India, EU hold human rights dialogue; concur on safeguarding freedom of activists, journalists
New Delhi: After a fresh round of human rights dialogue, India and the European Union on Friday concurred on the importance of safeguarding freedom, independence and diversity of civil society actors, including human rights defenders and journalists.
A joint press statement said the 10th India-EU human rights dialogue allowed for discussions on a wide range of human rights issues, but it did not elaborate on them.
The talks took place over a week after Germany, a key member of the EU, criticised Indian authorities over fact-checker Mohammed Zubair’s arrest saying “Journalists should not be persecuted and imprisoned for what they say and write.”
India had trashed the comments made by a German foreign ministry spokesperson.
“India and the EU reiterated their commitment to protecting and promoting all human rights. In this context, as open and democratic societies, they emphasised the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights,” the statement said.
It said the two sides exchanged views and concerns on civil and political rights, rights of persons belonging to minorities and vulnerable groups, freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and opinion both online and offline.
They also deliberated on women empowerment, children’s rights, LGBTQI+ rights, the rights of migrants and the use of technology in the area of democracy and human rights.
“They both concurred on the importance of safeguarding the freedom, independence and diversity of civil society actors, including human rights defenders and journalists, and respecting freedom of association and peaceful assembly,” the statement said.
“The EU reiterated its opposition to capital punishment in all cases and without exception. India reiterated its stand on recognition of the right to development as a distinct, universal, inalienable and fundamental human right that is applicable to all people in all countries,” it added.
The dialogue was held in New Delhi.
The statement said both sides expressed the need to foster greater engagement on human rights issues, based on internationally recognised laws and standards.
“Both sides recognised the importance of strengthening national and international human rights mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights and the important role of national human rights institutions, civil society actors and journalists,” it said.
The statement said India and the EU updated each other on their implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
“The EU informed the Indian side of its recent initiatives on corporate sustainability due diligence,” it said.
India updated the EU on the status of its first National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.
“India and the EU reiterated their commitment to the shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights,” the statement said.
The human rights dialogue was co-chaired by joint secretary for Europe West in the Ministry of External Affairs of India, Sandeep Chakravorty, and the Ambassador of the European Union to India Ugo Astuto.