India to enact its national refugee law

August 31, 2016 3:33 pm0 commentsViews: 226
Parliament of India.

Parliament of India.

(TibetanReview.net, Aug30, 2016) – Rather than dealing with asylum matters on a case-to-case or nationality-to-nationality basis as at present, India will soon have a uniform national policy on the issue, reported the hindustantimes.com Aug 26. The objective of the policy is to formally define a refugee, eligibility for asylum, rights, entitlements and obligations and set a time-bound legal framework for naturalization, the report quoted a home ministry official as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The report noted that Congress MP Mr Shashi Tharoor had earlier brought a private member’s bill on asylum in the winter session of Parliament last year. His bill sought to create a mechanism for granting asylum that would allow a more effective regulation over entry, exit, and stay of refugees, besides setting out obligations, duties, and rights.

“It is crucial that India ends the ad hoc nature of refugee policy,” Shailesh Rai, senior policy advisor to Amnesty International India, was quoted as saying. He, in fact, considers it imperative that India becomes a state party to the UN refugee conventions and creates a robust domestic legal framework on refugee policy.

The report cited the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as saying India had around .21 million people of ‘concern’ and they include nationals from Afghanistan (13,381), Myanmar (18,914), Somalia, Tibet (.11 million) and Sri Lankans (64600).

Earlier, India’s Minister of State for home Mr Kiren Rijiju had told Parliament in March, “India is not a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol thereon. There is no national law on refugees at present.”

According to Roshni Shanker, executive director of Ara Trust that works on refugee laws, “A (national refugee) law would also bring global recognition to India for its enduring commitment to refugee protection.”

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