Geneva/Washington: Voicing concern over India’s new citizenship law, the United Nations human rights office said that the law is “fundamentally discriminatory in nature” which excludes Muslims. The UN body called for a review of the law.
The UN rights office, on Friday, noted that Modi’s Hindu nationalist government claims that the Citizenship Amendment Act was meant to protect Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Christians who fled persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but the law does not extend the same protection to Muslim migrants. It undermines equality before the law enshrined in India’s constitution, it added.
The National quoted UN human rights spokesman Jeremy Laurence as saying, “We are concerned that India’s new Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 is fundamentally discriminatory in nature.”
He added, “We understand the new law will be reviewed by the Supreme Court of India and hope it will consider carefully the compatibility of the law with India’s international human rights obligations,” he said.
Earlier this week, the International Commission of Jurists too said that the Citizenship Amendment Act would run contrary to India’s obligations under international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Calling upon India to protect the rights of minorities in the country, the United States too said that it was monitoring the situation in India in the wake of the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Spokesperson of the US State Department said: “Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law are fundamental principles of our two democracies.”
Expressing apprehension that the Government of India was creating “a religious test” for citizenship that would “strip citizenship from millions of Muslims”, the US Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) earlier claimed that the proposed legislation enshrined “a pathway to citizenship for immigrants” specifically excluding Muslims and setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion. It suggested sanctions on Home Minister Amit Shah and other leaders of India.
The US House Foreign Affairs Committee also noted that “any religious test for citizenship” would undermine the “most basic democratic tenet”.