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Published On: Sun, Jan 26th, 2020

EU lawmakers draft stunning anti-CAA resolution

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09brexit-briefing1-promo-superJumbo-v2NEW DELHI : India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) could trigger the “largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause widespread human suffering”, a powerful group of 154 European Parliament members have warned.
In a scathing denouncement of CAA, the lawmakers have drafted a formal five-page resolution to be tabled during the plenary session of the European Parliament starting in Brussels next week.

The proposed resolution not only describes the CAA as “discriminatory and dangerously divisive” but also a violation of India’s “international obligations” under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other Human Rights treaties to which New Delhi is a signatory.
More than 150 lawmakers of the European Union have drafted a five-page resolution against the CAA, contending that it “marks a dangerous shift in the way citizenship will be determined in India and is set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause immense human suffering”.
The 154 lawmakers belong to the ‘S&D Group’ – a progressive forum of MEPs from 26 EU countries, recognised as the second-largest political caucus in the European Parliament. They are committed to upholding social justice and democratic values such as Equality, Diversity and Fairness.
In the resolution, the lawmakers expressed “deep concern” that India has “created the legal grounds to strip millions of Muslims of the fundamental right of equal access to citizenship; is concerned that the CAA could be used, along with the National Register of Citizens, to render many Muslim citizens stateless”.

The CAA, the lawmakers contended, also violates India’s international obligations on citizenship and the Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that ‘Everyone has the right to a nationality’ and that ‘No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality’.
Significantly the draft resolution also refers pointedly to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, to which India is also bound.

Accusing the government of “discriminating against, harassing and prosecuting national and religious minorities and silencing any opposition, human rights groups… and journalists critical of the government”, they asked the EU to insist on a “strong human rights clause with an effective implementation and suspension mechanism” during any trade agreement.
The resolution — which is expected to be tabled during the plenary session of the European Parliament starting in Brussels next week — comes days after the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked India 10 places lower in the Democracy Index, mentioning the citizenship law and the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir after the government ended its special status.
The lawmakers expressed solidarity with the January 7 protests and asked the government to stop criminalising the protests and negotiate with the protesters.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called the CAA ‘fundamentally discriminatory’, they pointed out.The CAA provides for citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they fled religious persecution and entered India before 2015. Critics believe the law, along with the NRC, will be used to target Muslims.
In their resolution, the EU lawmakers also mentioned the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and called the EU and its member states to promote the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir.
This is in the context of their observation that the adoption of the CAA “has sparked massive protests against its implementation, with 27 reported deaths, 175 injured and thousands arrested and reports that the Indian government has ordered internet shutdowns, imposed curfews and placed limits on public transportation to prevent peaceful protests”.
The draft resolution notes that on January 5, 2020, the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, where students were protesting against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), was attacked by a masked mob that injured over 20 students and teachers from the University.
It says various media reports and students have alleged that the police stood witness to the attack and refused to control and arrest the mob, about which the international community, including the UN, has already expressed concerns regarding the CAA and the violence that it has sparked.
Further, whereas the Indian Government has stated that the countries listed in the CAA are Muslim-majority countries where minority religions are more likely to face persecution in their home countries, thus using this as justification for fast-tracked citizenship, but India shares a border with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – “yet the CAA does not bring Sri Lankan Tamils under its purview, who form the largest refugee group in India and who have been resident in the country for over thirty years”.
Moreover, CAA also excludes Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who have been described by Amnesty International and the United Nations as the world’s most persecuted minority; and also ignores the plight of Ahmadis in Pakistan, Bihari Muslims in Bangladesh, and the Hazaras of Pakistan, all of whom are subject to persecution in their home countries.
According to the S&D Group, the CAA contradicts Article 14 of India’s own Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality to every person and protects them from discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
In effect, the amended law “undermines India’s commitment to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ICCPR and the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to which India is a State party, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of racial, ethnic or religious grounds”.
Several Indian States have already announced that they would not implement the law and 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 federal Indian Government of ‘dividing the nation on religious lines’.
It also calls on the Indian authorities to ensure the right to peaceful protest and to guarantee the life and physical integrity of those who choose to demonstrate and also to ensure that the security forces comply with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
(With Agency Inputs ).

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