in Manipur and the United Nations

CSCHR held a high-level consultation on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

High Level Consultation on extrajudicial execution

Extra-judicial executions is used to refer to executions other than those carried out by the State in conformity with the law.” (Philip G. Alston, 2009 – former Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions)

A high-level consultation was held on Sunday, 18th March 2012 at Imphal to bring together prominent jurists, lawyers, forensic scientists and media persons with members of the coalition. The consultation focussed on the framework of the memorandum being prepared to be submitted to Prof. Christof Heynes, the present mandate holder of the UN Human Rights Council’s special thematic procedure on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions who is visiting India on a country mission from 19-30 March 2012.

The critical concern pre-occupying Manipur is the issue of extremely high frequency of sudden and unnatural deaths suspected to have occurred in custody and other forms of killings as a result of excessive use of force by the security forces and law enforcement officials in Manipur under de jure (AFSPA) and de facto impunity.

CSCHR is preparing a detailed memorandum elaborating on the issue of suspected extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in Manipur for the forthcoming civil society consultation the UN Special Rapporteur at Guwahati, Assam on Wednesday, 28th March 2012. The memorandum is being developed through a series of consultative meetings of the CSCHR from January 2012.

Broadly speaking, the term “extrajudicial executions” covers killings which violate human rights or humanitarian law. Common forms include, for instance: killing as a result of the excessive use of force by police; indiscriminate killings of civilians during an armed conflict; or murder by State security forces or paramilitary groups, when these are not adequately investigated, prosecuted or punished. The former Special Rapporteur, Prof. Philip G. Alston further elaborated that the mandate “may include unlawful killings by the police, deaths in military or civilian custody, killings of civilians in armed conflict in violation of humanitarian law, and patterns of killings by private individuals which are not adequately investigated and prosecuted by the authorities.”

The role of the mandate-holder is to respond to cases of extrajudicial executions around the world by holding Governments to account. The Special Rapporteur carries out this mandate through correspondence with governments and through fact-finding visits to countries where significant problems of extrajudicial executions are alleged or identified (past missions have included Guatemala, Israel, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Brazil, Afghanistan, and the United States of America). Country fact-finding missions and correspondence serve to clarify past violations, alert Governments to their legal obligations, and provide guidance on the measures required to prevent future violations. In this context, Prof. Christof Heynes’ official visit to India is an extremely significant one.

Prof. Christof Heynes holds the degrees of MA, LLB University of Pretoria; LLM Yale Law School; and PhD University of the Witwatersrand. He is Professor of Human Rights Law and co-Director of the Institute for International and Comparative law in Africa at the University of Pretoria. In August 2010, he was appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. He is an adjunct professor at the Washington College of Law of the American University in Washington DC, USA, and a visiting fellow at Kellog College at Oxford University, UK, where he has been teaching in the Masters’ programme since 2005.

He is the former Director of the Centre for Human Rights in the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, as well as Former Dean of that Faculty. He has published widely in the field of international human rights law, including the book The Impact of the United Nations Human Rights Treaties on the Domestic Level (with Frans Viljoen) and especially in human rights law in Africa (including the book Human Rights Law in Africa). He is the founding editor in chief of the African Human Rights Law Reports and was the founding co-editor of the African Human Rights Law Journal and serves on the editorial boards of academic law journals in the UK, France, Brazil, the Netherlands, Costa Rica and Uganda. He has served as consultant to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (inter alia on the establishment of a regional human rights system in South East Asia), the African Union and the South African Human Rights Commission.

His publications have appeared in English, Afrikaans, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic. He has received a Fulbright Fellowship (to Yale Law School) and Humboldt Fellowship (to the Max Planck Institute for International and Comparative Public Law in Heidelberg, Germany), as well the University of Pretoria’s Chancellor’s Award for Teaching and Learning. He is currently a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Law School.

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