WASHINGTON — Abuses by police and security forces were among the most significant human rights problems in India last year, a US government report has said even as it noted last year's Indian general election as the largest ever in history.
"India's parliamentary contest in April 2014 was one of the largest elections in history," Secretary of State John Kerry said in his preface to the State Department's annual Congressional-mandated report in which he noted that around the world, more people chose their leaders in competitive elections than ever before.
The lengthy India section of the report says that the 2014 general elections, the largest democratic elections in history, were considered free and fair, despite isolated instances of violence. Authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
"The most significant human rights problems were police and security force abuses, including extra-judicial killings, torture, and rape; widespread corruption that contributed to ineffective responses to crime, including those against women and members of scheduled castes or tribes; and societal violence based on gender, religious affiliation, and caste or tribe," the report said.
According to the State Department report, other human rights problems included disappearances, hazardous prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pretrial detention.
"The judiciary remained backlogged, leading to lengthy delays and the denial of due process," it said.
Noting that there were instances of infringement of privacy rights, the report said the law in some states restricts religious conversion, and there were reports of arrests but no reports of convictions under those laws. Some limits on the freedom of movement continued.
Rape, domestic violence, dowry-related deaths, honour killings, sexual harassment, and discrimination against women remained serious societal problems, it said.
Child abuse and forced and early marriage were problems, the State Department said.
Human trafficking, including widespread bonded and forced labour of children and adults, and sex trafficking of children and adults for prostitution were serious problems, it said.