The Center for Human Rights at the American Bar Association (ABA) has published a report condemning the pre-trial detention of Safoora Zargar’s detention and said that it was not in compliance with the international treaties to which India is a party.
International law, including treaties to which India is a 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 (ICCPR) states that ‘it should not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody’.
-American Bar Association
It also noted that given the lack of evidence in the FIR linking Zargar to the violence, it was unclear why alternatives to detention were not considered adequate by Indian courts.
The report by the Center also expressed concern regarding Zargar’s vulnerability as a pregnant woman and a high blood pressure patient.
Regardless of whether Ms. Zargar’s detention was properly justified under normal circumstances, it is likely unreasonable in light of her pregnancy and the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. The United Nations 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 the pre-trial phase wherever that is possible or appropriate.
Advocating for the immediate release of Zargar, the centre said that given the lack of evidence of criminal misconduct, the pregnancy, the ‘failure’ of prosecutors to explain how she posed a threat if granted bail, she should be allowed to furnish a bail bond and be in her home until the time for legal hearings.
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