NEW DELHI - India should scrap a controversial law which gives security forces battling militancy in the troubled regions of Kashmir and the northeast sweeping powers to search, arrest or shoot people, the United Nations said on Friday.
Human rights groups say the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is a draconian law which the military arbitrarily uses to violate civilians' rights.
Indian authorities and the army deny those charges, and say the legislation is essential to root out insurgents. Kashmir, the country's only majority-Muslim region, has been the trigger for two out of three wars between India and its neighbor Pakistan.
After a 12-day visit to India, the UN's Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, urged New Delhi to repeal the law, saying it was "a symbol of excessive state power" that "clearly violates international law."
"A law such as AFSPA has no role to play in a democracy and should be scrapped," Heyns told reporters.