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UN human rights chief criticises India for temporary communication blackouts in J&K

"Ongoing use of the UAPA throughout India is worrying," said Bachelet

united-nations-reuters UN logo | Reuters

UN high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday described as "worrying" India's use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as well as "frequent" temporary communication blackouts in Jammu and Kashmir.

In her opening statement at the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Bachelet acknowledged the Indian government's efforts to counter terrorism and promote development in Jammu and Kashmir but said such "restrictive measures can result in human rights violations and foster further tensions and discontent".

"Indian authorities' restrictions on public assembly and frequent temporary communication blackouts continue in Jammu and Kashmir, while hundreds of people remain in detention for exercising their right to the freedom of expression, and journalists face ever-growing pressure," she said. 

"Ongoing use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act throughout India is worrying, with Jammu and Kashmir having among the highest number of cases in the country," Bachelet said.

There was no official reaction to Bachelet's comments. India, on multiple occasions, in the past strongly rejected the UN human rights chief's criticisms relating to Jammu and Kashmir.

Referring to China, she talked about its new 'National Action Plan on Human Rights 2021-2025' which was released this month.

"I look forward to exploring it for possible areas of engagement and cooperation. I regret that I am not able to report progress on my efforts to seek meaningful access to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region," she said.   

"In the meantime, my office is finalising its assessment of the available information on allegations of serious human rights violations in that region, with a view to making it public by the end of the year," Bachelet said.

Talking about Nepal, she hoped the new government will take early steps to restore the independence of the National Human Rights Commission through a transparent process.

"The authorities' commitment to prioritise amendment of the transitional justice law is an opportunity for fresh approaches to revitalise the process, in consultation with victims and in line with international standards," the UN human rights chief said. 

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