British High Commission team in Valley

Envoys Discuss Human Rights Situation With SHRC Officials

ARIF SHAFI WANI

Srinagar, Nov 22: For the first time in the past nearly two decades of unrest in Kashmir, a high level team of the British High Commission in Islamabad and New Delhi are jointly making an on-the-spot assessment of human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir.  The visit of the British envoys follows lifting of over two decade old travel advisory by Britain after constant persuasion by the Jammu and Kashmir government.
 The two-member team comprising Geemma Paolucci second secretary Political British High Commission Islamabad and Sushil Aaron political advisor of the High Commission in New Delhi today sought information about various issues confronting people and functioning of the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC).  
 During the hour-long meeting with senior SHRC officials including member Javaid Kawoos and secretary Tariq Banday, the envoys got information about the status of various human rights cases including the unmarked graves and Kunanposhpora mass rape besides the controversy surrounding revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
 Officials said the team inquired about the steps taken by the state government and SHRC to get AFSPA and Public Safety Act (PSA) revoked.
 “We categorically told them that this issues particularly AFSPA revocation is the mandate of the State and the Central governments as the Commission can only make recommendations to safeguard human rights. We told them that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah appears to be desirous to get the AFSPA revoked but he has his own compulsions,” a senior official of SHRC told Greater Kashmir.  
 The envoys also inquired about the status of unmarked graves cases. “We told them that based on the SHRC investigation in the unmarked graves, recommendations including conducting DNA profiling have been made to the State Government. Government has filed its action taken report in the unmarked graves cases and on our recommendation has appointed Superintendent of Police (SP) of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Kashmir as nodal officer to take the case to its logical conclusion,” he said.
 The envoys also inquired about the condition of detainees lodged in various jails of the State and the steps taken by the SHRC to ensure protection of their rights.
 “We briefed them about our jail visits, recommendations and subsequent action taken reports,” he said. 
 The envoys were also told that despite passing of over a year, the SHRC is still headless.
 “Since the retirement of SHRC chairperson last year, the Government has failed to appoint his successor. The investigation wing of the Commission is also headless as authorities resort to dilly-dallying tactics to appoint a police officer of the rank of the Inspector General of Police.” 
 Officials said the envoys desired that the SHRC should have legal powers which are binding upon the government.
 “Overall the envoys were satisfied with the functioning of the Commission. We told them that during past few years, most of the Commission’s recommendations are being implemented and action taken report is also submitted by the government and police,” said SHRC secretary Tariq Banday.  
 On August 28, this year, the British High Commissioner to India Sir James Bevan called on Minister of State for Home, Tourism and Revenue, Nasir Aslam Wani.  During the meeting the visiting dignitary evinced keen interest in the socio economic development of the State.
 Last month a three member team of international human rights watchdog Amnesty International visited the Valley and interacted with separatist leaders, civil society members, lawyers, SHRC and local human rights organizations to assess human rights situation in Kashmir.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 23 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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