Secretary Clinton is Urged to Raise Religious Liberty Issues During India Trip 

by Martin Barillas Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Washington, DC -- The Institute on Religion and Public Policy has urged Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to raise religious liberty issues during her upcoming meetings in India. Secretary Clinton departs July 17 for India, where she will meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

In a letter dated July 15, 2009, Institute President Joseph K. Grieboski pointed out that although "India's Constitution provides for religious freedom, religious persecution remains highly prevalent. Recent incidents of sectarian violence against Christians and Muslims, caste system discrimination, and the Indian government's inaction in prosecuting or preventing religiously-based violence have weakened the efficacy of laws protecting an individual's right to religious liberty."

The letter pointed out ongoing religious liberty concerns in the world's largest democracy and brought to her attention the continued discrimination of the Dalit community, also known as the untouchable caste. "Dalits in Karnataka were attacked while performing puja rituals in the Chamundeshwari Temple," the letter states. "Local police arrested 28 people in this crime, but none of them have been brought to trial. Although the Indian government has enacted legal protections for the Dalit community, violence and rape are common and unprosecuted crimes committed against this group."

The letter also provided Secretary Clinton with four recommends that would allow the Indian Government to improve religious liberty conditions in India: "First, that the Government of India should promote the repeal of anti-conversion laws in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya, Pradesh, Gujarat, and Himachal Pradesh. Second, the Government should appoint the number of judges requested in India's 120th Law Commission Report, thus increasing the number of judges from 10.5 per million of its population to 50 per million of its population.

This increase in the judiciary would expedite the prosecution of religion-based crimes. Third, the Government of India should restrain the use of excessive military force against civilians when suppressing religious violence. And finally, the Indian Government should support an amendment to the Commission on Minorities (NCM) Act that would recognize Jains as a minority religion separate from Hinduism."

The full text of the letter can be found here: http://religionandpolicy.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=54&Itemid=240


www.religionandpolicy.org

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Contact: Sarah E. Price
Institute on Religion and
Public Policy
1620 I Street, NW, Suite LL10
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202-8358760/Fax: 202-835-8764
Price@religionandpolicy.org

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About Institute on Religion and Public Policy


The Institute on Religion and Public Policy is an international, inter-religious non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring freedom of religion as the foundation for security, stability, and democracy.

The Institute works globally with government policymakers, religious leaders, business executives, academics, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and others in order to develop, protect, and promote fundamental rights - especially the right of religious freedom - and contributes to the intellectual and moral foundation of the fundamental right of religious freedom. Nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Institute encourages and assists in the effective and cooperative advancement of religious freedom.


0    submitted by Martin Barillas
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