UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet in a statement issued on Tuesday urged the Indian government to safeguard the rights of human rights defenders and NGOs (Non-governmental organizations), reported Anadolu news agency.
She expressed her regret at the tightening space for NGOs in India and the application of three vaguely worded laws that stifle their activities across the country and restricts foreign funding.
The three problematic laws in India that she drew attention to were the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
A number of human rights bodies had expressed concerns about FCRA, which they described as "vaguely worded and overboard in its objective" because the act prohibits the receipt of foreign funds "for any acts prejudicial to the public interest". The law which freezes the bank accounts conducts raid in NGOs and even cancels registration has a detrimental impact on advocates of human rights working in India.
Citizenship Amendment Act, the discriminatory law disenfranchising Muslims, passed in December 2019 and the nationwide mass protests it triggered had caused activists and human rights defenders to undergo extreme pressures. Around 1500 people who participated in the protests held to protect the secular traditions of India have been reportedly arrested under UAPA, a law widely criticized for its lack of conformity with international human rights standards, the statement said.
Bachelet further urged the government of India to review these laws for its compliance with international human rights standards and to ensure no citizen is detained under UAPA for exercising their basic rights of expression and dissent.
(With inputs from ANA)