Tag Archives: Pakistan
Saif Malook left Pakistan’s Lahore High Court with his head held high on June 3.
He had secured freedom for his clients, Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel, impoverished Pakistani Christians sentenced to death for blasphemy. Their convictions had just been overturned on appeal.
But almost immediately, Malook’s smile faded as extremists took to social media with threats to end his life.
“They called me an agent of the Jews, and many of the threats the Pakistani government determined to be credible,” he said from his home in Lahore.
“They even post pictures of the two judges who heard the case and declared them infidels too. This could have long-term implications. Judges will be scared after seeing this.”
While Malook, a Muslim, accepts the consequences of his work as one of the last lawyers willing to represent Christians on blasphemy charges, the impact spreads to his wife, a mathematics college professor, and his 15-year-old daughter in high school, both of whom also endure public taunts.
“My neighbors won’t talk to me; members of my family hate me too,” Malook said. “But I am working for these helpless people (Christians) because it is the right thing to do.”
His security situation has become more perilous in recent weeks after the courts overturned the death sentences of Kausar and Emmanuel.
The Christian couple was convicted in 2014 of disparaging the Prophet Muhammad, a severe crime under blasphemy legislation that prohibits the “act of expressing contempt or a lack of reverence for God or sacred things.” The crime carries the death sentence under Pakistani law, although capital punishment has never actually been carried out.
Appeal to the international community
Though Malook has devoted much of his professional life to those in dire judicial need in his home country, he is now making an appeal to the international community in the hope of securing a haven in the West.
Asia Bibi was granted asylum in Canada after Saif Malook got her conviction overturned in 2018. Hers is the most high-profile case involving Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. (Aid to the Church in Need)
“I would like to join Asia (Bibi) and her family in Canada,” Malook said. “My only wish now is to be able to spend my last years in peace.”
Despite the death threats, Malook, who earned his degree specializing in criminal law at the University of Punjab, Lahore, in 1980, is continuing the pursuit of justice while appealing to Western nations for further help.
“No other lawyers want to take on these cases — no person has a life hereafter taking on blasphemy cases, and there is no money in it. Those accused are very, very poor,” he said.
“The whole time, you are under threat, even from normal people who tell me I am supporting those who commit blasphemy.”
The Lahore High Court (LHC) has issued its detailed judgment on the appeal of a Christian couple, who were acquitted of blasphemy charges through a summary order earlier this month after spending eight years in jail.
In the judgment, the court has expressed dismay that the additional sessions judge decided the case in a “slipshod manner”. It set aside the Christian couple’s conviction on the grounds of delay in registration of FIR, non-fulfilment of the requirements of confessional statement and not-establishment of motive, etc.
On April 4, 2014, an additional district and sessions judge in Toba Tek Singh had awarded death sentence and a fine of Rs100,000 each to Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Masih under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), read with Section 34, for sending blasphemous messages on the phone.
An LHC division bench, comprising Justice Shahbaz Ali Rizvi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, heard the appeal for three straight days and on June 3. The bench allowed the appeal, saying that the prosecution had failed to establish the case against the couple beyond doubt.
“In the instant case, on reappraisal of evidence, we have come to an ineluctable conclusion that the prosecution has failed to establish the charge against the appellants (Christian couple),” read the 25-page judgment, authored by Justice Sheikh.
“We are dismayed that the learned Additional Sessions Judge has decided the case in a slipshod manner. We allow this appeal and set aside the impugned judgment dated 4.4.2014. The appellants are acquitted of the charge,” read the judgment.
A Pakistani lawyer who has successfully overturned a number of convictions for “blasphemy” has said he believes his life is in danger from extremists.
Saif ul Malook most recently oversaw the acquittal of a Christian couple who had been sentenced to death.
Mr Malook shared social media posts with the BBC which called for him to be “executed” for securing the acquittal.
Blasphemy is a deeply emotive topic in Muslim-majority Pakistan and is legally punishable by death.
While no one has ever been executed for the offence, dozens of people accused of blaspheming have been killed by vigilantes.
Human rights groups say the country’s blasphemy laws often unfairly target religious minorities and can be used in personal feuds.
Earlier this month, the high court in Lahore quashed the convictions of Christian couple Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel, citing a lack of evidence.
The pair were sentenced to death in 2014 for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages insulting the Prophet Muhammad. They insisted they were innocent. Ms Kausar’s brother told the BBC last year he doubted the couple were literate enough even to have written the messages.
The couple’s lawyer, Mr Malook, previously also represented Asia Bibi, a Christian villager who spent eight years on death row in a case that attracted international condemnation.
https://patrick-henry.avocats.be/?q=node/511 (ATTACHMENT IN ENGLISH)
Members of the legal fraternity staged a demonstration outside the Bannu Press Club following the murder of a senior lawyer on Monday.
