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KCEU Hosts India UPR 2012 in the European Parliament
Kashmir Centre.EU, in association with Ivo Vajgl MEP, Sarah Ludford MEP, and Phil Bennion MEP, today hosted a seminar in the European Parliament entitled Human Rights in India - A Kashmir Perspective on India UPR 2012.
Panelists included the above mentioned MEPs, Barrister A. Majid Tramboo - Chairman Kashmir Centre.EU, Prof. Mansoob Murshed - Professor of the Economies of Conflict and Peace at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in the Hague, Prof. Nazir Shawl - Director Kashmir Centre London, Dr. Zulifqar Ali - former Councillor, activist in the Labour Party and the Chairman of the Muslim Labour Movement and Mr. Frank Schwalba-Hoth - former Member of the European Parliament. Mr. Vajgl MEP opened the seminar discussing the importance of holding such events at fora like the European Parliament. He said that it is important to have unbiased debate and that it can be difficult to keep debate civil on such matters but that the principle must be respected. On India Mr. Vajgl said that solving outstanding issues of Self-Determination such as Kashmir is the best sign of democracy. Barrister A. Majid Tramboo outlined the five issues that had been at the forefront of KCEU lobbying in Geneva on the 2012 India UPR. They were the black laws, sexual violence, the use of the death penalty, failure to investigate mass graves and the continued failure of India to ratify the Convention Against Torture and the Convention for the Protection of All Person from Disappearance.
Mr. Tramboo linked the five above points together saying that each on there own is a grave human rights issue but together they pose a much more serious problem. The black laws allow civilians to be detained without charge or trial, this results in torture, death and eventual disappearance and mass graves. The immunity clauses in the black laws ensure that the offending officers of the Indian military or police are not prosecuted for any of the grave human rights abuses that they have committed. The lack of capacity of the Indian Government to ensure that the conventions are abided by has meant that they are unable to sign them; this is a public admission of guilt about the widespread nature of human rights abuse and the failure of the Indian Government to curtail it. He said that KCEU would continue to raise these issues at the highest fora such as the United Nations and the European Parliament. Sarah Ludford MEP said that armed conflict almost inevitable gives rise to human rights abuses as does the denial of the right to self-determination. She further pointed out that in such situations the non- application of domestic and international law is rife and leads to impunity and abuse. Mr. Phil Bennion MEP highlighted the fact that on the whole the main issues of the Kashmiri people could be boiled down to human rights abuse and the failure to resolve the human rights situation. He countered the argument that the plebiscite is less likely than it was a few years ago as the current normailsation of relations between India and Pakistan could and should give rise to progress on the Kashmir issue. Discussing the powers that are available to the Indian military he said that in essence the military are able to judge their own misbehavior as those in the military that have committed abuses are tried in military courts. He went on to say that with such a high concentration of troops in Indian Administered Kashmir is could be likened to military rule. He also called for the Indian Government to repeal the death penalty in line with international human rights norms. Frank Schwalba Hoth outlined the technical aspects of the UPR process. He described it as a way for states to judge the human rights record of each other and said that it was one of the most important human rights mechanisms available. Though it has no enforceable authority the UPR is proving an adequate tool to name and shame those states who continue to commit human rights abuses. States know that they will be up for review every four years and this encourages them to make progress on issues that were raised in the UPR. Prof Nazir Shawl focussed on a number of areas in which the Government of India is willfully ignoring its human rights obligations and the recommendations from its 2008 UPR. On the Convention Against Torture he said that the reason the Government of India had failed to sign it was that the use of torture was so widespread that they knew they would not be able to abide by the convention. He said that since saying that they would bring the convention into law “as soon as possible” after their previous UPR no progress had been made to that end whatsoever. He said that the same was true for the Convention for the Protection of All Persons From Disappearance. Highlighting the issue of mass graves Prof. Shawl said that it was a tragedy that the issue had not been raised at the current UPR. He said that almost 4,000 graves had already been found and that only limited searches had taken place; the number was likely to be much higher. Discussing the “black laws” he termed them as the shame of India. Numerous states raised the issue at UPR and submitted recommendations to repeal them and this should be taken on board by India should it wish to ascend in international politics. Dr. Zulifqar Ali noted that the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, had repeatedly said that there would be a zero tolerance policy towards human rights violations in India but this had not been carried through on the ground and no serious steps had been taken to that end. On UPR he said that India had failed to give clear explanations as to why it had failed to meet the previous recommendations from the UPR working group. He said that this was a sign that India did not view the UPR process with the seriousness that should be afforded to it and that the people of Kashmir would be the ones that suffered from this lapse on the part of the Indian Government. He called for the UPR mechanism to become enforceable with penalties such as suspension from the Human Rights Council for those who willfully ignore the recommendations from the UPR working group. Prof. Mansoob Murshed said that all people should be ensured a good quality of life and this included freedom from want and freedom from want and freedom from fear. He said that the lack of basic rights had resulted in a number of uprisings within the state of India as people sought to govern themselves in the face of abuse and repression. Prof. Murshed went on to note that all states violated human rights. He cited examples of Western states bringing in ant-terror legislation that was in stark contravention of human rights norms. A question was asked from the floor regarding recent media coverage that attempted to link Kashmir Centre.EU to funding from Governments. Mr. Tramboo reiterated that the Kashmir Centre.EU receives no funding or direction from any government or government agency. Mr. Vajgl offered his support to the Kashmir Centre EU and said that full confidence its credibility was still apparent. The event was followed by a cocktail reception in the European Parliament entitled Preparatory EU Week - RECON in Kashmir. -END-