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29th May Current Affairs

Panel to define offences of speech, expression

In News:

As there is no clear definition of what constitutes a “hate speech” in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws is attempting for the first time to define such speech.

Details:

The committee is expected to submit its report soon.

Has it been defined anywhere else?

The Bureau of Police Research and Development recently published a manual for investigating agencies on cyber harassment cases that defined hate speech as a “language that denigrates, insults, threatens or targets an individual based on their identity and other traits (such as sexual orientation or disability or religion etc.).”

Need for a standard definition:

Legally speaking, for criminal Sections to be invoked, any hate speech has to lead to violence or disturbance of law and order. However, even merely criticising someone is being termed hate speech. This is happening as there is no proper definition for this.

About the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws:

In 2019, the Home Ministry decided to overhaul the IPC, framed in 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) after seeking suggestions from States, the Supreme Court, High Courts, the Bar Council of India, Bar Councils of States, universities and law institutes on comprehensive amendments to criminal laws.

The committee thus formed is examining a gamut of subjects pertaining to reforms in the IPC.

The committee has decided that instead of ad hoc changes, all the pending issues such as those on hate speech as recommended by the Viswanathan committee can be examined and comprehensive changes are brought in.

What are the factors giving rise to hate speech?

The primary reason for the propagation of hate speech by individuals is that they believe in stereotypes that are ingrained in their minds and these stereotypes lead them to believe that a class or group of persons are inferior to them and as such cannot have the same rights as them.

The stubbornness to stick to a particular ideology without caring for the right to co-exist peacefully adds further fuel to the fire of hate speech.

Hate speech threatens two key doctrines of democracy:

  • The guarantee of equal dignity to all.
  • The public good of inclusiveness.

What should be the criteria to identify hate speech?

  • The extremity of the speech.
  • Incitement
  • Status of the author of the speech.
  • Status of victims of the speech.
  • Potentiality of the speech.
  • Context of the Speech.

The penal provisions which relate to this aspect are as follows:

  • Sections 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) punish acts that cause enmity and hatred between two groups.
  • Section 295A of the IPC deal with punishing acts which deliberately or with malicious intention outrage the religious feelings of a class of persons.
  • Sections 505(1) and 505(2) make the publication and circulation of content which may cause ill-will or hatred between different groups an offence.
  • Section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 (RPA) prevents a person convicted of the illegal use of the freedom of speech from contesting an election.
  • Sections 123(3A) and 125 of the RPA bar the promotion of animosity on the grounds of race, religion, community, caste, or language in reference to elections and include it under corrupt electoral practices.

One Stop Centre Scheme

In News:

The Central government will set up One Stop Centres (OSCs) across 10 missions to provide assistance to Indian women who are survivors of gender-based violence.

Details:

The missions where the OSCs will come up are Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada and Singapore.

About the scheme:

Popularly known as Sakhi, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has formulated this Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

It is a sub – scheme of Umbrella Scheme for National Mission for Empowerment of women.

Target group: The OSC will support all women including girls below 18 years of age affected by violence, irrespective of caste, class, religion, region, sexual orientation or marital status.

The Centres will be integrated with a Women Helpline to facilitate access to following services:

  • Emergency response and rescue services.
  • Medical assistance.
  • Assistance to women in lodging the FIR.
  • Psycho- social support and counselling.
  • Legal aid and counselling.
  • Video conferencing facility.

Funds:

The Scheme will be funded through Nirbhaya Fund. The Central Government will provide 100% financial assistance to the State Government /UT Administrations under the Scheme.

Need for protection:

Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a global health, human rights and development issue that transcends geography, class, culture, age, race and religion to affect every community and country in every corner of the world.

The Article 1 of UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence 1993 provides a definition of gender – based abuse, calling it “any act of gender – based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.

In India, gender based violence has many manifestations; from the more universally prevalent forms of domestic and sexual violence including rape, to harmful practices such as, dowry, honour killings, acid attacks, witch – hunting, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, child marriage, sex selective abortion, sati etc.

China denounces people’s tribunal in Britain on alleged Xinjiang abuses

In News:

China has denounced plans for a people’s tribunal in Britain on allegations of genocide against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim people in China’s Xinjiang region.

What’s the issue?

Xinjiang has become a major foreign policy headache for China, which is accused of locking up more than a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in re-education camps where they are forced to denounce their traditional culture and swear fealty to China’s ruling Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping.

Women from the region have also testified that they have been forced to undergo contraceptive measures, children have allegedly been taken from their incarcerated parents and claims of forced labor have prompted multinational companies to cut ties with Xinjiang’s key cotton industry.

China’s response on these allegations:

China says it has merely been providing job training and counseling to de-radicalize those influenced by jihadist propaganda following years of violent outbursts against Chinese rule in the region.

About the tribunal and its implications:

The tribunal does not have government backing.

It is to be chaired by prominent lawyer Geoffrey Nice, who led the prosecution of ex-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and worked with the International Criminal Court.

While the tribunal’s judgment is not binding on any government, organizers hope the process of publicly laying out evidence will compel international action to tackle the alleged abuses in Xinjiang.

Who are Uighurs?

The Uighurs are a predominantly Muslim minority Turkic ethnic group, whose origins can be traced to Central and East Asia.

The Uighurs speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.

China recognises the community only as a regional minority and rejects that they are an indigenous group.

Currently, the largest population of the Uighur ethnic community lives in the Xinjiang region of China.

A significant population of Uighurs also lives in the neighbouring Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Uighur Muslims for decades, under the false accusation by the Chinese government of terrorism and separatism, have suffered from abuses including persecution, forced detention, intense scrutiny, surveillance and even slavery.