‘Ban Should Make Human Rights Central Part Of His Discussion With GOI’

UMER MAQBOOL

Srinagar, Apr 26: The global rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, currently on a visit to India, to press for the repeal of contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Ban should press the Indian government to repeal the AFSPA in vogue in Jammu and Kashmir and Northeastern part of the country,” HRW said in a statement.
“The law provides effective immunity to soldiers responsible for serious human rights violations and has led to widespread abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, and in the northeastern states where it remains in force. Ban should also call for the repeal of archaic sedition laws that have been used to silence peaceful dissent,” the statement reads.
“We have been continuously demanding its (AFSPA) repeal,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at HRW told Greater Kashmir over phone from New Delhi. She said HRW has been seeking repeal of AFSPA from J&K since 2006. Ban arrived in New Delhi last evening on a three day to India.
The rights group said UN chief should make human rights a central part of his discussions with government officials during his visit.
“India has a dynamic democracy, but UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should not gloss over the serious domestic violations and routine impunity that affect millions of Indians, and hold back the country’s development,” said Ganguly.
“Ban would do a great disservice to the Indian people if he were to only talk about regional and global issues.”
The HRW said Ban should press the Indian government to address serious human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killings, abuses in conflict areas, and widespread torture.
“The Indian government has failed to hold soldiers and police officers who are responsible for abuses to account. Ban should also raise India’s excessive restrictions on civil society and the need to take strong steps to protect the rights of women, Dalits, indigenous people, and other vulnerable groups. Widespread impunity for these abuses, as well as a lack of access to justice or adequate compensation, are commonplace in India,” the rights group said.
The HRW said UN chief should caution Indian leaders against allowing sovereignty concerns to blind them to serious human rights abuses in other countries.
While referring to the initial response of India, serving a two year term on the United Nations Security Council, to situation of Syria, the rights group said India should be encouraged to seek ways to incorporate human rights concerns into its response to international issues.
“India is serving a two-year term on the UN Security Council. The country has initially used its seat to oppose strong UN pressure to address the situation in Syria, despite overwhelming evidence of massive and systematic abuse by the government against its own population. India recently sided with the majority of Security Council members that favor increased pressure on the Syrian government to stop the abuses. “With growing power comes growing responsibility, not only to foreign governments, but also to the people they often oppress,” the statement said.

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