Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Tuesday expressed her dismay over India's crackdown on human rights activists and NGOs.
Criticising the Narendra Modi government’s new Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, she said, “The FCRA has been invoked over the years to justify an array of highly intrusive measures, ranging from official raids on NGO offices and freezing of bank accounts to suspension or cancellation of registration, including of civil society organisations that have engaged with UN human rights bodies.”
She added, “I am concerned that such actions on the grounds of vaguely defined ‘public interest’ leave this law open to abuse, and that it is indeed actually being used to deter or punish NGOs for human rights reporting and advocacy that the authorities perceive as critical in nature.”
In this context, she referred to the shuttering of Amnesty International India’s offices in the country.
She also slammed the Modi government for mass arresting anti-CAA protesters and activists. She said the Unlawful Activity Prevention Act, under which the activists have been arrested across India, was inconsistent with international standards.
“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 its utmost, in law and policy, to protect India's robust civil society," the high commissioner said.
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