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Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has received in the last 12 months in respect of human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir; [110665](2) what recent discussions he has had on introducing international human rights inspectors to Indian-held Kashmir. [110666]

We have in the past 12 months received nearly 150 letters from members of the public and 37 letters from honourable Members raising concerns over the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. We have also received a number of reports from human rights non-governmental organisations on alleged violations by the security forces and certain police groups there.I discussed the human rights situation in Kashmir, including access for international monitors, with Mr. I.D. Swami, the Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs, in New Delhi on 17 October 2002. We will continue to urge the Government of India to allow access to Jammu and Kashmir for international human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, and UN Special Rapporteurs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Governments of (a) India and (b) Pakistan, on the killing of civilians in (i) Nadimarg and (ii) Chatisingpura. [112732]

My right hon. Friend, the Foreign Secretary remains in close and regular contact with the Governments of India and Pakistan. The Foreign Secretary condemned the 24 March killing of innocent civilians at Nadimarg and urged Pakistan to do its utmost to discourage any acts of violence by militants in Kashmir. These points were covered in the joint statement with US Secretary Powell at Camp David on 27 March.The differences between India and Pakistan can only be resolved through peaceful means and engagement. We therefore welcome recent moves by both sides towards the normalisation of relations. We hope that these positive developments prove to be the first step in a process of building confidence, normalising bilateral relations and resolving their outstanding differences, including Kashmir. We will continue to do all that we can in support of these positive developments.