India: no commitment to review draconian restrictive laws

Statement at the 52nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council 

UPR Outcome Adoption – India

Delivered by Meha Khanduri, Human Rights Defenders Alert-India

Thank you, Mr President.

Human Rights Defenders Alert-India and CIVICUS welcome the government of India’s engagement with the UPR process.

It is positive that the Indian government accepted recommendations to ensure a safe and enabling environment for civil society. However, we are disappointed that the government has only noted recommendations to review restrictive laws including the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Act used to detain scores of human rights defenders as well as the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act used to block foreign funding and investigate NGOs. The government also failed to accept most of the specific recommendations aimed at improving the situation of HRDs and civil society as well as to decriminalise defamation.

Further, despite restrictions on protests it is also concerning that the government only noted recommendations to review laws regulating freedom of peaceful assembly.

We are also deeply concerned that the government has rejected recommendations to release Kashmiri journalists and human rights defenders. Finally, while the government accepted a recommendation on the issuance of a standing invitation for country visits to all UN special procedure mandate holders, it rejected the specific recommendation allowing a country visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and of association.

We urge the government to

  • Review all restrictive laws especially the UAPA and FCRA to bring it into compliance with ICCPR.
  • Immediately and unconditionally release all HRDs, including those detained related to the Bhima Koregaon case, Khurram Parvez and drop all charges against them.
  • Review and amend existing laws in order to guarantee fully the right to the freedom of peaceful assembly and investigate all violations in the context of protests.

We thank you.

Civic space in India is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor