Jagtar Singh Johal

Medical experts find “reasonable grounds” to believe Jagtar’s torture allegations

An independent expert analysis conducted by the International Rehabilitation Council (IRCT),  the world’s leading centre of knowledge on the physical and psychological effects of torture and ill-treatment, has found that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Jagtar Singh Johal was tortured in India.

Jagtar, a British citizen, was arrested on 4 November 2017 in Punjab and has since remained imprisoned in India.

Noting consistencies between Mr Johal’s allegations and the treatment of other victims of torture in the same region, the IRCT highlights an “urgent need for Mr Johal to undergo an independent medical and psychological evaluation in order to effectively investigate these [claims]”.

The IRCT further recommends “that Mr Johal should receive urgent access to independent medical and psychological examination and care to address the physical and psychological injuries that he may suffer as a result of the possible extreme […] assaults against him.”

The IRCT wrote to the Indian authorities on 17 October 2019, Jagtar’s second wedding anniversary, conveying the findings of its independent forensic expert opinion on the allegations of torture in Jagtar’s case. These findings support Jagtar’s assertion that Indian authorities tortured him and reiterate the urgent need for Jagtar to be given an independent medical and psychological examination.

In a two-page handwritten note provided to his lawyer in February 2018, Jagtar states that Indian police tortured him between 5 and 9 November 2017 through means including electric shocks to his ears, nipples and genitals, forcing his limps into painful positions and death threats.

REDRESS, which has been providing legal assistance to Jagtar’s family in the UK, requested the IRCT to conduct an independent expert evaluation of Jagtar’s allegations of torture. The IRCT is comprised of 160 rehabilitation centres for torture victims in 74 countries and is the original creator of the Istanbul Protocol, which elaborates the standards accepted internationally.

Members of the Forensic Expert Group, comprised by 35 preeminent independent forensic specialists from 18 countries, were involved in the analysis of the letter.

“Binding international law obliges India to investigate the well-founded allegations of torture in Jagtar’s case,” said Charlie Loudon, REDRESS International Legal Adviser. “REDRESS reiterates the need for a prompt, impartial and effective forensic evaluation of Jagtar in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol and urges the Indian Government to take immediate action in this respect.”

REDRESS has shared the findings of the independent expert opinion with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and jointly with IRCT has offered their assistance in providing an independent expert to carry out such an investigation.

Background information on Jagtar’s case can be found here.