UN Raps India: ‘Sedition Charges For Reporting/Commenting On Farmers’ Protests Disturbing’

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Geneva: UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet was on Friday critical of action taken by Indian authorities against journalists covering the farmers’ protests and efforts to curb freedom of expression on social media.

“Charges of sedition against journalists and activists for reporting or commenting on the protests, and attempts to curb freedom of expression on social media, are disturbing departures from essential human rights principles,” Bachelet said while updating the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on human rights issues in more than 50 countries

It was a reference to the toolkit case, which led to Delhi Police arresting climate activist Disha Ravi and charging several others of sedition.

Bachelet observed that governments should ensure that any farm legislation is based on meaningful consultations with all stakeholders. That’s what has been highlighted by the three-month long farmers’ protests in India against the agriculture laws, she added.

“In India, continued protests by hundreds of thousands of farmers highlight the importance of ensuring laws and policies are based on meaningful consultations with those concerned,” Bachelet said.

Earlier this month, the UN human rights agency urged protesting farmers and the authorities to exercise “maximum restraint” and find “equitable solutions”.

“I trust that ongoing dialogue efforts by both sides will lead to an equitable solution to this crisis that respects the rights of all,” she said.

The UN high commissioner for human rights informed that she was monitoring the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, where restrictions on communications continued to be a concern.

“Despite recent restoration of 4G access for mobile phones, the communications blockade has seriously hampered civic participation, as well as business, livelihoods, education, and access to healthcare and medical information,” she observed.

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