the study, as many as 150 police officials were talked to.

The report adds: Lack of accountability and almost total immunity enjoyed by the police until recently accounts for the fact that 58 per cent of them feel there is no sense of shame in cops accused of torture. Only 27 per cent say their colleagues feel bad about the use of force to effect confession and recovery.

“There seems to be no clear cut message from the top about intolerance to torture as 18 per cent feel their seniors will feel bad. Another 27 per cent have opposite to say,” the report asserts. Just 10 per cent of the police personnel are aware of the guidelines issued by the National Human Rights Commission on custody-related issues. Only 12 per cent are correctly able to specify the Articles of the Constitution dealing with the matter, even though a majority of them are aware of the Supreme Court verdict in D.K. Basu versus State of West Bengal case.

The voluminous 200-page study “Custodial Deaths and Human Rights Commission - an analysis of its role and prevention” has already been submitted to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission. Quoting the contents of the report, the sources in the commission say just one-fourth of the officers talked to admit consultation with their seniors or the relevant rules in case of doubt about their powers.

As many as 90 per cent police personnel from the state and even outside agree to the need for adopting scientific methods of investigations against the hardened criminals. “The main kind of abuse a person faces in police custody has been mentioned as physical (41 per cent) and mental (67 per cent),” it adds. “The main reason behind deaths in police custody has been mentioned as torture, medical negligence and drug addiction”.

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