UNITED NATIONS: The UN Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention, Adama Dieng, has expressed concern over reports of increased hate speech and discrimination against minority communities in India since the adoption of a law granting citizenship to migrants from three neighboring countries – but not if they are Muslim, claiming that it was contrary to international human rights standards.
“While the objective of the act (The Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019), to provide protection to minority communities is commendable, it is concerning that this protection is not extended to all groups, including Muslims.
This is contrary to India’s obligations under international human rights law, in particular on non-discrimination,” Dieng, an under-secretary-general, said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The special adviser also expressed concern about reports that protests against the law that took place in some regions of India since its enactment, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, had reportedly resulted in injury and death of civilians, attacks on religious sites, as well as an increase in expressions of hate against the Muslim community of India.
He added that “statements such as those expressed by Member of Parliament Subramanian Swamy, that all people are not equal, and that Muslims are not in an ‘equal category’ as others are extremely alarming.
“Hate speech and the dehumanization of others goes against international human rights norms and values.”
In this regard, in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, the special advisor welcomed recent remarks by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the virus “does not see color, ethnicity, colour, caste, sex , language or frontier before it hits.
Under-Secretary-General Dieng encouraged the Government of India to continue to follow this guidance by ensuring that national laws and policies comply with international non-discrimination standards, and addressing and countering the rise of hate speech through messages of inclusion, respect for diversity and unity.
He affirmed that he will continue to monitor developments and expressed commitment to support efforts to fight hate speech and tackle it.
“In these extraordinary times brought about by the COVID-19 crisis it is more important than ever that we stand united as one humanity, demonstrating unity and solidarity rather than division and hate,” the special adviser noted.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have also expressed concern about the latest law on citizenship, calling it discriminatory.
In April, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom criticized India for inflicting “national-level policies violating religious freedom across India, especially for Muslims.”