Monthly Archives: May 2012

Caste included in the adopted report on the UK UPR review

30th May 2012

The report on the UN human rights review of the UK was adopted today. A significant recommendation on caste discrimination has been included in the final report. This will provide the basis for monitoring and reporting on the UK’s efforts to amend its legislation to include caste and promote a national strategy to eliminate caste discrimination in the next four years.

(News from IDSN) The UPR report from the review of the UK on 24 May has now been adopted, and includes one strong recommendation on caste-discrimination made by Nicaragua, who expressed concern at reports of caste based discrimination in the UK. The recommendation reads that the UK should,

Put in practice a national strategy to eliminate discrimination against caste, through the immediate adoption of the Equality Law of 2010 that prohibits such discrimination, in conformity with its international human rights obligations, including CERD’s General Recommendation 29 and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism (Nicaragua)”


UK caste battle taken to the UN

25th May 2012

(Press Release, Geneva, 25 May 2012) As the UK’s first ever caste discrimination case is pending in court, the UK is given a strong recommendation to immediately adopt legislation outlawing caste discrimination, at the UN human rights review of the UK.

Caste discrimination occurring in the South Asian diaspora in the UK, affecting the rights of more than 250,000 lower caste citizens also known as Dalits, has been a well kept secret on the international arena. But at the UN Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in the UK on 24 May, several states voiced concerns about the UK Equality Act and anti-discrimination legislation. The UK was specifically recommended to

”… develop a national strategy to eliminate caste discrimination, including the immediate adoption of the clause in the Equality Act of 2010 that prohibits caste discrimination, in accordance with its international human rights obligations.”

Vijay Begraj, who has launched a case at the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal, discrimination, victimisation and harassment, due to his caste, was present at the UN review. Mr. Begraj and his wife were seriously harassed and Vijay was dismissed by the firm, because they had married across caste divides. Following the review, a statement was read out on behalf of Mr. Begraj commenting,

”I am extremely distressed and traumatised by the painful, humiliating and violent events that I have been subjected to because of my inter caste relationship and marriage. I welcome the involvement of the member states of the United Nations to take steps exploring this issue and provide long awaited relief to victims like my wife and I and provide clarity in the legislation.”

Mr. Begraj’s case is the first of its kind but is unfortunately not a unique occurrence. In 2010 a UK Government commissioned report found that caste discrimination in the UK was found to have extensive personal consequences including reduced career prospects, lower earnings, detrimental effects on education, social isolation, reduced access to social provisions, depression, anger, and loss of self-esteem.

Human rights activists and organisations in the UK, as well as the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dalits, have been fighting a battle to outlaw caste discrimination for years. They are calling for action to be taken by the Government without further delay. At the UN review, the UK delegation pledged to respond to all issues raised in writing.

”Caste discrimination must be outlawed in the UK,” said Meena Varma of the Dalit Solidarity Network – UK (DSN-UK), also present at the review,  ”we are looking forward to immediate action being taken by the Government in response to the UN concerns and concerns of hundreds of thousands of UK citizens affected by this type of discrimination, from which there is currently no proper method of redress.”

Jeremy Corbyn, UK MP and chair of DSN-UK, spoke at the UN side-event held to follow up to the UK review,

“As a result of campaigning we achieved a breakthrough in 2010 when Parliament amended the Equality Act to outlaw caste discrimination, pending Government commissioned research. We now have the report with the evidence and the UK Government must act immediately to adopt the caste discrimination clause, and deliver proper access to justice for victims.”

Meena Varma, Director, Dalit Solidarity Network – UK, Telephone +44 (0) 7966081558 • Email  • web:

More information:
Recommendation made by the State of Nicaragua at the UN review >>

Article on the results of the Government commissioned report on caste discrimination in the UK >>

Article on the case of Vijay Begraj >>

UPR UK 2012: Briefing note with key recommendations and question – Caste discrimination in the UK >>

DSN-UK and IDSN joint UPR submission on caste-based discrimination in the UK >>

UPR-Reviews of the UK and India: Time to act on caste discrimination

18th May 2012

When India and the UK come up for review by the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 24 May, IDSN and DSN-UK urges all UN member states to seize this important opportunity to address concerns about caste discrimination based on recommendations by civil society and UN human rights bodies.

Ahead of the reviews, IDSN has launched an Appeal to UN Member States, Special Procedures, and UN Agencies to Take Action to Eliminate Caste Discrimination Now and has issued a joint press release with Human Rights Watch, specifically on the UPR of India.

“United Nations member states should call for effective implementation of laws and policies to address caste-related human rights violations in India,” says Julie de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch in the press release. “Numerous UN human rights bodies and civil society groups are demanding that the Indian government move from promises to action to improve the lives of people who have long endured horrific discrimination … It would be a great injustice to over 160 million Dalits in India if the UN review of India’s human rights record does not directly and comprehensively address serious concerns for the on-going human rights violations against them.”

IDSN has issued a number of recommendations to be raised at the reviews of both India and the United Kingdom. Although less known, caste discrimination within the South Asian diaspora in the UK is a problem affecting at least 250.000 Dalits. These aspects are also reflected in the stakeholders’ reports compiled by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In the review of the United Kingdom, IDSN recommends that the UK Government immediately adopts the amendment to prohibit caste discrimination in the Equality Act 2010 and puts into action a national strategy to eliminate caste discrimination. In the review of India, Human Rights Watch and IDSN urge member states to recommend the Government to take effective measures to protect the rights of Dalits, address widespread impunity for crimes committed against them, and lack of access to justice and basic services.

IDSN has been part of preparing briefing notes and UPR submissions concerning the situation of Dalits in the two countries together with its members. The briefing notes include key recommendations and questions for States to raise in the interactive dialogues on 24 May.

The two reviews present a major opportunity to examine and hold the governments accountable to their human rights obligations on the aspect of caste discrimination. IDSN therefore appeals to all States to raise concerns about caste-based violations and recommend the sharing of good practices to eliminate caste discrimination in the two country reviews.

In conclusion of the UPRs, IDSN organizes an Information Meeting recapping the outcomes of the reviews and reflecting on the follow-up action at the national and international level. Delegations, the press, and NGOs are welcome to this side event, which will be held in Geneva on 25 May at 2-3 pm – at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.

Share this news on Facebook >>

Briefing notes and UPR Submissions:

Caste discrimination in the UK – UPR review 24 May:

Caste discrimination in India – UPR review 24 May:

You can find more information about the UPR mechanism, incl. links here >>