Amnesty International (AI), Front Line Defenders (FLD), Human Rights Watch (HRW), IDSN, Minority Rights Group International (MRG), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) issued a joint letter calling on the EU to specifically address serious concerns for the safety and rights of human rights defenders in India.
A joint statement by the EU Delegation and EU Member States represented in Kathmandu was issued on 3 June deploring the tragic loss of life in Rukum, condemning violence based on caste and other grounds and expressing the EU’s support to efforts undertaken to conduct a fair investigation leading to action to ensure justice and reparations for the victims and their families. The EU Ambassador to Nepal, Veronica Cody, also tweeted on the killings in Rukum on 30 May expressing the EU’s heartfelt condolences to the families and love ones of those killed , condemning such caste-based acts of violence and standing together with all those calling for justice for the victims.
"Let me also comment on the IDSN's application to an ECOSOC consultative status. The EU is fully aware of the repeated and unjustified defenals of IDSN by the UN NGO Committee, due to the opposition of one member state in the Committee. The EU has publicly expressed its concern regarding both the ill-functioning NGO Committee in general and the new deferral of IDSN during the last session of the Committee in January 2020."
Call on the European Commission to human rights and environmental due diligence. Signed by IDSN in October 2019
The EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, has announced that the EU Commission will introduce a legislative initiative next year on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence for EU based companies. If this legislation is introduced, EU companies can be held responsible for human rights violations in their supply chains. This is very good news for Dalits, Adivasis and other vulnerable workers. These workers often bear the brunt of serious human rights violations in supply chains, including forced and bonded labour, child labour, exploitative and dangerous working conditions and hostile and abusive work environments – as documented in the Ethical Trading Initiative’s guidance Caste in Global Supply Chains. These workers are often found far down in the supply chains as agricultural workers, construction or stone workers or working in spinning mills or leather tanneries supplying the global garment industry.
The report covers key developments and activities within IDSN’s work under the thematic areas Dalit women and gender justice, business and human rights and equality and participation, within the United Nations, European Union, and communications and networking programmes.
The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) welcomes the adoption of the European Parliament’s annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2018 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 facilitation of human development”.
From the streets of South Asia, activists fighting for justice, human rights and freedom from caste apartheid are now bringing the campaign #NoCasteLeftBehind to Europe. The activists will be in Brussels to take part in the European Development Days from 18-19 June.
An IDSN delegation with Dalit human rights defenders from Nepal, India and Bangladesh made its mark on the European Development Days 2019, with a stand in the Global Village and participation in key sessions. The event also saw the launch of IDSN’s #NoCasteLeftBehind initiative with participants joining hands to fight caste discrimination. After the European Development Days, the delegation also met with key EU officials, including the new EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore.
IDSN welcomes the new EU Human Rights Guidelines on Non-discrimination in External Action, where caste is mentioned several times as a form of discrimination that must be addressed. It is specified in the guidelines that the term ‘descent’, “includes discrimination against members of communities based on forms of social stratification such as caste and analogous systems of inherited status”, and that the EU should, “Participate actively in UN mechanisms and processes dedicated to general and specific discrimination related issues such as … discrimination based on caste (work and descent)”. The guidelines also state the EU must encourage and support active participation of civil society in multilateral fora and mechanisms in relation to discrimination based on caste (work and descent).
MEPs ask EU to act to end the unjust blocking of IDSN’s UN accreditation Several high-profile members of the European Parliament have sent a letter to the EU High-Representative for Foreign Affairs, Frederica Mogherini, asking the EU to take action to support IDSN’s 10-year quest for UN accreditation, at the UN NGO Committee.
An IDSN delegation consisting of Bhakta Bishwakarma, Dalit NGO Federation/IDSN member, and Judith Anne Laal, NDMJ- NCDHR, participated in the 20th EU-NGO Human Rights Forum in Brussels that took place November 20-22. The Forum, organized by the EEAS and the European Commission, together with the European Parliament for the first time, gathered more than 200 civil society representatives from all over the globe. The Forum was also organised in partnership with the NGO umbrella Human Rights and Democracy Network (HRDN), of which IDSN is a member. Read the IDSN article on the NGO Forum here.
The European Parliamentary Hearing on contemporary forms of slavery featured a presentation on caste and slavery in the supply chains of global companies by Ramesh Nathan, General Secretary of the National Dalit Movement For Justice-NCDHR, India. Ramesh pointed out the strong correlation between caste and slavery in India and urged the EU to step up action to address this in the supply chains of European companies. Read the IDSN article on the hearing here >>
IDSN welcomes the 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. The report specifically asks the EU to step up action to address caste-based discrimination at the UN and delegation levels. “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 following the adoption of the report. Read the IDSN press release on the report here >>
EU high-representative calls the UN NGO Committee “hostile to civil society interests, particularly … caste discrimination.” In her answer to Member of the European Parliament, Jean Lambert’s, question, on what the EU were doing to support IDSN’s application for UN consultative status, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, stated that, “A critical mass of members of the NGO Committee is hostile to civil society interests, particularly in sensitive areas such as caste discrimination.” Read the IDSN article on the reply by the EU high-representative here >>
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, has been asked by a Member of the European Parliament, Jean Lambert, to outline any specific steps that the EU has taken to proactively support IDSN’s Consultative Status at the UN to date and what plans exist for future support.
Dalit women activists from India and Nepal took part in the European Development days to share their experiences with, and learn from, other women activists fighting similar struggles across the globe. The women also shared their stories with EU officials and development actors.
Nine Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have issued a letter to the EU High Representative, Frederica Mogherini, urging for the EU to cancel all agreements with India until human rights activists, that have been unjustly arrested, have been released and “the hunt against the Adivasis, Dalits, religious minorities and Kashmir, Manipuri people is stopped.”
The EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs has reiterated the EU’s commitment to fighting caste-based discrimination and gender-based violence, following the rape of five female anti-trafficking activists in India, earlier this summer. The women were performing a play against human trafficking in Jharkhand state when they were abducted and gang-raped.