A report entitled, South Asia State of Minorities 2016, launched on Friday states that the laws against caste discriminate and affirmative policies have not been able to make much difference to the lives of minority groups.
Caste-based Discriminate and Untouchability (Offence and Punishment) Act 2011 has not been able to propel Dalits to register their cases in court, the report says.
It states that of the 18 cases related to caste-based discrimination and untouchability that reached the court, none of the perpetrators was sent to jail. Instead, they were imposed paltry fines with small compensations provided to the victims.
“The laws are in place but we are failing in the implementation part. The need now is to ensure the existing laws are implemented to protect the rights of the minority groups,” said Durga Sob, a Dalit right activist.
According to the report, minority groups in the South Asian region have very little access to socio-economic rights, education, right to justice and political rights and participation in the government.
“We hope our findings and recommendation work as a common tool for advocacy to promote the rights of minority in the region,” said Sajjad Hassan, of Misaal, a Delhi based organisation, working for the rights of minority.
In terms of socioeconomic rights, the report says minorities make up disproportionate numbers of the poor and excluded group pointing to the widespread discrimination against with religious, ethnic, linguistic and indigenous minorities, particularly women comprising of poorest and most vulnerable sections in the region.
“South Asia is the only country without any regional minority rights instrument or mechanism. That is why it is crucial to work with civil society -local and regional to prepare the ground for greater respect in society for minority and human right and also demand action on those by state parties,” said Sharmila Karki, member of People’s Saarc.