The delegation of Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), on the invitation of the Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, undertook a three day visit to Islamabad and the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir from 27-29 March 2017. The delegation was led by the Chairperson Mr. Med Kaggwa and comprised the Commission Members Dr. Rashid Al Balushi, Dr. Raihanah Binti Abdullah, Amb. Abdul Wahab, Dr. Ergin Ergul, Prof. Saleh AlKhathlan and Dr. Oumar Abbou Abba.
In compliance of the mandate given by the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), the Commission regularly monitors the human rights situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and has specifically established a Standing Mechanism for the purpose. To report on the situation in an independent and objective manner the Commission has made a specific request to the Government of India to facilitate a fact-finding visit to observe the situation on ground to which no response has been received yet. While remaining hopeful for a positive Indian response to its longstanding request, the Commission undertook a visit to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir. During its visit, the IPHRC delegation met with the political leadership, government officials, Kashmiri refugees from IoK, media and civil society with the objective to (a) assess the human rights and humanitarian situation in IoK; (b) investigate and report upon the allegations of human rights abuses by the Indian security forces in IoK and; (c) make recommendations to protect the fundamental human rights of the innocent Kashmiris.
Having met the refugees, representatives of political parties and civil society from IOK as well as victims of cross border shelling in AJK, the Commission took note of the serious and widespread complaints of the gross human rights violations by the Indian forces against innocent kashmiris, which have also been regularly reported by various independent sources including international human rights organizations. IPHRC delegation also expressed deep concern on the reports of continuous violation of the right to life, right to freedom of expression and opinion, right to peaceful protest and assembly and other fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people including denial of their inalienable right to self-determination, guaranteed by International human rights law and promised by various UN Security Council Resolutions. In the same breath, it expressed serious concern over reports of increase in the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against unarmed and innocent civilians and human rights activists by the Indian security forces with impunity, resulting in torture, extrajudicial killings, rape and mass blinding through use of pellets.
The Commission observed that the use of restrictive and discriminatory laws by Indian Security forces such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act is contrary to the international human rights standards. These laws grant sweeping powers to the security forces to detain, torture and even kill suspects without any fear of investigation. Also, the Kashmiri people are denied basic rights of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of expression and religion. There are widespread curfews and curbs on religious congregations for fear of protests and people have legitimate security concerns regarding protection of their right to life and dignity.
In line with the principled position of the OIC, the Commission reaffirmed its principled support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir for realization of their legitimate right to self-determination in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. IPHRC stressed the importance of resolving the conflict in a peaceful manner through negotiations and in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. It also urged the OIC countries and the international community of their obligations to help ensure implementation of UN resolutions.
The Commission appreciated the unfettered access and full logistical support provided by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to undertake mandated task with objectivity and neutrality. In due course, a detailed report of the findings of IPHRC delegation with concrete recommendations will be presented to the next session of the OIC CFM for its consideration.