India's citizenship law 'fundamentally discriminatory' against Muslims: UN

Published: December 15, 2019
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Indian Premier Narendra Modi.
PHOTO: REUTERS/File

Indian Premier Narendra Modi. PHOTO: REUTERS/File

GENEVA: The United Nations human rights office has voiced concern that India’s new citizenship law is “fundamentally discriminatory in nature” by excluding Muslims and called for it to be reviewed.

Violent clashes erupted in Delhi between police and thousands of university students on Friday protesting the enactment of the contentious new law.

Two people were killed in India’s Assam state on Thursday when police opened fire on mobs torching buildings and attacking railway stations in protest as the new citizenship rule was signed into law.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has said the Citizenship Amendment Bill, approved by parliament on Wednesday, was meant to protect 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 spokesperson Jeremy Laurence told a Geneva news briefing on Friday.

The new law does not extend the same protection to Muslim migrants as to six other religious minorities fleeing persecution, thereby undermining India’s commitment to equality before the law, enshrined in its constitution, he said.

“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.

 

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