Administrative detention in Jammu and Kashmir, India
Hundreds of people are routinely locked up under the Public Safety Act in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. They are held without charge or trial in administrative detention on vague allegations of acts “prejudicial to the security of the State” or “prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
Detainees are mainly political activists, suspected members or supporters of armed groups, journalists, lawyers and protesters – including children. They are typically picked up for “unofficial” interrogation, during which time they have no access to a lawyer or to their families.
The region of Kashmir has been a source of dispute in South Asia for decades. Since 1989 there has been an ongoing popular movement and armed uprising for independence. Armed groups carry out attacks on security forces as well as civilians. While the government of the state of Jammu and Kashmir has a right and duty to protect its population from violence, it must respect international human rights law and standards while doing so.
Over the past two decades, the Jammu and Kashmir authorities have held between 8,000 and 20,000 people in administrative detention using the PSA. The PSA violates international human rights law and standards against arbitrary detention, as its provisions allow for people to be detained on extremely broad and vague grounds.
The PSA is also arbitrary in its implementation. Not only do the Jammu and Kashmir authorities deny detainees proper access to a lawyer or family, but they also hold people who have not committed any recognizably criminal act. Moreover, they thwart High Court orders for the release of those detained improperly, by successively issuing new detention orders. The PSA allows for detention for a maximum of two years at any one time, but in practice, many detainees remain trapped in a cycle of detention for years on end.
Amnesty International is campaigning for:
- An end to the system of administrative detentions in Jammu and Kashmir and the repeal of the PSA
- Those who are detained to be released, or charged and tried in a court of law
India: A 'lawless law': Detentions under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (report, March 2011)