India: Arbitrary detention of Mr. Abhay Sahoo

17/05/2013
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the arbitrary detention of Mr. Abhay Sahoo, President of the “POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti” (PPSS), a movement that has been leading a eight-year campaign against forcible acquisition of common lands by South Korean steel giant POSCO in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha State (formerly Orissa State).

IND 002 / 0513 / OBS 045
Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment
India
May 17, 2013

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the arbitrary detention of Mr. Abhay Sahoo, President of the “POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti” (PPSS), a movement that has been leading a eight-year campaign against forcible acquisition of common lands by South Korean steel giant POSCO in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha State (formerly Orissa State).

According to the information received, on May 11, 2013, at about 9 a.m., Mr. Abhay Sahoo was arrested by a police team from Jagatsinghpur near the Biju Patnaik airport in Bhubaneswar, as he was about to take a flight to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, to take part in a conference.

Mr. Abhay Sahoo was taken to Kujanga, near Paradip, Jagatsinghpur district, and charged under section 307 (murder), 102.b (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of Indian Penal Code and under sections 3 (causing explosion likely to endanger life) and 4 (attempt to cause explosion or for making explosive to endanger life) of Explosive Substances Act, in connection to the bomb blast in the proposed POSCO steel plant at Dhinkia village of Jagatshinghpur disctrict on May 2, 2013, in which three PPSS supporters were killed when, according to the police, they were making a bomb.

In the afternoon, Mr. Sahoo was produced before the judicial magistrate court in Kujang, which rejected his bail petition and remanded him in judicial custody at Samagola Jail (Kujang) for 14 days.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment against Mr. Abhay Sahoo, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his peaceful activitites in the framework of the campaing against the proposed POSCO steel plant and the related forcible acquisition of common lands farmed by villagers in Jagatsinghpur discrict.

Furthermore, the Observatory is gravely concerned that a total of 54 cases of diferent nature have been filed against Mr. Abhay Sahoo at different stages of the PPSS movement. Remarkably, he has been released on bail in 50 of them. In the framework of the ongoing harassment against Mr. Abhay Sahoo it is important to note that he has been kept on jail in two ocassions implicated in false cases: from October 2008 to August 2009 and from November 25, 2011 to March 14, 2012See Observatory Urgent Appeal IND 001 / 0112 / OBS 004.1, issued on March 16, 2012..

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of India, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Abhay Sahoo, all PPSS members as well as of all human rights defenders in India;

ii. Release Mr. Abhay Sahoo immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it seems to merely sanction his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to acts of any acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Abhay Sahoo as well as against all human rights defenders in India;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its:
- Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- Article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;
- Article 12.2 (“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”);

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by India.

Addresses:

· Mr. Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, India. Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857 E-mal: pmosb@pmo.nic.in / manmo@sansad.in
· Mr. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110003, India. Email: mosefgoi@nic.in
· Justice Altamas Kabir, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, Tilak Marg, New Delhi -1, India. Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in
· Justice K. G. Balkrishnan, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Fax: +91 11 2334 0016 / 2338 4863, Email: covdnhrc@nic.in ; ionhrc@nic.in
· Mr. Shri A. K. Parashar, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in
· Mr. Shri Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Nivas, Aerodrome Road, Bhubaneswar 751001, India. Fax +91 67 4253 5100 Email: cmo@ori.nic.in
· Secretary, Odisha Human Rights Commission, Toshali Bhawan (2nd Floor), Satyanagar, Bhubaneswar-751007, Odisha, India, Fax: +91 674 257 2010, Email: ohrc@nic.in
· Shri Satya Kumar Mallick, Collector & District Magistrate Jagatsinghpur. PO: Jagatsinghpur District Police, Odisha, Fax: +91 67 2422 0299 Email: dmjsp@ori.nic.in
· H.E. Mr. Dilip Sinha, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue du Valais 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int
· Embassy of India in Brussels, 217 Chaussée de Vleurgat, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)2 6489638 or +32 (0)2 6451869

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of India in your respective countries.

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