Lots of human rights challenges in India: US

An important ally of the US, India has a lot of human rights challenges, a US official on Saturday said, adding they raise it with their Indian counterparts whenever they have any human rights concerns.

Updated: Dec 11, 2010, 14:34 PM IST

Washington: An important ally of the US, India has a lot of human rights challenges, a US official on Saturday said, adding they raise it with their Indian counterparts whenever they have any human rights concerns.

"It`s the largest democracy in the world. It`s also a big country with lots of human rights challenges. And when we have concerns, we raise them with the Indian Government," US Assistant Secretary for Democracy Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner said.

At a State Department news conference, Posner said the Indian government is doing a lot of very positive things, but there are some challenges.
"I don`t want to get into the details now. Those reports have pages and pages. But we continue to regard India as a very important ally and friend," Posner said in response
to a question.

Posner said the US is are now really engaged on an ongoing basis here and through its embassies in greater outreach, greater participation with civil society
organisations.

"Today, Human Rights Day, we went to every embassy in the world and we said, "Be creative, be affirmative, and do that as part of our celebration."

"It`s also true, I think, that we`ve set up a fund to support civil society organizations," he said.

"We`re getting other governments to join in that fund. We`re doing more through a working group. The Canadians are running through the Community of Democracies. So I think you’re going to see greater attention," he said.

Posner said the US is aware about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

"We continue to engage directly with the Sri Lankan Government on those issues of looking at the past. The UN, as you say, has an expert that`s now doing its work. We`re going to watch that closely," he said.

"There is a very real internal discussion here about what our alternatives are. But we`re aware of both of some of the humanitarian issues that continue to be of concern, as
well as the issues of how to deal with the past," he said.

Posner said he would be travelling to the Thai-Burmese border to look at some of the issues of the refugee population there, which is another piece of the puzzle.

"But we`re very focused right now on the next steps vis-a-vis Burma," he said.

PTI