Citizenship Law ‘Fundamentally Discriminatory,’ Says UN Body

The United Nations' human rights body on Friday, 13 December voiced concern over India's new citizenship law, terming it "fundamentally discriminatory" in nature.

The new citizenship law seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim persecuted religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"We are concerned that India's new Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 is fundamentally discriminatory in nature,” UN human rights spokesman Jeremy Laurence told reporters in Geneva.

He further said, “The amended law would appear to undermine the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India's Constitution and India's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to which Indian is a State party, which prohibit discrimination based on racial, ethnic or religious grounds.”

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UN Body Pins ‘Hope’ on Supreme Court

“We understand the new law will be reviewed by the Supreme Court of India and hope it will consider carefully the compatibility of the law with India's international human rights obligations,” Laurence said.

The UN body’s reaction over the Act has come days after the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed its apprehensions over the controversial legislation, seeking sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah.

USCIRF had said on Monday that it was “deeply troubled” by the draft legislation, and before it had cleared the parliament, it recommended that “if the CAB passes in both Houses of Parliament, the US government should consider sanctions against the Home Minister and other principal leadership.”

The Act came into force with President’s assent on Thursday night.

It seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis – it leaves out Muslims – who entered the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan until 31 December 2014.

Meanwhile, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh and even Delhi have been witnessing large-scale protests in the last two days with thousands of people hitting the streets defying prohibitory orders to demand scrapping of the contentious law.

At least two persons died due to bullet injuries on Thursday after police opened fire on protesters in Guwahati, capital of Assam.

(With inputs from PTI)

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