Member States Call for Protection of Minority Rights, Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assembly
The Indian the government should swiftly adopt and act on the recommendations that UN member states made at the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Process November 10, 2022, six international human rights groups said today. The recommendations cover a range of key concerns, including protecting minority communities and vulnerable groups, combating gender-based violence, respecting civil society freedoms, protecting human rights defenders and ending torture. in prison.
These groups are the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), the CSW, the International Dalit Solidarity Network, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
All UN member states participate in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, which examines their human rights record and proposes measures to improve the human rights situation in their country. In his report submitted to the UN ahead of its review, the Indian government has asserted that it is “firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights”. However, in previous UPR cycles, India ignored important recommendations, including to address growing violence against religious minorities, ensure the accountability of its security forces, and protect freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.
During the periodic review, India’s fourth-largest member state out of 130 made 339 recommendations highlighting some of the most pressing human rights concerns in the country.
Since his last revision in 2017India suffered a serious regression of human rights under the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government has intensified its crackdown on independent and democratic institutions and uses draconian anti-terrorism and national security laws to prosecute and harass human rights activists, journalists, students, government critics and peaceful protesters. Attacks, discrimination and incitement against religious minorities are on the rise. Traditionally marginalized Dalit and Adivasi communities have been denied fair justice and protection.
At least 21 countries have urged India to improve its protection of freedom of religion and the rights of religious minorities, with many expressing concern over increased violence and hate speech and the government’s adoption of discriminatory policies such as “anti-conversion” laws.
Since Modi’s BJP came to power in 2014, he has taken various legislative and other measures that have made discrimination against religious minorities, especially Muslims, legal and enabled violent Hindu majoritarianism, the groups said.
The government has adopted a citizenship law in December 2019 which discriminates against Muslims, making religion the basis of citizenship for the first time. In August 2019, the government revoked constitutional autonomy granted to the only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, and continues to restrict freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and other fundamental rights in the region. Since October 2018, Indian authorities have deported at least 13 Rohingya Muslim refugees to Myanmar despite the risks to their lives and safety.
Indian states used laws against cow slaughter to prosecute Muslim cattle traders even as BJP-affiliated groups attack Muslims and Dalits over rumors that they have killed or traded cows for beef. At least 10 Indian states ban forced religious conversion, but they abusing laws to target Christians. States also apply these laws to harass and arrest muslim men in relations with Hindu women. Throughout 2022, authorities in several BJP-run states Muslim homes and properties demolished without legal permission or due process, either as summary or collective punishment, holding them accountable for violence during communal clashes.
Twenty countries said India should improve the protection of freedom of expression and assembly and create an enabling environment for civil society groups, human rights defenders and the media to do their work. . Some of these countries have expressed concerns about the use of the anti-terrorism law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), against activists, journalists and members of minority religious communities. Over the years, advocacy groups and several UN human rights experts raised concerns about the use of the law, widely criticized for failing to comply with international human rights standards, to detain activists and others for exercising their basic rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
A number of countries have raised concerns about the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), the law used to regulate foreign funding of non-governmental organizations, and called on the government to review or amend the law to bring it into line with international human rights standards.
Indian authorities have used the law to end foreign funding for thousands of civil society groups, especially those working on human rights or the rights of vulnerable communities. Several UN bodies have warned that the law is being used to silence dissent. As of October 2020, then United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that the act is “in effect used to deter or punish NGOs for their human rights reporting and advocacy that the authorities perceive to be critical in nature”.
Nineteen countries have said India should ratify the UN Convention Against Torture, a treaty signed in 1997 but never ratified. India declared during the UPR cycles of 2012 and 2017 that it remained committed to ratifying the treaty. But he did not take action to fulfill his commitment even though torture and other ill-treatment continue to be commonly used by the police and other security forces to gather information or extract confessions.
The countries also urged India to tackle caste-based discrimination; strengthen efforts to reduce poverty, improve access to health care, clean water and sanitation, and ensure access to free, quality education for all children; ensuring a clean, healthy and sustainable environment; and strengthen the protection of children, women and persons with disabilities. The Indian government has said that “the UPR is an important mechanism that India fully supports” and “as the largest democracy in the world, India is committed to upholding the highest human rights standards” .
The Indian government must act on the concerns raised by other member states during the UPR, which are widely shared by rights groups and several UN bodies, and take immediate steps to correct course and protect the rights and dignity of all people, the groups said.
For more information please contact:
For Amnesty International: [email protected].
In London, Meenakshi Ganguly (English, Bengali, Hindi): +91-9820-036-032 (mobile); Where [email protected]. Twitter: @mg2411
For the International Dalit Solidarity Network, Maria Brink Schleimann: +45-6170-1218 (mobile); Where [email protected].
For the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), Iolanda Jaquemet: +41-79-539-41-06 (mobile); Where [email protected].
For CSW, Kiri Kankhwende: +44 (0)782-332-9663 (mobile); Where [email protected].
For the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Juliette Rousselot: [email protected].
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