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July 17, 2020

US House Committee concerned over IOJ&K situation

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July 17, 2020

WASHINGTON: The US House Appropriations Committee has voiced its concern over the deteriorated human rights and religious freedom in India including in Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) region.

In a detailed report, the committee highlighted that it was concerned over the deterioration of human rights and religious freedoms in India, including in IOJ&K, and the recent addition of religion as a factor in the naturalisation process.

The committee also directed the Secretary of State to submit a report, not later than 90 days after enactment of the Act, to the Committees on Appropriations on what steps the Department of State has taken to address the deterioration of human rights and religious freedom in India and a strategy to engage the government of India on these issues. "Such report shall also contain the extent to which the government of India is supporting human rights and implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, as well as due process of law," the committee said.

The report was submitted, accompanying a bill making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, and for other purposes. The committee recommendation also included funding for Pakistan as well.

Meanwhile, the United States has also accepted Pakistan's accession to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Convention will enter into force between the United States and Pakistan on October 1, 2020, and will put in place an internationally recognised legal framework to resolve cases of parental child abduction between the two countries. "As partners, both countries will enhance shared commitment to protecting children and open a new chapter in the vibrant US-Pakistan relationship," the State Department said adding, "Preventing and resolving cases of international parental child abduction is one of the Department's highest priorities."

The convention is a vital tool to deter international abduction and secure the return of abducted children. "It provides a mechanism under civil law in either country or parents seeking the return of children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside of their country of habitual residence in violation of custodial rights," the department said.

The US now has 80 partners under the Convention. "We look forward to welcoming Pakistan as a new partner in this global effort to address international parental child abduction," the department said.