The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) has reported that arrest and custody of Jamia Millia Islamia student Safoora Zargar, a violation of the Universal declaration of human rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Zargar was first arrested by the Special Cell on April 10, in connection with FIR 48/2020 filed in the Jaffarabad road-block case, but was granted bail on April 13. On the same day, her name was added to FIR 59/2020 issued on February 24, and was arrested again.
The Delhi Police declared that she was “allegedly one of the main conspirators and main instigators in the riots” that swept through north-east Delhi last year in February. She finally got bail in June 2020 from the Delhi High Court on humanitarian grounds as she was 23 weeks pregnant at that time.
The UNWGAD, which consists of a mandate from the UN Human Rights Council, comprises a panel of experts from Australia, Zambia, Latvia, Ecuador and South Korea. “The working Group regrets that it did not receive a response from the Government, and neither did the Government request an extension of the time limit for its reply, as is provided for in the Working Group’s methods of work,” the body claimed.
“The deprivation of liberty of Safoora Zargar, being in contravention of articles 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 19, 20 and 21(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2(1) and (3), 9, 14, 19, 25(a) and 26 of the Covenant, was arbitrary and fell within categories I, II and V.”
The Indian Government was urged to “respect, protect and fulfil the right to hold and express opinions, including those that are not in accordance with its official policy, and to think and manifest personal convictions at odds with its official ideology, under the peremptory jus cogens norms of customary international law. “