UN rights chief calls for probe into Kashmir abuses

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Observer Report

Geneva

The UN human rights chief on Thursday called for a major investigation into abuses in Indian Occupied Kashmir, as his office released its first-ever report on alleged violations committed in the disputed territory.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he would urge the Human Rights Council, which opens a new session next week, “to consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir”.
A COI is one of the UN’s highest-level probes, generally reserved for major crises like the conflict in Syria.
The report, which the UN said was the first-of-its-kind for Occupied Kashmir, highlights “chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces”, the rights of office said in a press release.
The findings come after months of deadly clashes along the Line of Control.
The report said that Zeid met with representatives of both governments following an upsurge of violence in July 2016, triggered by India’s killing of 22-year-old commander Burhan Wani.
Concerned by what the UN termed “large and unprecedented” protests after Wani’s death, Zeid asked for “unconditional access” to Kashmir, but neither government agreed.
His office then began remote monitoring of the region, ultimately producing a report covering alleged abuses between January 2016 and April of this year.
The report accuses Indian troops of being responsible for an estimated 145 unlawful killings.
“It is essential that the Indian authorities take immediate and effective steps to avoid a repetition of the numerous examples of excessive use of force by security forces in Kashmir,” Zeid was quoted as saying.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal in a statement on Thursday said the proposal is consistent with Pakistan’s several calls to this effect since 2016. He said the report is a reminder of this internationally recognized dispute and the urgency of its settlement both to protect human lives and promote peace.
He pointed out that India continues to ignore legitimate demands for probe into gross and systematic violations in the held valley.
The spokesperson said the contents, scale and the narrative of killings, maiming, abuse and impunity articulated in the report is a reaffirmation of what Pakistan has long been highlighting.
Dr Muhammad Faisal said the UN Report has rightly called for final political solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through meaningful dialogue that includes the people of Kashmir. He said the lasting solution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute is an essential imperative for peace, security and stability of South Asia and beyond. India’s continued denial of this imperative, its unwillingness to engage in a dialogue process with Pakistan and suppression of Kashmiri aspirations for freedom continue to endanger regional and international peace and security. References to human rights concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan should in no way be construed to create a false sense of equivalence with the gross and systematic human rights violations in IoK. The spokesperson said the UN has a key role to play in the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

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