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India’s Rohingya refugee children are not criminals

  • Published
    28th Aug, 2023

Context:

Recently, a ?ve­ month ­old infant born to a Rohingya refugee died in a detention centre in Jammu, which is a question on the refugee policy and conserving their Rights.

Refugee policy in India

  • No domestic law- India does not have a domestic law or consistent policy on refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Not a signatory to conventions and protocol- India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.
  • Foreigners Act, 1946- Refugees are seen as illegal immigrants and lumped with other foreigners under the Foreigners Act, 1946.

Conventions on the Rights of the Child

  • Fundamental Right- The right to life and personal liberty is enshrined in the Constitution of India and is for all persons, whether citizens or foreigners.
  • UN Convention- Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states that every child has an inherent right to life, survival and development.
  • India signatory to CRC- India ratified the CRC in December 1992; hence, holding children in detention facilities, denying them the freedom to access education or any other liberty is an absolute violation of this.

Way Forward

  • Rohingya children should be released - It is imperative that all Rohingya children and their primary caregivers are released immediately from detention.
  • Follow the Government of India’s internal guidelines- For all the other Rohingya, the authorities should follow the Government of India’s internal guidelines (2011) on the detention and treatment of refugees
  • Appoint an ombudsman - India should work with the O?ce of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to appoint an ombudsman whose sole responsibility should be to investigate refugee detention centres in India.
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