UNHCHR chief asked India to review FCRA Regulations.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), Michelle Bachelet, has expressed her concern on October 20, 2020 over the imposed restrictions on foreign funding for the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in India and the arrest of activists in the country.

Highlights

  • She has requested the Indian Government to “safeguard the rights of human rights defenders and NGOs.
  • She urged the government that their ability to carry out their crucial work that the NGOs does should not be restricted on behalf of groups they represent.

What is the issue?

  • First issue – Recently in September 2020, the Union Home Ministry notified the new FCRA rules for foreign funding.  Under the new rule,
  1. Each member of an NGO will now have to take oath through an affidavit and certify that they have never diverted the foreign funds, propagated sedition or advocated the violent means.
  2. The gift item in India was Rs. 25,000, now it has been raised to Rs. one lakh as per the market value.
  3. They need to certify that they have not been prosecuted or convicted for conversion from one faith to another.
  4. Office-bearers of NGOs are now required to provide Aadhaar numbers for the registration.
  5. The rule has reduced the administrative expenses of any NGO receiving foreign funding from 50% to 20% of annual funds.
  • Second Issue–  Around 1500 people have been arrested for/during the Anti-CAA protests and many were charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. So, she urged the Government to ensure that no one is detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)

The UNHCHR is commonly known as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) or the UN Human Rights Office. It is an office under the United Nations. It works to promote and protect the human rights guaranteed under international law. It also comply with the law being mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. It was established by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 1993 after the World Conference on Human Rights, 1993.  The office look after the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). India is a party to this convention that provides for the freedom to form associations and receive funds for these associations.