The United Nations has termed the restrictions in Indian-Administered Kashmir deeply concerning and said they will exacerbate the human rights situation in the region.
India imposed sweeping restrictions in Indian-Administered Kashmir shortly before it repealed Article 370 of its Constitution, removing Kashmir’s status as an autonomous state. Internet and phone lines have been cut off and political leaders such as former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were placed under house arrest hours before the Indian parliament met to repeal the Article.
Pakistan has condemned the move and urged the international community to take note of the human rights violations in the area. It has also decided to downgrade diplomatic ties with India and expel India’s high commissioner.
A UN Human Rights spokesperson issued a video statement on Twitter in which he said “What we are witnessing now in Indian-Administered Kashmir takes what was already a bit of a pattern to a new level.”
“We are deeply concerned that the latest restrictions in Indian-Administered Kashmir will exacerbate the human rights situation in the region” — @UNHumanRights spokesperson
— United Nations (@UN) August 7, 2019
He said they released a report on July 8 on the human rights situation in Kashmir which “documented how authorities in Indian-Administered Kashmir have repeatedly blocked telecommunication networks to muzzle dissent, used arbitrary detention to punish political dissidents and employed excessive force when dealing with protests leading to extrajudicial killings and serious injuries”.
He expressed their deep concern that “the latest restrictions will exacerbate the human rights situation in the region”. The UN has noted blanket telecommunication restrictions, the arbitrary detention of political leaders, and restrictions on peaceful assembly.
“These restrictions will prevent the people of Indian-Administered Kashmir and their elected representatives from participating fully in democratic debate about the future status of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified, the right to freedom of opinion and expression includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information.
“While Article 19(3) of the Covenant allows states to impose restrictions on certain grounds including protection of “public order”, the Human Rights Committee, which monitors and interprets the Covenant, has warned that any such curbs must be necessary and proportionate and should not jeopardise the right itself,” he added.
“The fact that hardly any information at all is currently coming out from Indian-Administered Kashmir is of great concern in itself,” he concluded.