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How political parties suppress free speech and minorities in India?

  • Published
    13th Jan, 2023
Context

Recently, Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2023 highlighted the Indian authorities had “intensified and broadened” their crackdown on activist groups and the media through 2022 and used “abusive and discriminatory policies to repress Muslims and other minorities”. 

About

About the report:

  • It is the 33rd edition of the report which reviews human rights practices in close to 100 countries.
  • In the section on India, the authorities throughout India arrested activists, journalists, and other critics of the government on what it called “politically motivated” criminal charges, including that of terrorism. 

Key highlights of the report:

  • In a world in which power has shifted, it is no longer possible to rely on a small group of mostly Global North governments to defend human rights.
  • The world’s mobilization around Russia’s war in Ukraine reminds us of the extraordinary potential when governments realize their human rights obligations on a global scale.
  • The responsibility is on individual countries to apply a human rights framework to their policies, and then work together to protect and promote human rights.

India-specific data:

  • The Indian authorities misused laws forbidding forced religious conversion to target Christians, especially from Dalit and Adivasi communities. 
  • The decision to Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional autonomous status and split it into two federally governed territories, the government continued to restrict free expression, peaceful assembly, and other basic rights there.
  • The authorities invoked the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, as well as terrorism allegations under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, to conduct raids and arbitrarily detain journalists.
  • It widened the definition of family to include same-sex couples, single parents, and other households by not extending family benefits to them.
  • Crime against women has been forbidden through the lens of the minority community and the Hindu ideology of the present government, when the accused of raping a pregnant woman were released under the Bilkis Bano Case.

Why Human Rights must be secured by a Nation?

  • Human rights are based on dignity, equality and mutual respect – regardless of nationality, religion or beliefs.
  • Simply put, Human Rights are those minimal rights which every individual must have against the State or other public authority by virtue of his being a member of the human family, irrespective of any other consideration.
  • These basic human rights are:
    • Universal: They belong to all (everybody in the world)
    • Inalienable: They cannot be taken away from the people
    • Indivisible and interdependent: Governments should not be able to pick and choose which are respected.
    • Human Rights can be violated: Although they are inalienable, they are not invulnerable. Violations can stop people from enjoying their rights, but they do not stop the rights from existing.
    • Essential: They are essential for freedom, justice, and peace.

Universal Human Rights Declaration:

  • The UDHR consists of 30 articles detailing an individual’s “basic rights and fundamental freedoms”. It is universally applicable to all human beings of varying races, religions and nationalities.
  • It directly inspired the development of international human rights law and was the first step in the formulation of the International Bill of Human Rights, which was completed in 1966 and came into force in 1976.
  • Even though the Universal Human Rights Declaration is not legally binding, its contents have been elaborated and incorporated into subsequent international treaties, regional human rights and instruments and in the legal codes of various countries
  • At least one of the 9 binding treaties of the UDHR has been ratified by all 193 member states of the United Nations, with the majority ratifying four or more.

India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What are the provisions related to Human Rights in India?

  • According to the National Human Right Commission of India, Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
  • National Human Rights Commission:
    • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India was established in 1993.
    • The statute under which it is established is the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993.
    • The Act provides for the establishment of State Human Rights Commissions.
  • Human Rights as Incorporated in Indian Laws:
    • Indian Constitution incorporated several provisions of human rights in Indian Constitution.
    • Part III of Fundamental Rights from Article 14 to 32.
    • Articles 14 to 18 of the Constitution guarantee the right to equality for every citizen of India.
    • Article 19 deals with freedom of speech and expression and Article 21 provides the Right to life and liberty.
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