Tag Archives: Pakistan

Pakistan/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: The Pakistani lawyer putting his life on the line

June 12, 2019

Despite mass protests against his work and credible threats to his life, Saif ul-Malook keeps going. He speaks to Subi Shah about why.

‘In Pakistan, blasphemy is a crime punishable by death. To defend anyone accused of it – especially if they are part of the very poor Christian minority – is to risk a death sentence of one’s own, by mob rule,’ says Saif ul-Malook, the human rights lawyer who represented Asia Bibi – a Christian labourer who stood accused of blasphemy – in the country’s supreme court.

In June 2009, Asia, a mother of five, headed towards the fields surrounding her village of Ittanwala, around 40 miles south-east of Lahore. There, along with several other village women, she would work all day under the blistering sun, gathering fruit to sell at the market.

It was thirsty work. After several hours, they stopped for a break and Asia was told by her Muslim co-workers to go and fetch water. Returning from the well, Asia took a sip from the water pot she was carrying before handing it to the other women.

A fight broke out, with the Muslim women refusing to drink from the same pot as Asia, who, as a Christian, was considered to be impure and inferior.

Later that week, an angry mob – including members of the police force and the local Imam – broke into Asia’s house, dragged her into the street and violently assaulted her.

She was arrested and charged with blasphemy for defaming the Prophet Muhammad. With no legal representation, Asia would spend the next nine years on death row, in solitary confinement.

Asia’s case came to the world’s attention in 2010, when a prominent politician, Salman Taseer, appealed to the government for her release and vowed to reform the blasphemy law. A few weeks later, he was murdered by his own security guard, who shot him 27 times at point blank range in the middle of a busy market square.

Soon after, in 2011, Pakistan’s Minorities Minister Shabaz Bhatti, a fellow Christian, spoke out in defense of Asia. He was assassinated en route to work, hit by a hail if bullets as he sat in his car.

When Lahore-based lawyer Saif-ul-Malook, heard of Bibi’s plight, he took on her case. The furore this caused caught the attention of global media and, suddenly, he was thrust into the limelight.

Asia’s acquittal in 2018 caused rioting and mass protests across the country, and both she and Malook were subject to countless credible death threats.

For three days and nights, protesters rioted in an attempt to get the Supreme Court and government to reconsider.








Pakistan/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: LHC Suspends Lawyer’s Sentence Who Attacked Civil Judge

June 12, 2019

Rejecting the Anti Terrorism Court’s decision, the LHC suspended his sentence against surety bonds worth Rs2 lac.

LHC suspends lawyer’s sentence who attacked civil judge

The Lahore High Court (LHC) has suspended the sentence of a lawyer who smashed a civil judge with a chair.

A two-member LHC bench headed by Justice Mazahir Ali Naqvi ordered to release the accused.

Rejecting the Anti Terrorism Court’s decision, the LHC suspended his sentence against surety bondsworth Rs2 lac.

An Anti Terrorism Court in Faisalabad sentenced a lawyer to 18 years and six months in jail for smashing a civil judge with a chair.

Besides the imprisonment, the ATC also fined him with Rs250,000.






Pakistan/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: January 24, 2020 PAKISTAN

June 13, 2019

Latest news from Brussels  :

Following  decisions were taken

1-International Coalition has been formed for  Endangered Lawyers by the gathered  international  lawyer organizations in this Meeting on 13th of June 2019 in Brussels

2-the country Pakistan has been chosen to focus on for the Day  next year 2020:

3-4 there have been different countries proposed for 2021:



Speech by international coordinators: Hans and Symone Gaasbeek  Wielinga

Dear all, very dear colleagues,

May I wish you a warm welcome today ,in this meeting!!

I would like to thank especially my colleagues Yves Oschinsky and Aurore Lebeau – and their organisations – for their hospitality and for their efforts to receive us here today in Brussels.

We are very glad that you came here today with so many, representing many International Lawyer and Bar organisations, all in solidarity with our threatened colleagues abroad.

Lawyers for lawyers will be in the meeting on line

Lawyers rights watch Canada is also following our meeting


Some months ago Symone – my wife and colleague – and I decided that we would come back as Coordinator, after having left the project a year ago (for several reasons). As you know the woman behind the man is always very important…!

Especially Symone supports me a lot and she makes it possible to continue the coordination.

This year, the Day of the Endangered Lawyer project exists already 10 years, a couple of years longer than the Foundation Day of the Endangered Lawyer, which was erected to support this important work!!

The foundation also focuses on creating worldwide  awareness about the harassment of lawyers ,on  interesting the youth /young lawyers for this problem  of persecution of their human rights colleagues and to ask support for our endangered colleagues at European and International Institutions

The Foundation has a lot of moral strength, but there is almost no financial funding for the work.

