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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

    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.