Srinagar: Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations have expressed concerns over the use of the anti-terror laws against human rights defenders and journalists in Kashmir .
In a letter to the Government of India, the rapporteurs wrote that the “Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) authorises warrantless searches and individual arrests for up to 6 months when the person is designated as ‘terrorist’. Moreover, its broad scope makes it easily amenable to abuse.”
The communique said that laws like the UAPA “regulate the activities of human rights defenders and journalism” and that New Delhi “has employed its counter-terrorism financing oversight powers in a broad and arbitrary manner.”
“The acts would additionally contravene article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by India on 10 April 1979, which prohibit arbitrary interference in private matters including home and correspondence.”
The letter referenced the October 2020 raids by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the office of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and the residence of its chairperson Parveena Ahangar; the offices of Srinagar-based non-profit Athrout; daily newspaper Greater Kashmir; the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and the residence of its Coordinator Khurram Parvez; and journalist Parvaiz Bukhari.
On the use of anti-terror laws and investigation agency, the rapporteurs observed: “Should these allegations be confirmed, they would constitute acts of intimidation and reprisals initiated against the legitimate activities related to human rights advocacy and journalism on the situation of Jammu and Kashmir.”
“It has also been reported that the NIA has been conducting increasingly frequent raids in Jammu & Kashmir using this law. Other incursions against associations’ premises following the same modus operandi are allegedly still ongoing in the region,” the letter stated.
The UN Human Rights Council hasn’t made India response public.
“The Government’s reply is not made public due to its confidential nature,” it said.