US President’s nominee for India envoy says he will actively bring up human rights

Washington, December 16 (KMS): The United States President, Joe Biden’s choice for the next ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, has said that he will actively bring up human rights if appointed to the position.

According to Kashmir Media Service, Eric Garcetti told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he would also raise the matter of discrimination against Muslims in India, such as through the Citizenship Amendment Act, if confirmed to the position

The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament in 2019, allows undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to apply for Indian citizenship, as long as they are not Muslims. The Act, criticised for being discriminatory, had triggered protests across India.

At the briefing on Tuesday, Garcetti said respect for human rights and strong democratic institutions were key to the relationship between India and the US. He added that he would “respectfully engage” with the Indian government on these matters, The Hindu reported.

Senator Bob Menendez, who is the Chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, highlighted India’s democratic backsliding and discrimination against religious minorities.

Menendez said that India would have to address the concerns of the US if it wants to deepen our partnership even further.

Garcetti and Menendez’s statements come at a time when human rights defenders, minorities and critics of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government are facing increasing harassment in India.

Last week, South African non-profit organisation Civicus had put India on a list of countries with repressed democratic values. A report released by the organisation flagged the use of draconian anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against activists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, repression of the farmers’ protest and the imposition of curfews in Jammu and Kashmir.