Crisis Group Urges Pakistan to Protect Rights Activist

Brussels  |   7 Jun 2012

The International Crisis Group strongly condemns the alleged plot to assassinate human rights activist Ms. Asma Jilani Jahangir, a member of the Crisis Group Board of Trustees and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association. Crisis Group calls on the government of Pakistan to take prompt action to pre-empt any such plot and immediately investigate the source of these threats, to be followed by prosecutions as appropriate.

“With this foreknowledge and warning, it would be unconscionable for Pakistan’s governing authorities not to take every possible precaution to protect Asma and her family”, said Louise Arbour, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group. “They must investigate the allegations immediately and thoroughly and bring to justice those who would make these kinds of threats against the life of this courageous woman”, she said.

Ms. Jahangir has served on the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group since 2002. A former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, she has been twice elected as Chairperson of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She is also a Director of the AGHS Legal Aid Cell, which provides free legal assistance to the needy. In 1998, Ms. Jahangir was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to  the Commission on Human Rights, and in 2004 she was named United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for the Human Rights Council.

She has been subject to threats and harassment throughout her career, including being placed under house arrest and later imprisoned for participating in the movement to restore political and fundamental rights under the military regime in 1983. She was again placed under house arrest in 2007 by then-president General Pervez Musharraf.  Due to her efforts to secure justice for disadvantaged groups, she has been frequently threatened by militant groups.

“This most recent threat against Asma is not only reprehensible and unacceptable, it is a challenge to the rule of law in Pakistan and a clear statement of disrespect for international human rights norms, which Asma has defended and advanced throughout her career”, said Tom Pickering, Chairman of the Board of the International Crisis Group.