The UN independent human rights experts has urged India to ensure the well being of more than a 100 million migrant workers who were rendered jobless. The global body asked the government to comply with the order of the Supreme Court of India that has directed to ensure the wellbeing of the migrant workers.
The UN independent human rights experts said that they were appalled at the disregard shown by the Indian Government towards internal migrant laborers, especially those who belong to marginalized minorities and lower castes.
Special Rapporteurs on the right to housing, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, and on extreme poverty, Olivier De Schutter alleged that the country had failed to address the problems of these people but exacerbated their vulnerability, “with police brutality and by failing to stop their stigmatization as ‘virus carriers’”.
They said that the migrant workers were living in intolerable conditions, without shelter and are going without food after losing their income and after being forced out of their homes by landlords.
They reiterated that the Supreme Court order will be promptly implemented to help improve the situation of migrant workers. The Supreme Court has ordered to take measures to mitigate the problems of the migrant workers. They called for proper registration of these people. Apart from this, the Apex court also asked the government to ensure free transportation and provide the migrants with shelter, food and water until they reach their homes.
“While we applaud the Government’s efforts so far to provide ‘relief packages’ for people living in poverty, and to schedule extra train rides, these have been clearly inadequate and insufficient due to the vast majority of internal migrant workers not qualifying for relief packages, and the lack of coordination among state governments for the transportation of internal migrants”, the independent experts said.
They also said that it was testing time for India as the country was reeling under covid crisis. They said that the government by adhering to the SC order gave it an opportunity to show its willingness to comply with its responsibilities under human rights law.
The experts’ call, also conveyed directly to the Indian Government, has been endorsed by Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri; the Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health, Dainius Pūras; and the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.