UN ‘concerned’ at India arrests of rights activists, NGO curbs

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights appeals to New Delhi to safeguard the rights of human rights defenders and NGOs.The United Nations human rights chief has urged India to do extra to guard human rights activists, who’ve come underneath mounting strain in latest months on this planet’s largest democracy.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s workplace on Tuesday pointed to a few “problematic” Indian legal guidelines which have led to the arrest of activists and restrictions to the work of non-governmental organisations.
Her workplace lamented “vaguely worded laws that restrict foreign funding” which are more and more getting used to quell voices in civil society, together with the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which prohibits the receipt of international funds “for any activities prejudicial to the public interest”.
“The FCRA has been invoked over the years to justify an array of highly intrusive measures,” she stated, together with “official raids on NGO offices and freezing of bank accounts”.
“I am concerned that such actions based on the grounds of vaguely defined ‘public interest’ leave this law open to abuse, and that it is indeed actually being used to deter or punish NGOs for human rights reporting and advocacy that the authorities perceive as critical in nature,” the previous Chilean president stated.
Bachelet added that activists and human rights defenders had come underneath mounting strain in latest months, significantly these concerned in mass protests towards the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Many activists have been arrested underneath stringent anti-terror legislation and comparable legal guidelines for protesting towards CAA that fast-tracks naturalisation for some foreign-born spiritual minorities – however not Muslims.
Rights teams have condemned the arrests as “illegal” and “grave abuse of state power”.
“Constructive criticism is the lifeblood of democracy. Even if the authorities find it uncomfortable, it should never be criminalised or outlawed in this way,” Bachelet stated in her assertion.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities has been accused of viewing most foreign-funded non-profit organisations and rights teams with suspicion.
Last month, advocacy group Amnesty International halted its operation in India, citing alleged reprisals by the federal government and the freezing of its financial institution accounts by Indian authorities.
“I urge the government to ensure that no one else is detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly – and to do its utmost, in law and policy, to protect India’s robust civil society,” Bachelet stated.
The Indian authorities rejected Bachelet’s criticism and stated “violations of law” couldn’t be “condoned under the pretext of human rights”.
“A more informed view of the matter was expected of a UN body,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Anurag Srivastava stated.
But critics say India underneath Modi has grown more and more illiberal, with a crackdown on dissent unprecedented in scale, with leaders and supporters of his get together routinely labelling dissenters and activists as “anti-nationals”.
More than 1,500 individuals have reportedly been arrested, Bachelet stated, together with 83-year-old Catholic priest Stan Swamy – the oldest Indian to be charged with terrorism.