A day after the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights castigated the Indian government’s plan to deport Rohingya refugees, Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, on Tuesday stated that “enforcing laws should not be mistaken for lack of compassion” and expressed regret that the UN body had overlooked the “central role of terrorism”.
Akbaruddin also insisted that India was concerned about illegal migrants, in particular, with the possibility that they could pose security challenges. “Assessments of human rights should not be a matter of political convenience. We believe achieving human rights goals calls for objective consideration, balanced judgements, and verification of facts,” Akbaruddin was quoted as saying by ANI.
Addressing UN Human Rights Council’s 36th session in Geneva on Monday, UN official Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had criticised India’s recent actions and said, India “cannot carry out collective expulsions” and return people to a place where they face persecution. He specifically mentioned a statement by the Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju, in his speech. READ MORE: UN rights chief slams Kiren Rijiju’s deportation remark on Rohingyas
“I deplore current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country. Some 40,000 Rohingyas have settled in India, and 16,000 of them have received refugee documentation. The Minister of State for Home Affairs has reportedly said that because India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, the country can dispense with international law on the matter, together with basic human compassion,” Al Hussein had said.
“However, by virtue of customary law, its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the obligations of due process and the universal principle of non-refoulement, India cannot carry out collective expulsions, or return people to a place where they risk torture or other serious violations,” the UN official had said.
Al Hussein’s comments are by far the strongest by an international diplomat against India regarding Rohingya refugees.
A fresh bout of violence has prompted several lakhs of Rohingya Mulsims to flee to India and Bangladesh after army action against them in the troubled Rakhine state of Myanmar, triggering widespread criticism from across the world.