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According to the latest report by the US-based Commission on International Religious Freedom, anti-conversion laws in 12 Indian states violate the protections found under international human rights law for the right to freedom of religion or belief.
New Delhi: A new report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) states that anti-religious conversion laws introduced by various governments in India violate international human rights treaties to which the country is a signatory.
According to the report, an update issued by the commission on March 14 is looking at the anti-amendment laws enacted/proposed in 12 states of India. It pointed out that this law violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Sponsored by the US Department of State, USCIRF is a US federal agency that monitors and recommends policy on religious freedom. However, the US State Department is not bound by its recommendations. For example, the US government has not designated India as a “country of particular concern” for international religious freedom, despite USCIRF’s recommendations for at least two consecutive years.
According to USCIRF’s latest report, anti-conversion laws in 12 states violate protections under international human rights law for the right to freedom of religion or belief. It has claimed that such laws enable and encourage “action against the current persecution, violence and discrimination against religious minorities as well as civil society”.
Significantly, for the third consecutive year in 2022, the USCIRF had recommended the US State Department to classify India as a “Country of Special Concern”. The commission’s annual report released in April 2022 said that by 2021, the state of religious freedom in India had deteriorated significantly. In 2021, the Indian government introduced Hindu Nationalism and introduced policies that negatively affected Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities.
A recent report, mentioning this fact, has said that repealing the law will be necessary to comply with international human rights law and halt the decline of religious freedom in India.
The report points out that the laws at the state level have three common characteristics – a ban on modification, a requirement for advance notice, and a waiver of liability provision that puts the burden of proof on the defendant.
Citing Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law, it has been said that the “vague” language could target voluntary conversions. In addition, Haryana’s law specifically has provisions to prevent so-called “love jihad,” a derogatory term used for interfaith marriages.
The report also states that “state anti-conversion laws show that their intent is not to force conversions but to prevent them from converting to unloved religions – such as Christianity and Islam.”
Regarding the granting of advance notice and permission for conversion by the local government mentioned in this law, the USCIRF has been told that “to seek public objection of the sheriff to the conversion is a violation of the freedom of an individual to adopt any religion or belief”. Must have a powerful impact.
According to the report, the anti-conversion laws of Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh contain provisions that “persons who violate the conversion laws must prove their innocence”. This is a violation of both the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the ICCPR, which states that anyone accused of a criminal offense shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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Categories: World, India, Special