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India: Dangerous proposals to 'reform' criminal justice system criticised

Amnesty International UK director, Kate Allen, said:

'It's very disturbing that the Malimath Committee report refers quite openly to the need to reform the criminal justice system in order to secure more convictions. The objective of any independent and impartial system is truth and justice for all victims and perpetrators of crime.'

Amnesty International believes that reform of the criminal justice system in India is long overdue. However the recent report of the Malimath Committee neglects the system's current discrimination against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, religious minorities, dalits and the poor. The solutions it offers ignore fundamental human rights safeguards.

In a comprehensive legal commentary on the full Malimath report, Amnesty International raises concerns that if implemeted the recommendations would seriously undermine fair trial procedures by reducing standards for admissable evidence, removing the right to silence, reversing the burden of proof and increasing the likelihood of summary trials.

The proposals will increase the risk of torture for those in police detention, and they do not address the current crisis in legal aid which is leading to a highly disproportionate number of poorer people being convicted without proper access to a defence. If implemented the proposal would weaken the law protecting Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights from violence.

Six days ago the Supreme Court of India severely criticised the state government of Gujarat for failing to provide justice to the victims of communal violence in 2002. It pointed to the possibility of collusion between the Government and the prosecution in preventing the delivery of justice to victims and survivors. The Malimath Committee proposals do not address such situations which involve institutional discrimination and bias.

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