The controversial citizen amendment act that has been wreaking havoc all over country for more than 2 months has grabbed a lot of attention from the foreign media covering the ongoing protest all over India as well as many other countries. So it was about time that the people’s voice would reach UN’s Human Rights Commission. On 26th of December 2019, UN Geneva, from their official twitter handle had questioned the discriminatory nature of the citizenship act against the Indian minorities, stating “we are concerned that India’s new citizenship amendment act is fundamentally discriminatory in nature & hope the supreme court of #India will consider carefully the compatibility of the law with India’s int’l human rights obligations. @UNHumanRights”
Then on 19th of February, on a 4 day trip to Pakistan, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres expressed his concern when asked of his views on this new law in India stating that there is a risk of statelessness created by those national laws. He said,” it is absolutely essential that when a nationality law is changed, the statelessness is prevented. Because when basic right of anyone anywhere is to have a country that a person calls his, then everything should be done in order to avoid statelessness.”
While talking to dawn news, he further said,” All the reports including two by the UN High Commissioner in the international media, including Amnesty International, Human Rights watch and recent fact finding reports on Kashmir released in new Delhi regarding torture, sexual abuse and incarceration of children as young as seven by the Indian military played a important role in clarifying exactly what is happening in Kashmir and it is essential that these reports are taken seriously “.
UN high commissioner for human rights Michelle bachelet on 27th February, during a session was found saying, “Citizenship Amendment Act adopted last December, is matter of great concern. Indians in huge numbers, and from all communities, have expressed – in a mostly peaceful manner – their opposition to the Act and support for the country’s long standing tradition of secularism.”
While there is an ongoing criticism from UN, the supreme court of India is currently hearing petitions filed against the act. On its last hearing, that was held in January, the sc had refused to put a stay on the act and had given the centre 4 weeks to respond to the petitions. Keeping this in regard, the UN human rights have now filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court against citizenship amendment act as informed to the India’s permanent mission in Geneva on Monday evening by the office of human rights commissioner, Michelle Bachelet.
Seeing this atypical intervention by an international body, the ministry of external affairs have released an statement saying, “ the citizenship amendment act is an internal matter of India and concerns the sovereign right of the Indian parliament to make laws. We strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty.”
The MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “we are clear that CAA is constitutionally valid and complies will all requirements of our constitutional values. It is reflective of our long standing national commitment in respect of human rights issues arising from the tragedy of the partition of India.” He further added,” India is a democratic country governed by the rule of law we all have utmost respect for and full trust in our independent judiciary. We are confident that our sound and legally sustainable position would be vindicated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”
The Act in question was passed by the parliament of India on 11th December 2019.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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