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UPR of India – Joint contribution from MRG and partners

31 March 2022

Nationality for All (NFA), Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI) make this joint submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), on the right to a nationality and human rights challenges pertaining to statelessness in India.

The co-submitting organizations have developed this submission in close collaboration with Indian partner organizations that work on the right to nationality, the rights of stateless people and refugees, and related issues. However, after careful consideration of the growing risks faced by our Indian partner organizations, we collectively decided that they would not be named as co-submitters. This decision, solely for the purpose of mitigating risks, is indicative of the extent to which civil society space has deteriorated in India, particularly for those who work to hold the Indian government to account on politically charged issues such as the right to nationality and the rights of stateless people and refugees.

MRG and its partners urge States to recommend to India to:

  1. Protect everyone’s right to a nationality, and ensure that national laws comply with international obligations as consolidated in the Principles on Deprivation of Nationality, which prohibit the arbitrary and discriminatory deprivation of nationality, require the avoidance of statelessness and adherence to procedural safeguards and fair trial rights.
  2. Immediately stop the national registration of citizens process, the detention of those declared ‘foreigners’, burdensome police reporting procedures for released detainees and take steps to remove barriers to their inclusion in social welfare and relief programmes.
  3. Ensure that its treatment of stateless persons, including those in immigration detention fully complies with its international obligations, that alternatives to detention are implemented to protect against arbitrary detention in all circumstances, and that those arbitrarily detained are immediately released and compensated.
  4. Amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to abolish all provisions that are discriminatory on the basis of ethnicity and religion, to remove barriers for Indian-born children of alleged foreigners to be citizens by birth, and to enable children of doubtful voters and declared foreigners to be registered as citizens of India.
  5. Repeal the Foreigner Tribunals and replace them with a judicial mechanism that meets basic procedural and fair trial standards, provide an effective and timely appeal system against the ‘opinions’ of the Foreigner Tribunals, and immediately reinstate citizenship and provide reparations to those who have wrongly been excluded from the NRC or declared foreigners.
  6. Ensure free and equal access to covid-19 vaccinations to all people on the territory, including stateless people and refugees, without requiring a national id card.
  7. Identify and reach stateless people and other vulnerable and overlooked groups, through all state and humanitarian responses to covid-19, to provide them with critical information, healthcare and relief, while ensuring that access to socio-economic rights is not linked to nationality or legal status.
  8. Immediately cease efforts to deport refugees and stateless people, including Declared Foreigners and Rohingya refugees.
  9. Identify and protect refugees and stateless people in India, particularly children, through providing them with a secure legal status and associated rights, and by acceding to and fully implementing the UN statelessness and refugee conventions.

Click here to download the full contribution.

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