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House of Commons Hansard
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India: Christianity
23 March 2010
Volume 508
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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implementation by the Government of India of the recommendations made in the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of 26 January 2009; and if he will make a statement. [323286]

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[holding answer 22 March 2010]: The recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Beliefs report of 26 January 2009 have been used as a point of reference for India's compliance with international conventions during the most recent EU-India Human Rights Dialogue in February 2009, when the issue of freedom of religion or belief in relation to minority rights was discussed with Indian officials. We will continue to raise the issue of minority rights, including the right to freedom of religion and belief with the appropriate Indian authorities as part of the ongoing EU-India Human Rights Dialogue.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the steps taken by the Government of Orissa state (a) to address the causes of the communal violence in 2008 and (b) to bring the perpetrators and inciters of such violence to justice. [323287]

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[holding answer 22 March 2010]: The communal violence in 2008 was caused by a range of complex socio-economic issues. The Orissa State Government has taken a number of steps to prevent further communal violence. A draft Prevention of Communal Violence Bill to provide for the prevention and control of communal violence, the speedy investigation and trial of cases and rehabilitation of victims has been introduced to the Upper House. The State Government commissioned a judicial probe led by Justice Mohapatra to look into the causes of violence. They have also taken steps to improve the security and delivery of justice to victims and the local authorities have set up fast track courts for the cases brought against the perpetrators of the violence.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the outcome of the visit to Orissa state of a delegation of the EU delegation to India; and whether (a) the Government and (b) the EU plans any follow-up action to assist in community reconciliation. [323288]

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[holding answer 22 March 2010]: The EU delegation visited Orissa from 2-5 February and met Government and police officials, civil society and victims in Bhubaneswar and Kandhamal. They noted that local authorities have made some progress on rehabilitation and resettlement, and continue to work to address displacement and justice issues. The EU delegation also identified cross-community peace-building initiatives and improving the capacity of victims lawyers as important areas to address.

The EU delegation investigated what action was being taken towards community reconciliation in their discussions with the Government authorities and civil society. They were informed of a range of activities such as street theatre, music, vocational, and educational initiatives focusing on building lasting peace between the communities. Peace and national integration camps have also been set up and a peace initiative called 'Antaranga' involving more than 150 youth organisations from all the local communities has also been established with the support of non-governmental organisations. The delegation are assessing the outcomes of their visit, including the question of follow-up.