London, Nov 30 (PTI) Ahead of a proposed visit to India next year by the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Security and Defence, a group of Indian human rights campaigners briefed European Union (EU) decision-makers about the need for the international community to demand the repeal of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
According to Stichting The London Story think tank, the online briefing was attended by policy advisors in the European Parliament, including of the Parliament's Standing Rapporteur on India, advisors in the German Parliament, human rights experts in the European Commission, and human rights NGOs and researchers from around the world.
Issues of concern raised at the briefing included the definition of “unlawful activity” for the UAPA, which is seen as “overly inclusive”, according to a press release.
“While the Indian regime is internationally trying to present itself as a champion for democracy and telling other countries that it is not the time for war, it is also waging war against its own citizens,” said Avinash Kumar, former head of Amnesty India.
“This hypocrisy needs to be called out by those champions in democracy sitting in the West, who are also engaging with the Indian government on a whole range of other issues, such as commerce,” he said.
India has previously rejected criticism by foreign governments and human rights groups on allegations that civil liberties have eroded in the country.
The Indian government has asserted that India has well-established democratic practices and robust institutions to safeguard the rights of all.
The government has emphasised that the Indian Constitution provides for adequate safeguards under various statutes for ensuring the protection of human rights.
Sharing from a recent study on the UAPA, V. Suresh, National General Secretary of People's Union for Civil Liberties, noted that only 2.8 per cent of people arrested in UAPA cases since 2009 have been convicted but their acquittals come only after the accused has spent several years in pre-trial custody without bail.
Stichting The London Story is a think tank led by Indian diaspora that seeks to ensure human rights and democratic values are at the core of the relationship between the EU and India.
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