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The Rohingya Reversal

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections


In 2012, repression by Myanmar authorities dramatically intensified as violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities swept Rakhine State. The authorities’ response was to segregate Muslims from the rest of society.


The Rohingya are discriminated against in many ways – and they are also denied legal rights to challenge this discrimination. 


Context:

At the annual session of the executive committee of the UNHCR held in Geneva, India stated,

“We are a responsible state with a functional democracy and rule of law.”

On the same day, October 3, seven Rohingya men were being taken to the Indo-Myanmar border for a scheduled deportation.

Ironically, they had no access to legal counsel, courts or the UNHCR, which is mandated by the government to conduct refugee status determination of Myanmar nationals.


NHRC v. State of Arunachal:

In NHRC v. State of Arunachal, the Court extended protection under Article 14 and 21 to refugeesFurther, various high courts have upheld the customary international law principle of non-refoulement in deportation cases and have referred the detainees to UNHCRIn view of these principles, the deportation of Rohingya refugees is in contravention of India’s obligations both under the Constitution and international law



illegal immigrants:

With regard to the argument that the men were “illegal immigrants”, it should be noted that, given the circumstances that cause them to flee, refugees often cross borders without prior planning or valid documentationIf anything, this should reinforce their status as “refugees”In the present case, given the overwhelming evidence to show that the Rohingya deported to Myanmar are at risk of being tortured, indefinitely detained and even killed, the deportation potentially violates Article 21, and India’s international obligations.


Plight of Rohingyas

Refugees frequently, though not always, are citizens of the state they are fleeing fromThe root of the plight of the Rohingya is the denial of citizenshipIn Myanmar, they are being issued the controversial National Verification Card which does not recognise their religion or ethnicity — and definitely does not confer citizenship


Conclusion

In the absence of a domestic law for refugee protection, it has been up to the judiciary to extend minimum constitutional protection to refugees

By allowing this deportation, the SC has set a new precedent that is contrary to India’s core constitutional tenets.

By this verdict, the judiciary has stepped back from its own principles.


Sources IE


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