A criminal complaint has been filed against the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister (CM) Yogi Adityanath for committing crimes against humanity between December 2019 and January 2020 in the state of Uttar Pradesh, to suppress protests against the adoption of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India. The move comes amidst World Economic Forum's (WEF) invitation to CM Yogi to participate in the WEF event currently being held in Davos, Switzerland, between January 16 and 20. The complaint was filed with the Office of the Swiss Federal Prosecutor, on Tuesday, January 17, by Guernica 37 Chambers, a specialist group of international criminal and human rights lawyers under the principle of universal jurisdiction as provided in Article 264 of the Swiss Criminal Code. Article 264 deals with ‘Genocide and Crimes against Humanity’.
The Founder of the Guernica 37 Group and Joint Head of G37 Chambers, Toby Cadman, in an email response, told TNM that both the contents of the criminal report and the details of victims, complainants and petitioners are being kept confidential for their own life and safety.
A statement by Guernica 37 Chambers says, “Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is reported to have ordered the false imprisonment, torture and murder of civilians between December 2019 and January 2020 in the state of Uttar Pradesh to suppress protests against the adoption of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India. As set out in the criminal report, these acts may amount to crimes against humanity as they are alleged to have been committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against civilians, mostly the Muslim population in the country.”
Guernica 37 Chambers has also said that there is "sufficient basis" to believe that senior members of the UP government, including Chief Minister Yogi, "are responsible for ordering the UP police under their command”. The statement said, “The Chief Minister’s role in the escalation of police violence is particularly apparent in a speech given on December 19, 2019, calling on the police to take 'revenge' against protesters. Despite being an Indian State official, the Chief Minister does not enjoy diplomatic immunity for these crimes,” the statement reads.
After the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed in December 2019, many individuals, especially those belonging to Muslim community, took to the streets staging peaceful protests. Several of them were arrested and attacked by the police. “The UP police reportedly killed 22 protesters, at least 117 were tortured and 307 were arbitrarily detained,” Guernica 27 Chambers said and added that the criminal complaint states that Yogi Adityanath, who is the final executive authority over police in Uttar Pradesh, “failed to investigate and prosecute the alleged crimes”.
Further, stating that neither the domestic law, the international law, or the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court acceded to the individual complaints, they said that the "escalation of violence and impunity requires urgent actions to hold the perpetrators accountable."
“The opening of an investigation by the Swiss authorities will serve as official recognition and acknowledgement of the gravity of the alleged crimes and recognition of the status of the victims, that they have thus far failed to receive at the domestic or international levels, and it will further serve as evidence that the culture of impunity will not be tolerated,” Guernica 37 Chambers asserted.
Stating that Article 264a of Swiss Criminal Code deals with Crimes against Humanity and it is under this provision that the complaint has been filed, Cadman also said that the course of action has been pursued “as there have been no meaningful attempts to hold the perpetrators accountable in India.”
The law firm had last year filed a similar submission with the United States government, asking for ‘targeted sanctions’ against CM Yogi. Cadman, regarding the submission, said that the request to the US Treasury was for the imposition of sanctions. “This is a process that takes some time and is not made public unless the US government makes public the imposition of sanctions,” he said and added that a similar request was made to the UK (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) FCDO as well.