The global human rights group asks Indian authorities to lift all arbitrary travel bans and live up to their human rights obligations by respecting, protecting, promoting and fulfilling the human rights of everyone including freedom of expression and movement.
NEW DELHI — In the wake of travel bar on Pultizer Prize winning Kashmiri photojournalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo, Amnesty International called on Indian authorities to lift all arbitrary travel bans and live up to their human rights obligations by respecting, protecting, promoting and fulfilling the human rights of everyone including freedom of expression and movement.
Sanna Irshad Mattoo has been stopped from travelling abroad by immigration authorities at the Delhi Airport on Tuesday despite having a valid visa and ticket to the United States to attend the award ceremony of the prestigious Pultizer prize for her coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to media reports, she has not been given official reason yet despite being stopped from international travel previously in July as well.
Noting that the (Indian) authorities are routinely using travel bans as a preferred tool in the wider crackdown on dissent, Aakar Patel, chair of board of Amnesty International India said this is a blatant violation of human rights and must end.
He said, “Arbitrary travel bans have increasingly become the principal tactics of the Indian authorities to silence independent and critical voices in the country. These arbitrary executive actions are not backed by any court order, warrant or even a written explanation, making it difficult for the activists and journalists to challenge these in the courts. This has led to the authorities routinely using travel bans as a preferred tool in the wider crackdown on dissent. This is a blatant violation of human rights and must end now.”
He further observed that the Indian authorities have increased the use of travel bans against journalists and human rights defenders from Jammu and Kashmir in the last three years. This witch-hunt, he said is contrary to the country’s international human rights obligations and reflects poorly on its record which is up for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) early next month.
Since 2019, Amnesty International has documented the case of at least six Kashmiri journalists, human rights activists, academics and politicians including Gowhar Geelani, Shah Faesal, Bilal Bhat, Zahid Rafiq, Sanna Irshad Matto and Aakash Hassan who have been barred from travelling outside India without any lawful justification.