fears for the health of elderly detainee
Masud Ahmad has returned to the UK after being released on bail in Pakistan. Mohammad Asghar remains in detention. His lawyers fear for his health.
In November 2012, 72-year-old Masud Ahmad, a member of the Ahmaddiya religious community, was imprisoned in City District Jail in Lahore for reciting a passage from the Qu’ran, a prohibited act for Ahmadis under the country’s blasphemy laws. He recently returned to the UK after being released on bail in Pakistan.
Mohammad Asghar, 69, was arrested under the blasphemy laws in 2010 and sentenced to death in January 2014, after allegedly writing letters claiming he was a prophet. Mohammad Asghar’s lawyers maintain it was never established that he posted or even intended to post the letters. Mohammad Asghar remains in Adiala jail, Rawalpindi, and is not receiving adequate medical care. He is physically and mentally frail and his lawyers are seeking permission from the authorities to have a psychiatrist examine and evaluate him in the prison so he can receive appropriate treatment. Mohammad Asghar suffered a stroke in 2000 and was later diagnosed by an expert in Scotland as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia; he attempted suicide in 2010. His appeal has been filed in the Lahore High Court but his lawyers fear that it could take up to five years to be heard.
Some forms of blasphemy are punishable by death under Pakistani law, even though as a general rule international human rights law does not permit punishing blasphemy as a crime. It therefore cannot meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty can be imposed under international law. International standards also state that the death penalty should not be imposed against people with mental illness.
Please write immediately in English or your own language calling on the Pakistani authorities to:
Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Mohammad Asghar and Masud Ahmad;
Ensure Mohammad Asghar has immediate access to adequate and appropriate medical and/or psychiatric treatment and to provide his lawyers with all medical records made during his detention;
Guarantee the safety of Mohammad Asghar and his family, expressing concern that several individuals have been attacked and some have even been killed following charges of blasphemy;
Express concern that the blasphemy laws violate the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, are used maliciously to settle personal disputes, and target Muslims and religious minorities alike, and urging the government to amend or abolish the blasphemy laws to prevent this;
Respect international law and standards on the use of the death penalty, including the prohibition on the execution of persons with mental illness, and to commute all death sentences.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 30 APRIL 2014 TO:
Minister for Interior
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan
Room 404, 4th Floor, R Block
Fax: +92 51 920 2624
Salutation: Dear Minister Khan
Chief Minister, Punjab
Mian Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif
Chief Minister’s Office
7, Club Road, GOR I
Fax: +92 42 9920 3310
Salutation: Dear Chief Minister Sharif
And copies to:
Minister of Law, Justice and Human
Room 305, S Block, Pakistan Secretariat
Fax: +92 51 921 0062
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the first update of 23/14. Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA33/002/2014/en