UN member states tell India to Protect Religious Minorities

India Coalition for Minority Rights
Press Release
November 25, 2022

UN member states have called on India to protect Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities from increasing hate speech, discrimination and violence.
India’s human track record was under the spotlight on November 10 during the Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

A dozen states urged the Indian government to take action in upholding the rights of religious minorities: to ensure that anti-conversion laws do not infringe upon the right to freedom of religion and belief, to investigate cases of religious violence and discrimination on religious grounds, and to condemn violence and hate speech against religious minorities.

Violence against religious minorities in India has been rising recently, especially against Muslims and Christians. Muslims have been subjected to increasing mob lynching, cow vigilante attacks, public beatings, illegal home demolitions, discriminatory citizenship laws, and growing calls for anti-Muslim boycotts and even genocide. Christian congregations and churches have been attacked by Hindu mobs who have weaponized stringent anti-conversion laws against the minority group. The United Christian Forum recorded more than 300 attacks on Christians in the first seven months of 2022 versus 486 violent incidents in 2021.

Last month a UN expert called for an Independent Investigation Mechanism to be established in light of increasing hate speech, violence targeting minorities and growing impunity.

In this context, we deplore last week’s decision by the Indian Supreme Court to ask the government to act against so-called “forced religious conversion.” The ruling comes in response to a petition submitted to the Court alleging “fraudulent religious conversion” to be a “nationwide problem” without facts or data to support these allegations. The lack of such data, and the Supreme Court’s use of terms such as “allurement” without defining what it means, raise concerns that the government of India will further undermine the right to freedom of religion in the fight against so-called “forced religious conversion.”

During the review, UN member states also repeatedly mentioned the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), with member states recommending that the Indian government either repeals or amends the FCRA or applies its regulations in a non-discriminatory fashion respectful of human rights law.

While caste-based discrimination also featured in the feedback from states, as a coalition, we regret that no one explicitly addressed the discrimination against Muslim and Christian Dalits in the ‘Scheduled Caste’ Constitutional Order 1950.

Our coalition urges the government of India to accept all the recommendations received during the UPR session. During the Human Rights Council session in March 2023, the government of India will communicate to the Council which recommendations it accepts and which recommendations it only notes (and therefore does not accept). Accepted recommendations should be implemented within a 5-year window before the next UPR review of India.

The Coalition for Minority Rights in India comprises the World Evangelical Alliance, Open Doors International, the Indian American Muslim Council, Hindus for Human Rights, Justice For All, and the International Commission for Dalit Rights. The organizations have an interest in an inclusive, pluralistic, and multi-faith India. They have expressed alarm at the deterioration of the situation of minorities, the rule of law, and the overall health of India’s democracy.

The report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of India will be published on this page: https://www.ohchr.org/en/hr-bodies/upr/in-index
The Coalition report submission to the UPR is accessible at: https://un.worldea.org/minority-rights-coalition-sheds-light-on-indias-human-rights-record-for-uns-fourth-universal-periodic-review/

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