The World Evangelical Alliance commented on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report on India that took place at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday, September 19, 2012. The following is the statement of Rev. Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director of WEA's Religious Liberty Commission:
Item 6 – adoption of UPR report on India
Speaker: Godfrey Yogarajah, World Evangelical Alliance
Thank you Madam President,
I am taking the floor on behalf of the World Evangelical Alliance. Our regional and national constituencies, the Asian Evangelical Alliance and the Evangelical Fellowship of India support this statement.
We would like to thank the Indian delegation for their constructive engagement with the UPR Working Group. We are surprised however to see that India has not accepted recommendations concerning obligations it already has under the human rights framework.
We regret that India has not accepted recommendations asking to create a comprehensive framework to deal effectively with the particular circumstances of communal or targeted violence. During the UPR, India stressed that communal violence is only a sporadic problem. This is a disputable contention, as religious minorities are continuing to suffer violent attacks in a number of states on a consistent basis. However, the most important question is whether victims are consistently able to access justice, and whether the situation is properly rectified. The situation of the victims of communal violence in Kandhamal district, Orissa, is one stark example where these conditions are not met.
Madam President, we also regret that recommendations from Germany , Italy and the Netherlands asking reconsideration of the anti-conversion legislations currently enacted in 6 Indian States have not been accepted. The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, after her visit to India back in 2008, had asked for these laws to “be reconsidered since they raise serious human rights concerns, in particular due to the use of discriminatory provisions and vague or overbroad terminology.” Nevertheless, the recent decision by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh is a positive step forward.
Madam President, we would further like to ask if the Indian delegation will publish the list of the UPR recommendations they are rejecting.
To conclude, let me say that a “new India” will need to take justice for minorities seriously as a requirement for genuine rule of law. Thank you.