IDSN welcomes The European Parliament adoption of a comprehensive report on EU-India relations on 17 January. This report, while broadly focusing on various aspects of the EU-India relationship excluding trade, contains critical insights and recommendations pertinent to the issue of caste-based discrimination in India. Authored by MEP Alviina Alametsa, the standing rapporteur on India, the document follows up on previous work and provides a framework for addressing these human rights concerns.
The report acknowledges the challenges faced by human rights defenders and journalists in India, including harassment and arbitrary detention. Specifically, it highlights the systemic problem of caste-based discrimination, which persists despite legal prohibitions.
Addressing Caste-Based Discrimination:
- The EU is urged to “adopt in particular a country strategy to help fight caste-based discrimination and to mainstream caste-related perspectives in the EU and Member State partnership with India.”
- The EU Council, Commission, and the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy are urged to “press the Indian authorities to end persisting caste-based discrimination in India and to grant rights to Adivasi communities under the Forest Rights Act,” and share EU experiences with addressing hate crimes
- A focus on mainstreaming caste-related perspectives in EU-India partnerships is emphasized
Supporting Human Rights and Civil Society:
- The report calls for joint efforts to create a safe and democratic environment for human rights defenders, including those working for Dalit rights
- It recommends ceasing the use of repressive laws and releasing political prisoners
- The EU is advised to increase support for civil society organizations and human rights defenders
Promoting Broader Human Rights Engagement:
- India is urged to act on the recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review process and to facilitate visits by UN special procedures
- The report emphasizes integrating human rights and democratic values in EU-India relations
- It suggests the establishment of an EU-India Civil Society Platform and an EU-India Youth Summit
The adoption of this report by the European Parliament is an important step in addressing caste-based discrimination in India. It not only underscores the need for a strategic and concerted effort to combat this problem but also sets a precedent for future EU engagements with India on human rights and social justice issues. IDSN welcomes these developments and advocates for the swift implementation of these recommendations to ensure the work for a world free of caste discrimination is prioritised.
We recommend reading the full report for a comprehensive overview.