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Source: European Parliament


European Parliament resolution on India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019


The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on India,

 having regard to the statement by UN experts of 3 July 2019 on the risk of statelessness for millions and instability in Assam, India,

 having regard to the EU-India Strategic Partnership, launched in 2004,

 having regard to the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty, on Torture and on Freedom of Expression,

 having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,

 having regard to the Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration,

 having regard to the UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

 having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas India’s new Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) seeks to expedite citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been resident in the country since before 2014, but does not extend the same protection to Muslims; whereas the CAA will therefore have a discriminatory effect on access to nationality by certain religious groups, particularly Muslims;

B. whereas the CAA does not make reference to the other countries that border India, particularly Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, excluding minorities such as the Sri Lankan Tamils, who currently form the largest refugee group in India, and the Rohingya from Myanmar, who, according to the UN, are the world’s most persecuted minority;

C. whereas the new law will be reviewed by the Supreme Court of India; whereas the Government of Kerala, in its petition to the Supreme Court, called the CAA ‘a violation of the secular nature of the Indian constitution’ and accused the government of dividing the nation on religious lines;

D. whereas the adoption of the CAA has sparked massive protests against its implementation which have been met with excessive use of force by Indian police, resulting in 27 reported deaths, 175 people being injured and thousands of arrests; whereas the authorities have also used curfews and limits on public transportation to prevent peaceful protests;

E. whereas the Indian authorities implemented a near total shutdown of internet communications in several Indian states, cutting almost all means of online communication for people inside India and preventing any flow of information in relation to the protests; whereas the Indian authorities have also restricted internet access in many areas of the North East and of Uttar Pradesh, where a large proportion of Indian Muslims reside; whereas shutting down internet communications is a violation of the fundamental right to access information;

F. whereas on 20 December 2019, the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a statement warning television news broadcasters to ‘abstain from showing any content that promotes anti-national attitudes’;

G. whereas since its arrival in power, the Bharatiya Janata Party has followed an agenda of strong Hindu nationalism with devastating consequences for India’s Muslim minority; whereas during recent years, messages portraying Muslim Indian citizens either as terrorists or as a community aiming to exterminate Hindus have multiplied in India; whereas the Indian Government has remained silent regarding many of the hate crimes committed against Muslims; whereas according to the Pew Research Center, Muslims are the second most persecuted religious group in the world;

H. whereas the CAA was enacted amid the Indian Government’s push for a nationwide citizenship verification process, the National Register of Citizens (NRC); whereas government statements indicate that the NRC process aims to strip Muslims of their citizenship rights while protecting those of Hindus and other non-Muslims; whereas the NRC only lists as citizens those people who can prove that they or their ancestors entered India before 24 March 1971; whereas the result has been to render nearly two million people stateless in Assam, who may now be sent to detention camps or face deportation; whereas these processes may exacerbate the climate of xenophobia, while fuelling religious intolerance and discrimination in the country;

I. whereas the CAA, combined with the nationwide citizenship verification process, will leave India’s 200 million Muslims with the challenge of proving Indian nationality or becoming stateless;

J. whereas the Indian Government has reportedly deported Rohingya Muslim refugees to Myanmar, violating the principle of non-refoulement; whereas members of the Indian Government at the highest levels have claimed that the Rohingya are linked with wrong and illegal activities, further stigmatising the community;

K. whereas under the current government there has been an increased crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, including the jailing of peaceful critics on charges of sedition, criminal defamation or terrorism; whereas the Indian authorities conducted several raids in 2018 and 2019 on the homes of activists and academics who have been vocal critics of the government and outspoken on human rights;

1. Is deeply concerned about the adoption of the discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019; urges the Indian authorities to immediately amend the provisions therein, in accordance with international human rights standards; calls on the Indian authorities to ensure that any plan for citizenship verification meets international human rights standards; is deeply worried that the current CAA, together with an update of the NRC, may cause one of the largest crises of statelessness in the world; warns against the increasing nationalism that the government of Narendra Modi has fostered and which has resulted, inter alia, in the fuelling of religious intolerance and the stigmatisation of Muslims;

2. Condemns in the strongest terms the crackdown on protesters; urges the Indian authorities to respect the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and to exercise maximum restraint in their handling of the protests, in accordance with the relevant international norms and standards; insists that the Indian authorities must fully abide by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is party;

3. Calls on the Indian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the protesters and human rights defenders currently held under arrest; urges them furthermore to ensure that a prompt, impartial and independent investigation is carried out into the human rights violations committed since the start of the protests, including the allegations of ill-treatment in detention and excessive use of force, and that those responsible are held accountable;

4. Stresses that the CAA undermines the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India’s constitution, as well as India’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to which it is party;

5. Condemns the decision of the Indian authorities to shut down internet access to global networks, preventing communication and the free flow of information for Indian residents; underscores that such actions are a clear violation of the freedom of speech;

6. Calls on the Indian authorities to ensure that people who have been excluded from the NRC in Assam or those with pending cases before Foreigners Tribunals are not deprived of any government benefits guaranteed to citizens of the country;

7. Calls on the Indian authorities to extend a standing invitation to all Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council and to cooperate with them in a proactive manner; urges them in particular to ensure access for the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and freedom of religion or belief;

8. Regrets the fact that, since the adoption of the CCA, the Vice-resident of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) has refrained from publically expressing his concerns regarding the CAA and the excessive use of force by Indian security forces, including after his latest visit to the country; calls on the VP/HR to issue a public statement calling for the amendment of the CAA in accordance with international human rights standards and condemning the crackdown on protesters;

9. Calls on the European External Action Service, the Commission and the Member States to include human rights as a priority area for action in the EU-India Roadmap 2025; expects the CAA and the situation in Kashmir to be raised during the EU-India Summit, which will take place on 13 March 2020;

10. Criticises in the strongest terms the private visit of a group of at least 22 Members of the European Parliament to India and Kashmir, in which they failed to publically call for access for UN Special Procedures or to denounce the human rights violations in the area; denounces the use of this trip to legitimise Prime Minister Modi’s nationalist agenda and the human rights violations carried out under his authority; stresses that pursuant to the Decision of its Bureau of 15 April 2013, Members must disclose their attendance at events organised by third parties where the reimbursement of their travel, accommodation, or subsistence expenses, or the direct payment of such expenses, is covered by a third party; recalls that in such cases, Members must submit their declaration no later than the last day of the month following the final day of their attendance at the event; regrets the fact that five Members who were part of that delegation have failed to fulfil this obligation; calls on its President to take the appropriate measures in accordance with Article 8 of the Code of Conduct, and to refer the matter to the Advisory Committee;

11. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the President of India, the Government of India, the Prime Minister of India and the Indian Parliament.

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