(Image source from: Live Law)
Indian American lawmaker Pramila Jayapal among a group of 15 influential United States lawmakers, on Wednesday, called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seeking his intervention in the case of two Indian human rights attorneys allegedly being harassed and targeted by the government for criminal investigation.
The lawmakers led by Congressman Jamie Raskin, in a letter dated August 7 to Pompeo urged to respond to the "alarming case" of two prominent human rights lawyers - Anand Grover and Indira Jaising - and publicly condemn the Indian Government's actions that threaten the critical advocacy of human rights defenders.
The letter among others have been signed by Jan Schakowsky, Eleanor Holmes Norton, James P McGovern, Bobby Rush, Adriano Espaillat, Alan Lowenthal, Frank Pallone, Jr, Henry C "Hank" Johnson, Jr, Deb Haaland, Lloyd Doggett, Elijah E Cummings, Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Rosa L DeLauro.
“The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms must be a cornerstone of U.S. 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 lawsuit against the Lawyers Collective based "on unsubstantiated allegations" that the Collective misused foreign funds.
The lawmakers further said: “On July 11, the Central Bureau of Investigation raided the homes and offices of Grover and Jaising, prominent human rights lawyers and co-founders of the Lawyers Collective.”
The Lawyers Collective is an internationally-reputable organization. It provides legal services and advocacy on behalf of human rights activists, women, the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized 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.
By Sowmya Sangam