In strongly objecting to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report on human rights violations in J&K, India has cited departures from internationally-accepted terminology in the report. While United Nations-proscribed terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) have been described as “armed group” 38 times, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) has been described as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” 26 times in the OHCHR report. The report has also referred to terrorists as “leaders” of these groups.
This violation of UN terminology by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the author of the OHCHR report has been strongly objected to by New Delhi, in a communication sent to his office on June 12. However, the 49-page report Zeid issued Thursday did not make the corrections. Sources said Zeid had shared the advance copy with India on June 4 to point out “factual errors”.
The UN has proscribed and internationally designated the LeT and JeM as terrorist outfits, as per UN Security Council resolutions 1267, and it calls them terrorist entities. And, to describe Kashmir, UN uses the internationally-accepted terminology: Pakistan-administered and Indian-administered Kashmir.
“This report undermines the UN-led international consensus on zero tolerance to terrorism,” a source told The Indian Express.
Sources also said that the report, which is titled “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan” takes a specific period of turmoil in the last two years, and presents a “lop-sided picture” of the situation.
New Delhi has pointed out that UN resolution 48/141 states that the High Commissioner for Human Rights should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member countries. But, by using terms like Azad J&K and Gilgit Baltistan, sources said that Zeid has violated the resolution, as New Delhi considers them to be an integral part of India.
Sources said Zeid, who belongs to the Jordanian royal family, is due to demit office on August 31, and the report represents his own views and does not reflect the views of the UN Human Rights Council, as an institution. “It is not a UN report, it is the report of the office of the High Commissioner, which is different. We must distinguish between the two,” the source said.
“He did not consult any of the members, and it appears to be completely driven by a biased and personal agenda of a discredited outgoing official, openly flouting all norms of multilateral engagement,” the source said.
According to sources, Zeid, who appears to have made up his mind and did not take into account India’s response on June 12, has not named “cross-border” terrorism even once and has only referred to “cross-border shelling” twice.
India has also pointed out to Zeid’s office that the people of J&K have borne the brunt of state-sponsored cross-border terrorism from Pakistan for the last four decades. “Since the 1990s, India has lost nearly 14,000 innocent civilians and over 5,000 security personnel to cross-border terrorism in J&K,” the source said while referring to the killing of veteran Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari Thursday.
Sources also pointed out that India’s human rights record was examined in May 2017 at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council, where all member countries had conducted a “peer review”. “At that point in time, member countries had freely given suggestions on various aspects, and every country – barring one – had been supportive of India.”
“On no occasion, has the Council mandated or authorized Zeid to undertake any monitoring. He has acted alone, without any sanction from the UNHRC,” the source said. Zeid, sources said, wanted to make it his last splash before demitting office, and wanted to grab attention at the last session of the UNHRC, before he retires.