India is called upon again to respect human rights


Human Rights Watch is asking India to adhere to UN recommendations for stemming the country's human rights violations. Meenakshi Ganguly, the director for South Asian affairs at HRW, said “The Indian government should make a serious effort to carry out these recommendations instead of simply pointing to existing legislation or policies.” Ganguly added that the second-most populous country in the world should exhibit a strong commitment to transparency and accountability to protect human rights.
The UN recommendations call for the ratification of various multinational treaties against torture and disappearances, a repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and a moratorium on the death penalty. Also included is a demand for laws to prevent discrimination and protection for women, children, Dalits and tribal peoples, religious minorities, and other targeted groups. At this month's session of the UN Human Rights Council, India  is expected to submit its responses to the 169 recommendations.
UN’s member states had given the recommendations at its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which is a mechanism to examine the human rights records of all 192 UN member states. Every four years, the UPR affords opportunities for each country to explain what actions it has taken to improve its human rights record. In the end, the UPR issues a final document with conclusions and recommendations.
India’s first review was in 2008, but only a few of the recommendations were carried out. A rising Hindu nationalist movement has exacerbated violence directed at Christians in particular. In 2010, Hindus rioted at Christmas time in one region, massacring Christians and burning them out. The situation of Dalits - who were once called 'untouchables' because of their low position in the caste system - continues to be poor despite constitutional guarantees of equality for all in the world's biggest democracy.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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