Mary Lawlor stated that Mr. Saibaba
should be released because his health has significantly declined while he was being held.
Against the ongoing detention of former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba, UN Special Rapporteur on the status of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor has spoken out, calling it an inhumane and pointless act.
Lawlor noted that GN Saibaba has long fought for the rights of Dalits and Adivasis as well as other minorities in India. “It is sad that he is still in custody. It exhibits all the characteristics of a State attempting to muzzle dissenting voices.
Saibaba, who is wheelchair-bound and has a physical impairment of over 90%, has repeatedly claimed medical malpractice while he has been detained. Pandu Pora Narote, one of his co-accused, passed away in August of last year from swine flu contracted while incarcerated. His attorney stated that because medical attention was delayed, his condition deteriorated. Lawlor also voiced her concern for Saibaba’s wellbeing.
Saibaba’s release was anticipated after the Bombay high court released him from prison in a Maoist ties case in April of this year. The high court order was overturned shortly after by the Supreme Court, who intervened.
“Mr. Saibaba has been imprisoned in conditions that are unsuitable with his use of a wheelchair in a high security “anda barracks.” He is exposed to inclement weather, especially in the sweltering summer heat, in his 8 by 10 foot cell, which is windowless and has one wall composed of iron bars, Lawlor said.
“States have a responsibility to safeguard the right to health of detainees and prisoners, as well as to protect their dignity as people. Prison administrations are required to prevent discrimination against inmates with impairments, including by maintaining accessibility and offering appropriate accommodations, she added. “Mr. Saibaba should be released because his health has drastically declined while he has been in custody.”
Human rights advocates from India and abroad have previously urged that Saibaba should be released conditions inside.