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Indian Human Rights Defender Dr. Binayak Sen subjected to unlawful Solitary Confinement
Health and human rights groups from across the world have strongly condemned the unwarranted imposition of solitary confinement on renowned humanitarian activist Dr Binayak Sen by the Chattisgarh government since 15 March 2008 in Raipur Jail, India.
Widespread condemnation of Dr Binayak Sen's Solitary Confinement
Health and human rights groups from India and abroad have strongly
condemned the unwarranted imposition of solitary confinement on
renowned humanitarian activist Dr Binayak Sen by the Chhattisgarh
government since 15 March 2008 at the Raipur Jail, Chhattisgarh state, India.
Though Dr Sen's status as a regular prisoner has now been restored,
following widespread protests against the move, activists have called
for a thorough official investigation of the fact that he was kept in
isolation for nearly a month.
Police officials in Raipur have justified their action by claiming Dr
Sen was kept in isolation 'for his own security' but failed to explain
the nature or source of the threat to him as a regular prisoner.
According to a petition signed by hundreds of medical professionals,
former colleagues and supporters of Dr Sen
confinement not only violates the Indian Penal Code but also all
axioms of justice and fairplay. Dr Sen has been kept in prison for the
past eleven months under the Chattisgarh State Public Security Act, on
false charges of aiding outlawed Maoist activity.
"Confining a person of Dr Sen's stature to solitary confinement is
very likely to be seen as vengefulness on the part of agents of the
state and an obvious attempt to break the morale of a courageous
critic" it said. Along with his work on public health for over three
decades Dr Sen was also a human rights activist, being the national
Vice President of the Peoples Union of Civil Liberties.
The petition, which calls for Dr Sen's immediate release, also pointed
out that such treatment was completely unwarranted as Dr Sen is an
undertrial and not convicted of any crime and even convicted persons
are protected by law from any cruel and unusual punishment. Quoting
an Amnesty International document on the subject the petition said the
imprisonment of a person in total isolation is not acceptable under
international human rights standards.
The petitioners also expressed deep concern over the impact of such
solitary confinement on the physical and mental health of Dr Sen, who
during the course of his imprisonment has already lost much weight
according to the jail records.
Dr. Sen is a respected physician much honoured for his
self-sacrificing commitment to social causes and his unflinching
defense of civil rights. An alumnus of the Christian Medical College
and of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, he has received has received
many awards for his public service. In December 2007, the Indian
Academy of Social Sciences conferred on him the R. R. Keithan Gold
Medal, as an "indefatigable defender of human rights and Gandhian
social activist of rare courage and dedication". Currently, he has
been nominated for the Jonathan Mann Award 2008, the highest
international award for health professionals excelling in human rights
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