The United Nations human rights chief has lashed out at both India and Pakistan for denying access to him on both sides of Kashmir.
The remarks were made by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, during his opening statement at Human Rights Council 35th session on Tuesday.
“Despite repeated high-level requests to India and Pakistan, permission for my staff to have unconditional access to both sides of the Line of Control in India-Administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir has still not been granted,” Al Hussein said during his speech.
“As this Council is aware, where the human rights situation appears critical, and where access is repeatedly denied to my Office, the only option open to us may be to conduct various forms of remote monitoring. So long as refusals to enable access persist, I will be compelled to consider reporting publicly and regularly on their findings,” he said.
“We continue to receive reports of increasing violence, civilian casualties, curfews and website blackouts,” Al Hussein said about the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir.
He was speaking at the session titled as ‘Denial of access and lack of cooperation with UN bodies will not diminish scrutiny of a State’s human rights record.’
Last year also, during the peak of unrest in Kashmir the UN human rights body had sought access to the Valley to have first hand report about the situation but Government of India denied it.
The international rights body had wanted its team on the ground in Kashmir to interview victims, witnesses and security forces and to independently assess the situation.
“We requested full and unhindered access to the affected population, to interview a variety of individuals on the ground, including victims, witnesses, security forces, and with access to relevant documentation. Such access would enable us to provide an independent and fact-based analysis of the situation,” Al Hussein had said said in his statement.
“Without access, we can only fear the worst. I reiterate our request for access,” he had added.