U.N Experts Condemn India And The UAE For Human Rights Violations And Arbitrary Detention Of A British Citizen
LONDON, PARIS 26 February 2021 – The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UN WGAD) issued an Opinion urging the Government of India to immediately release Christian James Michel. Upholding the submission of the Legal Team (Zimeray & Finelle Avocats, Paris, and Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, London), the UN Human Rights experts ruled that the United Arab Emirates unlawfully arrested and handed over Christian James Michel to the Government of India where he has been held arbitrarily since December 2018.
On 26 February 2020, the UN WGAD published Opinion No.88/2020 which ruled that Christian Michel, a British national, is being arbitrarily detained by the Republic of India, in contravention of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
According to the Working Group, “the violations of the right to a fair trial and due process are of such gravity as to give Mr. Michel’s deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character (...)” The UN WGAD further referred the matter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for further action to be taken. Furthermore, the UN experts ruled that the previous deprivation of liberty of Christian Michel by the Government of the UAE was also unlawful and arbitrary.
In turn, the UN WGAD recommended that the appropriate remedy would be for the Government of India to release Christian Michel immediately and for both Governments to accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.
Christian Michel is currently being detained in Delhi’s Tihar jail, after having been unlawfully handed over by the authorities in Dubai to India on 4 December 2018, as part of a shameful exchange following the abduction of Princess Latifa, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai. Video footage and transcripts of discussions released this week demonstrate that Princess Latifa was unlawfully abducted and handed over to the Emirati authorities by Indian coastguards. What followed can only be described as an unlawful exchange seeking to circumvent due process – Christian Michel, whose extradition had failed earlier was then mysteriously handed over to the Indian authorities where he was since languished in squalid conditions, abandoned by all, awaiting trial on charges that amount to a flagrant denial of justice for more than two years.
He has been detained in conditions that can only be described in flagrant breach of the fundamental guarantees under national and international law and breaches the minimum standards for prisoners.
In a detailed 35-page handwritten letter addressed to the Prime Minster, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, and the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, Christian sets out his dismay in the failings of the British Government.
In 2010, India alleged that Christian had been involved in the sale of AgustaWestland helicopters to the Indian Government. It was alleged, without any proper evidential basis, that the sale involved fraudulent conduct. This unsupported allegation has been rejected twice by the Italian Courts, due to the complete absence of evidence as to Christian’s in any fraudulent activity. He was arrested and detained in the United Arab Emirates in mid-February 2017 and held in the infamous Dubai CID HQ jail.
In the petition to the UN Working Group, Christian’s arrest came about following the capture of Sheikha Latifa by the Indian Coast Guards who boarded her yacht in international waters. It is therefore quite clear that Christian was extradited as an unlawful exchange the Indian authorities had performed for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
Christian, during his detention in India, has been held in appalling conditions as he was subjected to not only repeated and prolonged interrogations aimed at securing a confession by way of duress, but also to inhuman or degrading treatment that is of such severity that it constitutes torture on behalf of the Central Intelligence Bureau (CIB) and the Enforcement Department. It is noteworthy that Christian experienced all this – in breach of basic human rights conditions – without being charged with a criminal offence, leading to the conclusion that this arbitrary detention was politically motivated.
Toby Cadman, co-counsel confirmed:
“The procedure followed in Christian’s case can only be described as a flagrant denial of justice and a circumvention of the rule of law. On one occasion not long after the extradition process was reinstated, Christian was asked to sign a forged Budget Sheet in exchange for being a witness in the proceedings that would lead to all charges being dropped against him as well as the Red Notice being withdrawn. Christian refused to cooperate in with circumstances with the Indian Bureau of Investigation, which resulted in his extradition. During his time in prison awaiting extradition, he has been prevented from accessing his lawyer, having privileged communications and denied private consular access. Everything is continuously monitored.”
In the Opinion of the UN Working Group, it is clearly stated that the process by which Christian was extradited to India did not follow due process, constitutes an unlawful surrender and represents a clear attempt to override international protocols relating to extradition.
Francois Zimeray, co-counsel stated:
“No State should allow such methods, against any notion of justice and dignity. We welcome the recognition by the UN experts that the lack of due process is utterly unacceptable and that the treatment Christian Michel has been subjected to amounts to grave breaches of fundamental human rights, including the right not to be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading manner. India and the UAE will be held accountable.”
The Legal Team calls on the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to take immediate steps to intervene and calls on both the Governments of India and United Arab Emirates to respect the UN ruling and implement the recommendations fully to demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law. Nothing short of Christian’s immediate release and repatriation to the United Kingdom and to his family will suffice.
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