London, Thursday (05th April 2012): Lord Howell of Guildford responds to the Director of The Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO) Lord Singh, who raised concerns about the case of Balwant Singh Rajoana by tabling a question to Her Majesty’s Government. The question was initially raised in the House of Lords on the 27th of March 2012.
“Lord Singh of Wimbledon to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to discuss with the
government of India their commitment to human rights following the sentence of capital punishment
in the case of Balwant Singh Rajoana; and if so, what matters they intend to raise.” [HL16673]
For reasons of protocol, Lord Singh was not able to include that Balwant Singh had been in jail, whilst on death row for 16 years
In response earlier this week, Lord Howell of Guildford said: “It is the longstanding policy of successive Governments to oppose the death penalty, in all circumstances, as a matter of principle. We are deeply concerned by reports that India intends to execute Mr Balwant Singh Rajoana, thereby ending India’s seven year de facto moratorium on the death penalty. However we understand there are some questions over whether or not the execution will take place on the date set by the court. We are therefore following developments closely. We have made clear our position on the death penalty to the Indian government, both bilaterally and through the European Union. My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the member for Taunton Deane (Mr. Browne), wrote to the Indian High Commissioner about this issue in November 2011. He also raised the issue with the then Indian Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao, when they met on the 28th of June 2011, and with the Minister of State for External, Affairs Preneet Kaur, on 5 July 2011. We will continue topress for the universal abolition of the death penalty.”
The South Asian Director of Human Rights Watch, Meenakshi Ganguly has also condemned the Indian death penalty, further to the news of Balwant Singh Rajoana’s planned execution by the Indian state.