Originally published in South Asia Monitor. Available here
Maria Arena, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, on Monday expressed “great concern” over India’s deteriorating rule of law faced by “marginalised communities, religious minorities, particularly Muslims, a vocal and vibrant civil society and critics of government policies” for a long time.
She further called on “for a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into all human rights violations committed by law enforcement officials.”
In a strong statement issued on Monday, she said: “It is with great concern that I have been observing the rule of law deteriorate in India, which is the very cornerstone of our special relationship.
“Marginalised 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,” 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,” she was referring to the country-wide protests last year and earlier this year over the controversial Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act, which made it possible for Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsees who came to India from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh before December 31, 2014, to obtain Indian citizenship. It excluded Muslims from taking this route to get citizenship.
“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,” the statement said.
Arena earlier in May had shot off a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the systematic violation of human rights in India and misuse of anti-terror laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). She had also slammed the Indian government for portraying anti-CAA protesters as terrorists also.
The statement also said that an investigation carried out by Amnesty International India has unveiled grave human rights violations committed by Delhi Police during the February 2020 Delhi riots.
“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.
“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.
“Most recently and very worryingly, 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, she said, 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, in a manner worthy of the global role model it aspires to be. It is high time for India to translate words into action. In this context, I also wish to call on the EU to address these concerns within the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue.”
Recently, the UN Special Rapporteurs expressed concern over the human rights situation in India and called on the authorities to take immediate action
Read more at: SouthAsiaMonitor