Advocacy statements

UPR statement on India

  • Date / 2017
  • Location / India
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 6: Universal Periodic Review

International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN Human Rights Council, 36th Session (11 September – 29 September 2017)

UPR Outcomes: India


Since its last review, India’s secular constitution has been increasingly challenged by a rise in Hindu nationalism.[1] In recent years, several rationalist activists have been killed by extremists,[2] whilst government officials refrained from forcefully condemning the killings. Instead, politicians of the BJP party have voiced derogatory remarks about minorities.[3]

India has continued to witness innumerable attacks on Dalits and members of its other minorities.[4] Untouchables are systematically attacked for reasons varying from entering places of worship to skinning dead cows. Accordingly, we commend India’s acceptance recommendations made concerning the discrimination of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and those calling for a full and consistent enforcement of the law.[5] However, we were disappointed to note that no recommendations were made concerning the practice of manual scavenging. In 100 days 39 people from untouchable Dalit community were killed whilst cleaning sewer lines.[6] We urge the government to effectively implement the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act.

We were disappointed to see India did not accept the recommendation that it revise the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. In areas of insurgency the armed forces have too often been given independence to conduct atrocities on the population, whilst investigative agencies are used on a selective basis to harass and suppress the voices of dissent.[7]

Freedom of dissent is essential to a functioning democracy and keeping a check on power and abuse. Accordingly, we were extremely disappointed that the recommendations around amending the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act[8] and protecting human rights defenders against harassment and intimidation[9] were not accepted.


[1] http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2015/10/indias-hindu-fundamentalists-151008073418225.html, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/country-chapters/india

[2] http://iheu.org/rationalists-murdered-liberties-threatened-state-intolerance-rises-india/

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33241100

[4] http://iheu.org/iheu-highlights-persecution-of-dalits-in-climate-of-hindu-nationalism/

[5] A/HRC/36/10, recommendations 161.72. (United States), 161.83. (France), 161.82. (Argentina)

[6] https://qz.com/1074911/more-indians-die-cleaning-sewers-than-fighting-terrorists-in-kashmir/, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/39-dead-in-100-days-while-cleaning-sewers-wilson/articleshow/59613603.cms

[7] The Armed Forces (special Powers) 1958 (28 of 1958). An Act to enable certain special powers to be conferred upon members of the armed forces in disturbed areas in the State of *[Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura].

[8] A/HRC/36/10, recommendations 161.136. (Norway), 161.137. (Republic of Korea), 161.138. (United States), 161.139 (Czechia), 161.140. (Switzerland)

[9] A/HRC/36/10, recommendations 161.135. (Germany)

Suggested academic reference

'UPR statement on India', Humanists International

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