The Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its annual report criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in India for adopting discriminatory policies against minority communities, including Muslims.
In its World Report 2022, the HRW said, “This, coupled with the vilification of Muslims by some BJP leaders and police failure to take action against BJP supporters who commit violence, emboldened Hindu nationalist groups to attack Muslims and government critics with impunity.”
The Indian government cracked down on activists, journalists, peaceful protesters, and even poets, it added.
The HRW said actors, and businesses increasingly risked politically motivated harassment, prosecutions and tax raids. “Authorities shut down rights groups using foreign funding regulations or allegations of financial irregularities,” it said.
About Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), it said, "Allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings persisted with the National Human Rights Commission registering 143 deaths in police custody and 104 alleged extrajudicial killings in the first nine months in 2021."
The HRW said Pakistani authorities expanded the use of “draconian sedition and counterterrorism laws to stifle dissent” as gendered and religious minorities continued to face persecution.
“In 2021, the Pakistan government intensified its efforts to control the media and curtail dissent. Authorities harassed, and at times detained, journalists and other members of civil society for criticising government officials and policies.”
According to the report, members and supporters of opposition political parties also faced repression. “Women, religious minorities, and transgender people continue to face violence, discrimination, and persecution, with authorities failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators to account," it said.
Human rights defenders estimate that roughly 1,000 women were killed in so-called honour killings every year, it said, adding that parliament did not pass a bill that sought to criminalise domestic violence.
According to a Pakistani human rights organisation, the Centre for Social Justice, at least 1,855 people were charged under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws between 1987 and February 2021.
“Women from religious minority communities remain particularly vulnerable to forced marriage. The government has done little to stop such marriages,” it added.
HRW criticised US President Joe Biden and other Western leaders for a weak defense of democracy and for failing to meet challenges from the climate crisis and Covid-19 pandemic to poverty, inequality and racial injustice.
In contrast to what Human Rights Executive Director Kenneth Roth described as former US president Donald Trump's "embrace of friendly autocrats", Biden took office in January 2021 with a pledge to put human rights at the center of his foreign policy.
"But he continued to sell arms to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel despite their persistent repression," Roth wrote in Human Rights Watch's annual World Report, released on Thursday.
"Other Western leaders displayed similar weakness in their defense of democracy," Roth wrote, naming French President Emmanuel Macron and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.