ASIA/PAKISTAN - Murders of human rights defenders: UN has to intervene

Wednesday, 15 June 2016 human rights   violence   justice   blasphemy   religious minorities  

Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - It is urgent that the Pakistani government "captures the killers of Catholic Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and other activists for human rights and justice", because such cases highlight "the persistent impunity in attacks against human rights defenders, grown in recent years, and the urgent need of their protection": is what is said in a letter sent by Pakistani Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill to Michel Forst, appointed UN special Rapporteur for human rights.
In the text of the letter, sent to Agenzia Fides, it points out that "five years after the murder of Bhatti none of his killers have been brought to justice". Bhatti, highlights the letter, "stood out as the most influential human rights defender who raised his voice for the rights of Christians in the country". Just like Bhatti even Rashid Rehman Khan, a Muslim lawyer, coordinator of the NGO "Human Rights Commission of Pakistan" (HRCP) was killed in 2014, and was defending a university professor accused of blasphemy.
The letter complains about the lack of state protection to activists and promoters of human rights, "the target of extremists and other state and non-state actors". The dangers increase, says the text "when assistance to victims of accusations of blasphemy is given".
Even lawyer Gill, who defends several of these cases, is under threat and some of his family members have been intimidated, threatened and kidnapped. The lawyer observes: "I appreciate the steps taken in recent years by the UN to uphold justice in Pakistan and I hope that the protection of human rights in Pakistan continues to be a top priority". And he concludes: "Since threats, abductions, attacks and killings are on the rise, I ask the UN Special Rapporteur to adopt firm and strong measures to protect human rights defenders in Pakistan, especially those who are committed to providing assistance to the innocent victims of abuse of the blasphemy law". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/06/2016)