New UN human rights chief’s remarks on Kashmir annoy India
United Nations, Sep 12: India has voiced regret over the issue of Jammu and Kashmir being raised in the UNHRC after its new High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet made a reference to Kashmir during her opening statement to the Council.
Bachelet, the new UN human rights commissioner who succeeded Zeid Raad al-Hussein, in her opening statement to the Council on Monday made a reference to Kashmir, saying the Human Rights Council’s recent report on the human rights situation “has not been followed up with meaningful improvements, or even open and serious discussions on how the grave issues raised could be addressed”.
“The people of Kashmir have exactly the same rights to justice and dignity as people all over the world, and we urge the authorities to respect them. The Office continues to request permission to visit both sides of the Line of Control, and in the meantime, will continue its monitoring and reporting,” she said.
Expressing regret over the remarks, Permanent Representative of India to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Rajiv Chander said India had made its views “abundantly clear” on this matter in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
“Madam High Commissioner, there is no denying that these are challenging times including for this body. It is important, therefore, that human rights issues are addressed constructively with respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity in a transparent and credible manner.
“We regret that reference has been made to the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. Our views on this matter have been made abundantly clear in the Council,” Chander said.
Speaking at the 39th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, Chander said terrorism was the biggest scourge and the greatest violator of human rights and expressed hope that Bachelet would address this issue more emphatically in the coming years.
Bachelet also welcomed last week’s decision by India’s Supreme Court to decriminalise same-sex relations.
“Laws that criminalise consensual adult relationships are, as Chief Justice Misra said, manifestly arbitrary and a source of discrimination and harassment. I very much hope other countries around the world will look to India’s example in this respect,” she said, referring to the remarks by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Farukh Amil also raised the Kashmir issue in his statement, saying Islamabad also shared Bachelet’s “anguish” that the report on the human rights situation in Kashmir “has not been followed up”.