The Indian Foreign Ministry said in its statement that the health and treatment of Swamy was under the watch of the courts and he died on July 5 due to deteriorating health.
Father Stan Swami. (file photo)
A United Nations human rights expert said she was shocked to learn of the death of pastor Stan Swamy in custody. He said that there is “no reason” to deprive a human rights defender of his rights and his death will always be a blot on India’s human rights record.
Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) last year in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Maoist relationship, died on July 5 at a hospital in Mumbai. Swami was 84 years old. UN Special Envoy Mary Lawler said in a statement on Thursday that Father Swamy’s case reminds all nations that human rights defenders and those detained without valid grounds must be released.
Owner deprived of rights
Lawler said the custodial death of Catholic priest Swami, a renowned advocate of human rights and social justice for more than four decades, will always be a blot on India’s human rights record. “There can be no excuse to defame a human rights defender as a terrorist and there is no reason why he should have died the way Father Swami died,” he said. He was deprived of his rights in custody as an accused.
India has rejected international criticism over Swamy’s handling of the case. The Ministry of External Affairs has said that the authorities concerned take steps against the violation of the law and do not withhold legal rights. He was an undertrial prisoner. The Ministry of External Affairs said that India is determined to protect and promote the human rights of all its citizens and the democratic policy of the country is in line with the independent judiciary and national and several state level human rights commissions.
Statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs
Following Swamy’s death, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement in New Delhi saying that the National Investigation Agency had arrested and detained Father Stan Swamy as part of the legal process, as there were specific charges against him, with courts rejecting his bail applications. The authorities in India take action against the violation of the law and not against one’s legal rights. All such actions are in accordance with the law. He was being given all possible medical help in a private hospital where he was admitted since May 28, the statement said. It said that Swamy’s health and treatment were under the watch of the courts and he died on July 5 due to deteriorating health.
Lawler said, ‘I was shocked to learn of the death of Father Swami. He devoted his entire life in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and tribal minorities. Several requests were made to release him on health grounds. Lawler said that in November 2020, UN experts reminded Indian officials of their commitment to international human rights. She questioned, ‘I ask again why he was not released and left to die in custody?’
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