India panel suggests legal reforms in response to rape incident

[JURIST] An Indian government commission published its report [text, PDF] Wednesday recommending numerous reforms in the way the nation's legal institutions handle rape cases. The report was created by a panel led by Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma [official profile] which was established to respond to mass protests in India following the December gang rape and subsequent death [BBC reports] of a 23-year-old medical student in New Dehli. The report provides a host of suggestions advocating for reform in all spheres of Indian life including political, judicial and cultural reform. The report reserves its harshest criticism for the manner in which police and the judiciary currently respond to rape accusations and suggests that the most pressing efforts the government should undertake include increasing police accountability and harsher penalties for those convicted of sexual assault. The report did not go so far as to suggest the death penalty for those convicted of rape, which some in the country have been urging. Other recommendations include the creation of specific courts to handle rape cases, increased enforcement of laws restricting human trafficking, and additional judicial resources to allow for speedier trials and appeals of rape cases.

In December Indian authorities charged six suspects [JURIST report] with murder after the death of the gang rape victim. In December Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [official profile] called for peace [JURIST report] after a protest over sexual violence resulted in a clash between protesters and police.

 

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