The Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernande de Varennes, has cited caste multiple times in his recent report to the UN Human Rights Council, in Paragraphs 35, 58, 67 and 84. These recommendations were derived from the thirteenth session on the UN Forum on Minority Issues.
The theme of the thirteenth session on the UN Minority Forum was ‘Hate speech, social media and minorities’. Held virtually from the 19-20 November, IDSN contributed through several members, speaking specifically about caste-hate speech and the issues faced by Dalits and Dalit women. Find further information on IDSN’s contribution to the 2020 UN Minority Forum here.
The Minority Forum recommendations focused on ensuring that caste would be a protected factor when dealing with cases of hate speech, and national legislation should be amended to address gaps in interpretation and implementation of hate speech laws.
Social media companies should place both freedom of expression as well as equality and non-discrimination as central tenants, with caste as a protected characteristic. In addition, these companies should ensure that key personnel understand local cultures and contexts including the nuances of caste-based hate.
Media institutions should provide accurate COVID-19 information without unnecessarily referring to factors such as caste or other protected characteristics. They are expected to follow the recommendations from the United Nations guidance note on addressing and countering COVID-19-related hate speech.
- Relevant provisions of existing instruments, such as articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, should be used to amend national laws for the purposes of addressing gaps in interpretation and implementation of hate speech laws. These provisions should be applied to cover a wide range of groups targeted by hate speech, including hate speech based on religion; ethnicity; language; nationality; race; colour; descent, including caste; gender; refugee, asylum seeker or migrant status; involvement in human rights protection; sexual orientation; and other identity factors.
- Social media companies should put human rights at the centre of their content moderation policies and practices and their oversight mechanisms. Freedom of expression should have a central role, alongside the principles of equality and non-discrimination, with a specific focus on protected characteristics such as ethnicity, religion or language, and on antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Gypsyism, and discrimination based on caste and other grounds.
- Companies should also ensure that their content moderators and fact-checkers are trained in international human rights standards, and have a sound understanding of local cultures, contexts and languages, including their nuances, and of antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Gypsyism, caste-based hate and other forms of hate.
- Media institutions should provide accurate and objective information about the COVID-19 pandemic without hate speech, disinformation and stereotypes, and without unnecessarily referring to factors such as race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, language, caste and other protected characteristics. They should draw on, among others, the recommendations deployed in the United Nations guidance note on addressing and countering COVID-19-related hate speech.
You can find the full text of the UN Minority forum recommendations here.