Letter to be delivered by hand at 10 Downing Street
Dear Rt. Hon. Elizabeth Truss
Actions being taken by the UK Government to seek the immediate release and return of Jagtar Singh Johal to be re-united with his family in the UK
Please accept our congratulations on becoming Prime Minister and appointing James Cleverly as your replacement as Foreign Secretary.
A protest is taking place today outside Downing Street to highlight the plight of British national, Jagtar Singh Johal. Similar protests, but on a smaller scale are taking place outside British Embassies and Consulates across the globe.
In May 2022, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions found that Jagtar’s detention was arbitrary and recommended he be immediately released. They found he was subjected to grave human rights violations including torture, and that there was no basis for his detention. They also found that “he was targeted because of his activities as a Sikh practitioner and supporter and because of his activism writing public posts calling for accountability for crimes committed against Sikhs by the authorities.”
In letters sent by Boris Johnson in June to the Leader of the Opposition and in July 2022 to the British Sikh community he confirmed Jagtar has been in arbitrary detention in an Indian jail since being abducted by plain clothes police officers on 4 November 2017.
When you became Foreign Secretary a year ago you made it a personal priority to seek the release and return of British nationals being held abroad. In March 2022 you secured the release of dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori from Iran.
We are therefore confident as Prime Minister you will work with the new Foreign Secretary to honour your personal commitment to British nationals. This is all the more important in Jagtar’s case as your predecessor, Boris Johnson, recently accepted Jagtar has been in arbitrary detention in an Indian jail for nearly five years.
There has also recently been widespread media coverage of legal action that has just commenced that accuses MI5 and MI6 of supplying intelligence to the Indian authorities that may have led to Jagtar’s arrest and torture, presumably with relevant ministerial authority.
Many Parliamentarians across the political spectrum are deeply concerned as this is an extremely serious allegation, especially given that the UK Government now accepts Jagtar has been in arbitrary detention and has been subject to third degree torture to secure a confession. Then Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Jagtar’s wife in April 2019 that Jagtar had no chance of getting a fair trial in India.
With Boris Johnson as Prime Minister acknowledging Jagtar’s detention is arbitrary, the UK Government must publicly call for Jagtar’s immediate release. This is government policy with regards to arbitrarily detained British nationals. Jagtar remains in arbitrary detention and at risk of further physical and mental torture.
In response to these official acknowledgements that Jagtar’s detention is arbitrary, from the UN and British Prime Minister, the Indian authorities are now pushing through with official charges carrying the possibility of the death penalty and based on a confession obtained through torture.
The UK Government under new leadership must now urgently use all its diplomatic efforts to get Jagtar released and re-united with his family in Scotland. This letter is being copied to James Cleverly and shared widely with MPs with details of their constituents who are signatories so MPs can write and explain to their constituents what they are doing to create pressure on the UK Government to get Jagtar released and back to the UK without further delay.
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