|An international NGO in consultative status with the United Nations
Human Rights in India
A Kashmir Perspective at the United Nations
Geneva Wednesday, 12 September 2012 - Kashmir Centre.EU, in association
with The International Human Rights Association of American Minorities,
today hosted an event entitled Human Rights in India - A Kashmir Perspective
at the United Nations.
Speakers at the event included Barrister A. Majid Tramboo - Chairman of
Kashmir Centre.EU, Prof. Lawrence Sáez - Director Centre of South Asian
Studies SOAS London, Dr. Elvira Domínguez Redondo - International Law and
Human Rights Expert, Middlesex University, Frank Schwalba-Hoth - former
Member of the European Parliament, Prof. Satvinder Juss - Human Rights
Expert, King’s College London. The event was moderated by Ronald Barnes -
Chairman Indigenous Peoplesand Nations Coalition.
Mr. Schwalba-Hoth discussed the UPR mechanism and the process by which it
operates. On the 169 recommendations he said that civil society and the
Indian Government should make it a target and that the number “169” should
UN should raise the 169 recommendations at all available fora in order to keep
up the pressure to ensure change.
Prof. Lawrence Saez said that the application of human rights can be
understood in two distinct forms. Firstly, there are those rights that a state is
unable to provide and therefore a right is denied such as the right to adequate
drinking water or the right to information. Secondly, there are those instances
in which a state purposely denies rights such as restriction of free speech or
freedom of assembly.
Prof Saez said that there had been a decline of human rights abuses in
Kashmir and India over time but there were still several areas where
improvements should be made. Firstly, there as a lack of transparency
surrounding the investigation of alleged human rights abuses. Secondly, India
should be more forthcoming regarding the Armed Forces Special Powers Act
and the complaints related to draconian legislation. Thirdly, they should be
more open about engaging on the Naxalite issue. Finally, the protection of
Muslims and Dalits, particulary in the North-East of the country, has not seen a
firm or clear response to abuses perpetrated upon them or by them.
Prof. Satvinder Juss questioned the motivations and actions of governments
under the umbrella of fighting terror. He asked if there was a point at which
the restriction of human rights became acceptable.
He discussed the legal system that is applicable in Indian Held Kashmir and
said that requests for information on human rights abuse were not followed
and that FIR reports (a complaint upon the military or police) were frequently
not registered and rarely followed up. He said that there was not adequate
separation of powers and that the justice system was in cahoots with the
Hr highlighted sections 45 and 197 of the Armed Forces Special Powers act
which grant blanket immunity for the armed forces to commit any act of human
rights abuse in what India has termed a “disturbed area”.
Dr. Elvira Dominguez-Redondo discussed the difficult nature of exposing
human rights abuse in a territory controlled by a state as they had the power
and the means to stifle any investigations. She discussed how governments
do not allow situations such as Kashmir to be defined as conflicts as they are
then bound by the Geneva Conventions.
She praised the UPR mechanism and its ability to name and shame those
countries who willfully ignore their human rights obligations. She highlighted
the numerous instances of countries bringing high level delegations to their
own UPR reviews as evidence that states took the mechanism seriously.
Barrister A. Majid Tramboo outlined the harsh reality that is brought about by
the draconian laws and human rights policy instigated by India in Kashmir. He
noted that the failure to sign the Convention Against Torture and the
Convention for the protection of All Persons From Disappearance were a
telling sign that India both wasn’t able to guarantee the rights of people in
Indian Held Kashmir and had no desire to improve the situation.
Referring to comments by the Indian Government last week that the mass
graves sites would not be investigated he pointed out the numerous requests
by the UN special procedures to conduct such an investigation. He said,
however, that this state of affairs was no longer a surprise. The culmination of
years of torture, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial execution lay in
those graves and India was not ready to uncover the horrors that had been
forced upon the Kashmiri people over the years.
He also noted that the UPR report for India was finalised just a few weeks ago
at the United Nations in Geneva and will be adopted next week. He said that a
pessimistic view point may conclude that the emergence of the “no mass grave
investigations” policy after finalisation of the UPR report was timed to ensure
that no reference to the mass graves would be included in the final UPR
report. He asked why independent and impartial investigations were not
allowed if India had nothing to hide.