Attorney General presents Universal Periodic Review of India 2012

   May 24, 7:52 pm

Geneva, May 24 (ANI): Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati presented India's National Report for the Second Universal Periodic Review 2012 here on Thursday.

In a statement delivered here, Vahanvati said that the national report had been prepared after extensive and inclusive discussion and consultation involving various Ministries of the Indian Government, experts and a range of civil society members.

He said that the mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review has emerged as an extremely useful vehicle for the Human Rights Council and the world community to engage in an open discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights in member countries.

"India accepts all positive suggestions and constructive criticism in the right spirit. We certainly see this process as one of constructive engagement. The fact that we have brought with us a delegation consisting of experts from various ministries of the Central Government who have domain expertise in various aspects of Human Rights bears testimony to our commitment to the UPR," Vahanvati said.

Stating that over the last several years, several significant developments have taken place in the field of human rights, Vahanvati said that the Indian Government has brought about transparency in governance through the Right to Information Act, the Citizens Charter and through E-governance.

Admitting that the challenges India faces were by no means small, the attorney general said that terrorism and insurgency particularly posed existential threats to the country.

He described left-wing extremism and violence as an internal challenge that was being met with resolve, compassion and people-oriented development.

Vahanvati said that India was aware of the concerns expressed over the use of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1948, but reiterated that it was an Act that has been upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court.

He said that several checks and balances have been introduced to ensure that there are strict guidelines for the armed forces when dealing with terrorists and insurgents, and that violations are dealt with swiftly and transparently.

"We are constantly reviewing the implementation of this Act," he said.

He also underlined India's age-old ethos of religious tolerance and understanding, and the strength of its secular Constitution.

"The last four years have seen tremendous strides in focusing on groups needing special attention including children, women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and minorities, and disabled and elderly. Our efforts in the sphere of social and economic advancement have been significant. Poverty has declined by nine percent in a decade. Our rights-based welfare schemes focus on taking people out of poverty and enhancing quality of their life," the attorney general said.

He also highlighted the benefits of the Rural Employment Guarantee Act, saying that so far it has provided 54 million households employment in 2010 and 2011, and added that 48 percent of the total employment created had gone in favour of women.

He said that the declining trend in the unemployment rate in rural and urban areas was is a matter of satisfaction.

Vahanvati also revealed that India is striving to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

"While there is considerable ground which needs to be covered, the progress in the last few years on some of the important indicators has been appreciable, given the enormity of the task which we were faced with," he said.

He also dwelled on the Right to Education Act, which he said contains several visionary changes.

" India 's programme of affirmative action is unique in scale and dimension. Our Universal Periodic Review report gives details of development over the last four years. We are confident that we will be able to deliver to every person living in our country his full share of rights and entitlements," he said. (ANI)

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