ISLAMABAD: A legal fact-finding report released on Tuesday necessitates setting up of an independent war crime tribunal to investigate atrocities committed by the Indian occupying forces in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and intervention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to initiate proceedings against all perpetrators.
It also calls upon the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to refer to India’s illegal annexation and demographic change to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
These findings are part of a legal fact-finding report titled ‘Kashmir’s Statehood Abrogated’, co-published by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and Legal Forum for Oppressed Voices of Kashmir (LFOVK).
The report finds that India’s military intervention fulfills the definition of occupation under Article 42 of The Hague Regulations 1907; the illegal annexation stands in violation of the fundamental rights of civilians under The Hague Regulations and Geneva Convention IV Articles 47-48, Additional Protocol 1, Article 75. India also stands liable for committing the crime of aggression via unilateral annexation in contravention of Article 8 bis2(b) of the Rome Statute and has violated all four Geneva Conventions, the report added.
It also provides in-depth information about the situation in J&K during the past one year since India abrogated Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution, revoked the region’s special status, and annexed it illegally.
India has been perpetrating atrocities in J&K that come under crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression, and war crimes, according to international laws. These actions have made the situation even worse in Indian Occupied Kashmir that is under lockdown since August 5, 2019.
According to the report, the human rights abuses perpetrated by India include curtailment of religious rights, constraints on economic development, curbs on freedom of communication via the internet and telephone lines, restrictions on journalists, denial of the right to education, banning freedom of movement, along with the imposition of curfews, infliction of torture and arbitrary detentions.
Furthermore, India stands in violation of International Humanitarian Law due to the use of lethal weapons, sexual violence against women, illegal change in the demographic structure by bringing in people from outside the region after changing the provisions for domicile, inadequate response to the Covid-19 pandemic and destruction of civilian property.
The report, while citing scholars, says India’s introduction of the new domicile laws during the Covid-19 pandemic has created implications of demographic change and delimitations. It further adds that these implications will redraw the parliamentary and assembly constituencies in favour of those regions more receptive to the Indian government such as Ladakh and Jammu, thus tilting the balance of power from the historically majority Muslim Kashmir state to Jammu.
The report explains that Article 7 (1)(d) of the Rome Statute defines deportation or forcible transfer of population as a “crime against humanity”. ILC Draft Code of Crimes against the Peace and Security of Mankind 1991 and 1996 term changes to the demographic composition of an occupied territory as an “exceptionally serious war crime”.
The report further pressed that the international community should demand India to improve the avenues of internal self-determination by providing justice to the human rights victims, revoking the discriminatory laws, providing mechanisms for representative governance, and restoring the autonomy of the region. Setting Kosovo and East Timor as precedence, the report says the people of J&K have the right to external self-determination through remedial secession because of the absence of opportunities for internal self-determination.
The foreword has been written by Justice (r) Ali Nawaz Chowhan, formerly international judge of UN at The Hague and chief justice of the Gambia in which he states, “The Indian government is trying to change the demographic structure by bringing in people from outside the region and after changing the provisions for domicile Kashmiri land is being doled out for creating non-Kashmiri settlements. All this violates international law. An occupying force cannot create any right for itself nor can it validate its actions. We should seek an interim remedy under the UN Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm to stop further aggression of Indian forces in the occupied territory.”