The UN Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances on Wednesday called on the Government of India to immediately release Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez who was arrested last month for alleged activities against public order.
Parvez is the coordinator of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCSS)and the chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).
“Parvez is a well-known and outspoken human rights defender who has had a longstanding and positive engagement with the UN human rights mechanisms,” said the joint statement issued by the UN experts group.
“His continued detention following his arrest just a few days before his participation in the UN Human Rights Council, suggests a deliberate attempt to obstruct his legitimate human rights activism.” they added.
“We are concerned at the use of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act against Mr. Parvez, which permits administrative detention without judicial intervention for up to two years,” the experts highlighted.
Commenting on the misuse of the J&K Public Safety Act by the Indian government, the group said, “We have received allegations of this law often being arbitrarily applied to target human rights defenders.”
“We are seriously concerned that the arrest of Parvez may represent a direct retaliation for his legitimate activities as a human rights defender and the exercise of his fundamental freedoms, including freedoms of expression and association”, they concluded.
On September 14, Parvez was on his way to Geneva to attend the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council when he was prevented from traveling out of India by airport authorities in Delhi.
He was then detained on 16 September under sections 107 and 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code, released on September 20, yet detained again the same day.
He remains today in preventive detention, under the highly controversial Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act.
On October 13, a petition challenging Parvez’s detention under the Public Safety Act was listed before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, yet the case has only been listed for hearing until October 25.