India continues to ignore world treaties on access of HR bodies to Kashmir: APDP

SRINAGAR: The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) is concerned over the Government of India’s unremitting refusal to allow for any discussion on the reality of situation of Human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.

A part of this refusal – often masked by rhetoric and generalizations – is the absence of any acknowledgement that enforced disappearances are widespread and a serious phenomenon in Jammu &Kashmir. There is no trace about the fate of more than 8000 disappeared persons and their families suffer endlessly.

The government seems to deliberately defer any investigation into the cases of enforced disappearance and hold the perpetrators accountable. The government is also increasingly disinclined to apply International law or allow any international scrutiny or accountability concerning existing situation of human rights including enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir.

Amid rhetorical claims for respect to human rights before the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2017of UN Human Rights Council and during the recent UN General Assembly Sessions, the government of India has continuously been averse to grant access to the international human rights bodies including OHCHR, UNMOGIP and UN Special Procedures.

According to a local media report, International Committee of Red Cross’s [ICRC] work of monitoring Jails and the condition of detainees/prisoners has been “Banned” by government of India despite, having a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Further, it is reported that ICRC’s International Staff are not being granted fresh visas to travel to India. ICRC under the MOU had a limited mandate of working on prison conditions in Jammu and Kashmir, while as in other countries ICRC is allowed to work on the issue of enforced or involuntary disappearances, torture and investigations into unmarked and mass graves.

Banning ICRC’s limited operations in India as well as in Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of grave concern as it reflects the disposition of Indian State towards international humanitarian law and human rights treaties.

In 2016, Amnesty International faced a potential criminal prosecution on sedition charges for hosting a program on Kashmir in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Such banning and choking of human rights advocacy seems to worsen the respect for human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.

On the one hand, India is aspiring to be the permanent member of the UN Security Council, while as on the other hand India is reluctant to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances, and the Convention against Torture.

During the third cycle of UNHRC’s UPR India has not offered any positive response regarding the ratification of these conventions despite, recommendations from various member countries.

Having signed the convention against enforced disappearances in 2007, the government has delayed its ratification. Srilanka has more than 60,000 cases of enforced disappearances during the Tamil conflict and yet in 2016, Srilanka became the first South Asian country to ratify the convention against enforced disappearances. If Sri Lanka can take a progressive and proactive approach to ratify the convention, why can’t India?