Wednesday, January 27, 2016

India a "weak proponent" of human rights in 2015 at UN, world leaders didn't raise "concerns publicly" with Modi

Back cover photograph on HRW report
By Our Representative
The Human Rights Watch (HRW), of the world’s most influential advocacy groups, has said that India was “a weak proponent of human rights at the UN in 2015.” Quoting examples, it says, “In March, India voted in support of a Russian-backed resolution to remove benefits for same-sex partners of UN staff” and “abstained on Human Rights Council resolutions on Syria, North Korea, and Ukraine, and voted against resolutions on Iran and Belarus.”
Giving more instances, its new report says, “In July, India abstained on a UN Human Rights Council resolution that called for Israeli accountability in the 2014 Gaza War.” In fact, it adds, “The Indian government said it had abstained from voting because the resolution included a reference to bringing Israel before the International Criminal Court (ICC), which India considered ‘intrusive’.”
The report notes, with the exception of USA’s Barack Obama, most other world leaders who visited India in 2015, or hosted Prime Minster Narendra Modi in their capitals “showed any willingness to raise human rights concerns publicly, deferring all too readily to India’s sensitivity to perceived intervention in its domestic affairs.”
The report wonders why, “despite its democratic traditions, India has not yet emerged as an effective proponent of human rights.” It adds, “For instance, in October, when India invited all 54 leaders of the African Union to a summit in New Delhi, it ignored calls by the ICC to arrest Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who faces charges of war crimes and genocide in Darfur.”
The report says, India is in the company of China, Ethiopia and Russia in setting the ball running for “a less recognized but disturbing and destructive global trend: the adoption by many countries of repressive new non-governmental organization (NGO) laws and policies targeting individuals and groups that try to hold governments to account, including social media users, civil society groups, and the funders who back them.”
Further, the report says, India is in the company of Cambodia, Egypt, and Tajikistan for justifying “restrictions on foreign contributions to civic groups as necessary to fight terrorism”. Titled “World Report 2016: Facts of 2015”, the report was released in New York on Tuesday.
Taking strong exception to laws that provide immunity to security forces and authorities, the report notes how Indian authorities ignored a May report by the UN special rapporteur on “extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions”, even as expressing “regret that India had not repealed or at least radically amended Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).”
“Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, environmental groups have been particularly victimized because of perceived challenges to official development plans”, the report says, adding, at the same time, Modi did little “to improve respect for religious freedom, protect the rights of women and children, and end abuses against marginalized communities.”
“Even as the prime minister celebrated Indian democracy abroad, back home civil society groups faced increased harassment and government critics faced intimidation and lawsuits”, the report says, pointing to how “dozens of writers protested against sectarianism and the silencing of dissent by returning prestigious literary awards bestowed by the Sahitya Akademi.”
“Artists, academics, filmmakers, and scientists also added their voices to the protest. Economists and business leaders warned that the Modi government risked losing domestic and global credibility if it failed to control Hindu extremism and restrictions on freedom of expression”, the report states.
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Download HRW report HERE

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