CIVICUS Monitor report keeps India in ‘repressed’ category on civic freedoms

Mentions detention of Kashmiri HR defender Khurram Parvez under draconian law

Johannesburg (South Africa), March 17 (KMS): Johannesburg-based CIVICUS Monitor, which analyses the situation for civil society and civic freedoms across the world, in its latest report, has kept India as ‘repressed’, saying that the country uses draconian laws systematically against those who do not toe the government’s line while making a mention of the illegally detained Kashmiri human rights activist Khurram Parvez.

The global civil society alliance, in its report launched on Thursday, in the section on India talks about the use of draconian laws like the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) and the use of the FCRA (Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act) to target NGOs who are critical of Modi government.

In this regard, the CIVICUS report states, “In India, anti-terror laws such as the repressive Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act have been systematically used by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to keep student activists and HRDs [human rights defenders] ……in detention. Among those detained under the law is Kashmiri HRD Khurram Parvez. The government also used the restrictive Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act to raid and harass critical CSOs [civil society organizations] such as the Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns and Oxfam India and block CSOs’ access to foreign funding.”

The CIVICUS categorized countries into open, narrowed, obstructed, repressed and closed on the basis of the state of civil freedom existing in a country. In 2018, India’s civic freedoms had been categorised as ‘obstructed’ – but it was downgraded to ‘repressed’ in 2019 and has stayed in that zone ever since.

It is worth mentioning here that several international civil society organisations have questioned the status of India’s freedoms and rights in recent years. Most recently, the US State Department-funded USCIRF (US Commission on International Religious Freedom) said that anti-conversion laws being passed in various BJP-ruled states go against international human rights conventions that India is a party to.

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