Recommendations from member states at the UN Human Rights Council reflect the key human rights challenges that India needs to urgently tackle, Amnesty International India said today. India’s human rights record was reviewed on 4 May under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure.

Amnesty International India welcomes the recommendations made to India by reviewing states, many of which reflect concerns it has raised previously.

“Some of the key recommendations made at the UPR include criminalising marital rape, ending discrimination against LGBTI people, amending laws stifling civil society organisations, checking excessive use of force by security forces and outlawing torture and enforced disappearances,” said Raghu Menon, Advocacy Manager at Amnesty International India.

“Unfortunately, India has often committed to acting on recommendations in the past, and then done next to nothing. The government should accept these recommendations and take them far more seriously this time.

“It was disappointing to hear the Indian delegation claim that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act has enough safeguards against human rights, ignoring the impunity that this law has enabled. The delegation also bizarrely suggested that there can be no racism against people of African descent in India due to longstanding cultural ties. These positions smack of denial and defensiveness. India should instead reflect on the recommendations made, and commit to tackling important human rights challenges.”

While India’s efforts to recognize and protect the rights of transgender people were lauded by several countries, many also urged India to also end all discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The Indian delegation informed the UN Human Rights Council that the Supreme Court had agreed to hear a challenge against its ruling which re-criminalised consensual same-sex relations. However, the government itself has done nothing to repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. This needs to change,” said Raghu Menon.

Several members also asked India to immediately amend or repeal the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, which is being used to target civil society organisations, violating the rights to freedom of expression and association guaranteed by India’s constitution and international human rights law.

A complete set of recommendations from all member and observer states will be presented by the UPR working group on 9 May and it would be formally adopted in September 2017.