Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 12 April 2021 12.08 AM IST

UN experts condemn India, UAE for human rights violation and arbitrary detention of British citizen 


PARIS: The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UN WGAD) has urged the government of India to immediately release Christian James Michel who was handed over by the authorities in Dubai to India as part of an exchange following the abduction of Princess Latifa, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai.

Upholding the submission of the legal team (Zimeray & Finelle Avocats, Paris, and Aljo K Joseph Advocate Delhi ), the UN Human Rights experts ruled that the United Arab Emirates unlawfully arrested and handed over Christian James Michel to the government of India where he has been held arbitrarily since December 2018.

On 26 February 2020, the UN WGAD published Opinion No.88/2020 which ruled that Christian Michel, a British national, is being arbitrarily detained by the Republic of India, in contravention of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

According to the Working Group, “the violations of the right to a fair trial and due process are of such gravity as to give Mr. Michel’s deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character (...)” The UN WGAD further referred the matter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for further action to be taken. Furthermore, the UN experts ruled that the previous deprivation of liberty of Christian Michel by the Government of the UAE was also unlawful and arbitrary.

In turn, the UN WGAD recommended that the appropriate end would be for India to release Christian Michel immediately and for both governments to accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.

Christian Michel is currently being detained in Delhi’s Tihar jail. Video footage and transcripts of discussions released this week demonstrate that Princess Latifa was unlawfully abducted and handed over to the Emirati authorities by Indian coastguards. What followed can only be described as an unlawful exchange seeking to circumvent due process – Christian Michel, whose extradition had failed earlier was then mysteriously handed over to the Indian authorities where he has since languished in squalid conditions, abandoned by all, awaiting trial on charges that amount to a flagrant denial of justice for more than two years.

He has been detained in conditions that can only be described in flagrant breach of the fundamental guarantees under national and international law and breach the minimum standards for prisoners.

In a detailed 35-page handwritten letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, and the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, Christian sets out his dismay in the failings of the British Government.

In 2010, India alleged that Christian had been involved in the sale of Agusta Westland helicopters to the Indian Government. It was alleged, without any proper evidential basis, that the sale involved fraudulent conduct. This unsupported allegation has been rejected twice by the Italian Courts, due to the complete absence of evidence as to Christian’s in any fraudulent activity. He was arrested and detained in the United Arab Emirates in mid-February 2017 and held in the infamous Dubai CID HQ jail.

In the petition to the UN Working Group, Christian’s arrest came about following the capture of Sheikha Latifa by the Indian Coast Guards who boarded her yacht in international waters. It is therefore quite clear that Christian was extradited as a shameful exchange the Indian authorities had performed for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.

Christian, during his detention in India, has been held in appalling conditions as he was subjected to not only repeated and prolonged interrogations aimed at securing a confession by way of duress, but also to inhuman or degrading treatment that is of such severity that it constitutes torture on behalf of the Central Intelligence Bureau (CIB) and the Enforcement Department. It is noteworthy that Christian experienced all this – in breach of basic human rights conditions – without being charged with a criminal offense, leading to the conclusion that this arbitrary detention was politically motivated.

In the Opinion of the UN Working Group, it is clearly stated that the process by which Christian was extradited to India did not follow due process,

constitutes an unlawful surrender and represents a clear attempt to override international protocols relating to extradition.

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