At UNHRC, India's third UPR report adopted with as many as 250 recommendations

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted the report on the review of the human rights situation in India on Tuesday with as many as 250 recommendations by 103 foreign governments.

India’s human rights record which was reviewed on 4 May at the UNHRC, had delegates making statements on a range of issues that are recorded in the report from the need for India to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) as well as the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to enforcing the 1951 Refugee Convention, repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, ratifying the ILO Convention on the decent work for domestic workers, criminalising marital rape and honour crimes, decriminalising consensual same-sex relations, taking effective measures to combat rising instances of religious intolerance, violence and discrimination, having a national plan to combat Afrophobia and abolishing the death penalty, among other recommendations.

File image of the UNHRC. Image credit: UN website

File image of the UNHRC. Image credit: UN website

Before the adoption of the report, the Haitian delegate intervened twice asking for oral revisions to its recommendations for India.

"Establish a national plan for combatting hate crimes, racism and negative stereotypes against people of African descent inside its territory, including appropriate programmes of public awareness that will address the problem of racism and Afrophobia in full consultation with those particularly affected," reads the amended statement that was corrected by the Fillipino deputy permanent representative to the UN office at Geneva. The Philippines along with South Africa and Latvia was part of the troika that facilitated India’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

New Delhi will now examine the recommendations and respond to the HRC latest by its next session in September 2017.

"The fact that over 100 delegations took the floor indicates the level of interest this council has in India," said Paramjit Singh Patwalia, Additional Solicitor-General of India, reading a statement on behalf of Attorney-General of India Mukul Rohatgi, after India’s UPR report was adopted.

"The vision of our nation’s founding fathers who framed our Constitution was a strong commitment to human rights with special emphasis for development and protection of the girl child, women and minorities,” he added.

"In our entire UPR journey, we have adopted a broad-based consultative approach," said India's new permanent representative to the UN in Geneva Rajiv Kumar Chander.

India will take an 'informed decision' after extensive inter-ministerial consultations. New Delhi is free to accept or reject some or all of the recommendations.

However, sifting through and responding to the 250 recommendations will be a tricky task for the Indian government. Consider the Haitian statement of devising a national plan to combat racism and Afrophobia. Since the recent attacks on Nigerian students in Uttar Pradesh, the government — while condemning the incidents — has refrained from terming them as 'racist' attacks.

Not all acts of violence should be construed as racial attacks, India had said at its UPR, adding that it is the land of Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi and that "we cannot have a racial mindset". Given such a stance, it would be surprising if India accepts this recommendation.

Similarly, Sweden’s recommendation of ensuring that "any measure limiting freedom of expression, assembly and association on the internet, is based on clearly defined criteria in accordance with international law including international human rights law" will be a difficult suggestion to negotiate, even though the HRC last year had passed a resolution declaring internet access a human right.

The maximum number of recommendations was around the issue of India ratifying the CAT. And this has been asked of India in previous UPRs as well. India signed the CAT in 1997, but is yet to ratify it. It has reasoned with the HRC since that it is bringing its domestic legislations in line with international obligations under CAT.

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Updated Date: May 10, 2017 11:26:27 IST

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