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EU delegation slams crackdown on NGOs

European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Chair David McAllister cited reports of “breach of human rights” in Kashmir and said the issue has to be settled through domestic institutions.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
February 23, 2017 2:13:33 am

A European parliamentary delegation on Wednesday slammed the government for “blocking” activities of NGOs working on human rights. “We, as Europeans, some of the member states, give money to NGOs for working on human rights. We do not understand that some authorities in some countries block activities of those working on human rights,’’ said European Parliament Member Cristian Dan Prede while responding to the issue of crackdown on foreign funding of NGOs.

“This is a reference in our policy (of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Committee) and human rights are universal.’’ He said it is unacceptable. “But the only restriction I see is to block activity of an organisation if it promotes terrorist activities. But if it is about women’s rights, children’s’ rights, then it is very important to explain…”

The government has cancelled licences of several NGOs, including Greenpeace India, under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, and put organisations like Ford Foundation under prior permission category.

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European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Chair David McAllister cited reports of “breach of human rights” in Kashmir and said the issue has to be settled through domestic institutions. “The conflict is a very sensitive issue.’’

The delegation said it will take up the issue of denial of visa to one of its Pakistan-origin members, Amjad Bashir, with India. Bashir has alleged that he was refused visa for his support to Kashmir’s right to self-determination. He has added that he had spoken out against rights abuses in Kashmir. “If I have been banned because of sincerely-held beliefs that is regrettable and counterproductive,” he has said in a statement.

The delegation said the European Union was ready to accommodate more Indian IT professionals and denounced any form of protectionism in global trade amid US President Donald Trump’s possible clampdown on H1B visas. “Europe is open for people with high demand. Indian people are highly skilled. Our IT sector would not have been successful if we did not have skilled professionals from India,” McAllister said. He pitched for early resumption of negotiations for EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement.

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