BeyondHeadlines News Desk
In the morning of 26 February 2015, human rights defender Mr Kalimuthu Kandhasamy was remanded to judicial custody after having been arbitrarily arrested at his home in Kavarangulam, Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu, at approximately 7:15 pm the evening before.
Kalimuthu Kandhasamy is the District Organizer of Citizens for Human Rights Movement (CHRM), an unregistered organisation that provides legal counsel and assistance to victims of human rights violations in Tamil Nadu, including by providing assistance in complaints before courts, human rights institutions, law enforcement officials and other relevant bodies. The organisation was founded by People’s Watch, an NGO that monitors human rights violations and provides legal assistance to victims in Tamil Nadu. The human rights defender also works as an assistant to a lawyer providing legal representation in People’s Watch’s cases in Ramanathapuram.
Reportedly, no arrest warrant was presented by police personnel of Kenikkarai Police Station at the time of the arrest. The First Information Report made by the police allegedly states that Kalimuthu Kandhasamy was arrested at a bus stop, rather than his residence, and it is reported that officials have not responded to complaints made to the Superintendent of Police of Ramnad District concerning the human rights defenders’ detention.
The accusations against Kalimuthu Kandhasamy include, impersonating a public servant, cheating, and improper use of emblems. The charges against Kalimuthu Kandhasamy are reportedly in relation to the fact that CHRM contains the words “human rights” in its title. It is claimed that this is in violation of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, which reportedly states that no non-governmental institution should have the terms “human rights” in its name. The accusations are being brought under sections 170 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 5 of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950. The human rights defender denies that either he or CHRM have posed as a public authority. CHRM fears that the arrest may be the first in a series targeting members of the organisation due to their human rights work.
Front Line Defenders expresses its concern at the detention of Kalimuthu Kandhasamy, as well as the bringing of charges against him, which it believes to be directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in India to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release Kalimuthu Kandhasamy, and drop all charges against him, as Front Line believes that they are solely the result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;
2. Ensure that the treatment of Kalimuthu Kandhasamy, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment’, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.