Hidden Apartheid - CHRGJ

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Hidden Apartheid - CHRGJ

IV. Response to India’s denial of ICERD’s prohibition of discrimination on

the basis of caste

Article 1: In this Convention, the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any

distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent,

or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or

impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of

human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social,

cultural or any other field of public life.

In response to the Committee’s request that the Government of India submit information on

issues pertaining to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, India’s periodic report states

that “‘caste’ cannot be equated with ‘race’ or covered under ‘descent’ under Article 1 of the

Convention.” 13 As a result of this position, the periodic report contains no information on

Dalits in India and the State Party provides that “As a matter of courtesy to the members of

the Committee, if it so desires, the Government of India would be happy to provide

information relating to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to them though not as a

reporting obligation under CERD.” 14

India’s position directly contradicts the Committee’s interpretation of Article 1 in General

Recommendation XXIX that “discrimination based on ‘descent’ includes discrimination

against members of communities based on forms of social stratification such as caste and

analogous systems of inherited status.” 15 Furthermore, in its Concluding Observations on

the reports submitted by India in 1996, the Committee affirmed “that the situation of the

scheduled castes and scheduled tribes falls within the scope of the Convention.” 16 In

support of this interpretation, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism,

13

Government of India, Fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth periodic reports of the Republic of India, due on

January 4, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 submitted in one document on January 26, 2006, CERD/C/IND/19, para. 16 (March 29,

2006).

14

Ibid., para. 17.

15

CERD, General Recommendation XXIX (2002) – Article 1(1) regarding descent, para. 7.

16

Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, A/51/18, 1996,

http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/76ebd2611b2261d2c12563e90058d7d7/$FILE/N9625738.pd

f (accessed February 7, 2007), para. 352.

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