Over the years, successive UN High Commissioners for Human Rights have regularly been briefing the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), its predecessor Human Rights Commission as well as the wider international community about the unfolding human rights crisis in IIOJ&K. This oral reporting by the High
Commissioners more recently complements the findings of the two UN
Kashmir Reports (2018 and 2019) about India’s long-standing, grave and
systematic violations of Kashmiri people’s basic rights and freedoms.
Following India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 05th August 2019, oral reports by the High Commissioner have highlighted specific human rights violations an their impact on the group.
At the 42nd HRC regular session, on 09 September 2019, the High Commissioner voiced her “deep concerns about the impact of recent actions by the Government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris, including restrictions on internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists”. She “appealed particularly to India to ease the current lockdowns or curfews; and to ensure people's access to basic services and that all due process rights are respected for those who have been detained”. She further stressed that the people of Kashmir should be “consulted and engaged in any decision-making processes that had an impact on their future”.
On 29 October 2019, the High Commissioner’s Spokesperson publicly voiced “extreme concerns over deprivation of a wide range of human rights of Kashmiri people in IIOJ&K and urged the Indian authorities to unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that are currently being denied”. The Spokesperson spotlighted the human rights impact of the ‘undeclared curfew’ and communication/internet shutdown imposed in IIOJ&K; excessive use of force, including pellet-firing shotguns, tear gas and rubber bullets by Indian security forces against Kashmiri civilians; continued detention of hundreds of political and civil society leaders; custodial torture and ill-treatment; and curbs on media.
At the 43rd HRC regular session, on 27 February 2020, the High Commissioner expressed her dismay that “as many as 800 people reportedly remain in detention, including political leaders and activists, and no steps have been taken to address allegations of excessive use of force and other serious human rights violations by security forces” in IIOJ&K. She also noted with concerns the continued imposition of excessive restrictions on the use of social media in the occupied territory.
At the 45th HRC regular session, on 14 September 2020, the High Commissioner expressed her concerns that in IIOJ&K, “incidents of military and police violence against civilians continue, including use of pellet guns. Major legal changes – including to the domicile rules – are generating deep anxiety”. She further noted with concern that “the space for political debate and public participation continues to be severely restricted, particularly since new media rules have prohibited vaguely defined “anti-national” reporting”. She once again voiced her disappointment over continued detention of hundreds of people, with many habeas corpus petitions pending, including those of many of Jammu and Kashmir’s political leaders and called for restoration of full Internet connectivity in all parts of IIOJ&K.
At the 46th HRC regular session, on 26 February 2021, THE HIGH COMMISSIONER SAID THAT IN IIOJ&K "RESTRICTIONS ON COMMUNICATIONS, AND CLAMPDOWNS ON CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVISTS, REMAIN OF CONCERN" AND THAT "THE COMMUNICATIONS BLOCKADE HAS SERIOUSLY HAMPERED CIVIC PARTICIPATION, AS WELL AS BUSINESS, LIVELIHOODS, EDUCATION, AND ACCESS TO HEALTH-CARE AND MEDICAL INFORMATION". She further noted with concerns that raids against human rights defenders in October and November exemplify the continued restrictions on civil society, and resulting impact on the rights of the people of Kashmir to impart and receive information, and to engage in free, open debate on Government policies affecting them.
At the 48th regular session, on 13 September 2021, THE HIGH COMMISSIONER SAID THAT "INDIAN AUTHORITIES' RESTRICTIONS ON PUBLIC ASSEMBLY, AND FREQUENT TEMPORARY COMMUNICATION BLACKOUTS, CONTINUED" IN IIOJ&K, "WHILE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE REMAINED IN DETENTION FOR EXERCISING THEIR RIGHT TO THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, AND JOURNALISTS FACED EVER-GROWING PRESSURE". Ongoing use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act throughout India was worrying, with IIOJ&K having among the highest number of cases . Such restrictive measures, she warned, could result in human rights violations and foster further tensions and discontent.
On 01 December 2021, THE HIGH COMMISSIONER'S SPOKESPERSON PUBLICLY VOICED 'DEEP CONCERNS' AT THE ARREST OF KASHMIRI HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER KHURRAM PARVEZ UNDER THE OPPRESSIVE UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES PREVENTION ACT (UAPA), AND CALLED ON INDIA 'TO FULLY SAFEGUARD HIS RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, ASSOCIATION AND PERSONAL LIBERTY AND TO TAKE THE PRECAUTIONARY STEP OF RELEASING HIM'. The Spokesperson also reiterated OHCHR's call for the UAPA to be amended to bring it into line with international human rights law and standards, and urged India to refrain from using this or other laws unduly restricting freedom of expression in cases involving civil society, media, and human rights defenders in IIOJ&K. Furthermore, he also said that the UN Human Rights Office was 'increasingly alarmed by the rise in killings of civilians, by Indian security forces in the course of counter-terrorism operations, and their bodies on occasion disposed in secret. One of these incidents happened on 15 November when four people were killed in a reported gunfight in Srinagar’s Hyderpora area, including two civilians'. The Spokesperson called for 'prompt, thorough, transparent, independent and effective investigations into all killings of civilians, and that families should be allowed to mourn their loved ones and seek justice'.