Amnesty International India was denied permission to hold a press conference in Srinagar on Wednesday to release a report on the controversial Public Safety Act in Jammu and Kashmir, reported PTI.
The district administration cited the “prevailing law and order situation” to deny permission. The decision was conveyed verbally by some officials at the Srinagar deputy commissioner’s office, Nazia Erum, who manages media and advocacy for Amnesty International India, told HuffPost India.
The report, titled “Tyranny of a Lawless Law: Detention without charge or trial under the J & K Public Safety Act”, was released online globally. In it, the global human rights body has called for a repeal of the controversial J&K Public Safety Act. “This Act is contributing to inflaming tensions between the state authorities and local populace and must be immediately repealed,” said Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty International India, reported AP.
The law allows detention of up to two years if a person acts in a manner “prejudicial to the security of the state.” It allows detention of up to one year when a person may act in a manner “prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.” Authorities need not disclose any fact while detaining a person.
Between 2007 and 2016, over 2,400 PSA detention orders were passed, The Wire reported, citing government data. However, 58% of those were quashed by courts.
After examining the cases of 210 people who were detained under the law between 2012 and 2018 in its report, Amnesty said the law is highly abused. The report said magistrates were found to issue identical orders preventing bail to detainees. Lead researcher Zahoor Wani said that the police seem to use the Act as a “safety net” to detain people who may otherwise be released on bail.
Calling it a “lawless law”, the group called for it to be repealed. It said the Act violates India’s obligations under international human rights law. The global watchdog said the Act undermines transparency, accountability and respect for human rights.
Amnesty International also published reports on this Act and its implementation in 2011 and 2012.