New Delhi, November 11
At least 10 countries have expressed serious concern over India’s dealings with human rights mechanisms. Posing questions at India’s fourth Universal Periodical review of the state of human rights at Geneva, searching questions were posed by the US, Germany, Belgium and the UK on the need to enact anti-torture laws, ratify rigorous anti-discrimination laws and policies, and adopt legislation that criminalises hate speech, prevents communal violence, and protects human rights defenders.
The report present at the UPR has also commented on the living standards of minorities. “Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims fared worst in terms of economic conditions. In urban centers, Dalit Christians were engaged in descent-based work. In rural areas, they remained landless and largely dependent on the dominant caste community for their livelihood,” it said.
The UPR is responsible for ensuring the implementation of all the recommendations that the final outcome entails.
But the Human Rights Measurement Initiative says India has performed worse than average in upholding the 13 Basic Human Rights including religious freedom and tolerance towards religious minorities.
Germany posed questions on the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act), reintroducing the Communal and Targeted Violence Bill of 2011, anti-conversion laws and child labour. It however welcomed the non-discriminatory delivery of public goods and services.
The UK also asked questions on rights and interests of minorities besides reducing the scope for death penalty and measures to protect journalists and the media from undue interference and harassment?
The US was the most searching, asking questions on concerning trends in the press freedom, Foreign Contribution Regulation Action (FCRA), constitutional rights of religious minority groups, AFSPA and the law on banning hijab in educational institutions. It also expressed concern over the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, National Security Act, Public Safety Act, and sections (124A, 499, and 500) of the Indian Penal Code as they have been applied to free speech advocates, activists, and faith leaders.
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