Report from the People`s Tribunal in New Dehli
The TERROR of POTA
and Other Security Legislation
Release of the Report of the People´s Tribunal on the
Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and Other Security Legislation
On 13 – 14 March 2004, a People´s Tribunal was organized in New Delhi to document cases of gross misuse of POTA and other security legislation. Victims and family members spoke of the victimisation of juveniles, minorities, dalits, adivasis and industrial workers. They recounted stories of illegal custody, solitary confinement, torture, forced confessions, sexual and religious humiliation, encounter killings and disappearances. The dire predictions as to how this statute was likely to be misused have in fact been proven true.
Will the UPA Government keep its promise?
"The UPA has been concerned with the manner in which POTA has been grossly misused in the past two years. There will be no compromise in the fight against terrorism. But given the abuse of POTA that has taken place, the UPA government will repeal it, while existing laws are enforced strictly."
- National Common Minimum Programme Of The Government Of India, May 2004
Repeal – POTA and TADA before that have not deterred terrorist activity. Instead, the weakest sections of our society have borne the brunt of state brutality sanctioned by security legislation.
Accountability – POTA, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and similar legislation have given the police and paramilitary forces the impression that they are above the law. They must be systematically disabused of this impression. They must be made accountable for their actions.
Juveniles – Should only be subject to the Juvenile Justice Act, never to any security / terrorist legislation.
Freedom of Speech and expression – No statute should have a chilling effect on the exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression. POTA and kindred laws have had just that effect.
Political Vendetta – The draconian provisions of the Act lend themselves to use against political opponents as evidenced in Tamil Nadu.
Compensation and Reparation – While repealing these laws, the state must acknowledge its mistakes and at a minimum pay the victims compensation.
Initiate Peace Talks – Conflicts arising from peoples´ legitimate aspirations must be resolved politically and not be treated as a law and order situation to be repressed through the use of security legislation.