Amendment to the Motion

Part of Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Amendment of List of Safe States) Regulations 2024 - Motion to Approve – in the House of Lords am 8:00 pm ar 19 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness D'Souza Baroness D'Souza Crossbench 8:00, 19 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, India is indeed a safe country if you are a straight male Hindu citizen. It is far less safe if you happen to be female—women from religious and cultural minorities face the most gender-based violence—Muslim, Dalit, Adivasis, Sikh, Christian or a member of the LGBT community. These sectors of the population constitute about 280 million people. More than 10,000 people have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the majority from minority groups.

Unprecedented internet shutdowns have signalled a campaign against media critical of the Government. The Canadian Prime Minister alleged the involvement of the Indian Government in the assassination of a Sikh Canadian citizen. The UN Human Rights Council documented in 2022 a catalogue of abuses by state organs in India; in 2002, following the violence in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister, during which 2,500 Muslims were killed, the US, the UK and some European nations imposed de facto travel bans on all but the most junior officials from that state, including Narendra Modi.

Last week, I asked the Minister what measures the UK Government are taking to address the increasing implementation of those laws in India contributing to political, media and civil society restrictions. In response, the Government regularly repeat their extreme concern about abuses of human rights and that they take any such actions very seriously. It is difficult for noble Lords to be convinced of this concern when there is credible and growing evidence of a widespread crackdown on fundamental rights in India today.

However, here we are, by means of regulation, pronouncing India a country from which future asylum claims cannot be considered due to the apparent safety of India’s democratic institutions. Would all, or indeed any of those, in the unacceptable categories, namely non-Hindus, be designated exceptional cases and therefore eligible to have asylum claims considered by our immigration officials? That is a question to the Minister.

Whatever the authorities decide, it cannot be stated that India is a safe country for anyone but Hindu nationals. This constitutes a breach of the UK’s obligations to help prevent future religious and other violence against minorities in any country, but most particularly in a Commonwealth country.