For religious and ethnic minorities in India, the first half of 2023 has been marked by arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial demolitions of houses, allegations of illegal religious conversions, mob attacks, and lynchings. The European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion in its 2021 report considered India to be the country of most concern. The Early Warning Project in 2023 ranks India as 8th highest-risk of concern for mass atrocities against religious minorities among 162 countries. The 2023 USCIRF report cites India as being a “country of particular concern” regarding freedom of religion and belief. The rights of minorities are under imminent attack, and thereby also the values of human rights and democratic freedoms that the EU-India relationship is built on.
This briefing comes at a key time, as the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief turn 10 years old, and as the EU takes stock of their implementation.
This briefing brings together human rights defenders from India as experts to take stock of developments on human rights of religious and ethnic minorities in India as 2023 reaches its half way mark:
Dr. Ritumbra Manuvie is a permanent member of Faculty at the University of Groningen and also the founder of Stichting The London Story. Dr. Manuvie works extensively on citizenship, exclusion, propaganda and disinformation landscape in India. She is part of consortia working on Destination Democracy in the EU, and one of the recipients of the Ethics Law Society and AI Consortium Grant from NWO.
H.E. Fatou Bensouda is a Gambian lawyer and former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). She is currently serving as the Gambian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. She also provided significant advice to a Panel of Independent International Experts, which in 2022 concluded that there is evidence of likely violations of international law committed against Muslims in India.
Father Cedric Prakash is a Jesuit priest and human rights defender on an unconditional and relentless quest for justice and harmony. He has lived and worked with indigenous peoples, in slums, with Internally Displaced Persons in Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, and with Protestants and Catholics in the Ireland conflict, and provided emergency humanitarian aid during the 1984 massacre of the Sikhs in India and the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. He has received the Legion of Honour by France (2006), the Mother Teresa International Award (2013), and several other awards.
Kavita Srivastava is National Secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), India’s largest human rights organisation. The PUCL strives to defend civil liberties and human rights of all members of society. With PUCL, she has filed cases in India’s highest courts seeking protection against exploitation for minorities and fought against state-sponsored violence, including by mobs as well as armed forces.
Ambassador Stephen Rapp is the former United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues. He most recently served on the Panel of Independent International Experts, which in 2022 concluded that there is evidence of likely violations of international law committed against Muslims in India. Amb Rapp has been a Senior Visiting Fellow of Practice at the Blavatnik School of Government, Senior Fellow at the Oxford University’s Center for Law, Ethics and Armed Conflict, Distinguished Fellow at The Hague Institute for Global Justice, and a Global Prevention Fellow at the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. Rapp was also the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2007 to 2009 where he led the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.
The event is hosted by The London Story, Hindus for Human Rights, Scottish Indians for Justice, UK Indian Muslim Council, and allies.