UN Special Rapporteur’s letter to the GOI on farm laws and farmers’ protests

Mr. Fakri has offered his comments on the three farm laws and their collective impact on the accessibility, availability, adequacy, and sustainability of food in India.

farm laws

As farmers protests against the three farm laws nears its one year anniversary on 26th November at Delhi borders, it has drawn national as well as international attention. The last in the line is UN Special Rapporteur on Right To Food, Mr Michael Fakri.

Mr. Fakri in a letter to the Government of India has offered his comments on the three farm laws and their collective impact on the accessibility, availability, adequacy, and sustainability of food in India.

In the letter dated November 12th 2021,Mr Michael Fakri, presented an analysis of the 3 farm laws and raises questions about the same with the Government of India.

He writes that these laws may interfere with the full enjoyment of the right to food of India’s farmers, especially women as constituting the majority of small-scale farmers in the country, and all interrelated human rights.

Indian Farmers are fighting to save Agriculture, Food Security and Environment

He says that he is “concerned that these laws may interfere with the full enjoyment of the right to food of India’s farmers, especially women as constituting the majority of small scale farmers in the country and all inter-related human rights”.

Re-capturing the Government of India’s obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and also pertinent articles of the Constitution of India, the letter reminds the Government that these constitute an obligation of also avoiding any measures that would interfere with accessibility, availability, adequacy and sustainability of food.

punjab
Courtesy: Janjwar

The letter also mentions the manner in which the laws were passed during the COVID-19 pandemic without any consultation with the farmers, agricultural workers, and other stakeholders.

He suggested the GOI to consider re- opening the discussion around the new legislation to ensure that all stakeholders, including those who were not in a position to fully participate at the time, have the opportunity to take an active role in the consultation process.

The letter concludes by raising nine queries raised to the Government of India, inviting a response to the same and also committing to making such a response public.

  1. Please provide any further information or comments you may have on the issues raised.
  2. What protective measures does your Government plan to adopt to ensure that the emerging private markets under the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020 do not undermine the MSP or otherwise guarantee a fair price for farmers?
  3. The Government has repeatedly assured farmers that the existing system of public procurement at minimum support price and operation of APMC mandis (markets) will continue. Can you please describe how you will put in place such support?
  4. How does your Government intend to ensure that the food procurement and distribution systems established under the National Food Security Act continue to support the most economically disadvantaged and food insecure populations?
  5. APMC
  6. How does your Goverment plan to restrict stockpiling and resulting price manipulation in response to new permissions afforded under the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020? If your Government does not intend to adopt restrictions, how will your Government ensure that smaller farmers and those with financial restraints are able to acquire the capital and space for storage?
  7. How does your government intend to protect against price manipulation that may result from the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 to the detriment of smaller producers?
  8. How does your government plan to protect farmers’ access to justice and fair remedy in the event that a contract dispute arises under the Farmers Product Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020 or Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020?
  9. What steps is your Government taking to ensure that women farmers and those engaged in agricultural production are not adversely impacted by the new laws, and are afforded the full scope of rights and protections guaranteed under international human rights law?
  10. What measures are in place to ensure that any necessary amendments to, implementation and enforcement of these laws involves open public discussion, and that those who are most affected have a reasonable opportunity to influence the legislative process?

The complete letter can be read here. 

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