Many Dalits were among the protesters when police opened fire and shot and killed 10 people protesting in India. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has reacted by calling for a probe and condemning what is seen as an unwarranted use of force by the police.
A group of UN human rights experts have expressed grave concerns about the continued detention of Mauritanian blogger Cheikh Ould Mohamed M’kheitir on charges that violate his human rights. Mr. M’kheitir was arrested in January 2014 and sentenced to death for apostasy in after publishing an article online questioning the use of religious justification to legitimise caste discrimination.
The Special Rapporteur (SR) on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, on Friday, 11 May 2018, concluded her official visit to the UK and issued her end of mission statement. During the visit the Special Rapporteur met with the UK government and Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales representatives. Ms Achiume also met with civil society in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast.
In advance of the UN HRC 37 IDSN distributed its recommendations, referring to the High Commissioner on Human Rights reports, the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan. IDSN board member Henri Tiphagne also spoke at key side-events and the situation of Dalits was noted in several debates.
Young Dalit activists played an active role at the 2017 Forum on Minority Issues, which took place in Geneva from 30 November to 1 December. Dalit women from Nepal and India, forming part of an IDSN delegation, gave powerful presentations under the theme of Minority youth: towards diverse and inclusive societies. They explained to participants how deeply ingrained caste-based discrimination continues to pose severe obstacles to equal participation in most aspects of life and how social media offers both new opportunities for change and new challenges.
The UN Expert on Water and Sanitation, Léo Heller, has stated that the failure to end the practice of manual scavenging in India coupled with the construction of more non-flush toilets, is contributing to an increase in the discriminatory practice of manual scavenging, where the lowest castes are made to undertake the duty of cleaning excrements from non-flush toilets by hand. The statement forms part of Mr. Heller’s official statement on his November 2017 mission in India.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha, has released a report on housing in India. The report draws attention to the alarming state of Dalit houses and the need for Government action to improve housing and end discrimination.
Prominent UN officials took part in the commemorations of the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, linking the issue of caste discrimination to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and IDSN have issued a joint written statement to the 31th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, calling for global action to end caste discrimination.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, just completed her official 10 days visit in Sri Lanka. In her statement on 20 October, the SR urged the government to take concrete steps to protect Sri Lanka’s minorities. She noted that there were “remaining challenges” within Tamil and Muslim communities, including return of occupied land, missing persons, demilitarization, release of security-related detainees, poverty, violence and discrimination against women, and caste-based discrimination.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) commenced its 33rd session on 13 September. This year the report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences has a thematic focus on debt bondage. The rapporteur notes that “the majority of those in debt bondage are reported to be in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, despite the specific prohibition on such practices within the legal frameworks of these countries”, underlining that those who are trapped in debt bondage in South Asia are predominantly Dalits.
Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai cites the case of IDSN as an example of how procedure is being used in the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs to prevent civil society organisations from getting UN accreditation.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing has completed a 12-day visit to India during which she expressed concern about India’s legacy of discrimination against Dalits and other marginalised groups.