Washington: A group of 15 influential US lawmakers, including Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, on Wednesday reached out to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to seek his intervention in the case of two Indian human rights lawyers allegedly being harassed and targeted by the government for criminal investigation.
In a letter to Pompeo, the lawmakers led by Congressman Jamie Raskin urged Pompeo to respond to the “alarming case” of two prominent human rights lawyers Anand Grover and Indira Jaising – who they alleged have been targeted by the government for criminal investigation and harassment because of their defense of human rights.
Congressmen, in their letter dated August 7, urged Pompeo to support human rights in India and publicly condemn the Indian Government’s actions that threaten the indispensable advocacy of human rights defenders.
The letter among others have been signed by James P McGovern, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Adriano Espaillat, Bobby Rush, Jan Schakowsky, Alan Lowenthal, Frank Pallone, Jr, Lloyd Doggett, Henry C “Hank” Johnson, Jr, Deb Haaland, Elijah E Cummings, Rosa L DeLauro and Lisa Blunt Rochester.
The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms must be a cornerstone of US foreign policy, including with our closest partners, the lawmakers argued.
“We urge you to make a strong public statement addressing the Government of India’s dangerous moves to constrain freedom of expression, association, and speech. We also urge you to raise Mr Grover and Ms Jaising’s case with the Government of India prior to the expiration of the stay on August 19,” the Congressmen urged Pompeo.
In their letter, the Congressmen said that on June 13, Central Bureau of Investigation filed a criminal case against the Lawyers Collective based “on unsubstantiated allegations” that the Collective misused foreign funds.
Then, on July 11, the CBI raided the homes and offices of Grover and Jaising, prominent human rights lawyers and co-founders of the Lawyers Collective, they said.
The Lawyers Collective is an internationally-respected human rights organisation providing legal services and advocacy on behalf of human rights activists, women, the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalised groups, the letter added.
“Of special concern, both Mr Grover and Ms Jaising have held important positions at the United Nations (UN). The allegations target activities related to those UN positions, raising the specter of official interference with the critical independent role played by the UN and its experts,” the lawmakers said.