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USCIRF recommends India be designated Country of Particular Concern for third straight year!

The 2022 report of the organization that monitors freedom of religion and belief puts India in the same bracket as Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea and Syria

Sabrangindia 26 Apr 2022

USIRF

For the third year in a row, India’s name has been recommended for inclusion in the Country of Particular Concern (CPC) list of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government agency that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) abroad; makes policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress; and tracks the implementation of these recommendations.

According to the 2022 report, USCIRF has recommended to the State Department that 15 countries be designated CPCs because their governments engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations.” These include 10 that the State Department designated as CPCs in November 2021: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan—as well as five others: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Syria, and Vietnam.

India had first been recommended for CPC designation in September 2020 by the US Congress-constituted federal body. However, when the State Department made its announcement of nations that were designated CPC in December 2020, India was missing from the list. In May 2021, for the second year running, the USCIRF’s annual report recommended that India be designated as a CPC.

This year’s report says, “In 2021, religious freedom conditions in India significantly worsened. During the year, the Indian government escalated its promotion and enforcement of policies—including those promoting a Hindu-nationalist agenda—that negatively affect Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities. The government continued to systemize its ideological vision of a Hindu state at both the national and state levels through the use of both existing and new laws and structural changes hostile to the country’s religious minorities.”

It further raises concerns about treatment of dissenters saying, “In 2021, the Indian government repressed critical voices— especially religious minorities and those reporting on and advocating for them—through harassment, investigation, detention, and prosecution under laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Sedition Law. The UAPA and Sedition Law have been invoked to create an increasing climate of intimidation and fear in an effort to silence anyone speaking out against the government.”

Specifically on the subject of human rights defender Father Stan Swamy who died in custody and would have been 85 today had he been alive, the report said, “Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old Jesuit priest and longtime human rights defender of Adivasis, Dalits, and other marginalized communities, was arrested on dubious UAPA charges in October 2020 and never tried. He died in custody in July 2021 despite repeated concerns raised about his health.” The report also mentions the persecution of “journalists and human rights advocates documenting religious persecution and violence, including Khurram Parvez, a prominent Muslim human rights advocate who has reported on abuses in Jammu and Kashmir.”

It also mentions the regimes strong arm tactics against NGOs by booking them under trumped up charges for violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). “Numerous groups that document religious freedom violations or aid marginalized religious communities have been forced to shut down operations in the country given the restrictions under FCRA that regulate access to and reporting on foreign funds and prohibit their receipt for any activities purportedly “detrimental to the national interest.” At the close of 2021, the licenses of nearly 6,000 organizations, including religious and humanitarian organizations such as Missionaries of Charity and Oxfam India, were not renewed under the FCRA (after an outcry, Missionaries of Charity’s license was renewed in January 2022),” says the report.

The USCIRF also took the Indian government head on for “continued enforcement of anti-conversion laws against non-Hindus,” which it says “has created a culture of impunity for nationwide campaigns of threats and violence by mobs and vigilante groups, including against Muslims and Christians accused of conversion activities.” The report says, “Anti-conversion laws have increasingly focused on interfaith relationships. Existing laws in approximately one-third of India’s 28 states limit or prohibit religious conversion.”

The USCIRF has recommended to the State Department to:

  • Designate India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, for engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA);

  • Impose targeted sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ or entities’ assets and/or barring their entry into the United States; and

  • Advance human rights of all religious communities in India and promote religious freedom, dignity, and interfaith dialogue through bilateral and multilateral forums and agreements, such as the ministerial of the Quadrilateral.

It has also recommended that the U.S. Congress should “Raise religious freedom issues in the U.S.-India bilateral relationship and highlight concerns through hearings, briefings, letters, and congressional delegations.”

The entire report, with an India specific section on page 20-21, may be read here: 

 

Related:

Fr Stan Swamy, Khurram Parvez, Siddique Kappan on USCIRF’s Freedom of Religion or Belief victims list

Will the US tag India a 'country of particular concern'?

