This is to let you know that on Thursday a Pakistani Court acquitted Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, the Christian couple, who had been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy in 2014, and ordered their release from prison. The resolution stated that the evidence against the couple was ‘deeply flawed’ as, since both were ‘illiterate’, they would have been unable to send the text. It called for them to be released immediately and unconditionally, and for their death sentences – and those of all others on death row for allegedly violating the Country’s ‘draconian’ blasphemy laws – to be speedily reviewed.
This is an urgent action for a couple in prison in Faisalabad for the crime of blasphemy. They face the death penalty and have been in prison since 2014. They are Shafqat and Shagufta and further details can be found on the link below from Amnesty International. The problem is that the ‘crime’ of blasphemy is very hard to prove and is based often on hearsay. The allegation can be made as part of a feud. If you have time to respond to the action it would be appreciated. Previous actions have been successful in gaining the release of people accused of this so-called crime.
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This urgent action is on behalf of a Christian couple in Pakistan who are on death row for ‘Blasphemy’ still a crime in that country. If convicted, the death penalty is mandatory. The laws are vague and arouse considerable tensions. Allegations can be made and it is extremely difficult for the police and courts to carry out proper investigations. Angry crowds can congregate, whipped up by religious clerics and their supporters, making it extremely difficult for justice to be done. Judges are under pressure to convict or risk becoming targets themselves. Some individuals take the law into their own hands and anyone associated with the accused, including lawyers, are at risk of attack or murder.
Another problem is constant trial postponements as judges are reluctant to decide. Since defendants are denied bail, it can mean years spent in captivity. Pakistan’s Supreme Court has said that many of these accusations are false and are made for ulterior motives and to settle feuds.
This UA is on behalf of a Christian couple, Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagfur Kauser sentence to death in 2014 for allegedly sending a blasphemous text to a cleric. They have been in prison for nearly 8 years awaiting their appeal. They should not be in prison at all.
The link below gives the full details and a suggested letter which can be sent via email. Since many of our followers are in the USA (welcome!) the US embassy address to send copies is:
Embassy of Pakistan
3517 International Ct
Washington DC 20008
Or the email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope you have time to write. Thank you.
Young man at risk of execution in Nigeria for alleged blasphemy
Yahaya Sharif-Aminu (pictured), 22, a singer, is in prison in Kano, Nigeria and is at risk of execution for alleged blasphemy. This is an urgent action asking you to write to the authorities for his release.
The death sentence handed down to Yahaya Sharif-Aminu by the Upper Sharia Court in Kano state, Nigeria was widely criticized across Nigeria and also by Amnesty International after a huge outcry by several individuals and religious bodies urging the Governor of Kano state not to sign his execution warrant.
There were serious concerns about the fairness of Yahaya Sharif-Aminu’s trial and the framing of the charges against him. Before and during the trial, he was not permitted legal representation. He was granted access to legal advice to prepare an appeal after human rights lawyers and activists pressured the court to respect his right to legal representation.
In Kano state under the Sharia law, blasphemy is a criminal offence with a death penalty. The death penalty remains a legal sanction in Nigeria and continues to be imposed throughout the country. In 2019, over 54 death sentences were recorded. In total, over 2,700 people were under death sentence by the end of the year. In Nigeria, the 2004 National Study Group on Death Penalty and the 2007 Presidential Commission on the Administration of Justice both stressed that the Nigerian criminal justice system cannot guarantee a fair trial and called for a moratorium on the death penalty.
Sentence of death for singing a song
In 2008, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) adopted its second
resolution on the death penalty, calling on States Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights –
such as Nigeria – to “observe a moratorium on the execution of death sentences with a view to abolishing the
death penalty” and to ratify the ICCPR-OP2. In a study published on 19 April 2012, the Working Group on the
Death Penalty of the African Commission reaffirmed the necessity of the abolition of capital punishment and
suggested ways for its achievement.
We would be grateful if you can find time to write. There is an email address as well.
Asia Bibi leaves Pakistan for Canada a free woman
Many people were outraged at the treatment Asia Bibi received in Pakistan and have written letters in support of her. We have today (12 June 2019) heard that she has been acquitted.
Asia Bibi is a Christian farm worker, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010. After an eight-year ordeal, Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted her of all charges and released her in October 2018. Following the decision by the Supreme Court to uphold her acquittal on 29 January 2019, it was confirmed by the Pakistani Foreign Office on 9 May that she had left Pakistan and safely arrived in Canada to be reunited with her family.
We are extremely grateful to supporters who wrote appeals to not only acquit Asia Bibi but to also ensure her safe passage out of Pakistan. Her wrongful death sentence has also helped bring more nuance into the discourse around the blasphemy laws and their rampant misuse. Offered asylum in Canada, Asia Bibi can begin to live her life as a free woman.
We thank you, for standing with Asia Bibi during her ordeal. It’s a great relief that Asia Bibi and her family are safe. She should never have been imprisoned in the first place, let alone faced the death penalty. Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.
Source: Amnesty press release