Aditi Tandon, Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 1. India declined to comment on any of the 169 recommendations made by 80 UN member states that participated in its second
universal periodic review (UPR) of human rights that concluded in Geneva yesterday.
These recommendations include repeal and review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act; ratification of the Conventions on Enforced Disappearances and Torture; imposition of moratorium on death penalty; repeal of anti-conversion laws and abolition of child labour.
The government delegation, led by Attorney General Ghoolam Vahanvati, expressed uncertainty before the UN Human Rights Commission (HRC) Working Group over the need for the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill. On child labour, India said it was conscious of the need to abolish it, but had no magic wand to do so.
After the UN yesterday adopted India’s draft report on UPR, Vahanvati deferred government’s response on recommendations till September when the plenary session of the HRC will be held to adopt final country reports.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), a civil society group that participated in the review, said India’s UPR was marked by a general lack of acceptance of human rights challenges and a mere reiteration of domestic laws by the government.
On AFSPA, India dodged recommendations. “We are disturbed about India dodging recommendations for repeal and review of AFSPA by referring to the Supreme Court’s upholding of its constitutionality and by citing Army’s human rights cell as a redressal mechanism,” WGHR convener Miloon Kothari said.
On Convention against Torture (CAT), India referred to the Prevention of Torture Bill (PTB) pending before Parliament but did not comment on the non-compliance with CAT’s definition of torture.
Most countries recommended India to impose moratorium on death penalty. The government claimed its policy was to award death penalty only in the rarest of rare cases. “This was deeply unsatisfactory as more and more death sentences are now being awarded,” said Kothari.