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Official Spokesperson's response to media queries on opinion of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the case of Mr. Christian James Michel

February 26, 2021

In response to media queries on opinion of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the case of Mr. Christian James Michel, the Official Spokesperson Shri Anurag Srivastava said:

We have seen selective leaks of the opinion of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the case of Mr. Christian James Michel, even before its official release.

At the outset we would like to make it clear that the Working Group is not a judicial body, and therefore, its opinions are not legally binding on the Member States.

Government of India provided timely information on this issue to the Working Group in June 2020, at their request.

We regret that the conclusions drawn by the Working Group are based on limited information, biased allegations from an unidentified source and on an inaccurate understanding of India’s criminal justice system.

The extradition was done entirely in accordance with the provisions of the Extradition Treaty signed between two sovereign States. The arrest and subsequent custody were done as per the due process of law and cannot be considered arbitrary on any grounds.

At no time was the accused denied his rights to legal counsel or a fair hearing. The fact that he has been able to approach Courts on multiple occasions including the higher judiciary is itself proof of this. There have also been no restrictions on consular access by the authorities. He has been treated at par as other detainees and provided all facilities by the prison authorities as per rules.

The Working Group should be aware that India has a robust grievance redressal mechanisms against allegations of violations of human rights in a vibrant and independent judiciary and a ‘category A’ National Human Rights Commission compliant with the Paris Principles.

The allegations which form the basis of the opinion rendered by the Working Group are contrary to facts. The Government of India therefore, rejects the opinion rendered by the Working Group.

India, as a responsible member of the Human Rights Council, will continue to cooperate with the Working Group and provide it with the necessary information to the extent possible under Indian laws, to promote and protect human rights of all.

New Delhi
February 26, 2021


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