India: Arbitrary travel ban on Amnesty India’s Board chair must be immediately revoked
Responding to the Delhi Court order this morning directing Amnesty International India’s Board chair, Aakar Patel, not to leave the country without prior permission, Amnesty International‘s Deputy Secretary General, Kyle Ward said:
“The continued denial of Aakar Patel’s right to freedom of movement and freedom of expression is outrageous. The criminalization of activists and human rights defenders for making ‘a lot of noise’ and criticizing the authorities must stop. The Indian authorities must immediately revoke the travel ban on Aakar Patel.
Peaceful dissent should be protected and not be muzzledKyle Ward, Deputy Secretary General for Amnesty International
“This is part of the wider crackdown and repression of civil society in India that we have seen over recent years. Amnesty International once again calls on the Indian authorities to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of all human rights defenders and civil society organizations. Those working to promote the human rights of other people must be allowed to carry out their activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.”
On 6 April 2022, Aakar Patel, Amnesty International India’s Board chair was prevented from leaving the country by immigration authorities to attend speaking engagements on the attacks on the civil society in India organized by several US universities. This was based on the ‘Look Out Circular’ issued by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
On 7 April 2022, a Delhi court order directed the CBI to withdraw the Look Out Circular against Aakar Patel and issue him a written apology
Later in the day, Aakar was stopped again by immigration authorities from travelling out of the country.
On 8 April 2022, interim relief was granted to the CBI which had sought revision of the Delhi Court order and the Delhi Court ordered Aakar Patel not to leave country without prior permission.