The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute(IBAHRI) expresses grave concern over the alleged plot to assassinate Ms Asma Jilani Jahangir, a lawyer in Pakistan and prominent defender of human rights.
Sternford Moyo, Co-Chair of the IBAHRI said, ‘The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute urges Pakistan’s authorities to immediately, thoroughly and transparently investigate the matter of a suspected plot to end the life of Asma Jilani Jahangir. Given the seriousness of the allegations, which, if proven, constitute a gross abrogation of the rule of law, and a breach of Pakistan’s human rights obligations, we also strongly recommend that the findings be made public.’
Ms Jahangir has been an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s military policies particularly in insurgency-hit areas. In connection with her efforts to achieve justice for disadvantaged groups she has previously been subject to threats and harassment. However, recently, Ms Jahangir, a former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, told reporters at a press conference that she had been warned by a ‘highly credible source’ that her life was at risk. Ms Jahangir spoke of ‘more than mere death threats’ but a ‘straightforward plan’ to kill her. Ms Jahangir alleged the plot was being planned by the highest levels of the security establishment in Pakistan.
Ms Jahangir was a leading figure in the campaign against the Hudood Ordinances; a set of laws introduced into Pakistan in 1979, incorporating those offences for which the Qur’an prescribed fixed punishments into the criminal law including adultery and most controversially rape, where the burden of proof had not been met. Ms Jahangir has also been a frequent rights defender in cases of discrimination against minorities, women and children and is recognised as founding the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Ms Jahangir has also held a number of high-profile international positions including United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Execution (1998) and United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (2004).
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