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UN human rights chief’s attention drawn to India’s use of munitions, Kashmir atrocities

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari wrote on Monday a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, drawing attention to India’s use of cluster munitions against civilian population along the Line of Control (LoC) and atrocities by Indian troops against innocent Kashmiris.

She states in her letter that the use of cluster bombs by India during last week against civilians in Neelum Valley, Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), across the Line of Control (LoC), in violation of international law resulted in the death of a four-year-old boy and injuries to several others.

“Pakistan and India are signatories to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects, without any reservations,” the minister said.

“From the very design of cluster bombs, it is clear that these weapons are intended to be used against broader military targets.”

“Using them specifically against the civilian population in Neelum Valley, the Government of India is actively violating norms of customary international law as well its international treaty obligations.”

She explained there is an additional negative impact of those cluster sub-munitions that do not explode on impact. As reported by the Cluster Munition Monitor in 2017, from the 1990s, out of 21,200 cluster munition casualties, 17,291 resulted from unexploded sub-munitions.

“The after-effects of this strike thus raise several concerns for the international community with respect to India regarding its commitments under International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This fresh wave of violations of IHL by India comes a little over a year since the OHCHR’s “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir.”

Mazari stressed the need for a Commission of Inquiry on Kashmir to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into human rights violations in the occupied territory.

“Without the establishment of such a Commission, human rights abuses in Kashmir will continue to go on unchecked, prolonging the suffering and oppression of the Kashmiri people.”

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