'US, India regularly…': What state dept said on human rights issues | World News - Hindustan Times
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'US, India regularly…': What state dept said on human rights issues

Apr 23, 2024 10:57 AM IST

Senior official Robert S Gilchrist said, “The US and India regularly consult at the highest levels on democracy and human rights issues.”

The United States and India consistently consult at the highest levels on issues regarding human rights and democracy, a US State Department official said on Monday after a recent report by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor flagged “significant human rights issues”, including the Manipur violence last year.

The press conference came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken released the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. (Screengrab)
The press conference came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken released the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. (Screengrab)

Senior official from the bureau Robert S Gilchrist, interacting with reporters, said, “The US and India regularly consult at the highest levels on democracy and human rights issues.”

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The press briefing was held after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken released the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Gilchrist added, “We strongly encourage, urge India to uphold its human rights obligations and commitments. We also regularly meet with civil society representatives, both in the US and India, to hear their perspectives, and those sorts of perspectives inform the Human Rights Report. And we encourage the Government of India to consult and meet regularly with civil society organizations representing a diversity of people.”

He further stated that there were a number of steps involved asserting that the issue was a key component of the US not just in dialogue but also in engagements with India.

Mandated by the US Congress, the ‘2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: India, released on Monday, mentioned the Manipur crisis, extrajudicial killings, encounters by government forces and nongovernment entities, arbitrary arrests and detention of journalist Siddique Kappan and activist Umar Khalid, denial of fair trial among other issues.

It also mentioned the Income Tax raids on the Mumbai and Delhi offices of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

It said, “The search came shortly after the January release of a BBC documentary that alleged Prime Minister Modi played a role as then Chief Minister of Gujarat during the 2002 riots in the state in which more than 2,000 died, mainly Muslims. Although tax authorities described the search as motivated by irregularities in the BBC’s tax payments and ownership structure, officials also searched and seized equipment from journalists who were not involved in the organization’s financial processes. The government invoked emergency powers to ban screening of the documentary, forced media companies to remove links to the video, and detained student protesters who organized viewing parties.”

The report also talked about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi being convicted and sentenced to two years of imprisonment by a Gujarat court.

Speaking about human rights groups calling out the issues in India, the report said, “Some domestic and international human rights groups engaged in advocacy or monitoring of human rights trends operated without government restriction to monitor or investigate human rights conditions or cases and publish their findings. Nevertheless, numerous human rights groups faced restrictions, noting government officials rarely cooperated with human rights NGOs.”

The report also mentioned the dissemination of “disinformation and harassment campaigns on social media to influence election results” by political parties.

It said, “There were obstacles reported by members of opposition political parties, including reprisals for criticism of government officials or policies, disinformation attacks, and inability to use social media freely for campaigning.”

Mentioning disinformation against Muslims and Sikhs, the report added, “There were a number of press and civil society reports of representatives of political parties using disinformation tactics against civil society organizations, religious minorities, such as Sikhs and Muslims, and the political opposition, sometimes depicting them as security threats.”

‘Don't need UN to tell me elections should be fair…’: S Jaishankar

Earlier in April, external affairs minister S Jaishankar — responding to a statement by spokesperson for United Nations'Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric — said, “I don't need the UN to tell me that our elections should be free and fair. I have the people of India. They will ensure that the elections are free and fair. So, don't worry about it.”

Dujarric, said in a statement, “What we very much hope that in India, as in any country that is having elections, that everyone's rights are protected, including political and civil rights, and everyone is able to vote in an atmosphere that is free and fair.”

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