HRW World Report 2022 showcases India’s worsening Human Rights situation

USCIRF recommends India be designated Country of Particular Concern for third straight year!

The 2022 report of the organization that monitors freedom of religion and belief puts India in the same bracket as Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea and Syria

USIRF

For the third year in a row, India’s name has been recommended for inclusion in the Country of Particular Concern (CPC) list of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government agency that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) abroad; makes policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress; and tracks the implementation of these recommendations.

According to the 2022 report, USCIRF has recommended to the State Department that 15 countries be designated CPCs because their governments engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations.” These include 10 that the State Department designated as CPCs in November 2021: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan—as well as five others: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Syria, and Vietnam.

India had first been recommended for CPC designation in September 2020 by the US Congress-constituted federal body. However, when the State Department made its announcement of nations that were designated CPC in December 2020, India was missing from the list. In May 2021, for the second year running, the USCIRF’s annual report recommended that India be designated as a CPC.

This year’s report says, “In 2021, religious freedom conditions in India significantly worsened. During the year, the Indian government escalated its promotion and enforcement of policies—including those promoting a Hindu-nationalist agenda—that negatively affect Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities. The government continued to systemize its ideological vision of a Hindu state at both the national and state levels through the use of both existing and new laws and structural changes hostile to the country’s religious minorities.”

It further raises concerns about treatment of dissenters saying, “In 2021, the Indian government repressed critical voices— especially religious minorities and those reporting on and advocating for them—through harassment, investigation, detention, and prosecution under laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Sedition Law. The UAPA and Sedition Law have been invoked to create an increasing climate of intimidation and fear in an effort to silence anyone speaking out against the government.”

Specifically on the subject of human rights defender Father Stan Swamy who died in custody and would have been 85 today had he been alive, the report said, “Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old Jesuit priest and longtime human rights defender of Adivasis, Dalits, and other marginalized communities, was arrested on dubious UAPA charges in October 2020 and never tried. He died in custody in July 2021 despite repeated concerns raised about his health.” The report also mentions the persecution of “journalists and human rights advocates documenting religious persecution and violence, including Khurram Parvez, a prominent Muslim human rights advocate who has reported on abuses in Jammu and Kashmir.”

It also mentions the regimes strong arm tactics against NGOs by booking them under trumped up charges for violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). “Numerous groups that document religious freedom violations or aid marginalized religious communities have been forced to shut down operations in the country given the restrictions under FCRA that regulate access to and reporting on foreign funds and prohibit their receipt for any activities purportedly “detrimental to the national interest.” At the close of 2021, the licenses of nearly 6,000 organizations, including religious and humanitarian organizations such as Missionaries of Charity and Oxfam India, were not renewed under the FCRA (after an outcry, Missionaries of Charity’s license was renewed in January 2022),” says the report.

The USCIRF also took the Indian government head on for “continued enforcement of anti-conversion laws against non-Hindus,” which it says “has created a culture of impunity for nationwide campaigns of threats and violence by mobs and vigilante groups, including against Muslims and Christians accused of conversion activities.” The report says, “Anti-conversion laws have increasingly focused on interfaith relationships. Existing laws in approximately one-third of India’s 28 states limit or prohibit religious conversion.”

The USCIRF has recommended to the State Department to:

  • Designate India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, for engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA);

  • Impose targeted sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ or entities’ assets and/or barring their entry into the United States; and

  • Advance human rights of all religious communities in India and promote religious freedom, dignity, and interfaith dialogue through bilateral and multilateral forums and agreements, such as the ministerial of the Quadrilateral.

It has also recommended that the U.S. Congress should “Raise religious freedom issues in the U.S.-India bilateral relationship and highlight concerns through hearings, briefings, letters, and congressional delegations.”

The entire report, with an India specific section on page 20-21, may be read here: 

 

Related:

Fr Stan Swamy, Khurram Parvez, Siddique Kappan on USCIRF’s Freedom of Religion or Belief victims list

Will the US tag India a 'country of particular concern'?

HRW World Report 2022 showcases India’s worsening Human Rights situation

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