HOW INDIA’S COURTS ARE ALLOWING FOREIGNERS TRIBUNALS
TO RENDER PEOPLE STATELESS IN ASSAM
The fate of over 1.9 million people who have been left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam now rests with the Foreigners Tribunals.
For the last 15 years, Foreigners Tribunals have wreaked havoc in Assam by arbitrarily denying people their citizenship. Riddled with bias, they have declared Indian citizens to be foreigners for minor spelling mistakes in their names, their inability to provide detailed documents or recall minute ancestral details dating back 50 years or more. These semi-judicial bodies have not been held accountable by the courts, the Government of India and the Government of Assam. Instead, they have been emboldened to function with little or no oversight.
Amnesty International India strongly urges the Government of India to ensure that the Foreigners Tribunals function with utmost transparency and operate in line with fair trial standards. They must ensure legitimate citizenship claims are not rejected due to a broken system steeped in discrimination. They must be encouraged to include and not designed to exclude.
Read stories from the ground of those fighting a losing battle for citizenship in Assam.
For a more detailed look into how the Foreigners Tribunals are functioning and Amnesty International India’s recommendations, read our briefing, Designed To Exclude.READ
It is a tall order to expect anyone to recall minute details from their ancestral past, but the Foreigners Tribunals are using this lack of information to deny citizenship.
Narayan Das found out that a simple name change could not only strip him of his citizenship, but also break his family apart.
Despite having the documents, the Foreigners Tribunal rejected Seema's citizenship for not remembering minute details of her ancestry.
“I had and still have all the documents needed to prove that I am an Indian citizen," says Faroukh
When Ashok went to the hospital, instead of the ICU, he found his father lying on the floor. Dulal, a daily wage labourer, died two years after being declared a foreigner and detained.
Married at a young age with no formal education, it is tough for women in Assam to prove their citizenship with the right documents.
After proving her Indian Citizenship to the Foreigners Tribunal, Fatima thought trying times were over. Until another notice came for her.
With no one around to help her understand the implications of the notice, Bishaka missed 37 hearings in her case.