New Delhi lashes out against Geneva intervention on discriminatory CAA

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 March 2020, 16:12 GMT]
In an unprecedented move, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is set to prompt the Supreme Court of India to determine the compatibility of India’s discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) with the country’s international human rights obligations. On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry of Narendra Modi’s government lashed out at the OHCHR stating that “no foreign party” has any “locus standi” on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty and said it was an “internal affair” of India. The OHCHR move comes after pro-BJP Hindutva mobs launched violent attacks against Muslims, triggering sectarian violence that claimed dozens of lives and set scores of homes, shops and vehicles aflame at the Indian capital of New Delhi.

The Hindutva-initiated pogrom has come after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went all-out to make US President Donald Trump’s visit a grand display in India.

OHCHR Spokesperson Jeremy Laurence has confirmed to India Today on Tuesday that an amicus curiae brief would be filed shortly with the Indian Supreme Court.

OHCHR Spokesperson Jeremy Laurence to India Today on the petition to be filed in the Supreme Court o
[Courtesy: Tweet by @Geeta_Mohan]

Ms Bachelet, in her oral update to the Human Rights Council on 27 February said that she was concerned by reports of “police inaction” in the face of attacks against Muslims by other groups, as well as previous reports of “excessive use of force by police against peaceful protesters.”

“This has now widened into broader inter-communal attacks, with 34 people killed since Sunday 23 February. I appeal to all political leaders to prevent violence,” she said.

The UN Rights Chief had maintained that the amended Indian law appears to undermine the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India’s constitution and India’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The ICCPR and ICERD, to which India is a State party, prohibit discrimination based on racial, ethnic or religious grounds.

Narendra Modi’s India enacted the CAA seeking to expedite citizenship for religious minorities – naming specifically only Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians - fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been resident before 2014. However, the CAA does not extend the same protection to Muslims, including minority sects.

“Although India’s broader naturalization laws remain in place, these amendments will have a discriminatory effect on people’s access to nationality,” was the position expressed by the spokesperson of the UN Rights Chief in December 2019.

Full text of the reactionary statement from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs follows:

Press Note
March 03, 2020

Attributable to Raveesh Kumar, Official Spokesperson, MEA

Our Permanent Mission in Geneva was informed yesterday evening by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that her Office had filed an Intervention Application in the Supreme Court of India in respect to the 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

2. The Citizenship Amendment Act is an internal matter of India and concerns the sovereign right of the Indian Parliament to make laws. We strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty.

3. We are clear that the CAA is constitutionally valid and complies with all requirements of our constitutional values. It is reflective of our long standing national commitment in respect of human rights issues arising from the tragedy of the Partition of India.

4. India is a democratic country governed by the rule of law. We all have utmost respect for and full trust in our independent judiciary. We are confident that our sound and legally sustainable position would be vindicated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

New Delhi
March 03, 2020

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External Links:
The Atlantic: India Failed Delhi
Foreign Policy: Why India’s Muslims Are in Grave Danger
Outlook India: UN Human Rights chief moves SC against CAA; India hits back, says no locus standi
New York Times: As New Delhi Counts the Dead, Questions Swirl About Police Response


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