In the past years – from the start – our lawyer office has given good financial support and has paid a lot of the costs.

Symone and I are very glad that we are again supported strongly by the voluntary Board members of the Foundation and by a few other volunteers.

Also the Board members and my brother and cousin have decided to continue supporting the project and to restart the website…!

Looking back

I want to take you back for a short moment to the Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2019.

I was very impressed by the lawyers in Madrid who – on the Day of the Endangered Lawyer last year – organised a meeting to commemorate the five lawyers and their assistants, who had been killed in 1977 in Atocha in Madrid on the 24st  of January… One minute of silence was observed in memory of the murdered colleagues.

In 2019, the Day was celebrated in 25 cities and our Turkish colleagues strongly supported the Day. Even in Istanbul, there was a big demonstration.

However, in 2018 the Day was organized in 35 cities, so 10 cities less were involved last year, in 2019!

For me this makes clear that the coming time – from today on – we have to invest real energy and real networking to make the coming Day as big a success as in 2018…!!

Our mutual task is to make the next Day of the Endangered Lawyer in 2020 a big success!!!

Reports of the cities

I was informed that in many cities more than three or four lawyer organisations and Bar organizations ,were working closely together to organise their manifestations in their cities. This good cooperation between sometimes very different lawyer groups is very encouraging and special…

However, only half of the 25 cities involved have sent us reports about what they organised last year, about their actions and about handing over the petitions.

For example, London and Berlin informed us very well and in Berlin the action was even on the NDR television. The action in London was published in the magazine ‘Socialist Lawyer’ in February.

From many other cities we also received good reports, like Brussels, Paris and the Netherlands.

NB —-Request to the cities which did not send their reports of 24 january 2019—!!!

However, from at least 10 cities, we have not had any or only very little news, no pictures, no reports, no petitions.

So we are not even aware how successful the Day might have been in these cities and we do not know if they contacted any Turkish authorities or ambassadors with petitions.

I really hope that next year we will, like in the years before, receive good feedback and communication to the coordinator.

Of course, the feedback from all the cities is also very important to continue the follow-up work with the countries which we have chosen in the past. As coordinators we have to be aware of what discussions were held, or which colloquia, what conclusions were drawn, which contacts there were with ambassadors or authorities from Turkey, in all the involved cities.

The same applies to the Press releases and publications.

All information gathered on the Day for Turkey while demonstrating and giving petitions and having meetings in all the 25 cities, will be put together -on the website of the foundation – and could be also used as a base for the fact finding mission which will be organised after the summer this year to visit the detained Turkish colleagues and to investigate the persecutions Of these lawyers.

As you see, it is still very important and useful to receive even a short report from all the cities which have not made the report yet. Then we are able to make a compilation of all the actions and publications of the 24th of January 2019,on the website .

To make the Day of the Endangered Lawyer a success in 2020, it is also necessary to involve already well in advance all your press contacts or make new press contacts, because press coverage is part of the success of this worldwide project…! And please also use your social or commercial networks like Facebook to communicate your actions!

Tweets and twitter went last year very well also in Turkey…


Often, people ask questions about follow-up contacts with the countries on which we focused on the past Days of the Endangered Lawyer. I will inform you on this, starting with:


The Foundation is still in close contact with lawyers in Honduras, where the situation has deteriorated very much and very quickly in the last years…!

Many lawyers had to flee the country and some of them are also trying to get into the USA as a political refugee.

Yesterday Carmen Elisa Pinto was killed in her car while she was driving .

The Philippines

The Foundation, in collaboration with other organisations, has just organised a successful fact-finding mission to the Philippines, which was also well-supported by the Union International des Avocats, the UIA. I joined the mission as you may know, and we investigated the many murders of lawyers, prosecutors and judges;

Report FFM.

You can find the preliminary findings on the website of the foundation:


Also you find info in this report about  the inciting role of President Duterte in these  killings .

This week again a prosecutor Josephine Larranzo Olivar -39 years -was killed.

Since Duterte came into power -2 ½ years ago- 39 lawyers ,judges and prosecutors have been killed 


After the last Day of the Endangered Lawyer focussed on Turkey, the Foundation, together with the European Democratic Lawyers, sent a file to the Lawyers for Lawyers organisation in which Selçuk Kozağaçlı and – indirectly – his colleagues were nominated for the Human Rights Award. Because this nomination was successful, the Lawyers for Lawyers Award was assigned to Selçuk and his colleagues…In their absence …! And received by their colleague Ceren Uysal.

