NEW YORK - Human Rights Watch, an international watchdog body, has asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is in New Delhi, to raise the large-scale violations of human rights in India and in occupied-Kashmir during his talks with Indian leaders.
The secretary-general flew to New Delhi on Wednesday for a three-day visit, saying he would discuss regional and global issues with Indian officials and leaders.
“India has a dynamic democracy, but UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should not gloss over the serious domestic violations and routine impunity that affect millions of Indians, and hold back the country’s development,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
“Ban would do a great disservice to the Indian people if he were to only talk about regional and global issues,” she said.
Human Rights Watch urged the UN chief to press the Indian government to address serious human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killings, abuses in conflict areas, and widespread torture. The Indian government has failed to hold soldiers and police officers who are responsible for abuses to account, it said.
Ban should also raise India's excessive restrictions on civil society and the need to take strong steps to protect the rights of women, Dalits, indigenous people, and other vulnerable groups. Widespread impunity for these abuses, as well as a lack of access to justice or adequate compensation, are commonplace in India, Human Rights Watch said.
The secretary-general should in particular press the Indian government to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Human Rights Watch said. The law provides effective immunity to soldiers responsible for serious human rights violations and has led to widespread abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, and in the northeastern states where it remains in force. Ban should also call for the repeal of archaic sedition laws that have been used to silence peaceful dissent.
“As India develops a foreign policy to match its emerging global status, Ban should caution Indian leaders against allowing sovereignty concerns to blind them to serious human rights abuses in other countries,” Ms. Ganguly said. “With growing power comes growing responsibility, not only to foreign governments, but also to the people they often oppress.”