The American Bar Association Center for Human Rights has appealed for the immediate release of 27-year-old Jamia Millia Islamia scholar and anti-CAA protestor Safoora Zargar who is lodged in Tihar Jail since early April this year.
“International laws , treaties to which India is State party , only permit pre-trial detention under narrow circumstances which do not appear to have been met in Ms. Zargar’s case. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “it should not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody” commented the centre on the custody of Zargar since April 10.
“Regardless of whether Ms. Zargar’s detention is properly justified under normal circumstance, it is likely unreasonable in light of her pregnancy and the risk of contracting the novel corona virus. The UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (also known as the Bangkok Rules) concludes that non-custodial means should be preferred for pregnant women during pre-trial phase wherever that is possible / appropriate”.
The Center also said that the lack of evidence in the case should have made the Court consider alternatives other than detaining Zargar. “Given the lack of evidence in the FIR linking Ms. Zargar’s acts of violence, it unclear why alternatives to pre-trial detention were not considered adequate by the court in this case,” it noted.
Additional Sessions Court, Patiala House at New Delhi had denied bail to the 27-year old Ph.D student of Jamia Millia University in a case registered under(UAPA) , linking her to conspiracy behind the Delhi riots.
ABA has raised concerns about overcrowding and COVID-19 testing in Tihar Jail. Stating Supreme Court’s order in which it asked the state governments to consider releasing prisoners on parole because of the spread of corona virus, the centre has noted that she is still in jail despite her medical condition. The Center raised particular concern about vulnerable state on account of pregnancy, and risk to exposure to COVID-19 in the overcrowded prison.