European Parliament Asks India to Protect Human Rights

Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Maria Arena. Photo: European Parliament
Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Maria Arena. Photo: European Parliament

The hollow condemnation statements from the local as well as world community against the excesses of the Modi government are falling on deaf ears. In the absence of any punitive action against Modi and his party colleagues, the human rights violations and crimes against humanity being committed by the Modi government will continue. Statements without consequences have no effect.

By Rakesh Raman

The Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Maria Arena (S&D, BE), has expressed deep concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in India under the government headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi.

“It is with great concern that I have been observing the rule of law deteriorate in India, which is the very corner stone of our special relationship,” Ms Maria Arena said in an official statement Monday (October 5).

She added that the marginalized communities, religious minorities, particularly Muslims, a vocal and vibrant civil society and critics of government policies have been under increasing pressure for a long time.

Her statement as a member of the European Parliament listed a number of cases in which the Modi government is committing grave atrocities and human rights violations on the Indian citizens.

The statement said widespread protests over the proposed citizenship verification process and the discriminatory citizenship law amendments have resulted in arbitrary detentions and an unnecessary loss of life.

Journalists and other peaceful critics continue to be arrested under draconian counter-terrorism and sedition laws, while human rights defenders are unceasingly and severely targeted by the authorities.

An investigation carried out by Amnesty International India has unveiled grave human rights violations committed by the Delhi Police during the February 2020 Delhi riots.

Recently, over 200 top citizens from the United Kingdom (UK) also condemned the “dictatorial and majoritarian agenda” being pursued by the Modi government.

In an open letter signed by prominent figures from the field of arts, academia, journalism, law, and politics, the signatories have accused the Modi government of trumping up charges against students, human rights defenders, and civil society activists for peaceful and democratic protests.

“In the absence of action by India’s authorities since the outbreak of the violence, I strongly support the call for a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into all human rights violations committed by law enforcement officials,” Ms Maria Arena said.

She added that there should also be a fully independent, public and transparent inquiry into the role of the police in failing to prevent the violence that broke out and even aiding it. “Fighting impunity and promoting justice is the only way to stop and prevent police brutality,” she suggested.

Most recently and very worryingly, she said, Amnesty International India has been forced to announce that it is halting its work in India due to government reprisals.

As a sitting member of the Human Rights Council, India has pledged to “continue to foster the genuine participation and effective involvement of civil society in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

“Therefore, I call on the Indian government to meet this pledge. It is high time for India to translate words into action. In this context, I also wish to call on the EU (European Union) to address these concerns within the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue,” Ms Maria Arena said.

Recently, the UN Special Rapporteurs also expressed concern over the human rights situation in India and called on the authorities to take immediate action.

On the occasion of the 15th European Union – India Summit, which was held on 15 July this year, the participants endorsed the “EU-India Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025”, in which parties reaffirmed their commitment to promoting the shared values of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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Rakesh Raman