Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Exceptionalism at risk

In response to a presentation made by the United States at the UN, India has welcomed 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 improved safety and living conditions at confinement facilities.”
Addressing the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday during the Universal Periodic Review in which the human rights record of all countries is discussed, India’s ambassador, Ajit Kumar, also said the disproportionate use of force by law enforcement agencies in the US and deficiencies in their procedures “are areas of concern”.

Among the suggestions India made was that the US consider establishing a national human rights commission, though Kumar did not elaborate on what the structure and mandate of such a commission would be.

The US in the past has found fault with the mandate of the Indian NHRC, with the State Department noting, for example, in its periodic report on the human rights situation in India, that the commission had no enforcement powers and “is not empowered to address allegations against military and paramilitary personnel.”

In his intervention at the US, the Indian ambassador also urged Washington to quickly ratify international conventions on the rights of the child (CRC), the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW) and on economic, cultural and social rights (CESCR).

India encouraged 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.”

The Indian ambassador also noted US “efforts towards maintaining respect for privacy and civil liberties while addressing dangers to national security” and requested the American delegation to share more information about this.