EU-India summit: economic development through mass displacement violates human rights
(Brussels, 30 November 2007) – On the eve of the EU-India Summit in New Delhi, Amnesty International urges EU leaders to raise concerns with the Indian government that serious human rights violations are occurring in the country in relation to economic development projects imposed on local communities.
Marginalized groups face fear of being displaced from their lands as a result of industrialisation projects in the context of the government-managed Special Economic Zones (SEZ). As an example, at least 4000 hectares of land have been used for the SEZ in West Bengal, raising fears that the fundamental rights of the people living in those areas have not been fully respected.
In light of this, the EU should urge the Indian government to implement its economic strategy in such a manner that it respects the communities’ basic rights and its obligations under international law, which requires that evictions are carried out only as a last resort, and only following adequate notice and consultation with those affected.
The land dispute has also recently given rise to violence. At least 40 people died over the past year as a result of violent incidents in West Bengal. “The EU should ask the Indian government to ensure full investigation and prosecution of those responsible”, said Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.
Amnesty International also recalls that the effects of the 1984 Bhopal disaster are still to be fully addressed. Up to now, no one has been held responsible for the toxic leak. Over 20,000 people died and more than a 100,000 continue to suffer from chronic and debilitating diseases.
“After more than 20 years it is high time for the Indian Government, in conjunction with the companies involved, to ensure effective decontamination and clean-up of the Bhopal disaster site, and the EU is well placed to make that call at this summit”, said Dick Oosting.
Considering that a parallel business summit will take place in New Delhi, Amnesty International also stressed the crucial link between business and human rights and highlighted the role of the state and of companies in their respective human rights duties in both the EU and India.