The Universal Periodic Review Process(UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday, 4th May, 2017, scanned India’s human rights records. India faced the music from various countries, who talked about India’s recent track records in human rights violations. Starting from repealing of section 377 to AFSPA, 112 speakers from different countries questioned the Indian government on various issues.
This review process looks at the human rights records of all the UN member states. The UPR which comes under the Human Rights Council was created through the UN General Assembly in 2006. The Human Rights Council, provides the opportunity for governments to declare the actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations.
The UPR is a cooperative process and after every 4.5 years, each member state of the UN is reviewed by the UPR Working Group. By October 2011, it reviewed the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.
This time in the review process of India, the UPR Working Group flagged various issues, including excessive use of force in Jammu and Kashmir to caste-based violence, violence against minorities and criminalisation of same-sex relations.
Representatives from different countries sought India's response on various issues. Spain asked India – Does the Indian government intend to repeal section 377, of the Penal Code in the wake of the 2014 landmark judgement of the Supreme Court affirming the equal rights of Transgender persons.
Portugal recommended inclusion of marital rape under rape laws in India
Germany was concerned over treatment of Minorities and NGOs. It called for India to review FCRA, and to implement HR commitments.
Singapore talked about better sanitation for girls and women. they wanted India to move towards eradication of poverty and to enhance rural drinking water and sanitation situation.
UK asked India to bring communal violence bill in the parliament. They asked India to enforce rights for children. They look forward to India guaranteeing rights to all as per the constitution.
Kazakhstan recommended India to take measures to combat rising incidents of religious intolerance
Czech Republic asked which legislative measures has India adopted to ensure safe and enabling environment for the work of human rights defenders, free from intimidation, harassment or violence? Does the government consider repealing the foreign contribution regulation act which restricts foreign financial assistance? Could you provide more details about the recent increased number of internet shutdowns?
Italy, asked India to abolish capital punishment and enforce laws on violence against women
Turkey concerned about torture, wanted India to enact torture bill in the parliament.
Sweden demanded what measures India took to ensure legal equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity? They also asked what measures India took to ratify ILO Conventions no. 138 & 182 concerning child labour?
Slovenia asked India for information on monitoring mechanisms for laws on sexual violence against women & children
Haiti talked about India’s Afrophobia, citing the recent attacks on Africans in India.
Responding to these tough questions Attorney General, Mukul Rohtagi who led Indian delegation to the UN, talked about the ‘Secular, non-violent nature of India’. He said, “India is a secular state with no state religion”
Rohtagi’s statements to the UN about peace and nonviolence are slightly different from his recent comments. Let’s not forget, what he said on the gruesome human rights violations in Kashmir. A video went viral, showing Farooq Ahmad Dar, a 24-year-old shawl weaver from Kashmir, strapped to the front of the army vehicle. While it created outrage among most people, Rohtagi justified the incidence. He said “peculiar situations require peculiar measures” and that “the move was the best way to defuse the situation.” He also said, “It was one of those spur-of-the-moment decisions... If an Army major got away without hurting anybody, it's a great job... There was nothing wrong, considering the circumstances. If it has to be done again, it should be done again. We are 100 percent backing the Army and the major”
The same Mukul Rohtagi said to the UN, “The concept of torture is alien to our culture”