May 10, 2017
The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the murder of lawyer Muhammad Jan Gigyani in Pakistan.
Reports indicate that on March 4, 2017, Muhammad Jan Gigyani, a senior lawyer and a provincial council member of the secular Qaumi Watan Party (“QWP”), was murdered by two armed, unknown assailants in Shabqadar, a small town located near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. According to reports, he – accompanied by his nephew and two other lawyers – was driving to the local court when two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on his vehicle before fleeing. According to the local police, Muhammad Jan Gigyani was critically wounded and died on his way to the hospital. His nephew was also seriously injured; the two other lawyers were not physically injured.
Shortly thereafter, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (“JuA”), a banned militant group responsible for many of the recent militant attacks in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the killing in a statement issued to local media.
Muhammad Jan Gigyani, a long-time advocate for the rights of the poorest members of society, was well respected by local people for speaking out on important issues and regularly worked on cases relating to labour and women’s rights. He was one of the lawyers that had survived the suicide bomb attack at the Shabqaddar courts on March 7, 2016. In honour of Muhammad Jan Gigyani, lawyers across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province boycotted courts and observed a day of mourning on March 6, 2017.
The Law Society of Upper Canada is deeply troubled by the murder of Muhammad Jan Gigyani. We urge the Government of Pakistan to comply with Pakistan’s obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.