India: Seven NGOs Call On The EU To Uphold Human Rights Ahead Of EU-India Human Rights Dialogue

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Human Rights Organisation which specializes in freedom of religion, CSW has joined six other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in calling on the European Union (EU) to take a strong stand on human rights ahead of the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue scheduled for 12 January 2021.

The NGOs urged the EU to press India to immediately end systemic human rights violations and free all jailed human rights defenders and political prisoners.

The dialogue marks the first time in eight years that the EU will be reconvening with the Indian government to discuss human rights. India currently does not have any other human rights dialogue of the sort with any country.

According to CSW, The human rights dialogue presents an important opportunity for the EU to clearly raise its concerns with the Indian government and press it to adhere to its human rights obligations, as the country has seen a sharp deterioration in human rights and fundamental freedoms along with a shrinking space for civil society, especially over the past year.

On 5 October 2020, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Maria Arena called on the Indian government to honour its human rights commitments. She highlighted concerns over human rights abuses against marginalised communities, religious minorities and civil society. In July 2020, at the 15th EU-India Summit, the leaders committed to strengthen the EU-India Strategic Partnership, which is based on “shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights.”

CSW’s European Liaison Officer Alessandro Pecorari said: “CSW welcomes and echoes calls by civil society urging the EU to make full use of the upcoming human rights dialogue as a means of pressing for real change in India. Of particular importance to the situation of religious minorities in the country is the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and the discriminatory precedent it sets for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) towards these minorities in revoking their citizenship.

“Worrying trends have already been observed in the province of Assam, where immigrant detention centres have separated families. This is just one example of a host of violations of human rights, including of the right to freedom of religion or belief, which must be on the table in upcoming discussions. CSW therefore joins these NGOs in urging the EU, as well as the wider international community, to hold the Indian government up to scrutiny in accordance with UN treaty bodies, and to ensure accountability for all human rights abuses.”

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