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EU-India trade: Call to include 'strong' human rights clause, suspension mechanism

By Our Representative
While recent reports on the European Union (EU) resolution on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), quoting EU officials, seek to suggest that EU is “keener” on concluding trade and investments agreements with New Delhi than discussing Kashmir and the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a closer look at the draft resolution, proposed to be taken up for discussion in March 2020, appears to point towards something totally different.
The resolution, while condemning India’s stance on Kashmir and CAA, “urges the EU and Member States to raise the controversial new citizenship legislation in their contacts and negotiations with their Indian partners, and insists that any EU trade agreement with India should include a strong human rights clause with an effective implementation and suspension mechanism.”
A vote on the resolution has been postponed following a decision by members of European Parliament (MEPs) at its plenary session in Brussels on January 29 to the March session because it was found necessary to wait for the legal process on CAA in India to conclude. The reason given was, the Supreme Court was looking into the matter, hence it would be better to vote on the resolution “when there is full clarity on the situation.”
Specifically underlining that the situation in Kashmir and CAA should be looked at against the backdrop of “trade negotiations… underway between the EU and India”, expresses what it calls “deep concern at the fact that India has created the legal grounds to strip millions of Muslims of the fundamental right of equal access to citizenship”, adding, EU is “concerned that the CAA could be used, along with the National Register of Citizens, to render many Muslim citizens stateless.”
The resolution says, the Government of India is obliged, under the 1992 UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, “to protect the existence and identity of religious minorities within their territories and to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that this is achieved”, adding, “people belonging to minority groups, including religious minorities” should be allowed to “exercise their human rights without discrimination and in full equality before the law.”
“Strongly” condemning India’s “violation of these internationally recognised principles”, the resolution calls on the “Government and Parliament of India to demonstrate their expressed commitment to fully guaranteeing the protection of refugees and migrants, irrespective of their religion”, urging “the Indian authorities to engage constructively with the protestors and consider their demands to repeal the discriminatory CAA.”
The resolution declares “solidarity with the national strike held on January 7”, noting that “over 250 million workers have taken to the streets to protest for social security for all, against the privatisation of public companies, and against the CAA”, even as condemning “the excessive force in the crackdown on protests.”
EU draft seeks prompt and impartial investigation into allegations of torture and ill-treatment of peaceful protestors
Insisting that “citizens have the right to protest”, it calls upon “the Government of India to establish a credible, independent investigation into allegations of excessive use of force and violence by law enforcement officials against demonstrators.”
It further calls upon the “Indian authorities to stop the criminalisation of protests, to lift the disproportionate restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, to end the indiscriminate shutdowns and to ensure the protection of all human rights”, adding, it “condemns the torture and detention of minors and peaceful protestors and the imprisonment of those critical of the authorities.”
At the same time, the resolution calls upon the EU and Member States “to condemn all violence in the context of the ongoing protests against the CAA, including the alleged killing of protestors by law enforcement officials, and all incidents of excess use of force by the police, some of which have been verified by Amnesty International India.”
Asking the Indian authorities to “launch a prompt and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment of peaceful protestors”, the resolution wants “the EU and its Member States to use all bilateral and multilateral meetings to urge the Indian authorities to open up to a constructive human rights dialogue and to end the crackdown on individuals and organisations working on human rights”.

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