Daily Archives: 12/06/2021

Pakistan: Extremists accused of inciting millions to hunt down Christian couple & kill their lawyer


Islamists from leading religious parties in Pakistan stand accused of inciting millions to kill a Christian couple and their lawyer…

Saif ul Malook, who last week triumphed in the case of Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel Masih, said influential Muslim hardliners have taken to social media to call on supporters to “conquer (i.e. kill)” both him and the couple.

Speaking today (Friday, 11th June) under tight security from Pakistan, Mr ul Malook told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which campaigns for persecuted Christians, that he stood accused of “collaborating” with blasphemers, a capital offence for Islamists.

Mr ul Malook was acting for the couple on 3rd June when Lahore High Court overturned a 2014 judgement which found them guilty in connection with text messages allegedly disrespectful to the Muslim Prophet Mohammad and in breach of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.

He said since last week’s acquittal the couple’s joy has turned to fear amid growing fears for their lives, a threat, he said, that was likely to grow in the coming days as the as yet unconfirmed date of their release from jail grows near.

Mr ul Malook said: “The messages in Urdu language on Twitter and other social media are very clear: Saif ul Malook, Shagufta and Shafqat should be killed. They need to be eliminated. It is very dangerous.”

He added: “These messages from very influential Islamists belonging to religious parties are prompting ordinary people – millions of them – telling them that they will go to paradise if they kill me, Shagufta and Shafqat. For poor people, who are uneducated, this is a very big incentive.”

ACN also spoke to Shagufta’s brother, Joseph, who said: “All the family and I are very worried for Shagufta, Shafqat, her husband, and Saif ul Malook. The threats against them have to be taken seriously. Even in the prison there is a risk of them being shot or poisoned.”

Mr ul Malook said he is also being targeted as he had acted in the case of Asia Bibi, another Christian, whose blasphemy conviction was also overturned on appeal, sparking countrywide demonstrations.

He said he predicted wider disruption when Shagufta and Shafqat are released from jail than in October 2018 when protestors ground the country to a standstill after Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi.

Mr ul Malook said: “I would say I am more afraid now than when Asia Bibi was acquitted. Back then, nobody was putting such strong messages on social media inciting the people.”



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G7 bar leaders call upon governments to take action on lawyers at risk, lawtech and climate change


Flags of G7 countries flying against blue sky

Ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall, the presidents of the G7 bars have signed resolutions calling on their governments to tackle issues including climate change, the ethics of legal technology and undue interference with the independence of the legal profession.

Although consensus proved elusive at the G7 bars summit on 17 May, chaired by Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce, one resolution on lawyers at risk gained unanimous approval and a second resolution on guaranteeing continuity of justice in a time of crisis also gained widespread approval.

The presidents and executives of the representative bodies have committed to make efforts to urge governments to:

  • protect the rule of law and access justice
  • uphold the independence of the legal profession
  • condemn any attacks on lawyers carrying out their duties

Alongside resolutions focusing on lawyers at risk and continuity of justice, there was also progress on key areas that will impact the future of the legal profession, most prominently climate change and lawtech.


What was discussed on 17 May?

We proposed four resolutions, alongside a fifth resolution from the Conseil National des Barreux (CNB), focusing on areas that are key for both promoting the work of lawyers and assisting wider society:

  • lawyers at risk
  • lawtech and ethics
  • climate change
  • economic recovery
  • continuity of justice

These five areas reflect the concerns of the legal profession and wider agenda of the national G7 meeting, with a focus on leading the global recovery from coronavirus, tackling climate change and championing our shared values.

The strongest agreement between the bars was found on the ‘lawyers at risk’ resolution, with all of the seven bars signing the final statement and agreeing to promulgate the resolutions to their governments via the so-called national ‘Sherpas’ (civil servants and diplomats who help guide the leaders of the G7 countries in the leadup to the summit).