The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has expressed her deepest concerns over the usage of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in India and has raised an alarm about the “stifling of voices”.
She said that she is particularly concerned about the way in which the voices of activists and social workers, academics and human rights defenders were being stifled in the country.
It is in this context that the UN Commissioner for Human Rights had appealed to the PM Narendra Modi led government to take cognisance of the issues in India and ensure that the rights of the above people are defended and protected at all costs.
She also made a reference to both the above stated laws as “vaguely defined” and said that the recent usage of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act as a tool against the human rights organisation Amnesty International India, that finally led to the closing down of its operations in the country and said that the recent arrest of several activists and human rights defenders under the UAPA was unjustified.
In a statement that she made, the chief of the human rights said that the amendments that had been made to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act is likely to have bad consequences on the right to freedom of association especially in the context of non-governmental bodies which were working in the sector of social work.
She stated, “ It is expected that the new amendments will create even more administrative and practical hurdles for such advocacy- based NGOs. Most recently, Amnesty International was compelled to close its offices in India after its bank accounts were frozen over alleged violation of FCRA.”
The Amnesty International had in turn alleged that Indian government had closed its bank accounts in India as a backlash and vendetta as it has been speaking about the alleged violation of human rights. It was alleged that the Amnesty International was not keeping in tune with the dictions of the FCRA whereas the organisations said it was being punished for speaking of the alleged violation of human rights in India.
This move has been criticised by various countries but the Indian government has maintained that it did the right thing and that other countries shall not interfere in matters that are internal to the country.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that she was also concerned about the arrest of several activists in the recent months under the UAPA, the arrest of more than 1500 people for having protested the CAA and many others for speaking of alleged violations of human rights.
She also spoke regarding the arrest of activist Stan Swamy and asked the government to ensure that such things were taken care of and the government ensured the rights of the people.
She stated, “ I urge the government to ensure that no one else is detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly- and to do it utmost, in law and policy, to protect India’s robust civil society.”