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ICC Note:
Aid to the Church in Need reports that, “Christians are marginalised and disadvantaged everywhere in Pakistani society, but their situation in the prisons is particularly precarious.”
By Eva-Maria Kolmann
11/16/2011 Pakistan (Aid to the Church in Need) – The Catholic lawyer Moazzam Aslam Bhatti, who works in Faisalabad, has told the international Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), that Christian prisoners in Pakistani are subject to particularly severe discrimination. He pointed out that Christians are marginalised and disadvantaged everywhere in Pakistani society, but their situation in the prisons is particularly precarious. Along with the Dominican fathers who provide prison pastoral care in the Diocese of Faisalabad, Bhatti regularly visits Christian prisoners and provides legal aid.
Those in jail in the city include shopkeeper Imran Masih who was sentenced to life imprisonment in January 2010 under the country’s Blasphemy Laws for allegedly burning pages of the Qur’an. Mr Masih denied the charge.
It is alarming to note, the lawyer said, that many people jailed for minor offences could have been released if they had been able to pay the fines imposed on them. Those affected also include children who are compelled to stay in prison together with their mothers. Christians are also disadvantaged in the distribution of food, clothing and medicines, as well as in their ability to practise their religion. This situation must change, Bhatti demanded. As a rule, Christian prisoners have no lawyer on account of their poverty and low social position. More legal aid must be provided to them in order to improve their situation.

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