India must end inhumane detention of human rights defender GN Saibaba: UN expert


  • August 22, 2023
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Groundxero : 22 August, 2023

 

On 21 August (Sunday), Ms Mary Lawlor, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders has spoken out against the persistent detention by Indian Government of former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba, calling it an inhuman and senseless act.

 

Mary Lawlor said, “GN Saibaba is a long-standing defender of the rights of minorities in India, including the Dalit and Adivasi people” and called his continued detention as shameful and bearing all the “hallmarks of a State seeking to silence a critical voice.”

 

Dr GN Saibaba, a wheelchair bound former professor of Delhi University with 90% disability and several severe co-morbidities, remains incarcerated in the Nagpur Central Jail. Saibaba was arrested under UAPA in May 2014 for Maoist links. He was granted bail by Bombay High Court in June 2015 on medical grounds and he was released in July 2015. In 2017, he was convicted along with four others for criminal conspiracy, criminal acts, and being associated with a banned Moaist organisation, and was sentenced for life. The Bombay HC had quashed the conviction of Saibaba but soon after the Supreme Court set aside the high court order.

 

On several occasions his family members and lawyer has claimed that proper medical care is not being provided to him, leading to his condition worsening. The Special Rapporteur, Mary Lawlor, also stressed her concern for the Saibaba’s health. She said, “Mr. Saibaba has been detained in a high security ‘anda barracks’ in conditions incompatible with his status as a wheelchair user. His 8×10 feet cell has no window and one wall made of iron bars, exposing him to extreme weather, especially in the scorching summer heat.”

 

“States have an obligation to uphold the right to health of prisoners and detainees and ensure their dignity as human beings. Prison authorities must ensure that prisoners with disabilities are not discriminated against, including by ensuring accessibility and providing reasonable accommodation,” Lawlor added. She said, “As Mr. Saibaba’s health has severely deteriorated in detention, he should be released.”

 

In the past too, several human right activists, eminent lawyers and leading intellectuals have said that the continued incarceration of Dr. Saibaba amounts to torture and called on the courts, the establishment and the others to ensure that he is released immediately.

 

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