UN rights chief appeals to India and Pakistan for ‘full and unhindered’ access to Kashmir

Children attend class in open at a government middle school, Karian district Rajouri, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Photo: UNICEF/Syed Altaf Ahmad

17 August 2016 – Expressing deep regret at the failure of Indian and Pakistani authorities to grant the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) access to Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir respectively, the UN rights chief today voiced concern about recent allegations of serious violations and reiterated a request for access to the region.

“It is unfortunate that our sincere attempts to independently assess the facts in relation to reports of human rights violations have failed,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a news release.

He deeply regretted that their requests for access have not been granted, especially given the seriousness of the allegations of the use of excessive force, allegations of state sponsorship of violence, as well as the number of people killed and the very large number of people injured, the continuing unrest and the almost daily reports of violence in the region.

The High Commissioner has been engaging with both Indian and Pakistani authorities since the latest outbreak of violence in early July, and has sought access for a team to visit both Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered regions to independently and thoroughly investigate and verify allegations of violations of international law to establish accurate facts, particularly given the conflicting and competing claims on both sides.

“We requested full and unhindered access to the affected population, to interview a variety of individuals on the ground, including victims, witnesses, security forces, and with access to relevant documentation,” said Mr. Zeid.

He stressed that such access would enable them to provide an independent and fact-based analysis of the situation, which is so crucial in volatile, politically-charged situations. “Without access, we can only fear the worst,” said the UN rights chief, reiterating the request for access to the area.


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