Dalit activists gathered in Geneva to take part in the pre-session for the Universal Periodic Review of India – scheduled for November 2022. Rahul Singh, the Director of the National Dalit Movement for Justice-NCDHR, an IDSN member organisation was present at the session. Mr. Singh engaged with multiple stakeholders throughout to enhance the understanding of the human rights situation and caste discrimination in India.
Crimes against Dalits in India on the rise
Manjula Pradeep, representing the Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network (DHRDNet), presented at the session on India. Ms. Pradeep, informed participants that crimes against scheduled castes in India rose by 9.4% from 2019 to 2020. She also stated that rape against women and girls Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes represents the highest rates of sexual violence in the country.
Ms. Pradeep proposed that UN member States recommend India to undertake police reforms to ensure sensitivity and prompt action in cases of sexual violence against Dalit and Adivasi women. She also proposed a recommendation to correlate and disaggregate the data to map out violence prone areas and to build a comprehensive system for prevention and assistance to victims and survivors.
India must act to end the practice of manual scavenging
The appalling situation of manual scavengers was also an object of concern raised by Ms. Pradeep. Despite the prohibition of such activity, by the Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013), from 2017 through 2021, 347 sanitation workers died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks. In the last 3 years the Indian government identified 58,098 manual scavengers, which indicates challenges in the implementation of the legislation in force.
Very concrete recommendations were made on this topic, including the adoption of sewage workers policy guidelines and regulations, undertaking a detailed survey and the release of a white paper on the status of these workers, in order to guide an adequate compensation plan.
Dalit activists engage in the India UPR process
Ms. Pradeep and Mr. Singh held a series of meetings with delegations in Geneva, explaining the current status of the enjoyment of rights by Dalits, in order to inform concrete recommendations to India.
India will be reviewed during the 4th cycle of the UPR on the 10 November. During the previous 3rd cycle(2017), India received over 20 recommendations on caste-based discrimination, many of which were not fully implemented, leaving a historical debt to Dalits and communities affected by caste-based discrimination.
IDSN supported the active participation of its member organisations from India during the UPR and will continue monitoring the recommendations made in the upcoming review and their relevant implementation.
IDSN also issued recommendations for the consideration of UN member states at the 51st Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council.