India
29.06.18
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. S. Vanchinathan

IND 007 / 0618 / OBS 089

Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment

India

June 29, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection ofHuman Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situationin India.

Brief descriptionof the information:

The Observatory has been informed byreliable sources about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. S.Vanchinathan,a human rights lawyer practicingat the Madras High Court’s Madurai Bench and the Tamil Nadu Coordinator of theHuman Rights Protection Council.

According to the information received, on June 20, 2018 at 11.45 pm, Mr.Vanchinathan was arrested without a warrant upon his arrival at Chennai airportin Tamil Nadu State, India. He was arrested undercharges of “punishment for rioting” (Section 147 of the Penal Code), “riotingarmed with deadly weapons” (Section 148), “disobedience to orders dulypromulgated by public servants” (Section 188), “assault or criminal force todeter a public servant from discharge of his duty” (Section 353), and “criminalintimidation” (Section 506(2)), as well as under Section 3 of the Tamil NaduPublic Property Prevention of Damage and Loss Act 1992.

Atthe time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr. S. Vanchinathan remaineddetained at Palayamkottai jail.

Thecharges relate to the May 22, 2018 protests against the Sterlite smelting mine,which resulted in the death of 13 protesters following police use of force, inThoothukudi district, Tamil Nadu State[1].Mr. Vanchinathan is one of the lawyers who provided legal aid toprotesters arrested by the Thoothukudi police after the anti-Sterlite protestin Tuticorin turned violent.

Priorto his arrest on June 20, 2018, Mr. Vanchinathan had filed apetition for anticipatory bail before the Madurai Bench of the Madras HighCourt, which was heard on June 18, 2018. His petition was dismissed by an oralorder of Justice G.R. Swaminathan although thecharges he faces do not amount to the minimum threshold required under Indiancriminal law to remand a suspect. Moreover, during the anticipatory bail hearing, the State’saffidavit revealed the existence of eight other cases pending against Mr.Vanchinathan, which were filed in 2012, 2015 and2016, and are still in the first investigation report (FIR) stage.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassmentof Mr. Vanchinathan, which seem aimed at hindering hispeaceful and legitimate human rights work.

TheObservatory urges the Indian authorities to releaseMr. Vanchinathan immediately and unconditionally, and to put an end to all actsof harassment against him as well as all human rights defenders in India.

Actions requested:

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

i.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr.Vanchinathan and all human rights defenders in India;

ii.Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Vanchinathan as his detention isarbitrary and merely aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rightsactivities;

iii.Put an end to all acts of harassment - including atthe judicial level - against Mr. Vanchinathan aswell as against all human rights defenders in India, and ensure in allcircumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activitieswithout any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9,1998, in particular with Articles 1, 12.1, and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamentalfreedoms in accordance with international human rights standards andinternational instruments ratified by India.

Please also write to the National Human RightsCommission of India, urging it to:

vi. Exercise its powers under the Protection ofHuman Rights Act, 1993, and immediately intervene in this case of Mr. Vanchinathan through an independent investigation from its Focal Point on HumanRights Defenders.

Addresses:

· Mr. Shri Narendra DamodardasModi, Prime Minister of India, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in / manmo@sansad.in

· Mr. Raj Nath Singh, UnionMinister of Home Affairs of India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979. Email: dirfcra-mha@gov.in

· Mr. Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Email: hshso@nic.in

· Justice Dipak Misra, Chief Justice of India,Supreme Court, of India, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in

· Justice Shri H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of the NationalHuman Rights Commission of India, Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

· Mr. Srinivasa Kammath, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, NationalHuman Rights Commission of India, Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in

· H.E. Mr. Rajiv Kumar Chander, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to theUnited Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int

· H.E. Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri,Embassy of India to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg in Brussels,Belgium, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 2 6451869

Please also write to thediplomatic mission or embassy of India located in your country.

***

Geneva-Paris, June 29, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 bythe World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of thisprogramme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.


[1] For more information, see Observatory Urgent Appeal IND 005 / 0518 / OBS 076, published on May 25, 2018.

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