Spearhead Special Report – 01.10.2018

By Hira A. Shafi
Senior Research Analyst, Spearhead Research

On 14th June 2018, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir.Following the outbreak of violence in Kashmir in 2016, the High Commissioner for Human Rights on numerous occasions requested the Governments of India and Pakistan that the Office be given unconditional access to Kashmir to assess the human rights situation. India rejected this request, while Pakistan offered access to the Office on the condition that India does the same. Therefore, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) undertook remote monitoring of the human rights situation. The Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan is the first report on the situation of human rights in Kashmir. 

Some key points highlighted in the report include

  1. While Indian-Administered Kashmir has experienced waves of protests in the past—in the late 1980s to early 1990s, 2008 and 2010—this current round of protests appears to involve more people than the past, and the profile of protesters has also shifted to include more young, middle-class Kashmiris, including females who do not appear to have been participating in the past.
  2. In responding to demonstrations that started in July 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of serious injuries.
  3. Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Special laws in force in the state, such as the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA), have created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.