UN HR experts ask India to end collective punishment in Kashmir

Five human rights experts of United Nations OHCHR have called on the Government of India to end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests imposed in Indian-Administered Kashmir.

“The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence.”

These experts include: 1) David Kaye (USA), Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. 2) Michel Forst (France), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. 3) Bernard Duhaime, Chair-Rapporteur, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. 4) Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association and 5) Ms Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Their statement appeared on the official website of UN’s OHCHR and also on twitter account.

The experts expressed concern that the measures, would exacerbate tensions in the region.

Furthermore, the statement cited reports as describing a near total communications blackout in Jammu and Kashmir since the evening of 4 August.

They also referred to cut off of internet access, mobile phone networks, and cable and Kashmiri television channels cut off.

UN’s five HR experts noted the said shutdown of the internet and telecommunication networks, without justification from Indian government. And they also noted it inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality.

India also imposed a curfew across Jammu and Kashmir. India brought massive numbers of troops to enforce restrictions on the freedom of movement and of peaceful assembly, particularly in the Kashmir Valley.

Hence, the UN experts reminded Indian authorities that those restrictions are intrinsically disproportionate. Because, they preclude considerations of the specific circumstances of each proposed assembly.

At the same time, information received suggests that there has been an increase in the arrest of political figures, journalists, human rights defenders, protesters and others.

Moreover, security forces night raids on private homes leading to the arrests of young people also concerned them immensely.

“Such detentions could constitute serious human rights violations,” the experts said.

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