New threats against the life of Asma Jahangir prompted strong response from those who have worked with the human rights lawyer and Chair of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission.
The Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group said in a statement that its members “are extremely troubled by the charges that Dr. Jahangir has reliable information that her life is under threat from Pakistan’s security establishment”.
Dr. Jahangir has been repeatedly attacked due to her activism and human rights work, said CJA Pakistan president Adnan Jafri, including being mobbed and threatened for defending a Christian boy and getting death threats for acting on a divorce case.
In response to the report of new threats, the EPG called on the Secretary-General “to request the Government of Pakistan to provide full protection for Dr. Jahangir, and to launch an immediate and transparent inquiry into the threats directed at her”.
Similar response came from the International Crisis Group http://www.crisisgroup.org/ It called on the government of Pakistan to take prompt action to pre-empt any plot and to investigate and prosecute the source of the threats.
Reports of the death threats led Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma to contact Dr. Jahangir as well as the Chair of Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and Pakistan authorities.
“Ms Jahangir is now being provided with security, which she considers adequate in the circumstances,” the Secretariat said in a June 8 statement. See the full statement at http://www.thecommonwealth.org/news/34580/247761/060612deaththreats.htm
EPG member Senator Hugh Segal praised Dr. Jahangir as the founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the first woman to lead the Supreme Court Bar Association. She served as the UN Special Investigator on Extrajudicial Executions and as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, reporting on violations worldwide to the UN Human Rights Council.
“Dr. Jahangir was the one member at the table whose up-close and personal experiences brought home the reality of life when the respect for human rights we take for granted is non-existent,” Segal told the Canadian Senate.
“She has been jailed twice, beaten on several occasions and placed under house arrest, and yet she has always persevered in her work,” Segal said.
Dr. Jahangir is Director of the AGHS Legal Aid Cell, which provides free legal assistance to the needy, and was instrumental in the formation of the Punjab Women Lawyers Association and the Women Action Forum. Among her written works are Divine Sanction? The Hudood Ordinance (1988, 2003) and Children of a Lesser God: Child Prisoners of Pakistan (1992).
– with files from Adnan Jafri