Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti , U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee for the position of Ambassador to India, told a Senate committee that human rights, including in the context of the Citizenship Amendment Act, will be a “core” part of his work in India.
Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Mr. Garcetti said he had fought for human rights (he was on the board of rights group, Human Rights Watch, in California) and that he would bring up human rights and discrimination such as via the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as a “core” piece of his engagement , rather than as an obligation. He was responding to a question from Senator Ben Cardin (Democrat, Maryland) on human rights and also specifically the CAA, as being discriminatory against Muslims.
On the question of how he would balance the need to work with India as a strategic partner with advancing human rights, Mr. Garcetti said the relationship between the countries was underpinned by a commitment to human rights, democracy and civil society.
“ It’s a two way street on these, but I intend to engage directly with civil society,” he said, adding, “There are groups that are actively fighting for human rights of people on the ground in India that will get direct engagement from me.”
Setting the stage in his initial remarks, Senator Bob Menendez (Democrat, New Jersey), who chairs the Committee, said that as the U.S. and India deepen their relationship, there would “ inevitably “ be areas of friction, citing India’s purchase of Russian defence equipment and “democratic backsliding and discrimination against religious minorities.” Mr. Menendez told Mr. Garcetti that he expected him to be frank with New Delhi about not just aspects of cooperation but also areas of concern in the relationship.
“ New Delhi will need to address our concerns if it seeks to deepen our partnership even further,” Mr. Menendez said.
“ …Respect for human rights and strong democratic institutions are key elements of our relationship and values that are enshrined in both of our constitutions and if confirmed, I will engage regularly and respectfully with the Indian government on these issues,” he said at one point during the hearing.