February 26, 2018 - Comments Off on Demands of the Civil Society: We strongly condemn behaviour of law enforcement authorities in blasphemy case

Demands of the Civil Society: We strongly condemn behaviour of law enforcement authorities in blasphemy case

Civil society strongly condemns behaviour of law enforcement authorities in blasphemy case

  1. We as civil society organisations and concerned citizens condemn in the strongest possible terms the torture and inhumane treatment of Patras Masih and Sajid Masih by the FIA in Lahore. Not only is this a complete violation of the rights of the accused enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, but seriously undermines the credibility of law enforcement agencies to protect citizens.
  2. Blasphemy allegations emerged against the accused, Patras Masih, 17 years old, in Shahdara last week. Announcements were made through mosque loudspeakers identifying the accused, alleging that he shared “blasphemous content” on social media supposedly on January 16, 2018. The Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) and other religious parties blocked the Shahdara intersection, incited violence against the family and demanded the arrest of Patras Masih. These threats have endangered the entire Christian community living in Dhir village in Shahdara Town, resulting in some fleeing their homes. An FIR was registered against Patras (FIR No. 174/18) on February 19 at the Shahdara Town Police Station under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code that carries a mandatory death sentence.
  3. The accused and his cousin, Sajid Masih, 24, were in the custody of the FIA at the Punjab Headquarters on February 23, 2018 when the incident in question occurred. In a sensitive and charged case of blasphemy, it was highly irregular and imprudent that, according to Pakistan Today, in addition to the complainants, members of the TLYR and other religious parties were also present at the FIA building at the time of the investigation.
  4. It has come to light that around 6:00 PM, Sajid fell off the fourth floor of the FIA building resulting in serious injuries to his head and body. The FIA initially denied that such an incident had taken place. However, it has come to light that Sajid and Patras were tortured by officers of the cyber crime wing and were coerced into sexually assaulting one another. Sajid, pleaded with them to stop. As a last resort, in order to escape the torture and sexual abuse, he jumped off the fourth floor of the FIA building, where the cyber crime wing is located. Sajid is currently in the hospital recovering from his injuries.
  5. We are seriously concerned regarding the treatment of marginalised groups by law enforcement agencies, specifically religious minorities. The state has a heightened duty to protect persecuted groups. Given the history of the blasphemy law being misused to target minority groups, it is egregious that the FIA completely failed to provide any security to the accused and the family. The law enforcement authorities have not only failed in their duty to protect minorities, but have actively participated in violence against them. The vulnerabilities of the accused were exploited by the law enforcement agency to sexually abuse and torture them. This is in direct violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and Pakistan’s international commitments under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).
  6. As concerned members of civil society and organisations working on digital/human rights, we urge the government to hold the concerned law enforcement officers accountable and take active measures to ensure that Patras Masih and Sajid Masih are given the necessary security given the nature of the accusations made against them.

Demands of the Civil Society:

We demand the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Human Rights, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Senate Committee on Human Rights to,

