Joint oral statement India UPR Outcome
On 27 March, Lawyers for Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights institute delivered an oral statement during the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council. During this session, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Outcome Report of India was adopted. Lawyers for Lawyers had already submitted a UPR report for the UPR-session of India.
The statement reads as follows:
We deplore that India has refrained from accepting any of the recommendations made at its fourth UPR related to the protection of human rights defenders, including lawyers.
This is particularly concerning, considering a fundamental aspect of the rule of law and an effectively functioning justice system is access to legal representation by an independent legal profession. Lawyers must be able to carry out their professional duties without harassment, intimidation or improper interference.
In India, lawyers report being faced with violence, including physical attacks in connection to their professional activities, in several cases conducted by the police or by non-state agents in India.
Moreover, there are reports of judicial harassment of lawyers, including improper interference, arrests, and silencing tactics, in relation to their work on politically sensitive cases. Specifically, the vague clauses in the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act 2010 and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act have been misused in this context.
Furthermore, lawyers have reported issues with lawyer-client confidentiality. We have serious concerns with regards to the systematic use of the use of surveillance software against lawyers in India.
We urge India to:
- Accept all the recommendations on Human Rights Defenders and explain why they rejected them.
- Implement the recommendations with regards to the protection of human rights defenders without delay;
- Take immediate measures to safeguard the independence of lawyers and provide protection against any form of undue interference with their work;
- Take effective measures to protect lawyer-client confidentiality against surveillance.
See recording of the statement at UN Web TV: https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1f/k1fapba24v (42:30 min).
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