U.S., India regularly consult at highest levels on democracy, human rights issues: State Department official

Senior U.S. State Department official emphasises regular high-level consultations between U.S. and India on democracy and human rights

April 23, 2024 03:22 pm | Updated 03:22 pm IST - Washington, DC [U.S.]

Robert S. Gilchrist, Senior Official in the Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labour. Photo: www.state.gov

Robert S. Gilchrist, Senior Official in the Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labour. Photo: www.state.gov

The United States (U.S.) and India regularly consult at the highest levels on democracy and human rights issues, a senior U.S. State Department official said on April 22 in response to an official report released. "What I will say is the U.S. and India regularly consult at the highest levels on democracy and human rights issues," a senior official from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour (DRL), Robert S Gilchrist, told reporters after the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices was released by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"We strongly encourage, and urge India to uphold its human rights obligations and commitments. We also regularly meet with civil society representatives, both in the U.S. and India, to hear their perspectives, and those sorts of perspectives inform the Human Rights Report," he said. "And we encourage the Government of India to consult and meet regularly with civil society organisations representing a diversity of people. So there are a number of steps. It remains a key component of our — not just our dialogue but in terms of our engagement with India," he asserted.

Mr. Gilchrist's remarks came in response to a query raised by a reporter of a Bangladesh news portal. U.S. Secretary of State Blinken in his remarks on the annual report of the State Department which is mandated by the U.S. Congress, addressed the human rights concerns stating, "The conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza continues to raise deeply troubling concerns for human rights."He added that the U.S. has condemned the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks while urging Israel to minimise civilian harm in its response.

The section on Israel, which runs 103 pages, documents "credible reports" of more than a dozen types of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention, conflict-related sexual violence or punishment, and the punishment of family members for alleged offences by a relative.The resulting conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has had a "significant negative impact" on the human rights status in Israel, the report said. It further cited credible reports of "unlawful killings" by both Hamas and the Israeli Government.

Mr. Blinken said the United States would continue to make assessments about foreign nations' records on human rights, and potentially authorize consequences for countries that fall short, regardless of their status as an enemy or partner of the United States.

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