Samyukt Kisan Morcha leader Darshan Pal raised the issue of India’s contentious farm reform laws at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, asking the UN to urge the Indian government to repeal the laws.
Speaking via video message during the general debate at the ongoing 46th session of the Council, Dr. Pal noted that India was a signatory to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and was thus committed to the protection of small farmers.
However, he alleged that the farm laws will remove such protections by endangering the minimum support price system, the use of profits for rural infrastructure, and access to the courts. “The few States where similar policies were introduced have seen farmers sinking into poverty, losing their lands and having to work as labourers elsewhere to make ends meet,” he said.
“The UN Declaration insists that the country must consult the farmers before laws and policies are enacted. We humbly ask the UN to urge my government to abide by the declaration, repeal the laws and start consultations to start a reform agenda friendly to farmers and good for the environment, as is required by the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants,” he added.
Dr. Pal was listed as representing a Sikh Human Rights Group. Another speaker in the same session, listed as representing Integrated Youth Empowerment, raised the issue of journalists arrested while covering the farmers protests in Delhi.
Accusing India of “suppressing freedom of speech”, the IYE speaker Valentin Hopfinger said those who reported on the alleged gunshot wound seen in the post-mortem of the protesting farmer who died on Republic Day were now facing criminal charges.
“In the first instance, India is abusing the right of peaceful assembly. Secondly, those who are trying to report the truth are facing retribution from Indian authorities,” he said.