India allays UN human rights concerns over fair elections : The Tribune India

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India allays UN human rights concerns over fair elections

India allays UN human rights concerns over fair elections


Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5

India alleviated concerns expressed by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk on “increasing restrictions on the civic space with human rights defenders, journalists and perceived critics targeted”.

“It is particularly important in a pre-electoral context to ensure an open space that respects the meaningful participation of everyone,” he said while mentioning hate speech and discrimination against minorities, especially Muslims. Turk welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision last month on campaign finance schemes, upholding the right to information and transparency.

In response, India’s Permanent Representative at Geneva Arindam Bagchi said, “We have noted his comments about our forthcoming General Election. However, his concerns in this regard are unwarranted and do not reflect the reality of the largest democracy in the world. In any democracy, argumentation is natural. It is imperative that those in positions of authority do not allow their judgement to be clouded by propaganda.”

Taken in context, India’s criticism was the mildest among the two dozen countries that had already held or were heading for elections.

Speaking at the 55th session of the Human Rights Council, Turk said in the US, in an electoral year, “it is particularly important for authorities at all levels to implement recent recommendations by the UN Human Rights Committee to ensure that suffrage is non-discriminatory, equal and universal.”

Bangladesh and Pakistan came in for harsh words over their recent federal elections.

Turk's report focused on 55 conflicts raging the world over and places where there was widespread violation of humanitarian and human rights laws. He also mentioned countries where displacement and humanitarian crises have reached an “unprecedented scale”. India did not find mention in any of these categories.

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