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India - Universal Periodic Review - Religious Freedom and Citizenship of Muslims - March 2022

The Advocates for Human Rights, together with the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and the Foundation The London Story (TLS), submitted a joint stakeholder report for the 41st session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review in November 2022. 

Despite the Government of India's support for recommendations during its third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, it continues to pass discriminatory legislation that limits religious freedom and conversion, allows the excessive use of force by police and the military, and grants impunity to State actors that violate international human rights norms. Peaceful protests in response to the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in 2019 have elicited violence by community members and vigilante groups against protesters and Muslims, as well as government crackdowns. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the targeting of Muslims by State and non-State actors, who use incendiary language that blames Muslims for the spread of the virus, engage in economic boycotts of Muslim-run businesses, and disproportionately prosecute Muslims for violating lockdown.

The authors of the report suggest the following recommendations for the Government of India:

  • Enact a law providing for punishment of sectarian violence by individuals or groups, including propagating violence or threats of violence against religious and social minorities.
  • Permit Scheduled Castes and Tribes to retain eligibility for reservations regardless of their religion and not be penalized for converting from Hinduism.
  • Enact the Prevention of Torture law making torture by police and other law enforcement agencies a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment and fines.
  • Investigate and prosecute government officials, political leaders, and others who incite religious violence. Create a governmental inquiry into the activities of political leaders who incite violence against religious minorities.
  • Ensure that officials responsible for apprehension, arrest, detention, custody, and imprisonment follow applicable international standards, particularly relating to clear identification of law enforcement officials and official documentation of the arrest; access to family and legal counsel; examination upon admission to and regularly during detention; prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions; and monitoring of all counterterrorism operations.