PUCL Bulletin, April 2003

Amnesty International, 14 February 2003
India/Bangladesh: "Push in-push out" practices at the border not acceptable

Amnesty International is gravely concerned with recent reports about incidents on the Indian-Bangladeshi border in which groups of people whose nationality is disputed have reportedly been subject to "push-in" and "push-out" attempts by security forces on both sides in the past few weeks.

The organization considers that such collective expulsions by India and Bangladesh across the border without offering recourse to judicial remedy or appeal to the persons being expelled appear to be arbitrary and to deny them their fundamental human rights.

Amnesty International urges both governments - which meet today in Delhi to discuss bilateral relations, including the issue of tensions at the border over migration - to immediately halt the practice of "push-ins" and "push-outs".
The organization is calling on both governments to ensure that the human rights of these and other affected people form a central part of the bilateral talks and reminds that safeguards to which they are entitled should be upheld.

These safeguards include, regardless of their nationality and legal status, to ensure that affected people are not subject to arbitrary arrest and detention (there should be no arrest in absence of recognizably criminal offences); to refrain from mass expulsion of people from each state's territory; to ensure that a person whose expulsion from a territory is being contemplated is provided at the earliest instance with full information and adequate and competent legal representation, and is able to effectively and individually appeal any decision taken by the state; to ensure that any person whose nationality is in dispute has full access to an independent and accountable body with the competence to establish their legal status; to ensure prompt access to judicial safeguards and redress against any violation of the rights of persons affected by the dispute; to ensure that border guards do not use excessive force and that independent investigations are carried out into any use of excessive force and those responsible for such abuses are brought to justice; to ensure that they are protected from mob attacks; to ensure that detainees have access to adequate food, shelter and medical facilities; to ensure that sufficient and particular attention is given to the protection and humanitarian assistance needs of women, children, the elderly, and other vulnerable group.

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