Indian troops practice torture in Kashmir, Pakistan tells UN rights expert

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has told an independent UN human rights expert that Indian security forces in occupied Jammu and Kashmir indulge in torture and ill-treatment, but they deny facts, responsibility, and wrongfulness.

During an interactive dialogue with the expert, Nils Melzer, who is Special Rapporteur on torture, Pakistani delegate Saima Saleem pointedly asked him how the Indian occupying forces can be held accountable for the breach of the prohibition of torture.

She also posed the question of whether an international commission of inquiry, proposed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for Jammu and Kashmir, could help end the culture of impunity to prevent endemic torture.

In response, Melzer said that human rights experts could not answer that question, rather the “Security Council should deal with this.” While the normative and institutional mechanisms were there for accountability, due to power politics and the lack of will, these are not utilized, he went to say.

The exchange took place on Tuesday in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, cultural, and Humanitarian issues.

Before posing her questions, Ms. Saleem, a counselor in the Pakistan Mission to the UN, said that torture and ill-treatment continue to be practiced with almost complete impunity in various parts of the world, in particular in situations of foreign occupation such as Jammu and Kashmir.

“Systematic denial, obfuscation, deliberate obstruction, and purposeful evasion of accountability of Indian occupation forces in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, has resulted in the widespread use of torture on innocent men, women, and children,” she said.

“The occupation forces, who are perpetrating torture, indulge in all three patterns of denial identified by the Special Rapporteur, i.e. denial of facts, responsibility, and wrongfulness, said Ms. Saleem, a visually impaired diplomat.

Since 1989, she pointed out, more than 162,000 Kashmiris have been subjected to inhuman torture by occupation forces which include stripping naked, beatings with wooden sticks and iron rods, heavy roller treatment, water-boarding, electrocution, hanging from the ceiling, dunking detainees’ head in water mixed with chili powder, burning of the body with iron rods, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, sexualized torture including rape and sodomy.

The use of torture as an instrument of Indian state policy in Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistani delegate said, has been documented in the two reports of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), several reports of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society and the international media.

An Indian delegate denied that his country practiced torture and accused Pakistan of misusing the United Nations platform. TF Report

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