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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres backs Jammu Kashmir rights report

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has voiced support for the UN human rights chief’s call for an independent international investigation into the human rights situation in Kashmir, saying his action “represents the voice of the UN” on the issue.

“As you can imagine, all the action of the Human Rights high commissioner is an action that represents the voice of the UN in relation to that issue,” Mr Guterres told reporters at a press conference here on Thursday.

He was responding to questions whether he supports an independent international probe into the human rights situation in Kashmir as recommended by High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in his report on Kashmir in June.

India has rejected Al Hussein’s report in which he had called for a commission of inquiry by the Human Rights Council to conduct an independent international investigation into the human rights situation in Kashmir.

India’s deputy permanent representative to the UN Ambassador Tanmaya  Lal said this week that the “so-called” report reflects the “clear bias of an official who was acting without any mandate whatsoever and relied on unverified sources of information.”

Mr Lal had said the report “was not even found fit to be considered by the membership of the forum where it was submitted.”

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, responding to the Secretary General’s remarks, said the Human Rights chief’s report was not followed up by anyone in the Human Rights Council.

“That the High Commissioner for Human Rights represents the UN Secretariat on the issue of human rights is a factual issue. But that his report was not followed up by anyone is also a reality that no one sees it as something they are ready to support. So referring to the report is like flogging a dead horse,” Mr Akbaruddin told PTI.

Mr Guterres was asked by PTI about India’s assertion that Al Hussein was acting without any mandate and that Kashmir is a bilateral issue that needs to be resolved between India and Pakistan.

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