(Brussels) – The European Union should use its rights dialogue with India to encourage the government to ensure accountability for abuses and strengthen the protection of women, children, Dalits, and other vulnerable communities, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Ambassador João Cravinho, head of the EU Delegation to India. The EU-India Local Human Rights Dialogue will be held in New Delhi on January 22, 2013.

The EU should urge India to end effective legal immunity granted to state security forces under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the criminal procedure code for violations of fundamental rights, including torture, rape, and extrajudicial killings.

“The Indian government often has noble intentions when it comes to creating laws and policies, but too often the impact on the lives of ordinary Indians is minimal,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “The EU-India rights dialogue is an important opportunity for the EU to help India turn good intentions into real changes.”

The Indian government has recently taken some positive steps to improve human rights protections, including enacting a new law to protect children from sexual abuse and proposing amendments to existing laws on sexual assault. However, implementation will remain a challenge unless the government holds accountable the officials tasked to enforce the laws.