The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is distressed to learn that human rights defender and freelance journalist Jiten Yumnam has been tortured by police in custody. We have also obtained court documents which show that he and the seven other accused were arrested on mere suspicion and unsubstantiated allegations. The documents stand as proof that arrests, detentions and torture are being used to silence voices of protest in the state.
As reported previously (UAC-122-2009), Mr. Jiten Yumnam and seven others were arrested from places around Manipur on 14 September 2009, in connection with First Information Report 178 (9) / 2009 (Imphal West Police Station).
The next evening all the men Jiten, Mr. Chungset Koireng, Mr. Likmabam Tompok Singh, Mr. Shamjet Sabano Nanbo Singh, Mr. Irom Brojen Singh, Mr. Amom Soken Singh, Mr. Toarem Ramanda Singh and Mr. Thiyam Dinesh Singh were produced at the home of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, where Investigating Officer Mr. Ibomche Singh requested a 20 day custody period.
Police claim to have received information that the detainees met on 14 September to plan further protests on July 2 against the extrajudicial executions of civilians, to intensify the pressure on the security forces. The allegations also mention that during the meeting the detainees met members of the PLA, a banned underground organisation in the state.
Though the case diary describes a raid alongside the arrest, in which no incriminating evidence was recovered, police claim that the detainees confessed to the charges during interrogation. Yet when questioned by the magistrate the detainees denied confessing, and said that they had been badly tortured. The magistrate recorded this and agreed to police custody till 29 September, however he has ordered that medical examinations take place every 48 hours, under police supervision.
It is not yet clear whether the magistrate sufficiently questioned the detainees about their torture (mandatory under the Criminal Procedure Code) since the court records make no mention of it. Under ordinary circumstances this should be recorded by the magistrate.
Alarmingly we have learned that police ignored the magistrate’s order, and that the detainees were only examined once by a doctor, on 18 September. The medical certificate from Imphal Government Hospital mentions that Jiten complained about pain in his groin and genitals, and the doctors prescribed medicine accordingly. This bolsters concerns that more torture has taken place, and continues.
It should be noted that the former Special Representative of the Secretary General on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms. Hina Jilani, expressed concern about increasing threats, intimidation and even murders of human rights defenders, often with impunity, at the hands of the state, in her report E/CN.4/2006/95/Add.5 on India.
The victims are still in police custody and an application for bail is being filed by Jiten’s lawyer in court.
Please use the sample letter from our previous appeal to seek intervention into Jiten’s arrest and torture, and call for his humane treatment and safe release. It also is imperative that the Manipur state government takes action against the police officers involved in the extrajudicial execution of innocent civilians on July 23 in Imphal.
The AHRC has written a separate letter to the Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and the Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment calling for an intervention in this case.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (email@example.com)