GENEVA – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Thursday for an international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.
The first-ever report issued by the UN on human rights in both the Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir was released on Thursday.
In a statement, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein urged the UN Human Rights Council to establish a commission of inquiry to “resolve past and current violations” and provide redress for victims.
“It is a conflict that has robbed millions of their basic human rights, and continues to this day to inflict untold suffering,” he said.
The UNHRC is set to open a three-week session on Monday in Geneva.
Noting serious tensions in recent weeks, Zeid called on Indian security forces to exercise maximum restraint and abide by international standards in handling protests.
“It is essential the Indian authorities take immediate and effective steps to avoid a repetition of the numerous examples of excessive use of force by security forces in Kashmir,” Zeid said.
According to activist estimates, up to 145 civilians were killed by security forces and up to 20 more civilians killed by armed groups from mid-July 2016 to April 2018, the report said.
During that time period, large and unprecedented demonstrations erupted after Indian security forces killed the leader of an armed group.
Zeid also denounced impunity for rights violations and lack of access to justice in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as two laws there that have “created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.”
The report also said there is almost total impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances and chronic impunity for sexual violence in Kashmir.
Kashmir has seen simmering conflict between India and Pakistan for seven decades, which has led to two wars and several minor conflicts.