Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, visited Delhi, Mumbai and the north Indian regions of Jharkhand and Gujarat from 21 to 26 October. During her visit, she spoke with government officials, the National Human Rights Commission of India and the Supreme Court of India. The focus was on human rights challenges in Germany and India, particularly women’s rights and companies’ responsibility for human rights.
Ms Kofler underlined that both countries need to do more and highlighted ways to work together:
We face challenges in the human rights domain in both Germany and India. Exchange with the National Human Rights Commission, which was founded 25 years ago, is thus important.
Strengthening women’s rights
At a time when the #MeToo debate is also being covered extensively by the media in India, Germany’s Human Rights Commissioner held talks with female human rights activists on how equal opportunities can gradually be achieved and how to counter the use of violence. Her talks also addressed the topics of strengthening discourse in society in order to foster acceptance of other opinions, spaces for freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.
Responsibility of the private sector for humane working and living conditions
German and Indian companies’ efforts to ensure human rights for their staff were a further key topic during the Human Rights Commissioner’s visit to India.
Ms Kofler visited a coal-mining region in the interior of the country where many people, particularly those from less privileged social classes, are directly affected by resettlement. She also spoke with trade unions in Ahmedabab.
Ms Kofler underlined German companies’ responsibility:
Germany has launched a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights that articulates clear expectations for the German business sector and its obligations with respect to human rights due diligence across supply chains.
Ms Kofler was able to reiterate this at a conference in Mumbai with representatives of German and Indian companies. She also emphasised that India and Germany should work even more closely together in this field in the future.