Friday, June 15, 2018

Armed forces and Kashmir

The following is excerpted, less footnotes, from the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights's June 14, 2018 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
54. The Indian authorities have insisted that any allegations of human rights violations by security forces are appropriately handled by the military justice system. However, according to the Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, military courts do not meet international fair trial standards and thus are not suitable to try offences committed against civilians.
55. In July 2017, the Armed Forces Tribunal suspended the life sentences and granted bail to five Indian Army personnel who had been convicted by an army court-martial on 12 November 2014 for the extrajudicial killing of three civilians in Macchil in Baramulla district in 2010. The killings, which were perpetrated on the night of 29 April 2010, had triggered violent protests in Kashmir in the summer of 2010 and resulted in the deaths of over 100 protesters. The Armed Forces Tribunal’s decision to suspend the life sentences has not been made public. Neither the state nor central authorities have challenged the Armed Forces Tribunal’s order. 
56. In April 2013, the Supreme Court granted security forces the option to try their own personnel, and the Border Security Force exercised this option in a few instances to the benefit of its personnel. Thus, in June 2017, media reports indicated that the General Security Forces Court had acquitted two members of the Border Security Force accused of the extrajudicial execution of 16-year old Zahid Farooq Sheikh on 5 February 2010. Human rights groups which have been in touch with his families stated they were unaware of the decisions of the military courts or the status of their cases. This had been one of the few instances where the state police conducted a swift investigation and filed a case against the Border Security Force personnel. Additional work may be needed to verify this case.

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