Prevent our police from training Indian police involved in abuses in Kashmir: Israeli activists

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A petition was filed by 40 Israeli citizens in the Supreme Court of Israel demanding the country’s police be prevented from training Indian police officers involved in severe violations of human rights and international law in Kashmir.

The petition was filed after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Israeli Police and the Ministry of Internal Security refused to “pre-screen” specific Indian police officers who wish to train with the Israeli Police in the State of Israel, so that none of them are involved in, or responsible for, serious human rights violations in Kashmir, and in particular police officers who allegedly blind, murder, rape, torture and forcibly disappear civilians in Kashmir, Eitay Mack writes for The Wire.

Mr. Mack is an Israeli human rights lawyer and activist and represents the group of Israeli citizens who filed the above-mentioned petition. 

Indian police officers are being trained in “counter-terror warfare” by the Israeli Police in the State of Israel, as part of the agreement between the Government of the State of Israel and the Government of the Republic of India regarding cooperation on homeland and public security issues, from October 1, 2014. In 2017, the Israeli Ministry of Public Security said 120 Indian police officers had completed “a two-week course with the Israel Police on terrorism and intelligence”.

According to the article by Mr. Mack, “The Israeli citizens’ petition argues that the fact that India is the “biggest democracy in the world”, and an extremely important economic and political partner of the State of Israel and Western countries, cannot legally and morally justify the provision of assistance to specific Indian police officers that are involved and responsible for grave crimes under international law in Kashmir, by way of their training by the police in Israel.”

Likewise, the fact that there are miltitant groups and militant groups operating in Kashmir that “commit grave crimes against representatives of the Indian government and government forces, crimes against the local civilian population in Kashmir, as well as crimes and terrorist acts across India,” cannot justify morally or legally turning a blind eye to the collective punishment and human rights violations allegedly committed in Kashmir by Indian forces, which include documented instances of torture, custodial killings and the detention of thousands for extended periods and without legal proceedings, the petition says.

According to Mr. Mack on 4 May, 2020, the Israeli Police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted their response to the Supreme Court filed in January this year. Among other things, they sought to dismiss the petition on the grounds that an intervention as to the identity of the Indian police officers coming to Israel to participate in training would be construed as a blatant intervention by the State of Israel in India’s internal affairs, and could damage foreign relations and trust between both states.

In addition, the Israel Police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that they do not have the practical ability to pre-screen police officers participating in the training, since this is information that the Israeli Police does not have access to. This is a very puzzling claim.

“First, pre-screening can be done, among other things, by gathering information about which police officers are denied entry by Israel’s allies around the world (e.g., in the US), and which officers are mentioned in reports by local human rights organisations (e.g., the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons – APDP,  which outlines a long list of police officers responsible for human rights violations and the forced disappearance of civilians); international groups (such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch); in reports by the UN and its various organisations; in legal proceedings in India; in investigations and publications of governmental and non-governmental human rights Commissions in India; and reports and publications of the lawyers’ organisations,” the author further argue

Adding that although the Israeli government wants to defend its economic and political interests at all costs vis-à-vis the “anti-democratic” government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is important that people in Kashmir know that there are also Israeli citizens who think otherwise, expressing solidarity with their struggle to “end the repression and day-to-day violence they suffer from the security forces of the government and the illegal measures it is taking.” These Israeli activists will do everything in their power to assist in the international campaign for the protection of human and civil rights in Kashmir.

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