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13 December 2017 Last updated 2 SECONDS ago

Amnesty urges release of two Kashmiri teens detained by India under controversial law

Amnesty International urged the Indian authorities to release two teens who were detained in India-held Kashmir under the controversial Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), read a report issued by the organisation on Thursday. The human rights watchdog has pleaded for either the release or the usage of appropriate laws and provision of fair trials of the teens.

"Release both Rayees Ahmad Mir and Waheed Ahmed Gojree or charge them with an internationally recognisable criminal offence and give them fair trials in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, using detention only as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate period, and ensuring that any detention be in a separate facility for children, as close as possible to their families in order to facilitate family contact," said the appeal issued.

The appeal also called for a detailed investigation of the detention of the two boys, and all other cases of detention of children under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act.

Amnesty International in its appeal also urged authorities to repeal the controversial Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act and other administrative detention laws in India.

Rayees and Waheed were detained in prison under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, which expressly prohibits the detention of anyone under 18 years of age.

Rayees Ahmad Mir, aged 16 , was arrested on September 16 in Baramulla district under ordinary criminal procedure for allegedly throwing stones at security forces.

Two days later, to prevent his release on bail, an executive official passed an order to detain him under the PSA. The order incorrectly stated that Rayees Mir was 18 years old and he was transferred to the Kot Bhalwal central jail in Jammu, about 300 kilometres from his home.

Rayees Mir’s family challenged the order before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, producing documents that proved he was only 16 years old.

On October 7, the court stated that Rayees Mir should be treated according to juvenile justice rules, as there was prima facie evidence that he was a minor, and ordered his transfer to a juvenile home.

An official at the Kot Bhalwal jail said on October 19: "The prison authorities had not yet transferred Rayees Mir, as they had not received a copy of the court order."

Waheed Ahmed Gojree, also 16 years old, was arrested in Kupwara district on August 18, and detained at a police station.

According to his family, the police initially told them that Gojree would be released the next day, however, they then said that he had been detained under the PSA.

Gojree was first taken to a jail in Baramulla, and then to the Kot Bhalwal central jail in Jammu, about 380 kilometres away.

The family has not yet received a copy of the detention order, or been formally informed about the grounds of Waheed Gojree’s detention, however an official at the central jail confirmed that he had been detained under the PSA.

The authorities appear to have not taken age of the boys into account before issuing the detention order.