India: Silencing Journalism and Human Rights in Kashmir
Following on from our investigative work in Kashmir, this Briefing Report draws special attention to India's strategy in silencing journalism and human rights in J&K.
It appears that the Indian authorities are running a strategy to disrupt, detain and punish those engaging in reasonable journalism and human rights advocacy — particularly against those who have the capability to document rights violations and report newsworthy incidents to the global arena. Based on the factual elements mentioned in this briefing, we are likely to see a medium to long-term drawback to human rights and journalism in the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir. This poses difficult challenges for human rights defence and journalism, which will only impact conflict dynamics as the subjects of India’s evolving counter-insurgency strategy exacerbates the frustration of the abused without any outlet to complain, seek justice or transparency.
India is in a conundrum between censorship and compliance under international law. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amended Act 2019 and the current Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967 (a counter-terrorism law) poses concerns about India’s compliance with international human rights law. This is further exacerbated when the use of counter-terrorism enters the equation, which necessitates added scrutiny on India’s approach based on the manner in which the authorities incorporate unnecessary measures. Kashmiri dissenters are often designated as “terrorists” in an ongoing conflict directed against human rights defenders, journalists and other political dissidents. India must ensure that its use of the law, as mentioned above, is in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and other applicable instruments. In light of this, the Indian authorities must recognise the work of journalists and human rights defenders. There needs to be an urgent review of the use of UAPA /PSA to align its laws with India’s obligations under international law — in particular international human rights law.