UN chief criticises India over human rightstext_fields
Mumbai: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticised India over its human rights record and pointed out persecution and hate speech have allegedly accelerated against religious minorities since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.
The UN head is on a three-day visit to India.
Speaking in Mumbai, Guterres said critics of the government and journalists are facing increased pressure. He noted that women reporters are suffering relentless campaigns of online abuse which include death and rape threats.
He added that India, as an elected member of the Human Rights Council, has a responsibility to shape global human rights and to protect and promote the rights of all individuals including members of minority communities, reported AFP.
He observed that India's diversity can be nurtured by protecting the rights and freedoms of journalists, human rights activists, students, and academics. "The government should also ensure the continued independence of the judiciary." Guterres praised India's achievements since the British left but noted that India's diversity is not a guarantee. "I urge Indians to be vigilant and to increase your investments in inclusive, pluralistic, diverse communities, and societies."
The UN head further said India's voice on the global stage can only gain authority and credibility from a strong commitment to inclusivity and respect for human rights at home. He added that the country needs to do much more to "advance gender equality and women's rights."
In his maiden visit, the Secretary-General paid homage to the martyrs of the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai at the Hotel Taj. He said no cause justifies terrorism of any kind and fighting terrorism should be the priority for every country. "Terrorism is absolute evil and has no place in today's world."
"One of my first acts after becoming Secretary-General was to establish an office for counter-terrorism to cooperate, guide, and prepare countries in the fight against terrorism. This office is fighting against the roots of violent extremism. Be it religion or ethnicity or beliefs, no reason can justify violent extremism," he added.
Speaking about climate change, the Indian government needs to take extra steps to close the mitigation gaps and reduce or prevent the emission of greenhouse gases. He pointed out coal still makes up 70% of India's energy needs. Speculating India's role in saving the planet, he said the country is home to one-sixth of humanity and can "make or break" the efforts toward sustainability.
The Indian government hasn't responded to the UN chief's statements.