Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

UN finds no legal basis for Scottish Sikh’s detention in India

Jagtar Singh Johal (Family handout/PA)
Jagtar Singh Johal (Family handout/PA)

A Scottish Sikh being held in India should be immediately released, a UN human rights group has said, after it found his continued imprisonment had no legal basis.

Jagtar Singh Johal, of Dumbarton, was arrested on November 4 2017 after travelling to the Punjab for his wedding, with local media linking his detention to the killing of Hindu leaders in the area. He is yet to stand trial.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said the “continued pre-trial detention of Mr Johal lacks legal basis and is arbitrary”.

In their report, the authors said he was abducted by 15 plainclothes police officers who placed a hood over his head and pulled him into an unmarked car.

“Mr Johal was targeted because of his activities as a Sikh practitioner and supporter and because of his activism writing public posts calling for accountability for alleged actions committed against Sikhs by the authorities,” the 17-page report said.

It added there was “no judicially admissible evidence against Mr Johal, despite intelligence agencies having over three years to investigate” and the “appropriate remedy would be to release Mr Johal immediately”.

Gurpreet Singh Johal, his brother, said his family was “dreaming of the moment” he was reunited with them.

“We’ve known from the start that there’s no good reason for Jagtar’s imprisonment and in four years the Indian authorities haven’t produced any evidence against him,” he said.

“The UK Government hasn’t listened to us, but perhaps it will listen to the UN and call for his release.

“There have been so many setbacks but on a day like this we’re dreaming of the moment my brother steps off a plane in Scotland to be reunited with his family.”

During his time in detention he has been interrogated and tortured, the UN panel said, “including using electric shocks, forcing his limbs into painful positions and depriving him of sleep”.

“Mr Johal was deprived of his liberty on discriminatory grounds, owing to his status as a human rights defender and based on his political activism, religious faith and opinions,” the report said.

“The admission into evidence of a statement allegedly obtained through torture or ill-treatment renders the entire proceedings unfair, regardless of whether other evidence were available to support the verdict.

“The burden of proof rests on the Government (of India) to prove that statements were given freely, which it has not done so in this case.”

Jagtar Singh Johal
Jagtar Singh Johal (Family handout/PA)

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, described the report’s publication as a “watershed moment”.

“There is no longer any excuse for the Government’s continued failure to call for Jagtar’s release and return,” she said.

“When a British citizen is tortured and held in pre-trial detention for four years, facing a potential death sentence, the Prime Minister’s responsibility is clear. What is Boris Johnson waiting for?”

Charlie Loudon, international legal adviser at Redress, said: “The UK Government promised ‘extreme action’ in Jagtar’s case in 2017, but has failed to live up to this commitment.

“Now that a panel of UN experts has called for Jagtar’s release, it is imperative that the UK Government does the same.”

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We have consistently raised our concerns about Mr Johal’s case with the government of India, including his allegations of torture and mistreatment and his right to a fair trial.

“The Prime Minister raised the case with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi when they met in Delhi on April 22.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in