Pakistan: death threats against lawyer Asma Jahangir

15/06/2012
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of death threats against Ms. Asma Jahangir, a prominent lawyer, FIDH Vice-President, founder member, former Chairperson and current board member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Pakistan.

Description of the situation:

According to the information received, early June 2012, Ms. Jahangir was informed by a source she believes to be highly reliable that Pakistani intelligence authorities were planning to murder her. Following these threats, she decided to remain in her residence, fearing for her life. She finally disclosed this to Pakistani TV news channels on June 4, 2012, revealing that the plan to kill her had been plotted by the "highest level" of state agencies.

These threats come in the wake of Ms. Jahangir’s work to shed light on human rights violations carried out by security forces in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. In several television programmes and during interviews, she identified the security agencies and the Frontier Corps as being responsible for disappearances and killings in Balochistan. In addition, she underlined the role played by military agencies regarding human rights abuses perpetrated across the country.

The Observatory recalls that Ms. Jahangir had already been threatened because of her human rights activities: for instance, in 2007, the authorities put her under house arrest to prevent her from attending a meeting for the reinstatement of the superior court judges. As early as 1995, an attempt was made on her life, and when two individuals were arrested in relation to the case, it was found that they reportedly had links with members of the intelligence services.

The Observatory condemns the above-mentioned death threats against Ms. Asma Jahangir, which clearly appear to be linked to her human rights activities, and which aim at silencing her. The Observatory expresses its deepest concern regarding her physical and psychological integrity.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Pakistan to:

i. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Asma Jahangir and, more generally, of all human rights defenders in Pakistan;

ii. Carry out an effective, thorough and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned threats, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil, competent and impartial tribunal, and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law.

iii. Put an end to any act of harassment against Ms. Asma Jahangir and against all human rights defenders in Pakistan;

iv. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular :
its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ;

- its Article 6 (c) which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” ;

- and its Article 12.2 which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Pakistan.

Addresses:

· His Excellency Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Prime Minister House, Islamabad. Tel no: + 92 519213562 Fax: + 92 51 9221596 E-mail: pspm@pmsectt.gov.pk or nsethi@pmsectt.gov.pk

· His Excellency Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan, President’s Secretariat, Islamabad. Tel: +92 51 9204801/9214171. Fax: +92 51 9207458 Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

· Mr. Rehman Malik, Minister of Internal affairs, R Block Pak Secretariat, Islamabad. Tel: +92 51 9212026 Fax: +92 51 9202624 E-mail: ministry.interior@gmail.com or interior.complaintcell@gmail.com

· Federal Minister for Human Rights, Ministry of Human Rights, Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue, G-5, Islamabad. Fax: +9251-9204108 Email: sarfaraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

· Dr. Faqir Hussain, Registrar, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Constitution Avenue, Islamabad. Fax: + 92 51 9213452 E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

· Mr. Syed Mehdi Shah, Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan, Prime Minister secretariat, Gilgit. Telephone +92-5811-920573 Fax: +92 (05811) 50-201 Email: info@gilgitbaltistan.gov.pk

· Ambassador Zamir Akram, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva, 56, Rue de Moillebeau, Case Postale 434, 1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland. Fax: +41-22-734-8085. Tel: +41-22-749-1930.

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Pakistan in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, June 14, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

Read more
appelobs