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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on caste discrimination in India

11.12.2012 - (2012/2909(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure

Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Marietje Schaake, Niccolò Rinaldi, Phil Bennion, Leonidas Donskis, Sarah Ludford, Robert Rochefort, Louis Michel, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Marielle de Sarnez, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Sonia Alfano, Edward McMillan-Scott, Kristiina Ojuland, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen on behalf of the ALDE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0574/2012

Postopek : 2012/2909(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on caste discrimination in India


The European Parliament,

-    having regard to its previous resolutions on India, in particular the one of 1 February 2007 on the human rights situation of the Dalits in India,


-    having regard to Articles 2 and 3(5) of the Treaty on European Union,


-    having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed and ratified by India,


-    having regard to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, signed and ratified by India;

-    having regard to the draft United Nations Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination Based on Work and Descent,


- having regard to observations and recommendations on caste discrimination by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Treaty Bodies and UN Special Procedures, noting in particular the Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance of 24 May 2011 (A/HRC/17/40),


-    having regard to the 9 July 2012 report of the United Nations Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on India[1], in particular recommendations 138.47, 138.72 and 138.118,


-    having regard to the EU‑India Thematic Dialogue on Human Rights,


-    having regard to Art. 122(5) of its rules of procedure,



A.  Whereas India is the largest democracy in the world and its citizens are granted equal status by its Constitution and discrimination based on caste and untouchability are deemed illegal by Articles 15 and 17 of the Indian Constitution; whereas Dalits have served in the highest political functions; whereas India has laws and regulations intended to protect Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, such as the 1976 Protection of Civil Rights Act and the 1989 Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act; whereas Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made several strong statements about prioritizing combating violence against Dalits;


B.  Whereas however caste discrimination is widespread and persistent and affects hundreds of millions of people, in particular an estimated 166 million Dalits; whereas according to the ILO, Dalits constitute the single largest group in South Asia subjected to forced and bonded labour and whereas in many Indian states and regions Dalits are forced into manual scavenging, prostitution and other inhumane and degrading activities;


C.  Whereas Dalit women, who alongside "Tribal" women are the poorest of the poor in India, face double discrimination on the basis of caste and gender and are subjected to gross violations of their physical integrity, including sexual abuse by dominant castes with impunity, and are socially excluded and economically exploited; whereas in 2011 a Thompson Reuters TrustLaw survey identified India as one of the five most dangerous places in the world to be a woman;


D.  Whereas literacy levels are as low as 24% for Dalit girls, compared to the national average of 43% for the female population;


E.  Whereas in the state of Haryana numerous Dalit women and girls have been raped in recent months and whereas according to some estimates 90 percent of crimes against Dalit women are not reported due to fear of social ostracism and threats to personal safety and security;


F.  Whereas in one particular case in Haryana State a 16-year old Dalit girl was gang-raped in the village of Dabra, Hisar district, on 9 September 2012; whereas her father committed suicide after discovering what happened and the police only decided to take belated action when faced with mass protests;

G.  Whereas in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu State, a mob of approximately 1,000 people from higher castes looted and torched 430 houses in Dalit communities without police intervention, ostensibly because of an inter-cast marriage;


H.  Whereas implementation of existing legislation and judicial follow-up of atrocities and cases of discrimination is insufficient in many states and regions;


I.  Whereas India, when presenting its candidacy for the Human Rights Council, ahead of the elections of 20 May 2011, pledged to uphold the highest standards to promote and protect human rights;



1.  Acknowledges the significant work that has already been done at federal, state, regional and local levels to eradicate caste discrimination; but recognises that the situation regarding people suffering from caste-based discrimination in India remains unacceptable;


2.  Remains however alarmed by these and other reported and unreported atrocities;


3.  Urges the Indian authorities, at federal, state, regional and local level to live up to its pledges, to implement existing legislation, to ensure protection of Dalits and other vulnerable groups in society and to ensure a police- and judicial follow-up of reported atrocities and other cases of discrimination;


4.  Urges the Indian authorities to ensure victims can safely register their cases with police and judicial authorities;


5.  Calls on the Indian authorities to allow for funding, including from abroad, for Dalit organisations and other organisations representing disadvantaged groups in Indian society;


6.  Calls on the Indian government to bring in amendments to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to plug loopholes in its implementation;


7.  Asks the Indian Parliament to push through its plans to pass a Bill prohibiting manual scavenging;


8.  Calls on the Council, the Commission, Member States, the High Representative and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to recognise caste discrimination as a global human rights issue;


9.  Calls on the Member States to endorse and promote the draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent in the UN Human Rights Council;


10.  Calls on EU and Member States to systematically include the issue of caste discrimination in their dialogues with the Indian authorities and as part of the fundamental human rights clauses in economic agreements between the EU and India;


11.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise programmes addressing caste discrimination;


12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to India's Prime Minister, India's Minister for Law & Justice, India's Home Minister, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the Secretary-General of the UN and the President of the UN General Assembly.