The United Nations Working Group on Human Rights noted that the death of Indian Jesuit priest Stan Swamy while in custody last year will forever remain a stain on the country’s human rights record.
Father Swamy, an Indian citizen, died on July 5, 2021, while in judicial custody in Mumbai. He was 83 years old and was the oldest of 16 people arrested for alleged terrorist activities in India.
He was charged by the National Investigation Agency, the primary counter-terrorist task force of India, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for his alleged role in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence and links to the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The Jesuit priest was a social analyst and activist for the rights of indigenous people. He had spent decades defending civil rights and the right to self-determination of the indigenous Adivasi and Dalit people, working mostly on issues of displacement.
He was arrested on October 8, 2020, by the National Investigation Agency from his residence near Ranchi, capital of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.
The UN Working Group noted that Father Swamy died in a hospital after contracting COVID-19 while in custody. It called on the government to disseminate its opinion on Father Swamy through all available means.
The group had sent a communication to the Indian government concerning Father Swamy, but it has not responded so far, said a report on Matters India. The UN body reminds India that it is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
According to the Working Group, deprivation of liberty is arbitrary when a person is kept in detention after the completion of one’s sentence or despite an amnesty law applicable to the person.
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