Thursday, 18 February 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
139. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on and response to the ongoing farmer protests in New Delhi, India; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9185/21]
I have been informed by our Embassy in New Delhi about recent protests by farmers in India against legislation which was passed by the Indian Parliament last September with the stated aim of reforming India's agricultural markets. However, the protesters claim the legislation would remove guaranteed minimum prices for their products and, more broadly, would affect the viability of small farms.
As the Deputy will be aware, large protests by farmers have taken place across India since the passing of the laws, and in particular around the capital region of New Delhi. Last month India’s Supreme Court put a stay on the implementation of the new laws pending further examination of the process that was followed to pass the legislation. Thus far the Indian Government has held eleven rounds of negotiations with the leaders of the protests, and last week Prime Minister Modi called for these negotiations to continue.
The right to peaceful protest is protected by International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is ratified by India and which guarantees the rights of peaceful assembly, association and expression. I am aware of claims regarding the deaths of protesters and the arrest of human rights defenders at the protests but I am assured that the overwhelming majority of protests have taken place in a peaceful atmosphere. I have asked our Embassy in New Delhi to continue to report on developments.