Curbs on religious freedom, graft significant rights problems in India: US

Curbs on religious freedom, graft significant rights problems in India: US
The United States today identified instances of restrictions on foreign-funded NGOs and religious freedom along with corruption and police and security force abuses as the most significant human rights problems in India.

The annual 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – the first under the Trump administration - said other human rights problems in India last year included disappearances, hazardous prison condition and delay in justice due to court backlogs.

"The most significant human rights problems involved instances of police and security force abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape; corruption, which remained widespread and contributed to ineffective responses to crimes, including those against women, children, and members of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes; and societal violence based on gender, religious affiliation, and caste or tribe," the report said.

"Other human rights problems included disappearances, hazardous prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pretrial detention. Court backlogs delayed or denied justice, including through lengthy pretrial detention and denial of due process," it said.
It also criticised Indian government's restrictions on foreign-funded NGOs.

"The government placed restrictions on foreign funding of non-governmental organisations, including some whose views the government believed were not in the 'national or public interest,' curtailing the work of civil society," it said.

Observing that there were instances of infringement of privacy rights, the report said the law in six states restricted religious conversion, and there were reports of arrests but no reports of convictions under those laws.

Some limits on the freedom of movement continued, it alleged. Rape, domestic violence, dowry-related deaths, honour killings, sexual harassment, and discrimination against women and girls remained serious societal problems, the report said.

Child abuse, female genital mutilation and cutting, and forced and early marriage were problems. Trafficking in persons, including widespread bonded and forced labour of children and adults, and sex trafficking of children and adults for prostitution, were serious problems, it said.

Societal discrimination against persons with disabilities and indigenous persons continued, as did discrimination and violence based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and persons with HIV, the State Department said in the report.

"A lack of accountability for misconduct at all levels of government persisted, contributing to widespread impunity. Investigations and prosecutions of individual cases took place, but lax enforcement, a shortage of trained police officers, and an overburdened and under resourced court system contributed to infrequent convictions," the report said.

"Separatist insurgents and terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, the northeastern states, and the Maoist belt committed serious abuses, including killings of armed forces personnel, police, government officials, and civilians," it said.

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