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UNHCHR seeks 'unconditional' access to Kashmir to assess situation

News Agencies | Updated on: 13 September 2016, 19:43 IST

On 13 September, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights appealed to both India and Pakistan to grant the organisation "unconditional access" to Kashmir on either side of the Line of Control, so as to enable them to establish an "objective assessment" of the prevailing situation.

In his opening statement at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said, "Two months ago, I requested the agreement of the Governments of India and Pakistan to invite teams from my Office to visit both sides of the Line of Control."

"We had previously received reports, and still continue to do so, claiming the Indian authorities had used force excessively against the civilian population under its administration. We furthermore received conflicting narratives from the two sides as to the cause for the confrontations and the reported large numbers of people killed and wounded.

"I believe an independent, impartial and international mission is now needed crucially and that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides."

He said Pakistan has already handed over a letter formally inviting an UNHCHR team to the Pakistani side of the line of control, but in tandem with a mission to the Indian side.

"I have yet to receive a formal letter from the Government of India. I therefore request here and publicly, from the two Governments, access that is unconditional to both sides of the line of control," he said.

Meanwhile, in Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Office welcomed Zeid Ra'ad's statement and said, "The visit by the OHCHR team would help to end the culture of impunity which is prevailing for more than 68 years, in violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions."

Foreign Office said Pakistan will give access to any UN team to its controlled region.

"We note the High Commissioner's statement that he awaits a formal letter from India for access to Kashmir. We urge India to respond to this request," the Foreign Office said.


First published: 13 September 2016, 19:43 IST