She also asked for new strong support from our organizations  for observers for the next trial on the 10 th of July against the same lawyers group.

The latest numbers from Turkey  of this week are : 1546 lawyers persecuted ,599 lawyers arrested ,311 sentenced to 1967 years in prison …!!


The great thing is that at this moment, all of you who are present here, are very active, together with your organisations – in your own way and with your own means – to support the endangered lawyers, in many, many countries and in many different ways!

All our work complements each other’s work. All our different organisations – together here – can and will be very strong.


In support of the endangered Iranian lawyers, this year very good cooperation can be seen…

This year the IDHAE – which is a partnership of many big European Bars and Human Rights Institutes – has awarded the Ludovic Trarieux Prize to Nasrin Sotoudeh. I was happy to be part of that jury meeting last year. The French colleagues gave Nasrin Sotoudeh huge publicity all over France. In many French cities, which followed up each other, an enormous billboard was hung – in a kind of relay (or relais, as they say in French) – from the buildings of each Bar association.

So the human rights prize ceremony is supported and maximised by the follow-up action with the billboards!!!

The Coming Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2020

And now about the choice for next year. Until now the co-organiser AED (European Democratic Lawyers) has not made a final choice yet for a country. The Foundation is today open to all your ideas.

On the other hand, for the coordinators the logistics are also important. In the last 10 years we have experienced that it is very important to have very good contacts and networks in the chosen country to make the Day a real success…!

In many possible countries like Cameroon, Russia, Azerbaijan, our networks are not sufficient at all.

The real success for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer will be that in the country itself there will also be a lot of manifestations, like in Turkey. This happened last year when we focussed on Turkey, but also in earlier years in many Turkish cities there were manifestations for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer… On the other hand, in Egypt and Colombia, there wasn’t any echo, any resonance. There was not a lot of connection.

The International Association of People’s Lawyers, IAPL, let’s say Stuart Russell’s organisation (who could not be present today), has proposed Pakistan for next year’s Day. IAPL has sent us a well-motivated request to choose Pakistan, which was already spread to all of you on the mailing list in April. If you don’t have a copy, I brought some for you!!

We have used the last months to try to find contacts in Pakistan and to create a network to get good information about the situation of the Pakistani lawyers and also to get the Day organised in Pakistan itself… I also asked some of your organisations if they have contacts over there.

For the moment I can say, I wrote to seven or eight lawyers over there, in Pakistan, and I now have already 4 enthousiastic  contacts with colleagues in Pakistan, which I hope will be good.

Unfortunately, my very good contact Asma Jahangir died last year in Lahore as a result of a stroke. She was far too young… Jahangir has won a lot of human rights prizes and she devoted her entire life to human rights, women’s rights, religious rights, et cetera.

As for Pakistan, I want to add that the actual situation in Pakistan is very dangerous for lawyers. I mention the constant persecution of Christians and their defending lawyers, the attacks in Quetta on lawyers with many deaths… And the constant attacks on lawyers who defend minority groups.

Beside the Christians there are 5/6 other religious minority groups which are constantly harassed !!

If you might want to choose for Pakistan – which we prefer as Foundation – we need all your help to continue networking with Pakistani lawyers. So you would support us a lot by asking your contacts for help and cooperation ,and by asking them  to incite their colleagues in Pakistan ,to organize mabnifestations /meetings in Pakistan on the 24th of January.

As we said, the Day has to be well prepared with press contacts and networking and the Day 2020 can only be a success with our mutual and joint efforts!!

Hans en Symone Gaasbeek

Coordination – Foundation Day of the Endangered Lawyer



Over 70 traders booked for clashing with lawyers in Pakpattan




Pakistan/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Over 70 traders booked for clashing with lawyers in Pakpattan

June 20, 2019

lawyers traders

Police have registered an FIR of a clash between traders and lawyers over a parking dispute in Arifwala tehsil of Pakpattan district.

According to the police, more than 150 people have been booked under different provisions of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) with Section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act. The FIR was registered on the complaint of Advocate Riaz Hussain.

More than 77 traders and 70 unknown people have been named in the case.

Meanwhile, a complete strike is being observed at local courts across the district against yesterday’s incident which resulted in injuries to seven people.

The Pakpattan Bar Association had given a call for the strike following the dispute.

A clash had erupted between lawyers and shopkeepers in Arifwala over a parking dispute yesterday as the two sides used sticks, hurled stones and resorted to firing at each other.

The clash started after a lawyer was allegedly locked up inside a shop by shopkeepers for parking his bike outside their shop.

Upon being informed of the incident, a large number of members of the legal fraternity gathered on the spot. The situation took a turn for worse when the two sides engaged in a brawl, using sticks and hurling stones at each other.

