Experts call on Indian authorities to release human rights defender in Kashmir

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A group of UN experts on human rights* asked the Indian authorities to immediate release by Khurram Parvez, a well-known defender of fundamental guarantees in Kashmir.

In a joint statement, the rapporteurs explained that Parvez has documented serious human rights violations in the Indian-administered areas of Jammu and Kashmir, including enforced disappearances and killings.

The activist has reported those abuses before the UN, for which he has faced retaliation, they added.

The Indian National Investigation Agency arrested Parvez last month for conspiracy and terrorism charges.

Retaliation

The experts expressed concern that a month after the arrest, the defender of fundamental guarantees remains deprived of liberty in what appears to be a retaliation for “their legitimate activities as a human rights defender and because he has denounced violations “

“In a context of reprisals, this and previous ones, we urge the Indian authorities to release him immediately and that guarantee your rights to freedom and security ”.

Parvez is being held at the Rohini prison complex in Delhi, a site that experts described as one of the prisons more overcrowded and unhealthy of the country, which represents a risk to the health and safety of the activist, especially in the environment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anti-terrorism law

The arrest occurred on November 22 under the Indian anti-terrorism legislation “Prevention of Illegal Activities Act”.

This regulation, in force since July 2019, allows the authorities to designate any individual as a terrorist, even if it does not belong to or is associated with identified and prohibited groups.

Experts claimed that this law has resulted in a “Worrying increase” in the number of arrests in India, especially in the Indian-administered areas of Jammu and Kashmir.

The rapporteurs regretted that the government uses this legislation as a means of coercion to restrict the fundamental freedoms of civil society, the media and human rights defenders in the areas under his administration of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as in the rest of the country.

“We urge once again the Indian government to bring this legislation in line with the obligations of the country stipulated in international human rights laws”, They pointed out.

Could receive capital punishment

Parvez appeared before a Delhi court on November 30 and December 4, when it was determined that he be transferred to remain in judicial custody.

Tomorrow, Thursday, the Special Court of the National Investigation Agency could rule another extension of his detention for 90 more days and then, if convicted, Parvez could be sentenced to the death penalty or up to 14 years in prison.

The signatories of the declaration are the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances and the special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor; on the promotion of fundamental guarantees in the fight against terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin; and on arbitrary executions, Morris Tidball-Binz.

*The special rapporteurs * are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, is the general name for the Council’s independent investigation and oversight mechanisms dealing with country-specific situations or thematic issues around the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; They are not UN personnel and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and provide their services on an individual basis.

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