India must take urgent action to protect Jagtar from Covid-19

In the light of reports of a possible outbreak of coronavirus in Tihar Prison, and fears that Jagtar Singh Johal may contract the virus, our new briefing outlines India’s legal obligations to provide Jagtar with appropriate and timely medical treatment.

Under international law, India is required to provide medical treatment to Jagtar by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party, and by the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Given the highly contagious nature of coronavirus, and the fact that it poses particular risks for individuals with pre-existing health conditions, such as Jagtar, the Indian authorities are obliged to take action with the utmost haste.

Jagtar, a British national, was seized, hooded and abducted by plain-clothes police officers on 4 November 2017 while he was in India to get married. He alleges that he suffered severe torture during his early detention, including through electric shocks to his ears, nipples and genitals, forcing his limbs into painful positions, sleep deprivation and death threats. However, India has yet to provide him with an independent medical examination despite repeated requests by his lawyers. As far as REDRESS is aware, India has taken no steps to investigate the allegations.

Jagtar remains detained without conviction or any evidence brought against him, with no access to private consular assistance and limited access to his lawyer.

In January 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the Vice-Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a joint urgent appeal calling on India to respond to the allegations of torture and to provide information about the measures taken to prevent any further torture or ill-treatment; the legal basis for Jagtar’s arrest and detention; and the results of any medical examination that may have been conducted. India has failed to respond to the urgent appeal as well as to a follow-up communication issued by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in December 2019.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact: Eva Sanchis, REDRESS Communications Director at [email protected] or +44 (0) 7857 110076.