PHL delegation off to Geneva for United Nations human rights review

India\'s Human Rights Record To Come Up For UN Review On May 4

Pointing out that India made no distinction between caste, colour, creed or religion of a citizen, Rohatgi said, "India is a secular state with no state religion", and adding that the freedom of religion to every individual is guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.

"We want to share the overall picture of our human rights-based development programs, especially our gains, priorities in the coming years, as well as the major challenges at hand", he added. Nations also urged India to ensure the protection of rights and inclusion of members from the transgender community, persons with disabilities and other backward communities into the mainstream.

Although some countries spoke of the need to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Acts (Afspa) and hold security forces accountable, only Pakistan raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

India assured the gathering that it was ensuring that the rights of children remain protected and that civil society organisations are also consulted and involved.

Apart from Pakistan raising questions about India's treatment of minority groups, Italy, Israel, and Japan urged India to abolish the death penalty and ratify the worldwide convention against torture that New Delhi had signed 19 years ago.

When the delegation from the neighbouring country raised the matter of "mob violence" against Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits, India said, "We believe in peace, non-violence and upholding human dignity".

The issue of discrimination against religious and other minorities as well as the need to repeal anti-conversion laws were raised by countries like the U.S., the UK, Switzerland, the Vatican, the Netherlands, Germany and South Korea among others.

In all, 113 countries were scheduled to participate in the Universal Periodic Review involving India, and each country's representative had about a minute to raise questions.

Issues of women's rights were raised by Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Liechtenstein, while Israel and Ireland questioned India on the issue of equal rights for the LGBT community.

Attacks against Africans in India were also mentioned by some countries like Haiti, who called on India to take measures to address "Afrophobia".

India's failure to ratify the United Nations convention against torture or repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act remained on the table along with Kashmir, as in the first two reviews in 2008 and 2012. Not all acts of violence should be construed as racial attacks, India said, adding that it is the land of Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi and that "we can not have a racial mindset".

India faced criticism on its record on torture and failure to ratify the relevant Convention against Torture (CAT) at the 27 session of UPR -3 (Universal Periodic Review) conducted by the UN Human Rights Council at its offices at Geneva on May 4, a statement issued by Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) said.

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