Parvez Imroz, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir: arrest and ill-treatment

Re: Parvez Imroz, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir: arrest and ill-treatment

To: Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India and others

From: Charles Davison, member of LRWC

Date: 2008-11-20

We are writing to you to express our grave concerns arising from the recent arrest, beating and detention of Mr. Parvez Imroz, an internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer in Jammu and Kashmir, and his two colleagues Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir. Mr. Parvez was awarded the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize in 2006 in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to human rights.

Reports indicate that, on November 17, 2008, Parvez, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir, were arrested around 12:30 noon while they were engaged, along with approximately 50 other volunteers, in the peaceful monitoring of the first phase of elections to the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Assembly. The three men were arrested at a location where a protest was taking place, beaten by the police in front of media persons and then taken to a police station in Bandipora where they remain in custody.

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is committee of Canadian lawyers promoting the rule of law and human rights internationally through education, research and by providing support to advocates in danger because of their human rights advocacy. LRWC has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Parvez Imroz has been subjected to arrest, assault and what appears to be arbitrary detention by officials of the government of India, apparently in reprisal for peacefully engaging in lawful advocacy to protect the rights of others. LRWC is aware that Mr. Imroz has been the victim of criminal harassment on June 30th 2008 when four armed men, believed to be police officers, came to Imroz’ house at night, attempted to intimidate him, fired a gun at his house and threw a grenade into his compound. The perpetrators have not been identified to date.

LRWC calls on the government of India to take all legal steps to ensure:

1. the immediate and unconditional release from custody of Parvez Imroz, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir; and,

2. an independent investigation of reports of intimidation, harassment or abuse of Mr. Imroz and his colleagues and appropriate prosecutions of suspected perpetrators identified by such investigations; and,

3. that police and other state officials are trained and mandated to protect the personal safety and professional integrity of human rights defenders.