EU-India local human rights dialogue – January 2021FIDH Submission
In 2020,the situation for human rights defenders and civil society organisations in India has drastically deteriorated. Civil society organisations, human rights defenders, and journalists face increasing restrictions in their ability to carry out their peaceful and legitimate human rights work. In September, Amnesty International India was forced to halt work due to reprisals initiated by the Indian government to retaliate against the organisation’s human rights activities. In early 2020, Indian authorities across the country used disproportionate force to repress numerous demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment.
In addition, in March, the country carried out the first executions in five years in a gang rape and murder case, which flew in the face of India’s efforts to take steps towards the abolition of the death penalty, and did nothing to effectively address the issue of sexual and gender-based violence.
In Jammu & Kashmir, the situation has continued to deteriorate since the Indian government, led by Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), abrogated Article 370 of the Indian constitution in 2019, and thereby revoked the region’s autonomous status. Authorities introduced a months-long lockdown which included a communications blockade, and during which night raids, arbitrary detentions of minors, torture, enforced disappearances and harassment of human rights defenders were reported. In 2020, new restrictions were introduced in response toCOVID-19, and harassment, raids, and arbitrary arrests and detentions against human rights defenders were reported. In addition, the introduction of new ‘Domicile Rules’, a set of provisions that define ‘domicile’ for employment purposes in the region, paves the way for a massive influx of settlers coming from outside Jammu and Kashmir. This measure is likely to significantly altering the demography of the Muslim-majority region and to undermine the full enjoyment of certain human rights by the local population, particularly with regard to economic, social and cultural rights – for example as a result of possible land confiscation and forced evictions to make way for India-backed infrastructure and investment projects.
During the upcoming EU-India dialogue, the EU should urge Indian authorities to:
Stop targetting human rights defenders, uphold the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of associationand freedom of peaceful assembly.
Repeal the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) used to harass human rights groups and restrict their ability to obtain foreign funding.
Release all students, activists, and others detained for peacefully protesting against the citizenship law and dismiss politically motivated charges against them.
In Jammu and Kashmir:◦Repeal the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Actused to arbitrarily detain people, including children, violating international due process standards.
◦Repeal the Domicile Rules.
◦Immediately release all those arbitrarily detained.
◦Investigate all allegations of grave human rights violations (torture and deaths in custody, extrajudicial killings).
◦Allow international bodies and organisations to access Jammu and Kashmir.
More information about recent individual cases:
Original Article here.