Afterwards, a heavy contingent of police reached the site and lobbed tear gas shells on both the sides to disperse them.

Over 70 traders booked for clashing with lawyers in Pakpattan

Over 70 traders booked for clashing with lawyers in Pakpattan


Pakistan: Legal Fraternity Observes Strike Against Conviction Of Lawyer

May 24, 2019

The legal fraternity on Friday observed strike in protest against an anti-terrorism court (ATC) decision of handing down 18 years jail term to a lawyer for attacking a judge in Jaranwala

Legal fraternity observes strike against conviction of lawyer

The legal fraternity on Friday observed strike in protest against an anti-terrorism court (ATC) decision of handing down 18 years jail term to a lawyer for attacking a judge in Jaranwala.

The lawyers boycotted the court proceedings at sessions courts, civil courts and other subordinate courts on a call, given by the Punjab Bar Council. However, no boycott was observed at the LahoreHigh Court and the lawyers continued to appear in courts.

The strike seriously affected litigants, whose cases were adjourned due to non-availability of their counsel.

Meanwhile, a joint meeting of Pakistan Bar Council, Punjab Bar Council and Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) was held here to discuss the matter, with LHCBA President Hafeez-ur-Rehman Chaudhry in the chair.

The speakers questioned the sentence handed down by an ATC to Advocate Imran Munj in such a hasty manner without hearing the defence counsel. They said that the court gave an illegal decision and the lawyers community condemns it.

They demanded the LHC chief justice to suspend the decision by using his revisional powers; otherwise, a joint meeting would be held to decide the future course on May 28.










Pakistan/UK: Lawyer who defended Asia Bibi named Secularist of the Year

May 18, 2019

Lawyer who defended Asia Bibi named Secularist of the Year

A lawyer who defended a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan has been named as the Secularist of the Year for 2019.

Saif ul Malook, who defended Asia Bibi, was awarded the National Secular Society’s annual prize at its Secularism 2019 conference on Saturday 18 May.

The award presented by the human rights barrister and NSS honorary associate Geoffrey Robertson QC.

Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by hanging for allegedly insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad in November 2010. Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered her to be freed in October 2018. It upheld her acquittal in the face of a petition urging its quashing in January.

Malook represented Asia Bibi from 2014 until the end of the process. He has faced death threats from Islamists in response, as have the judges who ordered her to be freed.

He is now handling another blasphemy case involving Shaghufta Kausar, who faces a possible death sentence in Pakistan over a text message that allegedly insulted Muhammad.

Saif ul Malook said:

“Thanks to the National Secular Society for recognising my efforts to secure the acquittal of Asia Bibi.

“To fight blasphemy cases in Pakistan is putting one’s own and families’ lives at risk. The moral support from organisations such as the NSS has given me the courage to take the case of Shaghufta Kausar – another Christian woman on death row on blasphemy charges.

“I assure you that I plan to continue my mission in providing legal aid to all blasphemy victims even in future regardless to the threat to my life.”







Pakistani mother cleared of blasphemy charges, joins her daughters in Canada




Image may contain: 12 people, people smiling, text

Pakistan: Asia Bibi’s lawyer to defend couple on death row over blasphemy

May 15, 2019

Pakistani Christian man and wife sentenced to death for text messages sent to Muslim

Activists in Karachi carry placards against Asia Bibi

The case of a Christian couple on death row in Pakistan after being convicted of blasphemy has reportedly been taken up by the lawyer who defended Asia Bibi.

Shagufta Kousar and Shafqat Masih were accused of sending blasphemous text messages to a Muslim man. They were sentenced to death, but have appealed to the high court in Lahore.

Lawyer Saiful Malook, who briefly fled Pakistan after receiving death threats when Bibi’s conviction for blasphemy was overturned last October, is to appeal against the couple’s 2014 conviction under the same law.

According to Malook, Kousar is being held in the same cell in which Bibi was imprisoned before being moved into protective custody after her sentence was overturned.

The couple, who have four children, are from Gojra, Punjab province, where Kousar was employed as a cleaner at a church school. A Muslim man in the city complained to officials at his mosque that he was sent blasphemous messages in English on his phone, and the complaint was passed on to the police.

Kousar and Masih were arrested and charged with “insulting the Qur’an” and “insulting the Prophet”.

Musih, who is disabled, admitted sending the messages but later said he his confession was made under duress, as he feared for his wife’s safety.

The couple are illiterate and have argued they could not send text messages in English. They also said the sim card used to send the text messages was bought in Kousar’s name after her identity card was stolen.

“They did not get a fair trial. They are innocent,” Malook told Fox News.