India: Kashmiri human rights activist re-arrested
Kashmiri human rights activist Khurram Parvez has been detained a second time, after a court ordered his release from administrative detention on Tuesday.
“Detaining a person right after he is released, without any intention to charge him or bring him to trial, amounts to using a revolving door of persecution,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India.
“This kind of arbitrary use of the law suggests that the Jammu and Kashmir police are determined to lock up Khurram Parvez at any cost.”
The activist was first arrested on 16 September and placed in administrative detention in a jail in Kupwara, over 100 kilometres from his home in Srinagar, for allegedly posing an imminent threat of ‘breach of peace’. The detention order was based on a police report which claimed that policemen had seen Khurram Parvez on 15 September standing outside a mosque inciting people to shout slogans and march towards a government building. His wife has denied the claim, saying that they were at her parents’ house in another part of the city at the time.
On Tuesday, a court in Srinagar ordered Khurram Parvez to be released after ruling that the executive official who ordered the detention had not followed necessary procedures, including by failing to adequately explain the grounds for his detention. As soon as Khurram Parvez was released, however, he was again detained and later transferred to a police station in Srinagar. According to media reports, the police are holding him in administrative detention under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, and are likely to move him to the Kot Balwal jail in Jammu, about 300 kilometres from Srinagar. Senior state police officials have not responded to queries about the case.
Administrative detention laws such as the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act allow for people to be detained without charge or trial. These laws have often been used to hold individuals in arbitrary detention on vague grounds for long periods of time, ignoring regular criminal justice safeguards.
Khurram Parvez uses a prosthetic leg. His left leg was amputated due to a landmine injury in 2004.
Amnesty International India calls on authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to immediately release Khurram Parvez, or charge him with a recognizable criminal offence and prosecute him in a fair trial. Pending his release, he must be protected from torture or other ill-treatment, given access to his family and lawyers, and provided adequate medical care.
Khurram Parvez is the Programmes Coordinator of JKCCS (Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society), as well as the Chairperson for the Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances, a collective of 13 non-governmental organizations from ten Asian countries. JKCCS has extensively documented and litigated on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Over 80 people have been killed and thousands injured in Jammu and Kashmir in recent months, following protests and violent clashes after a leader from the Hizbul Mujahideen armed group was killed in July. Security forces have used arbitrary and excessive force in response to the protests and hundreds of people have been blinded or otherwise injured, by pellet-firing shotguns.
On 13 September, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reiterated a request, first made in July to Indian and Pakistani authorities, for access to all parts of Kashmir to look into allegations of human rights violations. India’s Ministry of External Affairs has denied the request.
On 14 September, Khurram Parvez was stopped at Delhi’s International Airport and prevented from travelling to the UN Human Rights Council Session in Geneva. He was not given any official explanation by the immigration officer, only that he needed approval by the Intelligence Bureau before travelling.
Right to freedom of movement
Indian courts have ruled that the right to travel abroad flows from the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. In March 2015, the Delhi High Court declared a travel ban against a Greenpeace activist to be illegal, and observed: “The state may not accept the views of the civil right activists, but that by itself, cannot be a good enough reason to do away with dissent.”
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which India is a state party, states that “everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.” Restrictions to this right must be provided by law and be necessary and proportionate for specified aims under international human rights law.
The UN Human Rights Committee, which oversees the implementation of the ICCPR, has said that restricting the movement of journalists and others seeking to travel abroad, including to attend human-rights-related meetings, violates their freedom of expression.
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