India is yet to ratify UN Convention against Torture and enact a law on torture. Can the law serve as a panacea against torture by police in India?

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 10, 1984, and came into force on June 26, 1987.

The Law Commission of India in its 273rd report recommended that the government ratify the convention and also presented a draft of a new Prevention of Torture Bill to the government.

Even though India is a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture, it is yet to ratify it by enacting the law on torture.

Will a law serve as a panacea?

  • Cases of police torture continue abated in all the 160 nations that have enacted laws on torture to ratify the treaty.
  • The detainee torture and custodial deaths remain at a disturbingly high level, especially in south Asia.
  • For instance, In Pakistan which has signed and ratified the convention on April 17, 2008, and ratified on June 3, 2010) as well as in Afghanistan which has signed and ratified the convention detainee torture and custodial deaths remain at a disturbingly high level.
  • Even China has signed and ratified the Convention but it is widely condemned for horrific state repression while interrogating detainees and suppressing political dissent.

Hence it will be unfair to infer that India is amongst the worst in this respect. It is time India takes a closer look at the reality of policing in India.

Published: October 21, 2019 | Modified:December 1, 2019

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