JKCCS, APDP seek UN OHCHR access to Kashmir to investigate allegations of torture
Srinagar, June 26: The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) are observing the International Day in support of victims of torture and renewing the determination to fight against the phenomenon of torture in Jammu and Kashmir, a joint statement issued by the groups to GNS on Wednesday said.
“On the occasion, APDP and JKCCS would like to draw attention to the report on Torture, released on May 20, 2019. The report brings to focus the systemic and systematic use of torture by the Indian State on the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” it said.
The statement further said: “The use of torture has been widespread and indiscriminate in Jammu and Kashmir. Torture is an atrocious crime that has destroyed the lives of all those who have undergone it. Apart from damage to physical health, torture has long lasting psychological effects and economic implications that disrupt the normal life of the victim. The most brutal techniques of torture listed in the Istanbul Protocol of UN-OHCHR have been used by the Indian armed forces against the people. The report highlights this based on a study of 432 testimonies.”
The report points out that an inordinate number of victims of torture victims are civilians which includes juveniles, women, students, journalists, political and human rights activists. Apart from this, collective punishments like cordon and search operations (CASOs) continue to be used unabated since 1990.
The report adds: “Torture has been used by the Indian State in Kashmir as one of the most widely used instruments to exercise control and inflict physical and mental pain over a population that is fighting for their right to self-determination. It has been used to terrorize the entire population, intimidate them, interrogate them, coerce confessions, or punish them for being seen as sympathizers of the resistance movement.”
Torture continues unabated in Jammu and Kashmir with a very gruesome case reported on May 26, 2019 when a 14-year-old boy, Fazil Fayaz Malik and Hamidullah Sheikh from Dharmuna, Budgam were tortured by army, the statement said. Fazil received critical injuries on his head due to which, he was kept on ventilator for a number of days. He still continues to be under treatment.
APDP and JKCCS believe that those responsible for perpetrating torture need to be brought to justice and held accountable. “India has signed the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) in 1997. In over two decades, the successive Indian governments have shown no urgency or interest in ratifying the convention to ensure that a domestic law criminalizing torture is passed. But the absence of domestic law does not absolve India since torture is a crime under the Customary International Law,” the groups said.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has stated that he has been denied access to the region despite repeated requests, APDP and JKCCS said and call for the ratification of the UNCAT and unconditional access be provided to the UN-OHCHR, all UN Special Rapporteurs and other Special Procedures to assess the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir