Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2023

Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2023

News Analysis   /   Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2023

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Published on: January 13, 2023

Source: The Times of India

Why in News?

Recently, the Human Rights Watch in its World Report 2023 (33rd edition) said that Indian authorities had “intensified and broadened” their crackdown on activist groups and the media throughout year 2022.

It also claimed that the current Central ruling party used abusive and discriminatory policies to repress minorities.

What are Human Rights?

  • Human Rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status.
  • These include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.
  • The National Human Right Commission (NHRC) of India defines Human Rights as rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

What is the Human Rights Watch?

  1. Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organisation founded in 1978 as “Helsinki Watch,” initially aimed at investigating rights abuses in countries that signed the Helsinki Accords.
  2. Currently, its ambit has expanded to about 100 countries worldwide.
  3. It is headquartered in New York City.
  4. Helsinki Accords (1975) was a major diplomatic agreement signed in Helsinki, Finland, at the conclusion of the first Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (now Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).
  5. Primarily an effort to reduce tension between the Soviet and Western blocs, they were signed by all the countries of Europe, the US and Canada.
  6. The agreement made the 35 signatory nations pledge to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

What are the World Report 2023’s Findings about India?

Violation of Human Rights by Government:

  1. The report found the Central govt. promoting Hindu majoritarian ideology, provoking authorities and supporters to engage in discriminatory and at times violent actions against religious minorities.
  2. It highlighted the government’s discriminatory stance toward minority communities in cases of violence against women (release of Bilkis Bano rape convicts).
  3. Even after 3 years of removal of Article 370 and subsequent creation of two UTs (J&K and Ladakh), “the government continued to restrict free expression and peaceful assembly” in the two UTs.
  4. Authorities also invoked the J&K Public Safety Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967 to “arbitrarily” detain journalists and activists.
  5. It also referred to suspected militant attacks on minority Hindu and Sikh communities in the Kashmir Valley.

Welcoming of Various SC Rulings:

  • HRW appreciated the increasingly liberal steps taken by the Supreme Court of India such as the ruling to halt all use of the colonial-era Sedition law.
  • It also referred to the SC’s ruling on extending abortion rights to all women regardless of marital status and widening the definition of a family to include same-sex couples, single parents, and other households.
  • It also took note of the SC’s banning of the two-finger tests in a step to protect survivors of sexual assault.
  • However, the SC did not reach a verdict on the rights of Muslim female students of wearing a hijab in educational institutions.

What are India’s Initiatives for Human Rights?

Provisions in the Constitution:

Fundamental Rights: Articles 14 to 32

Directive Principles of State Policy: Including the right to social security, right to work, to free choice of employment, and protection against unemployment, right to equal pay for equal work, right to existence worthy of human dignity, right to free & compulsory education, equal justice & free legal aid etc.

Statutory Support:

Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 (amended in 2019). NHRC was established under this Act.

Role in International Convention:

India took an active part in drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

India has also ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

What are Other Similar Reports?

  • Human Rights Report on India 2021 (by US State Department).
  • Freedom in the World 2021 Report (by US based Freedom House).
  • Democracy Report 2022 (by V-Dem Institute at University of Gothenburg, Sweden).
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