EU Parliamentary Committee Expresses Concern Over Human Rights Situation in India

The development assumes significance in the wake of the upcoming India-European Union summit in Portugal in May.

New Delhi: Ahead of next month’s proposed India-European Union summit in Portugal, European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee has called for both sides to work closely but also expressed concern over the “deteriorating human rights situation in India”.

On April 13, the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament adopted a report which has a set of recommendations on strengthening the bilateral relationship. The report, adopted with 61 votes in favour and six votes against, will be made public after the European Parliament approves it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to travel to Portugal to attend the India-EU summit on May 8.

According to a press release, the report calls on the EU and India to work together to “promote a shared vision of a rules-based world order in multilateral settings, reinforcing international security, fostering connectivity, fighting climate change and enhancing global economic stability”.

Quoting the committee’s rapporteur, Finnish member of European Parliament(MEP) Alviina Alametsä, the press release stated that India and EU “as the world’s largest democracies have all the possibilities to build a better planet”.

“To fulfil our potential, we need to be more ambitious in our cooperation on preventing climate crises, promoting human rights, building connectivity, sustainable trade and defending a multilateral international order,” she said.

The press release noted that members of the foreign affairs committee “have expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in India, echoing comments by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and several UN Special Rapporteurs”.

The concerns were about the “lack of safe working environment” for human rights defenders and journalists, as well as the “difficult situation” faced by women and minority groups. It also mentioned the closure of Amnesty International’s India offices over the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which the report pointed was a law that three UN Special rapporteurs “have asked to be amended”.

The report also voiced “alarm regarding India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is fundamentally discriminatory in nature against Muslims and dangerously divisive”.

The report also stated that the EU is closely following the situation in Kashmir.

Besides, the MEPs called on the EU to renew efforts for rapprochement and restoration of good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan “based on principles of international law”.

On China, there were expressions of concern on the worsening ties between the two Asian giants and China’s “expansive policy and substantial military build-up in the area”. “MEPs reiterate their support for peaceful dispute resolution, the need for constructive and comprehensive dialogue, and the upholding of international law on the India-China border,” said the press release.

With regard to economic relations, the report also advocated closer value-based trade ties and the need to work together on reforming the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

There was also a demand for modernisation of institutional architecture of the strategic partnership, including a more substantial parliamentary dimension.