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Geneva seminar deplores prevailing culture of impunity in IHK

Srinagar, March 16, 2013 (PPI-OT): World Muslim Congress organized a seminar on combating impunity on the sidelines of the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The leader of All Parties Hurriyet Conference Azad Jammu and Kashmir chapter, Altaf Hussain Wani, chaired the event and the speakers included Syed Faiz Naqshbandi, Sardar Amjad Yousaf, Mrs Shamim Shawl and Mrs Sadani Malaine.

The speakers said that the culture of impunity had aggravated the situation of human rights around the globe. They said that it was this culture of impunity that had resulted in over one hundred thousand deaths, rape extra-judicial killings and over 10,000 disappearances in occupied Kashmir and none of the perpetrators was brought to justice.

The speakers said that because of the impunity the Indian troops and police personnel had let loose a reign of terror and instead of being prosecuted they were being awarded gallantry medals. They called upon the UN Human Rights Council to appoint a special Rapporteur for the human rights situation of the occupied territory.

The text of the speech of Mrs Shamim Shawl is as follows:

In a seminar release some paragraphs only not the all impunity, in the human rights context, refers to the lack of accountability for human rights violations committed, or condoned, by agents of the state.

In the vast majority of countries, when agents of the state – members of the military, police and other armed forces, or even of death squads tolerated by the government – commit human rights abuses, they are not punished for their actions.

This lack of punishment sends a very clear message to the perpetrators of such crimes that those activities are condoned by the state, and that government’s agents can kill, torture or disappear without fear of being brought to justice. Impunity is a violation of human rights, as well as a direct threat to the rule of law which is the necessary basis of a democratic society. States have the obligation to both respect and promote human rights.

Impunity encourages human rights violations and thus it is a violation of these state obligations. In addition, impunity violates the rights of victims to justice that is established in many human rights covenants and also violates their right to truth. International bodies, for example, have found that when a mother is kept in the dark about the fate of her disappeared child, this can be considered torture. Truth is essential for democratic life; if people do not know what happened, and who did what, they cannot make educated choices when they exercise their voting.

The struggle against impunity is an essential part of the struggle for human rights – only when all human rights violators are held accountable for their actions can we hope that human rights violations will cease and justice will prevail.

The methodical and planned use of killing and violence in occupied Kashmir constitutes crimes against humanity in the context of an ongoing conflict. The Indian state’s governance of the occupied territory requires the use of discipline and death as techniques of social control. Discipline is affected through military presence, surveillance, punishment, and fear. Death is disbursed through “extra-judicial” means and those authorized by law. These techniques of rule are used to kill, and create fear of not just death but of murder.

Mass and intensified extra-judicial killings have been part of a sustained and widespread offensive by the military and paramilitary institutions of the Indian state against civilians of Jammu and Kashmir. IPTK asks that the evidence put forward in this report be examined, verified, and reframed as relevant by credible, independent, and international bodies, and that international institutions ask that the Government of India comply with such investigations.

We note that the international community and institutions have not examined the supposition of crimes against humanity in occupied Kashmir. We note that the United Nations and its member states have remained ineffective in containing and halting the adverse consequences of the Indian state’s militarization in Kashmir.

We ask that evidence from unknown, unmarked, and mass graves in the occupied territory be used to seek justice, through the sentencing of criminals and other judicial and social processes. As well, the existence of these graves, and how they came to be, may be understood as indicative of the effects and issue of militarization, and the issues pertaining to militarization itself must be addressed seriously and expeditiously. The state police and security forces are permitted to use broad powers under black laws such as the Public Safety Act and Armed Forces Special Powers Act to maintain “public order” or the “security of the state”.

More specifically, the PSA allows for administrative detention of up to two years “in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State,” and for administrative detention of up to one year where “any person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”. Amnesty International acknowledges the right, indeed the duty of the state to defend and protect its population from violence. However, this must be done while respecting the human rights of all concerned.

Under section 8 of the PSA, a Divisional Commissioner or a District Magistrate may issue a detention order to prevent any person from acting in a manner prejudicial to the “security of the State or the maintenance of the public order”. Once a person has been detained, the detaining authority must inform him or her relatives about the grounds of detention within five to 10 days of detention. However, the authority is not required to disclose any facts “which it considers to be against the public interest to disclose”.

The detained person must also be given an opportunity to make a representation against his or her detention to the government. All detention orders and any representation made by the detained person must be placed before an Advisory Board within four weeks from the date of the detention order.

The Advisory Board is a government-appointed three-member body, composed of High Court judges or individuals qualified to be judges of a High Court. The Advisory Board is responsible for reviewing the detention order, representation by the detained person, and any other information it considers necessary, to determine whether or not there is sufficient cause for the detention of the person.

The government must act in accordance with the Advisory Board’s conclusions in either confirming or revoking the detention order. As per section 22, no “suit, prosecution or any other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or intended to be done in good faith” under the PSA. This, briefly, is the process by which the PSA allows authorities to detain persons for up to two years without charge or trial.

The violence of militarization in occupied Kashmir, between 1989 to 2009, has resulted in more than 70,000 deaths, including through extra-judicial or “fake encounter” executions, custodial brutality, and other means. In the enduring conflict, 6, 67,000 military and paramilitary personnel continue to act with impunity to regulate movement, law, and order across Kashmir. The Indian state itself, through its legal, political, and military actions, has demonstrated the existence of a state of continuing conflict in Jammu and Kashmir.

For more information, contact:
Kashmir Media Service
Email: info@kmsnews.org
Phone: 92-51-4435548, 4435549
Fax: 92-51-4861736

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