December 12th 2018
The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) welcomes today’s adoption of the European Parliament’s annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2017 and the European Union’s policy on the matter.
Once again Members of the European Parliament have condemned, “the continuing human rights violations committed against people suffering from caste hierarchies and caste-based discrimination, segregation and caste-induced barriers, including the denial of access to employment and the legal system and other basic human rights’’. Furthermore, MEPs expressed their deep concern over the, “ensuing institutionalised discrimination and by the alarming frequency of caste-based violent attacks”.
Moving forward, the EU and its Member States were called upon, “to intensify efforts and support initiatives at UN and delegation level to eliminate caste discrimination”.
Caste-based discrimination, which affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world, involves serious violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. At least 260 million people around the globe face appalling and dehumanising discrimination based on caste and similar systems of inherited status. Despite policy development and new legislation in some countries, fundamental challenges still remain in caste-affected countries.
Barriers also exist in addressing caste discrimination in multilateral fora. IDSN’s application for UN consultative status has been unjustly deferred by the UN NGO committee for over 10 years, making it the longest pending application.
The European Parliament has been at the forefront of the international community in addressing caste-based discrimination during its current legislature, which will end in May 2019, through various initiatives and in its annual human rights reports.
“It’s time for the EU and its member states to fully heed the European Parliament’s recommendations. In particular, IDSN would like to see the EU use every opportunity in its trade, development and foreign policy to address caste-based discrimination. The EU should also actively support applications for UN consultative status submitted by NGOs, such as IDSN, which would enable the voices of Dalit advocates to be heard at the UN level”, said Meena Varma, Executive Chair, IDSN