The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) welcomes the adoption of the European Parliament’s annual report on human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter.
The European Parliament’s report “Notes with great concern the scale and consequences of caste hierarchies, caste-based discrimination and the perpetuation of caste-based human rights violations, including the denial of access to the legal system or employment, continued segregation, poverty and stigmatisation, and caste-related barriers to the exercise of basic human rights and the facilitation of human development.”
The report calls for “the EU and its Member States to intensify efforts and support initiatives at the UN and in the relevant third countries to eliminate caste discrimination.”
The report furthermore, “underlines the need to carry out an impartial, fair and transparent review of the applications for consultative status on the UN Economic and Social Council by nongovernmental organisations (NGOs); supports the EU’s call for the approval of heavily delayed applications from certain reputable NGOs.”
IDSN welcomes this call as IDSN’s application for UN consultative status has been unjustly deferred by the UN NGO committee for 14 years, making it the longest pending application and obstructing work at the UN level.
At least 260 million people around the globe face appalling and dehumanising discrimination based on caste and similar systems of inherited status. Caste-based discrimination involves massive violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Caste systems are found in South Asia, in communities migrated from South Asia across the globe and in other caste-stratified countries in Africa and Asia. Caste systems divide people into unequal and hierarchical social groups and is a root cause of forced and bonded labour.
The report also calls for the eradication of forced labour and other forms of human rights abuses in supply chains and specifically, “calls on European companies to fulfil their corporate responsibility by undertaking a thorough review of their supply chains to ensure that they are not implicated in human rights abuses.”
IDSN hopes to see these crucial calls transformed into action by the EU and its member states in 2022, in particular in light of the French Presidency of the EU’s stated priorities of fighting discrimination and gender based violence. It also reiterates the previous year’s report’s calls for the EU “to act on its own grave concerns over caste discrimination” and move to develop an “EU policy on caste discrimination”, including “the adoption of an EU instrument for the prevention and elimination of caste-based discrimination”.