The foreign ministry on Tuesday said an action is taken against “violations of law and not against legitimate exercise of rights” in India.
In the first government response on the death of 84-year-old Stan Swamy, the foreign ministry on Tuesday said an action is taken against “violations of law and not against legitimate exercise of rights” in India. The demise of Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist- after being arrested last year under terror charges- on Monday has drawn sharp criticism from national and international organisations, including the United Nations Human Rights Watch.
Foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi on Tuesday evening said: “Father Stan Swamy was arrested and detained by the National Investigation Agency following due process under law.”
“Because of the specific nature of charges against him, his bail applications were rejected by the courts. Authorities in India act against violations of law and not against legitimate exercise of rights. All such actions are strictly in accordance with the law,” he added.
The ministry said that Swamy was undergoing medical treatment at a private hospital “where he was receiving all possible medical attention” following the order of the Bombay High Court.
“India’s democratic and constitutional polity is complemented by an independent judiciary, a range of national and state level Human Rights Commissions that monitor violations, a free media and a vibrant and vocal civil society. India remains committed to promotion and protection of human rights of all its citizens,” the ministry said.
Mary Lawlor, a United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders, and Eamon Gilmore, the European Union’s Special Representative for Human Rights were among those to have spoken out on Swamy’s death.
Attaching a link to a YouTube video in which Stan Swamy explains his work, Ms Lawlor tweeted: “The news from India today is devastating. Human Rights Defender and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy has died in custody, nine months after his arrest on false charges of terrorism. Jailing HRDs is inexcusable.”
Retweeting Ms Lawlor’s post, Mr Gilmore said: “India: I am very saddened to hear that Father Stan Swamy has passed away. A defender of indigenous peoples’ rights. He was held in detention for the past 9 months. The EU had been raising his case repeatedly with authorities.”