By Arul Louis
In a double-barrel attack, India has accused UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein of exhibiting “clear bias” in his report on Kashmir and criticised Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of overstepping his mandate in his report on children in armed conflict.
India's Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal told the Security Council on Monday that Zeid's “so-called report” was “reflecting the clear bias of an official who was acting without any mandate whatsoever and relied on unverified sources of information.”
As for Guterres, he said, “We are disappointed that the report of the Secretary General includes situations, which do not meet the definition of armed conflict or of threat to maintenance of international peace and security.” The report deals with Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
During the debate on Children in Armed Conflict, Lal mentioned Guterres by his title, but did not mention Zeid by name or title while it was clear it was about him from the rebuttal to Pakistan's Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi who quoted Zeid saying in his report that “there were multiple cases of children under 18 years being arbitrarily detained and tortured.”
She also mentioned the blinding of children by pellet guns used by security forces.
Hitting back, Lal said Lodhi's reference to Zeid's report was “deliberate self-serving attempts” by Islamabad “to obfuscate the reality of their own use of terror organisations to undermine state sovereignty.”
He added, “They also distract from our discussions away from the issues at hand. Such attempts have not succeeded in the past in any forum and will not do so now.”
Zeid, who ends his term as High Commissioner in December, had called in his report for an international investigation by the Human Rights Council into the situation in Kashmir. The report was not taken up at the Human Rights Council session that ended last week and at least six countries opposed it during the general debate.
Lal dismissed it as a “document that was not even found fit to be considered by the membership of the forum where it was submitted.”
In his cirticism of Guterres's report, Lal said he had gone beyond “the clear mandate” provided by a 2001 Security Council Resolution that set the terms for his report. Guterres's report released last month includes criticism of the Indian government and also the Naxalites, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen.
India apparently takes exception to the report saying that “children continued to be killed and injured in the context of operations of national security forces against armed groups.” It also said that “unverified reports” that indicate national security forces use children as “informants and spies”
However, it also accused the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen as well as Naxalites of recruiting children and using them in conflict in violation of UN resolutions and convention.
Security Council Resolution 1379 that Lal referred to specifies “conflict situations,” “armed conflicts” and situations that “threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”
Guterres apparently relied on another element in the resolution referring to “situations that are on the Security Council’s agenda.”
But that would apply only to Kashmir about which there are resolutions going back to 1948, even though in 2010 the Council removed Kashmir from its list of unresolved international disputes.
Guterres's report cited one case of a 15-year-old boy “killed by national security forces” during a clash with alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba elements in Padgampora village in Pulwama district.
The report referred to the occupation of over 20 schools by the Central Reserve Police Force in Srinagar, Kashmir, in April” last year while also accusing “suspected Naxalite elements” of attacking a school in Jharkhand's Khunti district.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com)