Has Pakistan’s Top Court Failed Asia Bibi?

ICC Note: Pakistan’s top court has issued over two dozen suo motu (on its own motion) notices in the past month. These notices cover a range of issues including extrajudicial killings, security barricades, child abuse, VIP movement, human rights, money laundering and the state of health facilities in Pakistan. Missing from this list of notices is the issue of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row, and Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. This has led many to wonder if Pakistan’s top court has failed Asia Bibi.

03/01/2018 Pakistan (UCAN) – The Colosseum in Rome was lit up in red on Feb. 24 as a sign of solidarity and support for persecuted Christians around the world.

The event, organized by Aid to the Church in Need, a Pontifical Foundation that supports suffering Christians in over 140 countries, included testimonies of families who have been targeted for their Christian faith.

These included the husband and youngest daughter of imprisoned Asia Bibi of Pakistan, who received a death sentence in 2010 for alleged blasphemy. Reports claim she has also been tortured in jail.

During the private meeting in the Vatican, Pope Francis prayed together with those present. The pope told the daughter: “I think often of your mother and I pray for her.”

Asia Bibi, a 52-year-old Catholic mother of five, was a fruit picker from Sheikhupura, a town in Punjab. Her sentence is based on the allegation that she insulted the Prophet Mohammad during an argument with Muslim farm workers over a glass of water.

She has pleaded innocent and challenged her conviction in the highest court after the Lahore High Court chose not to overturn the earlier ruling.

However, her appeal has been pending in the Supreme Court since November 2014.

The case was briefly picked up on Oct. 14, 2016 before a three-judge bench that was due to hear her appeal was dissolved.

Pakistan’s top judge has issued over two dozen suo motu (on its own motion) notices in a month on a range of issues including extrajudicial killings, security barricades, child abuse, VIP movement, human rights, money laundering and the state of health facilities in the country.

Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Dec. 31, 2016.

Ever since his elevation as the chief jurist, Justice Saqib Nisar has fallen under the media spotlight due to his regular notices being dubbed matters of public importance.

Despite this record-breaking suo motu spree — comparable to a government agency “acting on its own cognizance — the case of Asia Bibi has failed to draw the attention of Nisar.

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For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.

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