This communication from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, the promotion of freedom of speech, the rights to assembly and association, the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism and torture expresses serious concern regarding the arbitrary detetnion and ill-treatment of Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, the misuse of counter-terror laws to retaliate against human rights defenders and poor conditions of detention, indefinite detention and detention with charge or trial. The UN human rights experts note that "his detention appears to be part of a strategy to disrupt, intimidate, detain and punish those engaging in journalism and human rights advocacy."
Topics: arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of human rights defender Muhammad Ahsan Untoo
Terms: January 2022 arbitrary detention of Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, International Forum for Justice and Human Rights Jammu Kashmir, ill-treatment, torture, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Jammu Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), revolving door detention, violaiton of right to fair trial, violation of right to habeas corpus, violation of right to liberty, poor prison conditions, denial of medical treatment, physical torture, sexual torture, special cell, Security Council Resolution 1566, Nelson Mandela Rules, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders
While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we are expressing our most serious concern at the allegations of arbitrary detention and ill treatment of Muhammad Ahsan Untoo and that his detention appears to be part of a strategy to disrupt, intimidate, detain and punish those engaging in journalism and human rights advocacy.
We are furthermore concerned by the use of the UAPA, a counter-terrorism law, against human rights defenders as a justification for arbitrary arrest and ill treatment, and that its use may relate to his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and may be in retaliation for his legitimate human rights activities. As we previously raised in OL IND 7/2020, we are deeply concerned that the definition of
‘terrorist act’ in UAPA differs substantially from the definition offered by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. We further remind your Excellency Government that the definition of terrorism and terrorism offences must be ‘genuinely’ terrorist in nature in accordance with the elements identified by the Security Council in its resolution 1566 (2004).
We further express concern at persistent allegations of poor conditions of detention, patterns of issuing additional charges to prevent a detainee from being released, and at the practice of preventing a detainee from appearing in court due to no charge sheet being filed.