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Indian activists slam 'distorted' UN rights review

world Updated: Apr 12, 2008 03:23 IST

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Indian activists became the latest to denounce the UN Human Rights Council's new country review method, slamming a "distorted" process that left civil society on the sidelines.

The Council launched its much-vaunted Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of UN member states' rights records this week but the sessions so far have been fiercely criticised by NGOs for failing to subject countries to effective scrutiny.
"While official delegations are free to indulge in back-room parleys and bargaining, civil society activists are left on the sidelines," said Vrinder Grover of the People's Forum on UPR coalition.

"There is a real apprehension that a process that so completely excludes civil society actors will lose legitimacy in the eyes of the global human rights community," she added.

The Forum criticised India's own report to the UPR as being full of "half-truths and obfuscations" over its rights record.
India's submission was a "screen to hide serious gaps in implementation and systemic failure to tackle entrenched discrimination against women, Dalits, tribal communities and religious, ethnic and sexual minorities," Grover said.
"India's responses to the concerns and questions raised by several countries followed the now well-established strategy of sidestepping uncomfortable issues by categorising them as 'internal'," she added.