- APDP DEMANDS GOVT. TO TAKE A CUE FROM INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNALS LIKE ICTY TO INITIATE PROCESSES OF JUSTICE MECHANISMS FOR VICTIMS OF ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR
Srinagar: On the eve of annual Human Rights Day, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) reiterates its demand to know the whereabouts of 8000 people who have been subjected to enforced disappearances. The families of the disappeared demand to know the whereabouts of their loved ones. Till date no commission of inquiry has been set up and not a single individual has been convicted. Despite repeated requests by the families of the disappeared and huge public and international outrage over the discovery of mass graves in different parts of Jammu and Kashmir, the Government of India refuses to conduct or allow any other neutral party to carry out exhumations to establish the truth. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes continue to escape prosecution.
On the occasion of Human Rights Day, we want to draw attention to how international bodies have played a crucial role in prosecuting individuals responsible for grave violations of human rights. It’s pertinent to highlight the recently concluded ICTY and it was able to deliver justice to victims of war crimes in Yugoslavia. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is a United Nations court of law dealing with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990’s. The ICTY was the first war crimes court created by the UN and the first international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals. The Security Council in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter established it in May 1993.
In its precedent-setting decisions on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the Tribunal has shown that an individual’s senior position can no longer protect them from prosecution. It has also shown that those suspected of bearing the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed can be called to account, as well as that guilt should be individualized, protecting entire communities from being labeled as “collectively responsible”. The ICTY has charged over 160 persons. Those indicted by the ICTY include heads of state, prime ministers, army chiefs-of-staff, interior ministers and many other high- and mid-level political, military and police leaders from various parties to the Yugoslav conflicts. Its indictments address crimes committed from 1991 to 2001 against members of various ethnic groups in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. 90 individuals have been sentenced, 19 acquitted, 13 referred to national jurisdiction, 37 had their indictments withdrawn and 2 retrials are to be conducted by Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT). Over more than two decades, it heard almost 5,000 witnesses and held around 11,000 trial days. The ICTY made history when it became the first court to charge an acting head of state of genocide and other crimes, although Slobodan Milosevic didn’t live long enough hear his verdict, as he died in 2006 before the end of his trial.
In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims who were meant to be under UN protection. In 2004, the Court ruled that the massacre of the enclave’s male inhabitants constituted genocide, a crime under international law. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) also upheld the ruling in 2007. The forcible transfer and abuse, of between 25,000 and 30,000 Bosniak women, children and elderly which accompanied the massacre was found to constitute genocide, when accompanied with the killings and separation of the men. Among the many other landmark verdicts was the conviction of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic of the genocide of Bosniaks from Srebrenica, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentencing him to life imprisonment.
APDP states that the government in Kashmir and India should abide by the international humanitarian law and human rights law and initiate similar processes of justice mechanisms for the victims of enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir.