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Debates
Thursday, 10 October 2013 - Strasbourg Revised edition

2. Caste-based discrimination (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  El Presidente. − El primer punto en el orden del día es la pregunta con solicitud de respuesta oral a la Comisión sobre la discriminación basada en las castas, de Eva Joly, en nombre de la Comisión de Desarrollo (O-000091/2013 - (2013/2676(RSP)) - B7-0507/2013).

 
  
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  Eva Joly, auteure. − Monsieur le Président, Madame la Haute représentante, chers collègues, apartheid, c'est le terme qui, au-delà du régime qu'il désigne, évoque la violence, des discriminations et des humiliations, et que le premier ministre indien de l'époque, Manmohan Singh, a choisi d'utiliser, en 2006, pour parler de la condition des intouchables de son pays.

Malgré ces déclarations choc, malgré l'abolition de l'intouchabilité par la constitution indienne – rédigée notamment par le leader intouchable, le docteur Ambedkar –, malgré les lois, 260 millions d'hommes et de femmes brisés subissent quotidiennement des atrocités commises en toute impunité.

En Inde, de 2001 à 2005, trois femmes dalits étaient ainsi violées chaque jour. Un crime ou un délit contre un dalit se produisait toutes les dix-huit minutes. Bien que l'Inde et le Pakistan aient signé la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme, des millions de leurs citoyens ne peuvent se prévaloir des droits et libertés qu'elle proclame du simple fait de leur origine de naissance.

Si la commission du développement, que je préside, a souhaité se saisir à nouveau de cette question, c'est que ces discriminations fondées sur la caste, en plus d'être humainement inacceptables et de contrevenir au droit international en matière de droits de l'homme, sont aussi un facteur structurel majeur de la pauvreté et des inégalités.

Cet apartheid a des conséquences socio-économiques terribles: accès à la terre nié ou retiré, à des emplois décents refusé, exclusion des systèmes éducatifs et de santé, négation de leurs droits fondamentaux par les services de police et de justice quand ces derniers ne les violent pas purement et simplement. Seulement 10 % des femmes dalits reçoivent ainsi une éducation.

Sortir de l'extrême pauvreté, dans ces conditions, est tout bonnement impossible. Et le nouveau statut de puissance émergente de l'Inde n'enraye pas ce phénomène, bien au contraire. L'écart entre les dalits et les non-dalits augmente depuis le début des années 90, consacrant ainsi l'échec des politiques de développement qui, trop souvent, ignorent le problème.

Nulle volonté de jeter l'opprobre sur des pays qui, pour partie d'entre eux, ont mis en place des lois et des politiques de discrimination positive avec un succès malheureusement bien relatif. Il s'agit bien plutôt d'insister, au niveau européen, sur la nécessité de reconnaître des discriminations fondées sur les castes comme une forme distincte de discrimination ancrée dans le contexte social et religieux. C'est en les considérant comme un groupe bien défini que ces victimes de ségrégations fondées sur la caste pourront être mieux prises en compte dans le programme de développement de l'Union européenne. L'efficacité de l'aide ne pourra que s'en trouver renforcée.

La cohérence des politiques extérieures avec la politique de développement nous impose non seulement d'évaluer l'incidence de ces groupes dans les accords de commerce ou d'investissement conclus par l'Union européenne mais, bien plus encore, d'y intégrer une clause relative aux discriminations fondées sur la caste.

Les récents événements survenus au Bangladesh ne nous permettent plus à nous, Européens, de feindre l'ignorance. Des entreprises européennes participent, directement ou indirectement, à la servitude d'êtres humains coupables d'être simplement mal nés. Cela n'est pas supportable.

Dialogues politiques, négociations commerciales, stratégies et plans d'action en matière de droits de l'homme, sommets bilatéraux, réunions internationales, toutes les opportunités doivent être saisies et utilisées par l'Union européenne pour promouvoir les initiatives communes visant à éradiquer la discrimination fondée sur la caste.

D'une discrimination à l'autre, comment terminer mon intervention sans évoquer nos propres responsabilités pour ce qui est de protéger et de faire valoir les droits des populations discriminées, voire ostracisées, sur le sol européen? Ceux des dalits, de la diaspora d'abord, la discrimination ignorant, elle, les frontières, mais aussi, et surtout, ceux de la communauté rom qui, dans nombre d'États membres, subit racisme, préjugés, discriminations, mises à l'écart de la vie économique et politique ainsi que des systèmes éducatifs et de santé.

Oui, l'Union européenne doit engager avec les pays tiers des discussions franches et constructives pour mettre un terme à toutes les formes de discrimination, qui sont un frein au développement.

(Applaudissements)

 
  
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  Cecilia Malmström, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, I would like to thank Eva Joly for asking this question. It enables me, on behalf of the High Commissioner, to discuss the very important matter of caste-based discrimination in several world societies. We are strongly committed to fighting all forms of discrimination. Combating discrimination is high on the list of human rights priorities in the current EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy. Caste-based discrimination is an essential part of it.

The EEAS, the Commission and Member States make use of a number of tools and instruments such as bilateral dialogue and EU financial support to civil society organisations. Caste-based discrimination is systematically included in our regular Human Rights Dialogue and in our regular contacts with human rights defenders. This concerns our partner countries in which this human rights issue is particularly relevant, such as India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, but also Mauritania. The EU provides support to address caste-based discrimination and the consequences thereof by means of EU instruments, in particular the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The EIDHR strategy documents for 2011 to 2013 contain an explicit reference to caste-based discrimination.

Allow me to give you a practical example. In India, caste-based discrimination is considered a cross-cutting human rights and development issue and is included in many calls for proposals. The Commission has funded projects worth EUR 4 million on discrimination and violence against women and girls. We are also taking a multi-layered approach based on the promotion of human rights and the socio-economic and psychological emancipation of victims. Development aid has supported initiatives that promote access to education, labour rights, and the rights of women and minorities.

The EU funds several projects in Bangladesh that focus on poverty reduction and the rights of the most vulnerable and impoverished groups. We are also funding projects that aim to improve access to justice for victims of caste-based discrimination. In this regard, the Commission is devoting EUR 30 million to projects in Bangladesh and Pakistan that aim to improve access to and the functioning of local justice and police systems. Allow me to stress that humanitarian aid is always non-discriminatory, based on needs, and pays particular attention to the most vulnerable. Consequently, humanitarian work funded by the European Commission in South Asia explicitly addresses caste-based discrimination and refers to the lowest castes as among the most vulnerable when taking funding decisions.

At the multilateral level, we have been very active in the UN context and have contributed to the work of the former UN Sub-Commission for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. We also contributed to the debate on caste-based discrimination in the UN Universal Periodic Review for India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.

In conclusion, caste-based discrimination is a high priority for the EU. We want to combat it and we do so in the most comprehensive and effective way as part of our overall strategy to wipe out all kinds of discrimination. We have a number of tools and instruments at our disposal, such as bilateral dialogues and financial support for civil society organisations. We use them in a flexible manner, taking an approach which is tailor-made to the countries most affected by this problem.

 
  
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  El Presidente. − Gracias, Cecilia. Conociendo tu compromiso, estamos seguros de que harás todo lo que puedas en un tema tan tremendo y tan dramático.

 
  
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  Alf Svensson, för PPE-gruppen. – Herr talman! Ja, att diktaturer delar in sin befolkning i A- och B-lag, det vet vi, men att demokratier och länder som gör gällande att de har demokratisk uppbyggnad och demokratiska värden gör det, är naturligtvis helt oacceptabelt. Det måste också påtalas i tid och otid. Jag är inte riktigt överens med dem som påstår att detta ofta lyfts upp när det gäller just kastväsendet. Att länder inom sina gränser har grupper som man kallar oberörbara – det är ju förfärligt! Så vet vi att det är. Som Eva Joly sa, handlar det om hälften av EU:s befolkning i storlekshänseende. Det duger naturligtvis på inga villkor att man talar om traditioner eller någonting sådant som skulle vara förklarande. Det måste till rejäla ändringsinsatser, och vi vill se dem understrukna med all kraft när det är tal om handelsförbindelser eller relationer av vad slag det vara må.

Jag tycker att det är mer än en styggelse att barn och kvinnor ska förpassas in i ett bås, kan man ju nästan säga, som de inte kan ta sig ut ifrån, inte lyfta sig ur.

Jag är mycket tacksam för att denna fråga ställdes och att ämnet har kommit upp på bordet, men låt det nu inte enbart stanna här en stund på torsdagsmorgonen i Europaparlamentet, utan låt oss verkligen med kraft driva dessa frågor.

Dessa länder har skrivit på FN:s förklaringar om de mänskliga fri- och rättigheterna. De sviker man ju brutalt mot jättestora grupper i sina egna länder. Det är väl inget land som ska ståta med att vara helt perfekt i dessa avseenden, men just kastväsendet måste vi stryka under som något helt oacceptabelt.

Låt oss göra allt vad vi kan för att främja mänskliga fri- och rättigheter och demokratiska värden. Här har vi verkligen något att fortsätta att ta itu med.

 
  
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  Michael Cashman, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, it is always good to see you in the Chair when we are discussing fundamental values. Can I associate myself absolutely with the opening statement by Ms Joly and by Mr Svensson. There is absolutely no place in any of our internal activities or our external activities for caste-based discrimination and I hope today the European Parliament will send a very strong message.

Dear Commissioner, I know you are committed, I have listen to what you have said, but I have to come to the conclusion that we are failing. If we have undertaken all of this work, if we have all of these instruments, and 220 million people are still discriminated against solely on the basis of their caste, we are failing. Therefore, my Group and others insist that in all of our external association agreements and trade agreements there should be a non-negotiable human rights clause and, where appropriate, a non-discrimination based on caste clause. Because, quite frankly, when we buy those shirts from Bangladesh, when we buy from Pakistan and India, when we trade on the backs of the poorest, we impoverish them. And when we trade on the backs of those who are being discriminated against, we too discriminate against them and weaken them, and we weaken every single international treaty we sign up to and undertake. Girls, women, are subjected to slavery and abuse, purely because someone says they are untouchable and they belong to a different caste.

Towards the end of our mandate, I am proud that all of the Groups have come together to say no, this will not continue, but can I say to the public, can I say to our EU citizens, this means looking at where we buy our goods, where we buy our shirts, our socks, our ties and our suits. If these countries do not apply international human rights standards and they discriminate on this scandalous basis of caste, then we individually should boycott them and not trade with them.

 
  
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  Leonidas Donskis, ALDE frakcijos vardu. – Diskriminacija dėl priklausymo kastai – tai didžiausias XXI amžiaus paradoksas. Pasauliui susitraukus ir tapus viena visos žmonijos vieta, nusitrynus ribai tarp lokalumo ir globalumo, žmogaus teisėms tapus žmonijos, o ne pavienės valstybės reikalu, vis dar lieka šimtai milijonų žmonių, iš kurių atimtas net žmogaus vardas ir teisė būti žmogumi. Tai dalitai – neliečiamieji, bei kitos socialinės grupės, kenčiančios nuo kastinės diskriminacijos, kurios egzistuoja net pažangos siekiančiose ir demokratinėse valstybėse. Jei mes kastų sistemos sukeltas nepagarbos žmonijai formas aiškinsime tik kultūros ir religijos specifika, mes išduosime tuos, kurie yra šalia mūsų ir yra tokie pat žmonės, kaip ir mes patys. Tai yra ne vienos šalies (šiuo atveju Indijos) problema, tai yra plačiai paplitusi pasaulinė problema.

Strategiškai svarbu, kad kova su kastine diskriminacija būtų sistemiškai įtraukta į Europos Sąjungos žmogaus teisių formuluotes ir praktiką. Kastinė diskriminacija turi būti traktuojama kaip specifinė problema, kuri privalo būti sprendžiama kartu su kitomis diskriminacijos formomis – diskriminacija etninės kilmės, rasės, religijos, pažiūrų, lyties ar seksualinės orientacijos pagrindu. Šiandienos debatai ir rezoliucija – svarbus žingsnis šia kryptimi, bet mums lieka labai daug darbo stengiantis užtikrinti, kad 260 milijonų žmonių, kurie vis dar kenčia nuo kastinės diskriminacijos, kada nors galėtų gyventi oriai ir turėtų visas nuo jų neatsiejamas žmogaus teises.

Dar kartą paraginčiau ES institucijas visapusiškai ir koordinuotai kovoti su kastine diskriminacija visais lygmenimis – savo žmogaus teisių strategijose, dialoguose su šalimis partnerėmis bei Jungtinių Tautų žmogaus teisių taryboje. Taip pat raginu savo kolegas balsuoti už šią rezoliuciją ir prašau vardan vadinamosios realios politikos neišsižadėti mūsų europietiškosios politinės tapatybės širdimi tapusios pagarbos žmogaus teisėms ir orumui.

 
  
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  Jean Lambert, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, I am speaking also as a trustee of Solidarity Network in the UK and chair of the Delegation for South Asia, which covers a number of the countries concerned.

I obviously want to support what my colleagues have said about the need to oppose caste-based, descent-based discrimination and that no-one should have to change their faith to be accepted in society, no-one should be refused water in a disaster because of their caste and everyone should be able to benefit from education and use their talents. Particularly, in the week when we celebrate International Day of the Girl Child, I think this has a particular relevance for the Dalits.

We have seen recent legislation in Nepal which has challenged discrimination. We have seen EU projects there which have made an enormous difference but, as people have said, unless this is taken up and becomes part of a real cultural shift, all we are doing is supporting some people. This is extremely valuable and shows what it is we are trying to do, but we need to have these rights entrenched, not just in the Constitution, but in implementation in the law. We also need to look at our own Member States. The UK has recently brought caste discrimination into its anti-discrimination legislation, but we are seeing deliberate moves by a particular Home Office minister to prevent the implementation of that change. So this is something we need to be aware of in our own countries, as well as in the values that we promote internationally.

 
  
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  Mikael Gustafsson, för GUE/NGL-gruppen. – Herr talman! Tack kommissionär Cecilia Malmström. Jag måste erkänna att det ju är väldigt svårt att tillföra något nytt egentligen efter allt det som har sagts av alla dessa fantastiska kolleger här, men jag ska bara lyfta en liten aspekt som jag tycker kan vara viktig.

Det här problemet finns i flera olika länder, men jag vill bara betona just dalitkvinnornas speciellt utsatta situation. De utgör 16 procent av det totala antalet kvinnor i Indien. Dalitkvinnorna är trefaldigt diskriminerade: efter klass, kön och kast. De är fattiga, de är kvinnor och de är daliter. Kanske är det till och med upp till 50 procent av barnen som inte registreras vid födseln. Detta försvårar då möjligheterna att skydda dalitkvinnorna från prostitution, från trafficking, från barnarbete och påtvingade äktenskap. Våld mot dalitkvinnor registreras också väldigt sällan. När så sker visar polisen och rättssystemet ett ganska begränsat intresse. Straffriheten verkar vara väldigt utbredd.

Jag tror att EU och dess medlemsstater kan göra mycket mer inom dessa områden genom att föra en dialog med dessa länder och ha program som är kopplade till dessa saker. Jag vet att du, Cecilia Malmström, är engagerad, och jag tror att du kommer att göra saker, men jag tror att vi kan göra mycket mer.

Ett arbete tillsammans med de organisationer som finns i civilsamhället i dessa länder är otroligt viktigt, och speciellt att då jobba tillsammans med kvinnoorganisationer, eftersom de har gedigna erfarenheter inom detta område.

Vi måste göra allt vi kan för att se till att kastdiskriminering inte förekommer i något enskilt land i någon del på det här jordklotet.

 
  
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  Gay Mitchell (PPE). - Mr President, I would like to thank our committee chair, Eva Joly, for highlighting the issue of caste-based discrimination through her report. I think she has done a singular service in uniting this House to highlight this issue. I should also like to support the comments made by Michael Cashman earlier in the debate. We really do have to be much more proactive in ensuring that we take boycott action against those countries that continue to treat people in this way.

I commend the messages in the report, in particular the need for the EU to recognise caste-based discrimination as a distinct form of discrimination which must be tackled with other forms of discrimination, such as discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, disability, race, religion, gender and sexuality.

I am glad that our colleague Mr Gustafsson, the Chair of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, raised the issue of Dalit women. They are among the most severely exploited, including sexually exploited. They often suffer from sexual violence, sexual slavery, bonded labour and limited access to food or sanitation. This is in the 21st century. It is an extraordinary thing. But this caste-based discrimination is not confined to Asia. I spoke to a young man in Dublin as last weekend. His name is Robin, he is an Asian and he appealed to me to raise this issue because in parts of Europe the trend continues.

So I am really delighted that our committee Chair has taken the initiative on this, that she has put this issue firmly on the agenda and that there is strong cross-party support for it. I hope that communicates itself to the Commission and that collectively we can challenge this issue, which has been allowed to fester for far too long.

 
  
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  Zita Gurmai (S&D). - Mr President, caste-based discrimination remains a striking reality for over 260 million people in the world. It is one of the most widespread violations of fundamental human rights. Among these victims of social exclusion, women and girls are particularly vulnerable and face multiple forms of discrimination and violence, including sexual abuse. Children are also at high risk of being sold or sexually exploited. Despite some legislation enacted by the Indian and Nepalese authorities, the reality remains harsh for the Dalits and the true scope of the new legislative framework remains uncertain.

Specific guidelines have been published by the UN on the effective elimination of discrimination related to work and descent. I would like to hear from the EEAS how the EU can effectively push for that implementation. I would also like to underline that this is not only a matter for south Asian countries. For example, many female Dalits are employed in work that is basically modern slavery, and several reports have pointed out that some of the factories employing them produce garments for Western companies. This is something we cannot allow.

 
  
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  Phil Bennion (ALDE). - Mr President, I think this oral question is to be welcomed.

This is not the first time we have raised in the European Parliament this issue of caste-based discrimination, and very unfortunately it is unlikely to be the last. Although I understand that we will not be able to change the situation overnight, I think we have to admit that the level of progress is really insufficient. We owe it to all these overlooked people, hundreds of millions of people, who suffer from discrimination every day.

In Bangladesh, for instance, caste-based discrimination affects both Hindu and Muslim populations. It is thought of very often just as a Hindu issue but Muslims and Buddhists are also affected. In Pakistan, Dalits have limited access to equal and meaningful political participation. I think that is absolutely unacceptable and many of these people, of course, are also religious minorities at the same time, so they are doubly discriminated against.

I am not asking the Commission and the EEAS today to export the European social model in a one-size-fits-all manner, but as a liberal I am asking us to export our values of democracy, freedom and human rights, because I do not think we should consider that to be imperialism in any form.

 
  
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  Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL). - Mr President, I am pleased to see this issue being addressed and I condemn the human rights violations committed against the estimated 260 million people worldwide suffering from caste-based discrimination.

Caste systems are unjust as they divide people into unequal and hierarchical social groups. Those at the bottom are considered lesser human beings, impure and polluting to other caste groups. Known as untouchables or Dalits, they are often forcibly assigned the most dirty and most hazardous jobs and many are subjected to forced and bonded labour and are kept in severe poverty.

Without doubt, when relevant, there should be a caste-based discrimination clause in EU international trade agreements and association agreements. The Commission should also take steps to combat this discrimination within Europe’s borders, as no community anywhere should be exempt from equality legislation and from human rights protection.

 
  
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  Ria Oomen-Ruijten (PPE). - Voorzitter, ik stel vast dat er brede overeenstemming is in dit Parlement over het verslag van mevrouw Joly. Ik denk dat zij ook heel goed heeft weergegeven hoe groot het probleem is.

Als we spreken over discriminatie op grond van kaste, dan hebben we het over groepen mensen die op grond van hun geboorte voor de rest van het leven getekend zijn en anders behandeld worden.

Dat is nou net de schending van het meest fundamentele mensenrecht. Immers, we willen toch voor iedereen gelijke rechten. We willen vrijheid van godsdienst, vrijheid van levensovertuiging, recht op ontwikkeling en we willen geen kasten die alleen maar leiden tot armoede, uitzichtloosheid en andere ellende.

Het gaat om naar schatting 260 miljoen mensen wereldwijd. De discriminatie op grond van kaste is heel diep geworteld in de samenlevingen met een kastensysteem. Zelfs als daar de nodige wetgeving is om aan deze praktijken een einde te maken, dan zorgen de straffeloosheid en het gebrek aan uitvoering van die wetgeving ervoor dat het kastensysteem blijft voortbestaan.

Mijn collega Mitchell heeft het net gezegd: we moeten met alle mogelijke middelen die we hebben handelen. Ik vind daarom – en ik heb daarover zelf een aantal vragen gesteld aan de Europese Dienst voor extern optreden – dat we ook met onze ambassades veel meer moeten doen, niet alleen om aan te geven wat er gebeurt, maar ook om met kleine projecten dat systeem proberen te bestrijden.

Voorzitter, ik denk dat we in onze overeenkomsten met die landen meer zouden moeten doen– en dat gaat verder dan de mensenrechtendialoog. Ik zou het heel fijn vinden als het EDEO voor ieder land jaarlijks op de site zet wat men doet, welke projecten men stimuleert, en hoe men met de overheden omgaat om aan dit probleem, de kastendiscriminatie, een einde te maken.

 
  
 

Intervenciones con arreglo al procedimiento de solicitud incidental de uso de la palabra («catch the eye»)

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). - Mr President, I think it is important that we discuss this topic here today. Particularly with advances in technology, with the power of the internet and so forth, we can get ideas, particularly the values of human rights, taken on board right across the world in due course – far quicker than has been the case in the past.

They say that all men and women are born equal, but some more equal than others. That is something that is true maybe in relation to opportunities and discrimination that might exist in our own countries. But certainly where caste-based discrimination is practised, once they are born they are unequal and they are unequal until they die. That is something that is not acceptable and I concur fully with what my great colleague Mr Mitchell has said. Indeed I compliment him on the huge work he has done on the whole area of development aid, etc., over many years. That is something that we should put into development aid, to ensure that human rights for all is part of it as well.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). - Mr President, if you are not considered human, human rights do not apply to you. They are the words of Moni Rani Das, a Bangladeshi Dalit women’s activist. I think they sum up the problem facing 260 million people affected by caste-based discrimination.

The stories that you hear are horrific: the countless rapes of young women to which police turn a blind eye; the story of Chanchal Kumari, a 19-year-old student who suffered a vicious acid attack simply for daring to ignore teenage boys; or the heart-breaking stories of young children who cannot understand why other children refuse to play with them.

But of course caste discrimination, as has been mentioned, is not confined to Asia. In Britain the disgraceful attempts of the government to block or delay the extension of equality legislation to include caste-based discrimination should be condemned. While it is illegal in most countries, it does not stop human rights violations, exclusion, torture, rape, slavery and murder being a daily reality for many.

But the growing number of brave, oppressed caste activists raising their voices shows a way forward. Linked with the struggles of other workers and the poor, an alternative society based on equality and solidarity can be built and this barbaric feudal remnant can be consigned to the dustbin of history.

 
  
  

(Fin de las intervenciones con arreglo al procedimiento de solicitud incidental de uso de la palabra («catch the eye»))

 
  
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  El Presidente. − La verdad es que no resisto la tentación de compartir con ustedes una pequeña reflexión.

Una delegación de la Comisión de Desarrollo acaba de regresar de la cumbre sobre el logro de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio de las Naciones Unidas. Allí estaba el señor Mitchell, allí estaba el señor Nicholson, allí estaba el señor Cashman y yo mismo.

Y tengo que decir que yo no recuerdo que este tema haya sido puesto en evidencia, quizá por algo que también indicaba alguno de los oradores, quizá por no molestar a la más grande democracia del mundo.

Pero está bien que nosotros reaccionemos ante este tema, porque, ante la comunidad mundial —como digo— la cuestión ha parecido bastante silenciada, cuando todos coincidimos en que es un problema de una tremenda injusticia y de un tremendo dramatismo.

Perdónenme este comentario, pero está bien que los pocos que estamos presentes tengamos conciencia de este fenómeno.

 
  
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  Cecilia Malmström, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, thank you for raising this question. I fully agree with you that, in 2013, to have millions of people considered as untouchable and discriminated in the horrendous ways that you have borne witness to and that we all know, is of course not acceptable. We must do everything we can not only to raise awareness, but to fight against this.

As some of you highlighted, there has been certain progress. For example, in India, the government has established a regime providing for affirmative action quotas for these castes, to ensure their political representation, as well as quotas for access to higher education and employment in public service. In Nepal, there is a new law on anti-discrimination that was enacted in 2011 and is now under implementation. So there is progress. But surely, so much more needs to be done. We try to use our existing tools to the maximum, as I told you in my introductory comments, to try to support the most vulnerable and constantly raise the issue in our Human Rights Dialogues with these countries.

We will keep on pushing for change with the different instruments that we have. We are also publishing, as you know, an annual report on the implementation of the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, and caste-based discrimination is fully part of it. That report is shared with the European Parliament and fully available. Let me say that deep-rooted discrimination and attitudes of course do not change in a couple of weeks. It takes time, and that is why it is so important to raise awareness, not only in those countries, of course, but also here in Europe.

I would like to congratulate the European Parliament on this report by Ms Joly, with cross-border support from all political groups, to raise awareness and make sure that these people, who are very often forgotten, are not forgotten, but are given a face, and that the world and its citizens are aware of the full extent of the discrimination and realities that they live under. You can count on the Commission and the High Representative’s continued commitment to do whatever we can in order to fight this discrimination.

 
  
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  El Presidente. − Para cerrar el debate se ha presentado una propuesta de Resolución(1) de conformidad con el artículo 115, apartado 5, del Reglamento.

Se cierra el debate.

La votación tendrá lugar hoy, a las 12.00 horas.

Declaraciones por escrito (artículo 149 del Reglamento)

 
  
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  Lena Kolarska-Bobińska (PPE), in writing. – Caste discrimination is not new. It has been around for centuries. The case of the Dalits is so well known that the term ‘the untouchables’ is even a staple of European popular culture. But just because a hate, fear or prejudice has existed for a long time, that does not make it right or acceptable. There was no place for caste discrimination in the 20th century and there certainly should not be any now in the 21st century. The Indian Constitution is clear on this point. Articles 15 and 17 have outlawed and banned such discrimination since 1950. Yet to this day, it can be found not only in India but in other southern Asian communities worldwide. As the nation that was the first to struggle against caste discrimination, I believe that India should do more to support international measures against it. Actions at the United Nations and elsewhere are not targeted at the Republic of India, but are in fact attempts to help enforce said Republicʼs very principles, the fundamental principle that all Indian citizens are equal. India should indeed be a light against caste discrimination not only for itself but for the world.

 
  

(1)Véase el Acta.

Last updated: 6 December 2013Legal notice