Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2023

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    In Context

    • Recently, the 33rd edition of Human Rights Watch’s World Report was released. 
      • This edition reviews human rights practices in close to 100 countries. 

    Report highlights

    • Politically motivated charges:
      • In the section on India, the HRW said authorities throughout India arrested activists, journalists, and other critics of the government on what it called “politically motivated” criminal charges, including that of terrorism
    • On minorities:
      • The report also said that Indian authorities had “intensified and broadened” their crackdown on activist groups and the media through 2022.
      • Abuse & repression:
        • It added that the “Hindu nationalist” Bharatiya Janata Party-led government used “abusive and discriminatory policies to repress Muslims and other minorities”. 
      • Demolishing properties:
        • The authorities in several BJP-ruled states demolished Muslim homes and properties without legal authorization or due process as summary punishment for protests or alleged crimes, the HRW said. 
      • Religious conversions: 
        • It added that authorities also “misused” laws forbidding forced religious conversions “to target Christians, especially from Dalit and Adivasi communities”. 
    • Bilkis Bano case & Violence against women:
      • Referring to the release of the 11 Hindu men convicted and sentenced to life in jail for the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of 14 members of her family, and the celebration of their release by some BJP members, the HRW said, “The action highlighted the government’s discriminatory stance toward minority communities even in cases of violence against women.”
    • On J&K:
      • On Jammu and Kashmir, the HRW said that even after three years of removal of Article 370 and creation of two federally-administered territories, “the government continued to restrict free expression, peaceful assembly, and other basic rights there”. 
      • The global human rights observer referred to suspected militant attacks on minority Hindu and Sikh communities in the Kashmir Valley 
    • Welcoming the Supreme Court rulings:
      • The HRW also noted the increasingly liberal steps taken by the Supreme Court in India.
      • It also referred to the top court’s following significant rulings: 
        • Extending abortion rights to all women regardless of marital status and to people other than cisgender women, 
        • 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.

    About Human Rights Watch (HRW)

    • About:
      • Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization.
      • The group pressures governments, policymakers, companies, and individual human rights abusers to denounce abuse and respect human rights, and often works on behalf of refugees, children, migrants, and political prisoners.
    • HQ: 
      • It is headquartered in New York City that conducts research and advocacy on human rights.
    • Basic human rights:
      • Pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Human Rights Watch opposes violations of what the UDHR considers basic human rights. 
        • This includes capital punishment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 
      • Freedoms:
        • HRW advocates freedoms in connection with fundamental human rights, such as freedom of religion and freedom of the press.
    • Aim:
      • It seeks to achieve change by publicly pressuring governments and their policymakers to curb human rights abuses, and by convincing more powerful governments to use their influence on governments that violate human rights.

    Significant Constitutional provisions in India

    • The six fundamental rights are:
      • Right to equality (Article 14–18)
      • Right to freedom (Article 19–22)
      • Right against exploitation (Article 23–24)
      • Right to freedom of religion (Article 25–28)
      • Cultural and educational rights (Article 29–30)
      • Right to constitutional remedies (Article 32)
    • Freedom of Speech and Expression: 
      • It is protected as a fundamental right in the Constitution of India under Article 19(1) (a) which states that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.
    • Freedom of Religion under the Indian Constitution:
    • Various fundamental rights are provided as well as guaranteed by our Indian Constitution under Part III
    • Articles 25-28 of the Indian Constitution guarantee the right to freedom of religion to all citizens who are residing within the territory of India.
      • Freedom of conscience and free profession of religion. (Article 25)
      • Freedom to manage religious affairs (Article 26)
      • Freedom from payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion( Article 27)
      • Freedom to attend religious instructions ( Article 28)
    • India, being a secular nation gives every citizen the right to follow the religion he believes in.
      • By the 42nd amendment, 1976 of the Indian Constitution, the term ‘Secular’ was inserted in our preamble. 

    Source: TH