AFD International: India Report 2017/2018

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Republic of India
Head of state: Ram Nath Kovind
Head of government: Narendra Modi
Capital: New Delhi

Region: South-East Asia

India has been nominated to lead the top human rights United Nations inter-governmental body of Human Rights Council. However, there are many human rights concerns that would allow AFD International, unless it gets addressed, regards India not fit for such position.

Many religious minorities still face tough time under the current government of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Promoting a Hindu dominance in public life over other minorities has been one of the main characteristics of this government. Many supporters of the party have de-humanised other minorities and legally ghettoised other communities and launched attacks on minorities and their freedoms and liberties .

Citizenship threats

India’s four million Assamese in the north-eastern region will be potentially stripped off their citizenship many of them are from the Bengali minority. Such procedure is feared to be discriminatory and will deprive millions from their rights to citizenship and would have devastating consequences on a region which has suffered hugely rather similar policy in the neighbouring countries.

Many Assamese will be forced to become stateless and their fate and the fate of their children will be thrown into the abyss of uncertainty. Moreover, the appeal system put in place is painfully slow and will need huge assistance for ordinary people to follow and understand.

Many Bengali Muslims in the region are fearful of being targeted by this current Hindu government that does not shy away from adopting an anti Muslim discourse.

On the other hand the year 2017 witnessed the highest death toll (11 deaths) by the cow vigilante against Muslims. This increase in cow-related hate crimes is the highest since the ultra-Hindu government BJP took office in India.

CHILD LABOUR INDIA’S DARKEST

Statistics about the Global Hunger Index shows that about 20% of India’s children suffer severe malnutrition. The index has ranked India 103rd out of 119 countries, which shows that the Indian dream is still far from reach despite the massive economic growth of the Indian economy.

India has taken a giant leap and a significant achievement in June this year when it ratified two core ILO Conventions on child labour, namely ILO Convention 138 regarding the age of admission for employment and ILO Convention 182 that lays down the worst forms of child labour. Yet to see the impact of this welcomed step on some millions child labourer, whom, are left to the grinding machine of hard, dangerous and hazardous labour that undermines their health and well-being. Around 12 million youngsters are missing out on education, health care and above all childhood itself. Despite the efforts of the Indian government in banning child labour ( 1986 Child Labour Act) the endemic is still tarnishing the reputation of the country by the widespread of forced child labour. The Indian government is throwing away the future of the most valuable asset of the country and is hindering the country’s real development.

However, according to the Indian government, every 15 minutes a child is molested and is a victim to sexual abuse. The case of a raped pregnant 10 year old child sent shockwaves around the world and was a major headline for many weeks. This paints a stark and gloom picture about childhood in India.

Women’s rights

India is one of the most dangerous countries for women. Rape, sexual abuse and slave labour are one of the main risks women face in India. Over than five years since the horrific and barbaric rape and murder of a young student by the name Joyti Singh, not enough has been done to protect the dignity of India’s women on the streets of every town and city of India. The sign of this horrific crime against women is showing no signs of abating, especially when statistics show that it is still a woman is raped every 13 minutes. Some 42% of India’s girls have been put through the ordeal of sexual abuse.

Freedom of Expression 

Currently, india ranks 138th out of 180 countries in the world Press Freedom Index. Three journalists have been killed in 2017. Reporting in Kashmir is increasingly becoming difficult and self censored as journalists are fearing prosecution under the “sedition” clause 124a of the Indian penal code which can hand over sentence up to life imprisonment. The above provision lend itself in contradiction with the freedom of speech safeguarded by Article 19(1) of Indian Constitution. Three further more journalists were murdered in March 2018 highlighting the level of threat, free press and freedom of speech is facing in India.

In September, journalist Kamran Yousuf was arrested by The National Investigation Agency (NIA) for allegedly instigating people to throw stones at security forces, under a law (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) which is highly questionable and controversial in terms of restricting freedoms and liberties and the sweeping powers it gives to the law enforcements.

Another Journalist Vinod Verma, who was lifted from his home for what it appears to be politically motivated arrest.

Conflict area 

The area of Jammu & Kashmir K&J is still a cause of a major concern in terms of human rights. Many residents of the area still face massive violations of their rights. AFD International joins the call of the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein he described the dispute in K&J as “ is a conflict that has robbed millions of their basic human rights, and continues to this day to inflict untold suffering” the impact of such conflict on human rights goes beyond K&J ‘s territory

This month alone, police in the Punjab area has begun collecting details of students of students of Kashmiri origin, in what to appear to be a profiling exercise aimed at the Kashmiris only. During parliament by-election protests back in April, eight people were killed by security forces, some of them were subjected excessive use of force, following protests during a by-election for a parliamentary seat. One campaigner in particular by the name of Farooq Ahmad Dar, was, in unprecedented form of torture and mistreatment, tied up to a jeep bumper and driven around for several hours as a warning to potential protestors.

Security forces in K&J continue to use pellet-firing shotguns during demonstrations which cause many demonstrators severe injuries and blinding.

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