New UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet rakes up Kashmir issue


New Delhi: In a move unlikely to go down well in New Delhi, the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, on Monday said the commission’s earlier report on Kashmir “has not been followed up with meaningful improvements.”

Addressing the 39th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Bachelet, who’s from Chile, also lauded the Indian Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalise same-sex relations.

“I hail last week’s decision by the Supreme Court to decriminalise same sex relations. Laws that criminalise consensual adult relationships are, as Chief Justice Misra said, manifestly arbitrary and a source of discrimination and harassment. I very much hope other countries around the world will look to India’s example in this respect,” she said.

But “In Kashmir, our recent report on the human rights situation has not been followed up with meaningful improvements, or even open and serious discussions on how the grave issues raised could be addressed.

The people of Kashmir have exactly the same rights to justice and dignity as people all over the world, and we urge the authorities to respect them. The Office continues to request permission to visit both sides of the Line of Control, and in the meantime, will continue its monitoring and reporting.”

The report, launched by her predecessor Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, had been critical of the human rights situation in Kashmir, particularly the use of pellet guns as a measure of crowd control, and urged New Delhi to repeal the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990. New Delhi had rejecting the report as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated.”