Highlights Of Last Month – Independence Day Edition – August 15, 2021

AUGUST 15, 2021
This Independence Day, Demand freedom from UAPA

Here’s what UN experts have said about the law…

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA] restricts key legal rights, fails to meet human rights standards, can lead to discrimination and the stifling of peaceful dissent said 8 Special Rapporteurs and Vice Chair, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations.

They wrote to the Government of India on May 6, 2020, asking for an independent and thorough review of the law for the following reasons.

Counter-terrorism measures or actions should not interfere with the work and safety of human rights defenders in accordance with the Human Rights Council resolution 22/6.

UAPA weakens the right to be presumed innocent, as it places the burden of proof on the accused. At the same time, it extends detention and makes recourse to bail virtually impossible.

Definitions of terrorism in UAPA are vague; The 2019 expansion from organizations to also designating individuals as potential “terrorist threats” gives too much leeway; Increasing possibility of discrimination against members of religious/other minorities and human rights defenders.

Expanded powers of police and investigative agencies to search, seize and arrest, without enough judicial review, interfere with the rights to liberty and privacy under international human rights law
We note that non-violent criticism of State policies or institutions, including criticism of the judiciary, should not be made a criminal offence under counter-terrorism measures in a society governed by rule of law and abiding by human rights principles and obligations.
The letter was signed by Special Rapporteurs on The promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the situation of human rights defenders, the independence of judges and lawyers; minority issues; the right to privacy; the freedom of religion or belief and Vice chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

In Solidarity with The National Campaign to Defend Democracy, 15th-28th August 2021