Rights Groups Call On UN Expert To Intervene In Punjab Police’s Torture Of British National

UN expert urged to call on India to immediately investigate alleged torture of Jagtar Singh Johal while in Punjab police custody.

LONDON – Human rights organisations REDRESS and Ensaaf 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 without charge in India since 4 November 2017.

Johal has asserted 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. Johal’s lawyers in India report that at a secret court hearing on 10 November, witnesses observed that Johal had severe difficulty in standing or walking, and had to be assisted by police officers as he entered and left the courtroom.

Plain-clothes police officers seized, hooded and abducted 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 Johal in incommunicado for nine days in an undisclosed location, until 14 November.

45 days after he was first seized. 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. 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 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.

Johal has told his lawyers that police also forced him to sign blank pieces of paper, believed to be for the purpose of forging confessions from Johal.

In their urgent appeal, REDRESS and Ensaaf urge the Special Rapporteur on Torture to call on the Indian Government to ensure that 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 Johal’s treatment in custody, the allegations raise a number of significant other questions, about the potentially arbitrary and indefinite nature of Mr 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.

A copy of the urgent appeal sent to the UN Special Rapporteur can be found here.

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