Last Friday 25 November 2016, the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar quashed the order of detention and ordered the release of Mr. Khuram Parvez, Chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance (AFAD) and Program Coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), who has been arbitrarily detained since 16 September. However, police at Jammu’s Kot Balwal Jail, where Mr. Parvez was being held, refused to release him, claiming there was a typing error on the Court order. A new Court order for his release was therefore issued on Tuesday 29 November, but instead of releasing Mr. Parvez, officials from the counter-intelligence wing of Jammu & Kashmir Police took Mr. Parvez to the Joint Interrogation Centre at Meeran Sahib, Jammu. No information regarding the grounds of his continued detention was provided to Mr. Parvez or to his legal counsel.
We recall that on 20 September, the Principal Districts and Sessions Judge of Srinagar had also quashed the charges against Mr. Parvez and ordered the authorities to release him from jail. However, this order was also ignored and the police re-arrested him under the preventive detention provisions of the Public Safety Act of 1978 (PSA). The Judge at the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday notably observed: “A society, which has catapulted itself to the highest position of democratic values and principles, may not accept the law like the Act of 1978.”
The High Court Judge concluded that the detention of Mr. Parvez “is not only illegal but [that] the detaining authority has abused its powers in ordering his detention”. He also found that Mr. Parvez has not been provided the documents relevant to his detention, and has therefore been deprived of the opportunity to effectively appeal his detention. The authorities have also manipulated the courts and used administrative delays to prolong Mr. Parvez’s arbitrary detention, which now totals more than 74 days .
The High Court Judge also stated that “it is the duty of the State and its authorities to maintain peace in the society but it is equally their responsibility to ensure that laws, which they invoke to achieve such purpose, are followed and complied with honesty”. The refusal by police to obey Court orders and re-arrest Mr. Parvez is an abuse of power and a violation of the rule of law and basic human rights.
Our organisations recall that just before his arbitrary arrest, the authorities prevented Mr. Parvez’s from travelling to Geneva to speak at the United Nations about enforced disappearances in Kashmir. We condemn this repression and the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Parvez, which seem aimed at silencing his work as a human rights defender, and are a violation of India’s obligations under international law to allow human rights defenders to freely engage in their legitimate work without fear of reprisals or repression. We take this opportunity to call on India to remove the obstacles preventing the work of human rights defenders, particularly those working on the issue of enforced disappearance, and to finally ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which India signed in 2007 but has still refused to ratify and implement nationally.
We call for the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Parvez, in compliance with both the High Court order and India’s human rights obligations, and to ensure that he is not subjected to further repression or reprisals for his important human rights work.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (The Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) is a federation of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of involuntary disappearances in Asia. Envisioning a world without desaparecidos, AFAD was founded on June 4, 1998 in Manila, Philippines.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award 2014.
FORUM-ASIA is a regional human rights group with 58 member organisations in 19 countries across Asia. FORUM-ASIA addresses key areas of human rights violations in the region, including freedoms of expression, assembly and association, human rights defenders, and democratisation. FORUM-ASIA operates through its offices in Bangkok, Jakarta, Geneva and Kathmandu.
The International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) is a network of 42 member organisations concerned with the issue of human rights and the struggle against enforced disappearances. The principal objective of ICAED is maximising impact of the activities carried out by its members in favour of an early ratification and effective implementation of the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
Odhikar, a human rights organisation based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was founded in 1994 with the aim to create a wider monitoring and awareness raising system on the abuse of civil and political rights.