India show ‘concern’ in US’ rights record

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi with the US President, Mr. Barack Obama, at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on January 25, 2015.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi with the US President, Mr. Barack Obama, at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on January 25, 2015.

As violence continues in Baltimore in the US following the custodial death of a black man, India has pointed out areas of “concern” regarding the US’ human rights record, including “deficiencies in law enforcement procedures and disproportionate use of force”.

In a statement, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN at Geneva Ajit Kumar acknowledged the “openness of the US delegation in accepting areas of continuing concern such as racial bias in the criminal justice system, incidents of bias-motivated crimes, including those committed against Hindus and Sikhs, and need for safety and living conditions at confinement facilities”.

India made a few recommendations, including that the US “may consider establishing a national human rights institution”.

“We encourage the US Government to take adequate steps towards gender parity at workplace, protect women from all forms of violence and enhance opportunities in education and health for children from ethnic minorities.”

“We note efforts towards maintaining respect for privacy and civil liberties while addressing dangers to national security. We request the US delegation to share more information in this connection.”

India also welcomed the developments towards better protection of the rights of indigenous peoples by the US.

“We recommend that the US consider early ratification of International Conventions relating to the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), Rights of the Child (CRC) and Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).”

Speaking before the United Nations Human Rights Council, State Department’s acting legal adviser Mary McLeod highlighted steps taken by the US to battle against all forms of discrimination.

“Torture and cruel and inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment are absolutely prohibited at all times and in all places under both international law and US domestic law with no exception,” she said.

McLeod was speaking at the US’ Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council. The UPR is a process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN member states.

Baltimore has witnessed a spate of violence following the death in police custody of Freddie Gray, 25, earlier this month. Gray’s death is the latest in a line of deaths of unarmed black teens/men due to use of excessive use of force or shooting by the police in the US.

India last week, during a statement on the UPR of the Maldives’ human rights record, called upon the Indian Ocean nation of islands to safeguard space for legitimate political dissent.

“We have seen reports by UN agencies that press freedom is being abridged. The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers has also reported their increased politicization. Maintaining public trust requires strong adherence to due process. The space for legitimate political dissent must be safeguarded,” India has said.