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Human Rights Watch's World report 2023

Jan 17, 2023

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We will discuss Human Rights Watch World Report 2023 in our today’s edition of Current Affairs. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

For Prelims: Indian Polity and Governance

Human Rights Watch World Report, Human Rights

For Mains: General Studies Paper II- Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies

Human Rights Watch World Report, Protection of Human Rights in India, Human Rights, National Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch.

Context

As per the recently released Human Rights Watch World Report, 2023, Indian authorities had “intensified and broadened” their crackdown on activist groups and the media through 2022, adding that the current ruling party used “abusive and discriminatory policies to repress Muslims and other minorities”. 

Probable Question

To uphold the values of democracy in India, there is a need to increase the National Human Rights Commission’s power so that it can have more teeth, rather than remain a “toothless tiger”.

About the 2023 Human Rights Watch World Report

  • It is the 33rd edition of the report.
  • It is released by the US based NGO Human Rights Watch.
  • This edition reviews human rights practices in close to 100 countries. 

Also Read: Special Drawing Rights

Consumer Rights

Human Rights Watch World Report 2023’s Findings about India

  • The report has equated India with China in their suppression of dissent and free expression and “systematic discrimination against religious minorities”.
  • The ruling party supporters increasingly committed violent attacks against targeted groups. 
  • The government’s Hindu majoritarian ideology was reflected in bias in institutions, including the justice system and constitutional authorities like the National Human Rights Commission.
  • Civil society activists and independent journalists were silenced by using politically motivated criminal charges, including terrorism, to jail those exposing or criticizing government abuses. 
  • The government used foreign funding regulations and allegations of financial irregularities to harass rights groups, political opponents, and others.
  • It added that authorities also “misused” laws forbidding forced religious conversions “to target Christians, especially from Dalit and Adivasi communities”.
  • On Jammu and Kashmir, the report noted that even after three years of removal of Article 370 and creation of two federally-administered territories, “the government continued to restrict free expression, peaceful assembly, and other basic rights there”.

Welcoming Supreme Court’s Rulings

The Report noted the increasingly liberal steps taken by the Supreme Court in India and referred to the court’s following significant rulings:

  • Extending abortion rights to all women regardless of marital status and to people other than cisgender women, 
  • Widening the definition of a family to include same-sex couples, single parents, and other households. 
  • Banning of the two-finger tests.

Also Read: Beyond Male And Female, The Right To Humanity

Protection of Human Rights in India

Constitutional Provisions

  • Fundamental Rights (FRs) - Articles 12-32
  • Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) - Including the right to social security, right to work, to free choice of employment, and protection against unemployment, right to equal pay for equal work, etc.

Statutory Provisions

  • Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993- The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established under the provisions of this act. The Act was amended in 2019. 

International Initiatives

  • India took an active part in drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNHDR).
  • India has ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Note: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNHDR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10th December 1948. Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10th December, which is the anniversary of the UDHR.

What are Human Rights?

  • As per UN definition these rights are inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status.
  • The Rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.
  • Everyone is entitled to these rights without any discrimination.

About Human Rights Watch (HRW):

  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization that pressures governments, policymakers, companies, and individual human rights abusers to denounce abuse and respect human rights, and often works on behalf of refugees, children, migrants, and political prisoners.
  • Headquarters: New York City
  • HRW opposes violations of what the UDHR considers basic human rights. This includes capital punishment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • It advocates freedoms in connection with fundamental human rights, such as freedom of religion and freedom of the press.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):

  • The Commission is an independent statutory body established on 12 October, 1993 as per provisions of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (amended in 2006).
  • Headquarters: New Delhi.
  • The Commission is the watchdog of human rights in the country.
  • It is a multi-member body consisting of a Chairperson, five full-time Members and seven deemed Members.
  • The chairman and members are appointed by the President on the recommendations of a six-member committee consisting of-
    • Prime Minister as its head
    • Speaker of Lok Sabha
    • Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
    • Leaders of Opposition in both houses of the Parliament
    • Union Home Minister
  • The chairman and members hold office for a term of 3 years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
  • The Commission has all the powers of a civil court and its proceedings have a judicial character.
  • It has no power to punish the violators of human rights, nor to award any relief including monetary relief to the victim.
  • The Commission is not empowered to inquire into any matter after the expiry of one year from the date on which the act constituting violation of human rights is alleged to have been committed.

News Source: The Hindu https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-intensified-broadened-crackdown-on-activists-media-in-2022-hrw-report/article66368900.ece

FAQ's About Human Rights Watch

Who funds Human Rights Watch?

Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It does not solicit or accept donations by governments, directly or indirectly.

What is the Human Rights Watch?

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization that pressures governments, policymakers, companies, and individual human rights abusers to denounce abuse and respect human rights, and often works on behalf of refugees, children, migrants, and political prisoners.

Is NHRC a constitutional body?

The National Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body established on 12 October, 1993 as per provisions of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (amended in 2006).

Can NHRC punish?

NHRC is an investigative and recommendatory body. It has no power to punish the violators of human rights, nor to award any relief including monetary relief to the victim.

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