The UN member states raised concerns over violence against minorities, hate speech, draconian laws in India during annual review.
WASHINGTON DC – The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) commended United Nations member states for recommending India to address its critical human rights abuses, including violence against minorities, hate speech, shrinking civic spaces, and draconian legislations, caste-based discrimination, during the 41st Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
The UPR is an annual process through which 1/5th of UN member states are reviewed by all other member states. States under review are presented with recommendations to improve their human rights record.
Discard discriminatory laws
On Thursday, November 10, the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Ireland highlighted the threats faced by Indian minorities and called upon India to revise or discard discriminatory laws that target them.
Michele Taylor, the US ambassador to UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), said that “discrimination against women and religious minorities persists” in India, and encouraged the Indian government to “strive towards democratic ideals” by revising the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), and similar laws targeting activists, journalists, and minorities.
Canada recommended India to “investigate all cases of religious violence, including against Muslims”, strengthen media freedom, and revise the UAPA.
South Korea recommended priority of the Indian government to the “protection of religious minorities and marginalized social groups” and “promote freedom of peaceful assembly”.
Japan called on India to “end enforced disappearances”, referencing the rise in detentions of Kashmiri human rights defenders and civilians.
Several other countries also made statements on India’s treatment of minority groups. Commendably, Malaysia was the lone country to specifically mention rising religious extremism among Indian Hindus. The country called on India to “take concrete steps to eradicate extremist ideologies, [which] affects religious minorities”.
Largest victim group
Turkey specifically recommended that India “prevent persecution against Muslims”, making it one of the only countries to name India’s largest victim group.
Czechia called on India to “repeal crimes of sedition and definition in line with international [standards] on freedom of speech, safeguard ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities, and protect journalists from arbitrary detentions, “especially in Jammu and Kashmir”. Similarly, Luxembourg also called for releasing human rights defenders in detention.
The Holy See specifically recommended the prosecution of religious violence, referencing the rise in Hindu extremist violence against Muslims and Christians. Similarly, South Africa recommended that India should hold public officials who promote religious intolerance and hate speech accountable, while Turkey and Norway called for combating hate speech in general.
Ireland and the Netherlands called for the review of anti-conversion laws, which are weaponised to promote violence against Indian Christians. Ireland also expressed concerns about the discriminatory nature of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Germany, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, the Marshall Islands, and Cameroon called on India to address caste discrimination and enact protections for the marginalized Dalit community.
The United Kingdom, Germany, Brunei, Djibouti, Angola, Portugal, and Croatia also recommended that India should increase protection for religious minorities in general.
A number of other recommendations addressed draconian legislation and broader authoritarian trends under the Modi regime.
The United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Brazil, and Czechia all expressed concerns over the overall shrinking of civic spaces in India for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly.
Switzerland, Estonia, and Belgium joined the United States and Canada in calling for revision and repeal of the UAPA. Belgium specifically mentioned that doing so would “ensure the right to freedom of expression”.
South Korea, Germany, Slovakia, and Australia joined the United States in calling for the FCRA to be revised or repealed.
However, several member states failed to raise the pressing issue of Hindu extremists calling for the genocide of Muslims, government officials promoting hate speech, the use of the judiciary to persecute minorities, the rise in mob lynchings, and the ban on Hijab.
The IAMC condemned India’s Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta — the head of the Indian delegation — for delivering a speech filled with lies and falsehoods on the floor of UNHRC during the UPR of India.
“Mehta’s vehement defence of India’s discriminatory legislations, draconian laws, and crackdown on journalists and activists makes it amply clear that the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will ignore the recommendations made by the member states and continue to persecute minorities,” IAMC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed said.
The IAMC reiterated its commitment to combating misinformation spread by the Indian government along with its allies and call on all the governments worldwide to hold PM Modi and the ruling BJP accountable for egregious human rights violations and religious freedoms.
Cover pic: PTI file photo used for illustrative purposes only.