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Zeid urges India and Pakistan to grant independent observers access to Kashmir

GENEVA (17 August 2016) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday expressed deep regret at the failure of Indian and Pakistani authorities to grant the UN Human Rights Office access to Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir respectively, given grave concerns about recent allegations of serious human rights violations.

Since the latest outbreak of violence in early July, High Commissioner Zeid has been engaging with both Indian and Pakistani authorities and has sought access for a team to visit both Indian-Administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir to independently and thoroughly look into and verify allegations of violations of international law to be able to establish the facts accurately, particularly given the conflicting and competing claims on both sides.

“I deeply regret that our requests for access have not been granted. Given the seriousness of the allegations of the use of excessive force, allegations of state sponsorship of violence, as well as the number of people killed and the very large number of people injured, the continuing unrest and the almost daily reports of violence in the region, it is unfortunate that our sincere attempts to independently assess the facts in relation to reports of human rights violations have failed,” the High Commissioner said.

“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, which is so crucial in volatile, politically-charged situations.”

“Without access, we can only fear the worst,” Zeid added.

“I reiterate our request for access.”

ENDS

* The conduct of law enforcement officials is addressed by a number of specific international standards and codes, including the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, and the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.

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