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Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Issues a Statement on Custodial Death of Jeyaraj-Fenix

“It sends a chilling message about how broken the system is, the failure of police and political leaders to step up accountability measures for illegality”

On 29th June, the Executive Committee of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) shared the press release on their official website regarding the recent torture and death of a father and son in custody.

“At a time when demands for police reforms are sweeping the world in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, the killings of P. Jeyaraj and Bennix are a chilling reminder of how routine the excessive use of force has become in India, resulting in tragic loss of lives. It sends a chilling message about how broken the system is, the failure of police and political leaders to step up accountability measures for illegality”, the press release states.

The statement further added, “It also lays bare brutally what happens to ordinary people who do not know their rights or that custodial violence is not normal behaviour but criminal conduct. We need to go beyond condemning this outrage by police officers who violated their role as protectors of the public. The gross abuse of authority that caused the death of innocent citizens need to be prosecuted with the full weight of the law, if public trust is to be retained.”

“Without the police reforms which have been advocated by successive Police Commissions in this country which strike at the root of the abuse, cultural and institutional bias that governs the conduct of policemen at different levels, such brutal episodes will continue to happen. The details of such reforms are known; what is required is the political will to implement them. Both police and political leaders have resisted change. What happened in a police station in Tamil Nadu that night is an outcome of that refusal to change.”

Demanding a strict action against the policemen, the committee said, “The policemen, including the Inspector of Sathankulam PS, two Sub-Inspectors, several police constables and their accomplices who were involved in the brutal torture need to be arrested without delay and charged with murder. So far, while the two Sub-Inspectors have been suspended, a departmental proceeding has been initiated against the two Head Constables. No FIR has been registered against them.”

In their statement, they have urged the government of India to bring a draft law on torture before parliament and announce its commitment to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT).

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