The final report on last week’s UN human rights review of India has just been adopted, and included ten recommendations and seven questions and observations on caste discrimination, made by a total of 14 UN member states. It is now imperative that the Indian government accept all the recommendations made on caste.
Caste-related recommendations were made by a cross-regional group of states, including Thailand, Ghana, Japan, Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, USA, and the Holy See. In addition, Chile, Canada, Luxembourg, Hungary, Denmark, and Slovenia asked questions or made observations related to caste and manual scavenging.
This amounts to a total of 14 states that made interventions with explicit recognition of the challenges faced by the Dalit community in India’s second UPR, ten of which were recommendations. Compared to the first review in 2008, a total of 13 states made observations and recommendations. In 2008, only two recommendations made explicit reference to caste.
Many other relevant recommendations relating to caste, including on discrimination against religious minorities, harmful practices, child labour, National Human Rights Institutions, and the ratification of human rights instruments, were also made. The full report with references to caste highlighted, can be downloaded here
In the interactive dialogue with the India delegation at the UPR review on 24th May, the delegation did not give any comprehensive responses to the concerns expressed about the persistence of caste discrimination in India. Directly following the review, the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights therefore issued a press release expressing their anger at the negligence of the Government stating that:
“India’s report and response to questions was limited to a listing of references to legislative measures, affirmative action and budget allocations put in place to stop caste discrimination. But Dalit rights activists say that while the Indian government should be commended for putting these measures in place, implementation of legislation on the ground is severely lacking, there is no monitoring mechanism to oversee affirmative action policies, and budgets allocated for Dalits are routinely diverted and misspent.”
The Indian Government has stated that all recommendations in the report will be considered and the response of the Indian Government to these recommendations will be included in the outcome report adopted by the Human Rights Council at its 21st session in September 2012. It is now imperative that the Indian Government accepts all the recommendations made on caste, unlike in its first UPR review in 2008, where it only accepted five out of 18 recommendations, out of which none related to the recommendations on caste.
A press release will be issued in the coming days by IDSN with a more comprehensive analysis of the outcome and follow up to this review.