The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights ssituations are assessed.
The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by October 2011, has reviewed the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.
It also receives submissions from the various Human Rights organizations, Individuals, which then go to the country for whom the recommendations are made or the allegation of the violations are made against.
APDP too files submissions and through its efforts wants to disseminate the information about Enforced Disappearances and other human rights violations in Kashmir to the world community. The role of APDP is to garner support from all around the world to pressurize India to look into the practice of ED and allow independent groups to investigate into it and bring to justice the perpetuators of this war crime. It urges the world community to pressurize India to ratify the laws and conventions of the Enforced Disappearances in particular and other human rights laws in general , of which India is signatory. The Indian state to this date has still not ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICCPED), 2006.And APDP demands that it ratifies the said convention.
On 21 September, in its response to UPR 3rd, held in May 2017, the state of India did not accept the number of recommendations advocated by many member nations.
The countries like Pakistan, Germany, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden etc had shown displeasure over many laws and human rights violations that are rampant in India, and, had recommended to amend the laws and stop the violations. In the May session of UPR 3rd, 112 member countries made 250 recommendations, out of which India accepted 152. In the same session, 30 countries urged India to ratify the treaties on torture. However, India has been denying that any torture is existing in India and said, “torture is alien to our culture”.
However, APDP states India’s response was not satisfactory; instead, it is just trying to dodge the responsibility. In Kashmir, since last 27 years, the torture has been used by India a weapon to instill fear among the population, torturing thousands of Kashmiri civilians, militants, political activists. The infamous torture centers like Papa 1, Papa 2, Red 16, JIC’s (Joint interrogation Centers), temporary torture centers, which have been documented by the media, are a clear example of the torture practices in Kashmir. In the recent times, the torture is still a rampant practice in Kashmir. In the 2016 Uprising, media reports and personal testimonies suggest that hundreds of political activists, protesters, were tortured in the jails by Indian forces, CRPF, JK Police, and allied forces
APDP strongly condemns such inhuman practice and urges on the world community to pressurize India to stop it and let Independent bodies investigate into the torture practices.
Similarly many member countries recommended to India that it should look into the enforced disappearances at the hands of the state forces, army and state backed militia. However, India has dodged this too and brushed these “allegations” aside. The Indian state to this date has still not ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICCPED), 2006. It has also been unwilling to investigate the cases of enforced disappearances independently and therefore to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crime. Instead, it has provided legal impunity to state actors via various laws like AFSPA and PSA.
In addition, reports suggest that over 8000 people have been disappeared in Kashmir since 1989. The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons has documented the cases of enforced disappearances and reports that the families face insurmountable hurdles while seeking accountability for the enforced disappearances of their family members. The report also argues that the police actively discourage families from recording official complaints and are unwilling to provide information about the whereabouts of the disappeared persons.
It is interesting to note that the Indian state has only “noted” the recommendations on enforced disappearances in the previous UPR’s instead of “accepting” the same.
India, as it has been in the last two UPR’s, has again defended the use of AFSPA as an important law to contain insurgency and terrorism. However APDP maintains that it is just an excuse to provide impunity for the Indian forces to crush the dissent and to kill at will in Kashmir anyone who speaks against the unjust occupation of Kashmir over India. The immunity provided under AFSPA and the lack of political will has resulted in non-accountability of the Indian armed forced as well as the JK Police for perpetrating inhuman violence against the people of Kashmir ( Violation of Right to Life ). Amnesty International in its reports reiterates on the point that “to this date not even a single alleged perpetrator of human rights violations has been prosecuted in a civilian court. Victims and their families routinely face intimidation and threats from the security forces when attempting to bring cases against soldiers”. Therefore, APDP maintain that the response of the Indian state to the recommendations with respect to AFSPA is a ploy to dodge the repealing of this draconian act from Kashmir.
Even though in the report presented to UNHR the Indian state had promised to intensify its efforts towards training and orientation of security and other law enforcement officers towards human rights, the actual implementation is missing on the ground. The Indian armed forces continue to use the same old practices in Kashmir and have absolutely no training in how to control crowds during protests.
The use of pellet guns has been indiscriminate in the last seven years and most of the injuries sustained by victims due to their use by the armed forces are above the abdomen area (Violation of the Right to Life).
The Unlawful Activities (Preventions) Act, 1967 is used indiscriminately in Kashmir. This act, in fact, becomes the base for slapping PSA (Public Safety Act) against dissidents. The report argues that the “provisions have been enacted in order to deal with the exigent threat of terror and insurgency” without giving a proper explanation to what it means by “terror” and “insurgency” since the act has extensively been used against political and human rights activists, and peaceful. On an average more than 1,000 Kashmiris are arrested under this act every year. Neither any recommendation nor any action has been taken by the Indian state with regard to PSA.
Under the heading of “Civil and Political Rights”, the report has responded to the recommendation on torture, enforced disappearances, right against arbitrary arrest and detention, extra judicial killings, and the death penalty.
In its response, the Indian State with respect to extra judicial killings claims that it has taken “measures towards ensuring accountability for such violations”. However, not even single Indian armed personnel have been held accountable for carrying out extra judicial killings over the last thirty years of conflict.
Under the heading of “Fundamental Freedoms and Participation in Public and Political Life”, the report has responded to recommendations concerning freedom of speech and expression, human rights on the internet, right to privacy and surveillance, human rights defenders, and freedom of religion. The Indian state in its report claims to remain committed to preserving the freedom of press, religious freedom, human rights on internet, right to privacy apart from making other self-favoring claims. However, in Kashmir this commitment has been relegated to the periphery.
The press and the journalists are constantly attacked in Kashmir by the state (Violation on Right to Freedom of Expression). The news of journalists being thrashed, threatened, beaten, and booked under draconian laws are rampant.
The Indian state has suspended the internet services 31 times within the last one year (Violation of Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression). A complete clampdown of internet services, telephone services, and mobile services was imposed for four months during the 2016 uprising. Last year, Kashmir Reader, a daily newspaper with wide readership, was banned from printing news for three months for no substantial reasons.
In the matters of preserving privacy, the state has been eroding it for a long time. The news reports suggest that the Indian forces barge into the homes of the civilians without any warrant, go through their belongings and frisk the members of the families inappropriately. The civilians are frisked at checkpoints and the contents of their mobile phones, personal diaries, etc; are checked without permission by the Indian armed forces.( Violation of Right to Privacy )
Although India claims to remain committed to strengthening its efforts to guarantee the freedom of religion to all, it has failed miserably to uphold the same in Kashmir. Throughout the 2016 unrest and many months after, the apex mosque of Kashmir, Jamia Masjid was locked down by the government of India and no prayers were allowed to take place at the mosque (Violation of Freedom to Religion and Religious gathering).
APDP vehemently calls out the hypocrisy and double standards of the Indian state while responding to the recommendation of the previous three sessions of the UPR. We urge the international actors and the United Nations to take note of the human rights violations as committed by the Indian state in Kashmir and we urge the UN to consequently take actions against the Indian state and in defense of the people of Kashmir.