08, May 2017
24 December 2010
India: Dr Binayak
Sen’s conviction and life sentence mock justice
life sentence handed down against Dr Binayak Sen by a court in the India
state of Chhattisgarh violates international fair trial standards and is
likely to enflame tensions in the conflict-affected area, Amnesty
International said today.
“Life in prison is an unusually harsh sentence for anyone, much less for
an internationally recognized human rights defender who has never been
charged with any act of violence,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty
International’s Asia-Pacific director. “State and federal authorities in
India should immediately drop these politically motivated charges
against Dr Sen and release him.”
Dr Binayak Sen was convicted of sedition and conspiracy under the
Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act, 2005, and the Unlawful
Activities Prevention Act, 2004.
He was immediately taken into custody after the announcement of the
sentence, having been out on bail since May 2009.
“Dr Sen, who is considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty
International, was convicted under laws that are impermissibly vague and
fall well short of international standards for criminal prosecution,”
Sam Zarifi said. “Instead of persecuting Dr Sen, authorities in
Chhattisgarh should be acting to protect the people of the region from
the abuses committed by the Maoists, as well as state security forces
“This sentence will seriously intimidate other human rights defenders
who would provide a peaceful outlet for the people’s grievances,
especially for the indigenous Adivasi population,Â” Sam Zarifi said.
India’s central government has acknowledged that the intensifying armed
conflict with the Maoists in central India is a reflection of serious
inequities and a history of human rights violations in the area.
Amnesty International believes that the charges against Dr Sen are
baseless and politically motivated.
Dr Binyak Sen is a pioneer of health care to marginalized and indigenous
communities in Chhattisgarh, where the state police and armed Maoists
have been engaged in clashes over the last seven years. He has reported
on unlawful killings of Adivasis (Indigenous People) by the police and
by Salwa Judum, a private militia widely held to be sponsored by the
state authorities to fight the armed Maoists.
Dr Binyak Sen was first detained without proper charges for seven
months, denied bail, and kept in solitary confinement for three weeks.
He spent two years in jail before his release on bail in May 2009. Many
of the charges against him stem from laws that contravene international
standards. Repeated delays in the conduct of his trial have cast doubts
about its fairness.
Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Indian authorities to
immediately drop all the charges against Dr Binyak Sen.
Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK