European Parliament will take up resolutions opposing CAA
Five of the resolutions are critical of CAA and the Indian government’s handling of protests against the law, with only one resolution by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group.Updated: Jan 27, 2020 11:06 IST
The European Parliament is expected to take up six resolutions on India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act this week, with the two largest groups of its members strongly criticising the law for its negative consequences for internal stability and potential for creating a “statelessness crisis”.
The draft resolutions were all tabled on January 22 as part of the procedures to wind up the debate on the European Commission’s vice president’s statement on CAA and are expected to be taken up for debate during a plenary session on January 29. There will also be a vote on the issue on January 30, according to the European Parliament.
Five of the resolutions are critical of CAA and the Indian government’s handling of protests against the law, with only one resolution by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group, a centre-right political group, showing some support for the government’s actions.
The development comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expected visit to Brussels in March for the India-EU Summit. The visit had figured in the meeting between Modi and EU high representative for foreign policy Josep Borrell in New Delhi on January 17.
The CAA fast-tracks the process for granting citizenship to members of non-Muslim persecuted minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The necessity of the law was recently questioned by Bangladeshi premier Sheikh Hasina.
The European People’s Party (EPP) Group, a centre-right group that is the largest with 182 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), said the CAA “is selective and excludes Muslims from provisions provided to other religious groups” and expressed concern about the “wide range of negative consequences that it might have for India’s international image and internal stability”.
Reacting to the development, an Indian official said on condition of anonymity: “We hope the sponsors and supporters of the draft will engage with us to get a full and accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed further. As fellow democracies, the EU Parliament should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures in other regions of the world.”
“The CAA is a matter that is entirely internal to India. Moreover, this legislation has been adopted by due process and through democratic means after a public debate in both Houses of Parliament,” the official added.
While respecting the Indian government’s attempt to assist persecuted religious minorities from Muslim-dominated neighbours, the EPP Group said “creating one set of rules for selected persecuted minorities and another, less favourable set of rules for others will prove counterproductive and may be considered discriminatory”.
It called on the Indian government to “assess the CAA and its consequences in the spirit of equality and non-discrimination, and in the light of its international obligations” and also condemned the “violence and brutality” in different parts of India following the adoption of CAA and noted the “special responsibility of law enforcement services to show restraint and allow peaceful protest”.
The Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group, the second-largest group with 154 members from 26 EU states in the 751-member parliament, was especially scathing in its resolution, which expressed “deep regret over the adoption… of the CAA, which is discriminatory, dangerously divisive and may potentially create the largest statelessness crisis in the world”.
The S&D Group denounced the incorporation of “religious criteria into [India’s] naturalisation and refugee policies”, and called on the government to “ensure that the Foreigners’ Tribunals function with utmost transparency and operate in line with international fair trial standards”.
The Renew Europe Group, a liberal group with 108 MEPs from 22 countries that is the third largest group in the European Parliament, said the CAA is “explicitly discriminatory in nature as it specifically excludes Muslims from access to the same provisions as other religious groups” and condemned its adoption.
It said the CCA rules “constitute a dangerous shift in the way citizenship is determined in India, and are set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world”.
The Verts/ALE Group, which is the fourth largest group with 75 MEPs from 16 countries, said in its proposed resolution that 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” and urged Indian authorities to “immediately amend the provisions [of the law] in accordance with international human rights standards”.
The Verts/ALE Group’s draft resolution also strongly criticised the “private visit” of 22 MEPs to Kashmir last year as they “failed to publically call for access for UN Special Procedures or to denounce the human rights violations in the area”. The group called on the European External Action Service, the European Commission and member states to “include human rights as a priority area for action in the EU-India Roadmap 2025”, and said it expected the CAA and the situation in Kashmir to be raised during the EU-India Summit in March.
The Renew Group and Verts/ALE Group were also critical of the Indian government’s handling of the protests against the CAA and the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
The GUE/NGL Group, which has 41 left-wing MEPs, criticised both the CAA and the security shutdown and detentions in Jammu and Kashmir, and expressed “deep concern… that India has created the legal grounds to strip millions of Muslims of the fundamental right of equal access to citizenship”.
The language used in the ECR Group’s draft resolution was more conciliatory. It noted the Indian government had explained the “rationale behind the amended legislation” and said India, as a sovereign state, is “free to be the sole determinant of its legislation on who can be granted Indian citizenship”. However, it too condemned “any excessive use of force by security forces against demonstrators protesting against the CAA”.
It remains to be seen whether the resolutions will be taken up separately on January 29 as efforts are underway by the six groups to reach a compromise on the text. A representative of the S&D Group said: “Other political groups have tabled different resolutions and in this case, you could expect some compromise around a single text in the coming days.”