  1. Immediately WITHDRAW the FIR against Sajid Masih for attempted suicide given the fact that he was attempting to escape from the physical and psychological torture and sexual abuse being inflicted on him by state agencies. Section 325 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) is a regressive and colonial-era law that criminalises suicide, and will soon be repealed by the Criminal Laws Amendment Bill 2017.
  2. Pursuant to the right to a fair trial enshrined under Article 10A of the Constitution, the accused must not be denied any of their civil liberties and rights. Patras and Sajid’s lawyer should be granted immediate ACCESS to the accused. Attempts to withhold their right to counsel will result in a violation of fundamental rights.
  3. Security should be PROVIDED to the accused and their family in order to prevent the real and present threat of violence. Attacks against the accused and their family are common in cases of blasphemy and specifically in this case public threats have been issued, making the possibility of violence reasonably foreseeable. The accused has already been attacked outside court where he appeared for his remand hearing on February 23, 2018. Failure of the state to provide protection will constitute willful negligence on their part.
  4. A full and independent INQUIRY of this incident should be conducted to hold the concerned law enforcement authority and officials accountable. The inquiry should be comprehensive, independent and transparent. The inquiry committee should specifically investigate the FIA officials involved for abuse of power, sexual assault and torture. Any withholding of information should be dealt with seriously.
  5. Keeping Article 14 of the Constitution and Pakistan’s international commitments under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) in consideration, law enforcement agencies should be SEVERELY PENALISED for effectuating torture against the accused. Drastic measures should be in place to ensure that such incidents are not allowed to take place again.
  6. ESTABLISH checks and balances on the abuse of power by law enforcement authorities, particularly for policing powers granted under the National Action Plan, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act and terrorism-related legislation. The government is urged to REVIEW these powers and that the right balance is struck to ensure that there are protections in place for the accused.
  7. An independent Civil Society Steering Committee needs to be SET UP to review and check the performance of the National Response Center for Cyber Crime (NR3C), FIA. This committee should include members of civil society, technical experts and parliamentarians. The recommendations and concerns raised by the Committee should be taken into account when reviewing the progress of the FIA under section 53 of PECA and determinations of funding by the Ministry of Interior.
  8. Plans to incorporate provisions relating to blasphemy into the PECA need to be seriously RECONSIDERED given inability of the FIA to provide protection to the accused in such cases. Adding these provisions will effectively allow for the weaponization of blasphemy accusations without offsetting protections for the accused.
  9. Special PROTOCOLS to be issued for law enforcement when processing cases of blasphemy, ensuring the rights and security of the accused. Only specially trained law enforcement officers should be allowed to investigate these cases, with oversight with the Steering Committee.
  10. EFFORTS should be made to ensure that Investigating Officers and officials from minority groups are represented in law enforcement agencies. Quotas for women and minority groups need to be implemented with immediate effect and consistently across offices of the FIA.

Endorsed by:

