Introduce “statutory time limit” in Assam: Amnesty International

NEW DELHI: Human rights organisation Amnesty International Friday November 23, released a documentary on foreigner detention centres in Assam.

A 29-minute documentary ‘Between Fear and Hatred: Surviving Migration Detention in Assam’ released by Amnesty India highlights the flawed processes. The nearly 30-page report recording their observations alleged that individuals declared as “irregular foreigners” living in “deplorable conditions” in Assam’s detention centres that “cause harm” to individuals’ mental and physical health.

“There are several families which have been torn apart, women who are pregnant and do not know when will they come out of detention, and many of them have been battling severe mental health issues. This is an issue that needs immediate attention,” said lawyer-activist Aman Wadud.

According to reports, there are some recommendations from Amnesty to the Government of India and to the Government of Assam.

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It also recommended the Government of India that detention should be separated from the ordinary convicts and undertrials and sought introduction of a “statutory time limit”.

“As on Sept 25 2018, 1,037 persons declared foreigners were being detained in detention centres in Assam. Many do not know what crimes have led to their incarceration. Most of them do not know what the future holds. They have no certainty about whether they will ever be released, and if so, when,” stated Amnesty International’s report.

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“In fact, 30 percent of the 1,037 detainees in detention centres as on 25 September 2018 were declared foreigners in proceedings they were not even aware of. There is pressure on Tribunals to dispose off a large number of cases and that is disturbing. The authorities have totally failed to consider non-custodial alternatives to detention,” says Leah Verghese, an Amnesty India researcher who had worked on the documentary.

The Amnesty India report comes after 40 lakh of the 3.29 crore applicants have been excluded from Assam’s draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) on June 30.