NEW DELHI: A prime UN human rights official has deplored the loss of life in custody of an 84-year-old Indian Christian priest who campaigned for the rights of tribal individuals and was denied bail after being detained underneath an anti-terrorism regulation.
Father Stan Swamy was arrested final 12 months on suspicion, which he denied, of ties to a banned radical leftist group that police accused of getting instigated violence in Maharashtra state in 2018.
His loss of life will revive criticism of the rising use of the anti-terrorism statute underneath nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities. Opponents of the regulation say it’s used to hound individuals crucial of the federal government.
Swamy, who suffered from Parkinson’s illness and in addition contracted COVID-19 whereas in jail, died in a Mumbai hospital on Monday. Greater than a dozen individuals gathered outdoors the St. Peter’s Church in Mumbai, the place his funeral service was being held, to protest over his loss of life.
“The news from India today is devastating. Human Rights Defender & Jesuit priest Fr Stan Swamy has died in custody, nine months after his arrest on false charges of terrorism,” stated the UN particular rapporteur for human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor.
“Jailing HRDs is inexcusable,” she added in a Twitter publish, referring to human rights defenders.
India’s overseas ministry late on Tuesday Swamy’s bail purposes had been rejected by courts “because of the specific nature of charges against him”.
It stated India had an unbiased judiciary, a variety of nationwide and state stage human rights commissions that monitor violations, a free media and a vibrant and vocal civil society.
“India remains committed to promotion and protection of human rights of all its citizens,” foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
At a briefing in Geneva, UN human rights commission spokeswoman Liz Throssell said the agency had repeatedly urged India’s government to protect a robust civil society. “We’re very involved with the way in which he was handled,” she said, calling for the release of people detained without proper legal basis.
India’s National Investigation Agency, which was pursuing the case against Swamy, did not respond to requests for comment.
In previous court hearings, the government denied accusations of mistreatment of Swamy, and said the law must be allowed to take its course.
Supporters of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party said there could be no tolerance of violence by Maoist guerrillas, some of whom operate in remote areas where tribal people live.
Swamy was the oldest of a dozen people, most of them academics and human rights activists, accused of violence in 2018 and imprisoned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which allows for prolonged detention for questioning.
“The federal government ought to have executed one thing earlier…They took too lengthy and did not do something for (Swamy),” said Karen D’mello, a former local government official present at the Mumbai protest. “I do not suppose he wanted to be in (jail) initially, he was wrongly accused.”
Swamy denied hyperlinks to outlawed teams and repeatedly requested for bail, just lately telling court docket in a video convention that his well being had worsened in jail and he would quickly die.
He had stated he had issue consuming and consuming due to his Parkinson’s and requested the court docket to permit him to make use of a straw and sipper. The court docket had agreed after almost three weeks.