Violations of Law Can’t Be Tolerated: MEA to UN Body Chief
MEA said that India was a democratic polity based on the rule of law and an independent judiciary.
The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday, 21 October, responded to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet's about the concern over restrictions on NGOs and arrest of activists.
The Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said: “Violations of the law cannot be condoned under the pretext of human rights and a more informed view of the matter was expected of the UN body,” the statement read.
The MEA in the statement also asserted that India was a democratic polity based on the rule of law and an independent judiciary.
“We have seen some comments by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on an issue relating to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). India is a democratic polity based on the rule of law and an independent judiciary,” read the statement.
What Did UN High Commissioner Say?
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday, 20 October, appealed to the Government of India to review the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, as she was worried that it was being used to “deter or punish NGOs for human rights reporting”.
Bachelet said: “Constructive criticism is the lifeblood of democracy. Even if the authorities find it uncomfortable, it should never be criminalised or outlawed,” as quoted saying by The Hindu.
“India has long had a strong civil society, which has been at the forefront of groundbreaking human rights advocacy within the country and globally,” the High Commissioner said. “But I am concerned that vaguely defined laws are increasingly being used to stifle these voices.”
Bachelet also cited as "worrying" the use of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA, which prohibits the receipt of foreign funds for any activities prejudicial to the public interest.
She also noted action against Amnesty India International:
On 29 September, Amnesty International India announced that it had been “compelled to let go off staff in India” and stop all its work as its bank accounts have been frozen. The organisation called the government’s move to freeze its bank accounts a witch-hunt “over unfounded and motivated allegations”.
“The FCRA has been invoked over the years to justify an array of highly intrusive measures, ranging from official raids on NGO offices and freezing of bank accounts, to suspension or cancellation of registration, including of civil society organizations that have engaged with UN human rights bodies.”Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN Human Rights Committee oversees the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR provides for the freedom to form associations and receive funds for these associations.
(With inputs from PTI and Hindu)
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