ICC Note: Asia Bibi’s nine-year legal battle in Pakistan is a reminder of the persecution and discrimination faced by all Pakistani Christians. After being accused of blasphemy in 2009, Bibi was sentenced to death on very little evidence in 2010. After languishing on death row for more than nine years, Pakistan must take action to correct this miscarriage of justice.
09/10/2018 Pakistan (Dawn) – We all have heard this quote “justice delayed is justice denied”, however, within Pakistan, there are many vulnerable prisoners who are suffering in notorious jails and one of them is Asiya Noreen, who was charged under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code. Sadly, she has been languishing in prison for more than nine years, without justice. No doubt, her case is a pure illustration of injustice against religious minorities. Dolefully in most cases, those accused under 295-C languish in jail for years, before they are even heard at a trial. Asiya Noreen is living in a confined cell, cooking for herself as the jail administration fears that she may be poisoned, as other Christians accused of blasphemy have been poisoned or killed in jail before.
Asiya’s case is a violation of every citizen’s right to a fair trial and right to life, since no court, not even the Supreme Court has upheld her rights. The fifty-three-year-old woman, a mother of five, was arrested in June 2009, after her fellows claimed that she had made derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). A year later, she was sentenced to death under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law, despite strong opposition from national and international human rights groups. She was convicted and sentenced to death by a Pakistani Sessions Court in November 2010.
At that time, then president Asif Ali Zardari hinted at a pardon, for which Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab visited Asiya Bibi in the Sheikhupura district jail to gather solid information on the case. But former Punjab governor, who spoke out in support of Bibi, was gunned down in broad daylight in Islamabad by his own guard Mumtaz Qadri. The assassin was sent to the gallows in early 2016, after the court found him guilty of murder.
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