UN expert welcomes India plan to repeal farm laws that sparked deadly protests
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New York/Canadian-Media: A UN human rights expert welcomed India’s decision to repeal three contentious farm laws that sparked a year of nationwide protests which left 600 people dead.
Image credit: Unsplash/Gayatri Malhotra
In a statement released this Friday, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Michael Fakhri, also urged the Government to ensure accountability for the casualties.
“To truly turn the page on this painful chapter, it is incumbent on the authorities to heed calls for accountability concerning the casualties reported during the protests and guarantee measures to prevent any repetition of such events”, he argued.
Contentious laws The three agricultural laws which had the goal of deregulating the market were passed in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They were widely criticized for having been rushed through Parliament without enough consultation with affected communities.
In a surprise announcement on 19 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the laws would be repealed at the next session of the legislative body.
“What was at stake with these laws was the stability of India’s entire food system,” Mr. Fakhri said. “Let’s hope that subsequent actions on reforming Indian agriculture are informed by the country’s human rights commitments and taken through meaningful consultations with farmers, communities and unions”.
Along with other UN experts, the Special Rapporteur had spoken to the Government about the laws’ potential to impact the right to food, and the severe restrictions imposed during the demonstrations.
Mr. Fakhri acknowledged the lengthy process of passing of the laws but said that what followed “is an indication of the deep dissatisfaction felt by hundreds of thousands of people”.
For him, it also shows that freedom of expression “is a valuable tool for empowering people to influence policy change through mobilization and peaceful protest”.