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HRC43 – MRG raises alarm at the discriminatory nature of the CAA in India

10 March 2020

Human Rights Council – 43rd Session
Geneva, Tuesday 10th March 2020

General Debate – item 4

Madam President,

Minority Rights Group calls the urgent attention of the Council to the worsening situation for religious minorities in India, the scale of which has escalated since the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December 2019.

Labelled by the High Commissioner as “fundamentally discriminatory”, the CAA introduces a ‘religion test’ into India’s citizenship legislation, notably excluding Muslims. Alongside the National Register of Citizens in Assam, and plans now underway to conduct a National Population Register and an India-wide citizenship registration, this introduces the possibility of mass deprivation of nationality and disenfranchisement, which would have disproportionate impact on Muslims and other vulnerable populations.

Peaceful protests against the CAA have been met with a heavy-handed response, particularly in states governed by the ruling BJP, including targeted violence against minorities by state and non-state actors. Uttar Pradesh has seen restrictions on assembly and movement, particularly in areas with large Muslim populations. At least 23 protesters in that state have been killed in police action, and attempts to register cases and secure justice have been met by intimidation. Alongside clear examples of hate speech, this has exacerbated existing distrust of authorities amongst minorities.

Madam President,

MRG has previously drawn attention to the Council of the climate of rising intolerance in India, and its impact on minorities, as well as those who advocate on their behalf. Recent developments are part of this longer-term deterioration of the situation in India.

Following the severity of recent violence in the national capital, and the possibility of mass statelessness, the risks of inaction are increasingly clear.

We call on the Council to recognise the urgency of this unfolding situation, and to urge India to amend the CAA and introduce a comprehensive refugee law in line with international standards and to investigate unlawful violence by state and non-state actors and hold perpetrators to account.

I thank you.