  1. Alpha Human Rights Care Association
  2. Blackstone School of Law
  3. Bolo Bhi
  4. Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF)
  5. Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS)
  6. Courting The Law
  7. Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD)
  8. Democratic Students’ Alliance (DSA)
  9. Digital Rights Foundation (DRF)
  10. Dove Foundation Pakistan
  11. Ending Violence against Women and Girls Alliance (EVAWG Alliance)
  12. Freedom Network
  13. Girls at Dhabas
  14. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
  15. Institute for Peace and Secular Studies
  16. Khwendo Kor
  17. IRADA (Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development)
  18. LAAS
  19. Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD)
  20. Minorities Rights Watch
  21. National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP)
  22. Network of Journalist for Digital Rights
  23. New Emerging Development Organization (NEDO)
  24. NET
  25. Pakhtunkhwa Ullasi Tehrik
  26. Pakistan Feminist Watch
  27. Pattan
  28. Rawadari Tehreek
  29. SATH Pakistan
  30. Shirkatgah
  31. South Asian Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK)
  32. Takkra Qabailee Khwendy
  33. Tangh Development Society
  34. The ASR Resource Centre
  35. The Feminist Collective
  36. The Institute of Women’s Studies, Lahore
  37. The Voice Society
  38. Women United for Digital Rights
  39. Women’s Action Forum, Hyderabad
  40. Women’s Action Forum, Islamabad
  41. Women’s Action Forum, Karachi
  42. Women’s Action Forum, Lahore
  43. Women’s Action Forum, Peshawar
  44. A. H. Nayyar
  45. Adnan Ahmad Chaudhri
  46. Aila Fill, NCJP
  47. Akram Pervez
  48. Aleena Rashid
  49. Ali Kamran
  50. Amber Rahim Shamsi, Journalist
  51. Amna Mir
  52. Anam Lodhi, Journalist
  53. Anbreen Ajaib
  54. Angbeen Atif Mirza, Advocate High Court
  55. Arifa Mazhar
  56. Asad Jamal, Advocate High Court
  57. Asha Bedar
  58. Asher Bhatti
  59. Atiqa Shahid
  60. Ayra Inderyas
  61. Ayesha Khan
  62. Barrister Hassan Niazi, Law Clinic
  63. Bari Sarwar
  64. Bilal Hasan Minto, Advocate Supreme Court
  65. Bushra Gohar
  66. Daniyal Yousaf
  67. Dara Shikoh
  68. Diep Saeeda
  69. Dr. Parveen Ashraf
  70. Dr Riaz Assi
  71. Faheem Zafar
  72. Farida Shaheed
  73. Ferida Sher
  74. Farooq Bashir
  75. Fatima A. Athar
  76. Fatima Anwar, Lawyer
  77. Furhan Hussain
  78. Ghazala Afghan
  79. Haider Zafar
  80. Hamza Irshad
  81. Hiba Akbar, Advocate High Court
  82. Hija Kamran
  83. Hina Vahidy, Peace and Development Organisation
  84. Hira Saleem, Advocate High Court
  85. Hyra Basit
  86. Humaira Sheikh
  87. Iqbal Khattak, Freedom Network
  88. Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir
  89. Imran Nafees Siddiqui
  90. James Rehmat, Ecumenical Commission for Human Development
  91. Jannat Ali Kalyar, Barrister
  92. Jannat Fazal
  93. Jalila Haider
  94. Javed Akhtar, Support With Working Solution (SWWS)
  95. Jibran Nasir
  96. Joseph Francis
  97. Kashif Nemat, Advocate High Court
  98. Khadija S. Ubeid, Attorney at Law
  99. Khawar Mumtaz
  100. Kiran Nazish, Journalist
  101. Lala Hassan
  102. Lala Rukh Khan
  103. Luavut Zahid
  104. Lynette Viccaji
  105. Maham Ali
  106. Maliha Zia Lari, Lawyer
  107. Malik Faraz
  108. Maria Chaudhry
  109. Maria Rashid
  110. Marium Khalid, Advocate High Court
  111. Meera Ghani
  112. Mohammad Tehseen
  113. Muhammad Salman Khan, Queeristan
  114. Musirah Farrukh
  115. Nadeem Anthony
  116. Nadia Jamil
  117. Naeem Sadiq
  118. Naeema Malik
  119. Naheed Aziz
  120. Nasir David
  121. Nasir Saeed
  122. Nasreen Kazmi
  123. Naveed Fabian
  124. Nazia Rafique Paul
  125. Nazish Attaullah
  126. Nyla Ahsan
  127. Nighat Dad, digital rights activist/Advocate High Court
  128. Nighat Said Khan
  129. Nijah S. Khan
  130. Noor Ejaz Chaudhry, Lawyer
  131. Noreen Lehri
  132. Nosheen Abbas Kazmi, Journalist
  133. Omer Imran Malik, Associate; Mandviwalla and Zafar; CEO of Tahafuz Project
  134. Pastor Shahid M.Paul Christ Assemblies Church International
  135. Parveen Ashraf Hunzai
  136. Prof. Farkhanda Aurangzeb
  137. Ramis Sohail, Lawyer
  138. Riaz Anjum, Advocate High Court
  139. Roland deSouza
  140. Rubina Saigal
  141. Rukhsana Rashid
  142. Rukhshanda Naz
  143. Rukhshanda Naz, Advocate
  144. Rumana Husain
  145. Saadia Toor
  146. Sabrina Dawood
  147. Saddique John
  148. Sadia Bukhari
  149. Safdar Chaudhry
  150. Safina Javed
  151. Sajida Billy
  152. Sajjad Anwar
  153. Sana Mehmud
  154. Sana Saleem
  155. Sarah Zaman
  156. Sarwar Bari
  157. Seerat Khan
  158. Sehar Tariq
  159. Sehar Naveed
  160. Shaukat Ali
  161. Sheema Kermani, Tehreek e Niswan
  162. Shireen Aslam
  163. Shmyla Khan, Lawyer
  164. Sourayya Frick Azam
  165. Sumera Haq
  166. Sumaira Ashfaq
  167. Syed Ali Mehdi Zaidi, Teacher
  168. Syed Nadeem Ahmad
  169. Tahira Abdullah
  170. Tanzila Mazhar, Journalist
  171. Ujala Akram,
  172. Victoria deSouza
  173. Watson Gill
  174. Yousaf Benjamin
  175. Yousaf Mubark
  176. Zahra Khan, Thrive Pakistan
  177. Zehra Zaidi, Lawyer
  178. Ziauddin Yousafzai, UN Special Advisor on Global Education
  179. Zohra Yousaf
  180. Zoya Rehman, Researcher
  181. Zubeida Mustafa

Published by: Digital Rights Foundation in Blog, Press Releases

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