December 19, 2017 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: Human rights organisations REDRESS and Ensaaf have filed an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture in the case of Jagtar Singh Johal, “Jaggi”, a British man who has been detained in Indian subcontinent by Punjab police since 4 November 2017.
Jagtar Singh Johal asserts that during 5 to 9 November Indian police tortured him during interrogation by means of electric shocks to his ears, nipples and genitals, forcing his limbs into painful positions and forced sleep deprivation. Jagtar Singh Johal’s lawyers in India report that at a secret court hearing on 10 November, witnesses observed that Jagtar Singh Johal had severe difficulty in standing or walking, and had to be assisted by police officers as he entered and left the courtroom, reads a statement issued by REDRESS and Ensaaf.
“Plain-clothes police officers seized, hooded and abducted Jagtar Singh Johal while he was out shopping with his wife in Punjab, India on 4 November. Following a brief court hearing on 5 November, Indian police officials held Mr Johal in incommunicado for nine days in an undisclosed location, until 14 November. 45 days after he was first seized. Mr Johal remains in police custody without charge. During this time, Indian police officials have denied him all private contact with his lawyers, British consular staff and his family in Scotland. Mr Johal has also been denied an independent medical examination, which risks further compounding the physical and psychological harm already caused to him and increases the difficulty of obtaining additional evidence about the treatment he has been subjected to. According to Mr Johal, for the last seven days he has been held alone in a cell, with a police guard present at all times. His left ankle and wrist have been chained using handcuffs 24 hours a day”, the statement reads further.
It adds further that Jagtar Singh Johal has told his lawyers that police also forced him to sign blank pieces of paper, believed to be for the purpose of forging his confessions.
In their urgent appeal, REDRESS and Ensaaf urge the Special Rapporteur on Torture to call on the Indian Government to ensure that Jagtar Singh Johal is protected from further torture and ill-treatment; is provided with an immediate independent medical examination and any needed physical and psychological medical care; and is permitted private, unsupervised visits with his lawyers and British consular staff. They also request an independent investigation into the alleged torture while in police custody.
In addition to Jagtar Singh Johal’s treatment in custody, the allegations raise a number of significant other questions, about the potentially arbitrary and indefinite nature of Jagtar Singh Johal’s detention; his lack of access to legal representation and consular assistance during the initial stages of his detention; the harassment of his family; his being forced to provide false confessions; and the prejudicing of any eventual trial, the Human Rights bodies said in a statement.
“Torture cannot be justified in any circumstances, and is illegal under international law” said Carla Ferstman, Director of REDRESS. “The Government of India must order an immediate investigation into Mr Johal’s case, and give Jagtar Singh Johal private access to independent doctors, lawyers, and his British consular representatives.”
“Given India’s clear disregard for legal norms and due process in this case, a diplomatic intervention is necessary to protect Mr Johal from further torture and illegal detention,” said Jaskaran Kaur, Co-Director of Ensaaf. “We urge the Special Rapporteur to investigate and intervene in this matter as quickly as possible.”
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Related Topics: Congress Government in Punjab 2017-2022, Ensaaf, Human Rights, Indian State, Jagtar Singh Johal alias Jaggi (UK), Jaspal Singh Manjhpur (Advocate), Punjab Police, Punjab Politics, Redress, Sikh News UK, Sikh Political Prisoners, Sikhs in United Kingdom