In a recent development, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), has recommended that the State Department put India on a list (‘Countries of Particular Concern’ or CPCs) for the worst violations of religious freedoms in 2020. The recommendation brings to the limelight the issue of freedom of religion and what is its position in the Indian territory. The recent passage of anti-conversion laws by various State governments in India has further helped in highlighting the issue. With the rise in encroachment on people’s religious freedom by various state and non-state actors, the issue has become a grave matter of concern. The issue not only raises numerous questions about various rights available to people but also shows how such rights are under threat in contemporary times.
The UN General Assembly on May 2019 adopted a resolution that welcomed the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the separation of Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965. This resolution, in accordance with the ICJ’s advisory, has demanded the complete withdrawal of the UK and the US within six months from the archipelago. Countries like Australia, the US, the UK, Hungary, Israel, and Maldives were against this resolution. It has stated that the decolonization of Mauritius was not in accordance with the right to self-determination and that the UK’s sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago establishes a “wrongful act”. However, the stance taken by the major colonial powers like the US and the UK shows their unwillingness to adapt to the new era, the one that is defined by freedom and liberty of their previously colonised territories.
On July 24, 2019, the Lok Sabha has passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019. This bill, if made into a law, will replace the already existing Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Ever since its presentation in the lower house, this bill has been a subject of controversy. This bill is considered by some to be draconian in nature.
According to Amnesty International, the act once amended can designate any individual a terrorist, thus violating international human rights laws and opening the floodgate of harassment of the Human Rights defenders and activists.