Two unknown motorcyclists killed Bashir Rehman Barki Advocate near the judicial complex when he was returning home.
The police said the body was shifted to the district headquarters hospital for autopsy.
A large number of lawyers also reached the hospital, took the body to the press club where they held a demonstration, blocking the busy road.
Speaking on the occasion, Bannu bar president Noorzada Ahmadzai, general secretary Inamullah Khan and other members said safety of lawyers had become a question mark on the tall claims of the government as targeting of members of legal fraternity had become a routine in the country.
They said the deceased had no enmity with anyone.
They asked Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to take practical steps for provision of foolproof security to lawyers.
They announced a three-day mourning and boycott of courts against the killing. Later, the protesters ended the road blockade, and the deceased was buried in a local graveyard.
June 14 2021
Mr. Khush Dil Khan, Vice-Chairman and Mr. Muhammad Faheem Wali, Chairman, Executive Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council, have strongly condemned the target killing of Mr. Bashir-ur-Rehman Barki, Advocate, Supreme Court at Bannu Judicial complex today, and utter failure of the law enforcement agencies and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government, maintaining and improving the law and order situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to provide safety and security to innocent citizens in general & especially the Advocates of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and to control the target killing of Advocates.
They have urged upon the Federal and Provincial Governments as well as the I.G. Police, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for improving the law and order situation in and arrround the Courts premises and in the Country & to arrest the culprits immediately and award them exemplary punishment.
In condemnation of the aforesaid brutal murder and target killing and expressing solidarity with the family members of the bereaved Advocate, they have fully supported the strike call of KP Bar Council for tomorrow, the 15th June, 2021 in Khyber Palhtunkhwa.
PAKISTAN BAR COUNCIL
(Pakistan Bar Council Facebook, 14/06/21)
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.”
‘I can’t survive anymore in my country,’ says Saiful Malook after the acquittal of a Christian couple on death row for blasphemy
A Pakistani lawyer who is globally recognized for defending the country’s beleaguered religious minorities in blasphemy cases has made an emphatic appeal to the international community to help him relocate to an English-speaking country.
“My message for the world. I can’t survive anymore in my country. I want to shift to some English-speaking country,” Saiful Malook tweeted late on June 3.
His tweet came hours after he had won the acquittal of Christian couple Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmaneul, who had been sentenced to death in 2014 on charges of sending blasphemous message from a mobile phone.
The lawyer was awarded the National Secular Society’s annual prize at its Secularism 2019 conference on May 29. The award was presented by the human rights barrister and NSS honorary associate Geoffrey Robertson QC.
In 2020, Malook was nominated by the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (OIAD) for the prestigious American Bar Association human rights award.
The OIAD is an institution of solidarity among lawyers whose goal is to provide judicial and material support. This project, co-financed by the European Union, was signed by the Italian National Bar Association, Conseil National des Barreaux, Spanish National Bar Association, and the Rome, Paris and Madrid Bars on April 22, 2016.
The purpose of the OIAD is to defend lawyers under threat and denounce situations in which the right to defense is put at risk. It will also track, through monitoring and all other available means, lawyers who are victim of threats, pressure, torture or any other kind of abuse.
Malook was also nominated for the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award for his courage. He received a prestigious award from Britain’s National Secular Society in London.
The EPP Group in the European Parliament, the largest political party in the European Parliament, has demanded that Pakistan abolish the blasphemy laws and the death penalty and protect endangered lawyers like Saif-ul-Malook.
Nasurllah Warriach senior advocate was gunned down today morning at Murala, a village situated on the outskirts of Mandi City.
Police reached the spot and moved the dead body to DHQ Hospital Mandi Bahauddin for autopsy.
The lawyers in the Mandi Bahauddin district struck the work as a protest over the poor law and order situation.
They demanded of the police to register FIR under the relevant law and arrest the accused. The investigation should be transparent, they further stressed demanded.
Punjab Bar Council strongly condemned the brutal murder of Barrister Farooq Ahmad Adv. Kasur. Such attacks on lawyers are increasing day by day. We demand to arrest the accused with in 24 hour’s & Provide fool Proof security the lawyers community. To arrest such incidents in future. The lawyers of Lahore Division will observe full day strike on 13-04-2021.Mr. Amjad Iqbal KhanVice ChairmanPunjab Bar CouncilSardar Abdul Basit Khan BalochChairman Executive CommitteePunjab Bar Council..
Punjab Bar Council Facebook, 12/04/21