The American Bar Association Center for Human Rights have issued the statement on the arrest of Jamia scholar Safoora Zargar. According to them, the pre-trial detention of Safoora Zargar is against the international law, including the treaties to which India is a state party. They stated that the narrow circumstances where the pre trial detention is permitted, does not appear to be applicable in Zargar’s case.
Safoora was in her second trimester when she was arrested on 10th of April and later was sent to Tihar jail. The center for Human Rights, also raised their concern for her unreasonable arrest with the risk of contracting corona virus in her state of pregnancy.
It is to note that Safoora was denied bail on June 4 by an order passed by the Additionals Sessions Judge, Patiala house courts. In her bail request submitted by her lawyers, mentioned that she suffers from reproductive disease, that could cause complications during her pregnancy. The bail was requested on humanitarian grounds.
The ABA Center for Human Rights also commented that according to International covenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR), it should not be the general rule persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody.
The center also questioned, “given the lack of evidence in the FIR linking Ms. Zargar to acts of violence, it is unclear why alternatives to pre trial detention were not considered adequate by the court in this case”.
Taking her pregnancy into account, the center also said, “regardless of whether Ms. Zargar’s detention was properly justified under normal circumstances, it is likely unreasonable in the light of her pregnancy and the risk of contracting noval corona virus. The United Nations rules for the women prisoners and non-custodial measures for women offenders concludes that non-custodial means should be preferred for pregnant women during the pre-trial phase wherever that is possible or appropriate.”
The center has urged the court to uphold India’s moral and legal obligations given the pandemic and order the immediate release of Safoora Zargar.