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India - Human Rights Council - Rights of Religious Minorities - September 2016

The Advocates for Human Rights in collaboration with the Indian American Muslim Council, Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association, and The Quill Foundation submitted a joint stakeholder report to the Human Rights Council for the 2017 University Periodic Review of India. The stakeholder report addresses discrimination and violence against religious minorities.

During its 2012 Universal Periodic Review, while India accepted recommendations to ratify both the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, it has yet to do so. Additionally, India accepted recommendations to continue cooperating with Special Procedures, but India has a pending request to visit the nation from 1993 from the Special Rapporteur on Torture. Finally, India also accepted recommendations to improve measures to prevent violence against religious minorities and to strengthen its guarantee of religious freedom, but it has yet to satisfactorily fulfill these requests.

India has failed to comply with its international human rights obligations to protect members of religious minority groups, in particular Muslims. Significant human rights challenges include extrajudicial executions, or "encounter killings," that occur in clashes between law enforcement and alleged armed suspects; arbitrary and unlawful detentions; torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of terrorism suspects in policy custody; discriminatory laws and practices, including religious-based cow protection laws; and harassment of human rights defenders. India also maintains so-called "Freedom of Religion Acts," more commonly called anti-conversion laws, which outlaw "improper" conversions of Hindus to other religions. Furthermore, India has not adequately investigated growing rates of communal violence against minorities nor effectively prosecuted perpetrators of these human rights violations.

The joint stakeholder report makes various recommendations for the government of India to address discrimination and violence against religious minorities. These recommendations include reforming domestic legislation to abolish discriminatory laws and criminalize discrimination of religious minorities; addressing accountability and impunity of government officials and political leaders who incite religious violence; ensuring proper treatment of prisoners and ethical counterterrorism education for law enforcement; providing rehabilitation resources for victims; and reforming the National Human Rights Commission for effectiveness.