GUARD SHOOTS MENTALLY ILL PRISONER
Blasphemy prisoner Mohammad Asghar has been shot and wounded by a prison guard in Pakistan. He is recovering in hospital, but his lawyers fear he is still in danger of being killed.
A prison guard shot 70-year-old Mohammad Asghar in the back on 25 September in an apparent attempt to kill him. He is in a stable condition in a local hospital. The attacker has been arrested and charged with attempted murder by provincial authorities, and eight other prison guards have been suspended.
A British national of Pakistani origin, Mohammad Asghar was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in the UK in 2010, after which he moved to Pakistan. He was convicted of blasphemy in 2014 and sentenced to death. Despite his diagnosis in the UK, the Court ruled that Asghar was sane. He is now on death row at Adiala jail, in the city of Rawalpindi, Punjab province.
Present in the same prison block as Asghar at the time of the shooting was Zaffar Bhatti, a Christian pastor who has been on trial for blasphemy since 2012. Both men have denied the charges. Initial media reports wrongly suggested that Bhatti had been shot and killed in the same incident. The two men’s relatives and lawyers say they are still at serious risk of being attacked and killed. In the past 15 years, dozens of people from different religious communities, including Muslims, have been attacked and killed after being accused of blasphemy.
Blasphemy carries a potential death sentence under Pakistan law. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and for all crimes, considering it to be a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. International standards also state that the death penalty must not be imposed against people with mental illness.
Please write immediately in Urdu, English or your own language:
Calling on the authorities to ensure that the charges against Zaffar Bhatti are dropped, that the conviction of Mohammad Asghar is overturned, and that both men are released, and their safety guaranteed;
Urging them to ensure that all those responsible for the attack on Mohammad Asghar are brought to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty;
Urging them to reform or repeal the blasphemy laws, which target Muslims and religious minorities alike, as they violate the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
Calling on them to establish an immediate moratorium on all executions and commute all death sentences with a view to abolishing the death penalty, emphasising that the death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 14 NOVEMBER 2014 TO:
Prime Minister House, Pakistan
Secretariat, Constitution Avenue
Fax: +92 51 922 0404
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Chief Minister, Punjab Province
Mian Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif
Chief Minister’s Office
7, Club Road, GOR I Lahore, Pakistan Fax: +92 42 992 04301
Salutation: Dear Chief Minister
And copies to:
Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights
Room 305, S Block, Pakistan Secretariat Islamabad, Pakistan
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 second update of UA 23/14. Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA33/004/2014/en