(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) led 15 Members of Congress in urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to respond to the alarming case of two prominent human rights lawyers in India who have been targeted by the government for criminal investigation and harassment because of their defense of human rights. The Members urged Secretary Pompeo to support human rights in India and publicly condemn the Indian Government’s actions that threaten the indispensable advocacy of human rights defenders.

The Members wrote:

"We understand that on June 13, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation filed a criminal case against the Lawyers Collective based on unsubstantiated allegations that the Collective misused foreign funds. Then, on July 11, 2019, the CBI raided the homes and offices of Mr. Anand Grover and Ms. Indira Jaising, prominent human rights lawyers and co-founders of the Lawyers Collective.  The Lawyers Collective is an internationally-respected human rights organization providing legal services and advocacy on behalf of human rights activists, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalized groups. Of special concern, both Mr. Grover and Ms. Jaising have held important positions at the United Nations (UN). The allegations target activities related to those UN positions, raising the specter of official interference with the critical independent role played by the UN and its experts.”

The Members continued:

“The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms must be a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, including with our closest partners. We urge you to make a strong public statement addressing the Government of India’s dangerous moves to constrain freedom of expression, association, and speech. We also urge you to raise Mr. Grover and Ms. Jaising’s case with the Government of India prior to the expiration of the stay on August 19.”

In addition to Rep. Raskin, the letter was signed by Reps. James P. McGovern (MA-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-at large).

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the International Commission of Jurists have also spoken out against this troubling development in India, a democratic ally of the United States.

A copy of the letter is available here.