International organizations on Monday urged European leaders to prioritize the deteriorating human rights situation in India during the EU-India leaders' summit on May 8.
“European leaders should press the Indian government to reverse its abusive and discriminatory policies and immediately release all human rights defenders and other critics who have been jailed for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said eight organizations in a statement.
Underlining that the Indian authorities have also enacted discriminatory laws and policies against minorities, it said the government has imposed harsh and discriminatory restrictions on Muslim-majority areas in Jammu and Kashmir.
European leaders should find their voice and raise concerns at the summit meeting, the organizations said.
Instead of being content with securing empty references to allegedly “shared values of human rights and democracy” in joint statements, the EU and its member states should show their own commitment to upholding those values and hold the Indian government to account for its human rights violations, it added.
On the global COVID-19 crisis, it added Europe should focus on providing support to help India deal with the acute shortage of medical supplies and access to vaccines.
The organizations are Amnesty International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, International Dalit Solidarity Network, International Federation for Human Rights, and World Organization Against Torture.
The leaders of the EU and India will meet via video conference on May 8.
At the meeting, EU leaders are expected to reaffirm their solidarity with India in the global fight against the pandemic.
India has so far confirmed more than 19.95 million cases, nearly 219,000 fatalities and over 16.29 million recoveries.
Since December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 3.2 million lives in 192 countries and regions, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 152.9 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries now nearly 90 million.