Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Supreme Court Promises to Look into Citizenship Rights or Refugee Status to Thousands of Displaced in Assam

In an article in Outlook India, Supreme Court reportedly “agreed to examine the plea for grant of citizenship or refugee status to thousands of displaced persons, mostly in Assam, of minority communities like Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Christians due to their alleged religious persecution in Bangladesh”. What is critical to note is that the petition raises certain serious concerns over the citizenship act, amendment and the victimisation of minorities in Assam. What is interesting is the way the petition urges the court to look into the plights of the displaced within the international protection mechanisms for “refugees”.

Excerpts from the Report

“Citing the cut-off date of 25.3.1971 fixed by the Centre for granting citizenship to the migrants in the wake of the Assam Accord, the petition said victimisation of minorities continues even after the cut-off date and hence their case should also be considered sympathetically.

"In the facts of the present case, the ‘displaced persons’ also deserve protection in our country and the status of ‘refugees’ under the International Conventions, namely the Refugee Convention, 1951, and 1967 Protocol Relating to Status of Refugees; Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment, New York, 1984 and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, 2006," it said.”

Even in the case of “Bru” displaced media reports called them as “refugees”. While contestation over citizenship right is the central argument of this petition, it is interesting to see the ways in which citizenship rights is posited vis a vis refugee status/ rights.

For details see : “SC to examine B’desh Migrants’ Plea for Citizenship”, Outlook India,27 July 2012; Accessed on 10 September 2012

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