Threat To Murder An Innocent Woman Who Has Languished On Death Row for Nine Years
Baroness Williams of Trafford, the Home Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL13272):
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the comments of Hafiz Entisha Ahmed published in the Guardian on 30 January that Asia Bibi “deserves to be murdered”; and, following the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to uphold her acquittal following nine years’ incarceration on death row, why she has not immediately been offered asylum in the UK. (HL13272)
Tabled on: 30 January 2019
Baroness Williams of Trafford:
As the Prime Minister set out on 14 November, the release of Asia Bibi will be very welcome news to her family and to all those who have campaigned in Pakistan and around the world for her release. We welcome the assurances the Government of Pakistan has given on keeping her and her family safe, and it is important that all countries seek to uphold the rule of law and afford security and protection for the rights of all citizens irrespective of faith or belief.
It is a longstanding Government policy not to comment on individual cases. In accordance with our duty of confidentiality, we cannot confirm whether an asylum claim has been received or the outcome of such a request. Departing from this policy may put individuals and their family members in danger.
We remain deeply concerned by the misuse of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, and the fact that religious minorities are disproportionately affected. The harsh penalties for blasphemy, including the death penalty, add to these concerns.
We regularly raise our human rights concerns with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level; and we have urged them to take steps to prevent the misuse of the blasphemy laws. My Foreign and Commonwealth colleague, the Minister of State for Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, discussed our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, in September 2018. We will continue to press the new Government of Pakistan to adhere to its international obligations and uphold the rule of law.
Date and time of answer: 13 Feb 2019 at 16:35.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court Upholds Their Decision To Free Asia Bibi
This is a very welcome and courageous judgement from the Supreme Court. Inevitably, it will test the Pakistan Government’s resolve in dealing with the intimidation and threats posed by Tehrik-e-Labbaik, who have threatened mass public protests. But mob rule must never be allowed to overpower the rule of law – and in ensuring due process Pakistan’s highest legal authorities deserve our greatest possible respect.
I feel huge admiration for the Supreme Court justices who, by taking this decision, have been willing to put the rule of law above every other consideration.
We cannot forget that Asia Bibi’s case is one of many, and that, by some estimates, more than 70 people are currently on death-row for alleged blasphemy crimes.
Pakistan’s remarkable founder, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, passionately believed that minorities should have a place of dignity and respect in Pakistan. It’s a principle even woven into the country’s flag. How countries treat their minorities is a crucial litmus test and Pakistan simply needs to look at its own foundation principles to see that they are failing the Jinnah-test, as minorities face discrimination and persecution.
Asia Bibi has endured hell. Imprisoned on a trumped up charge, she has spent nine years in prison, facing execution. Her two daughters have had a short childhood – one largely without their mother. Yes, this is a significant day, but we must not forget that this long overdue outcome has been paid for in blood. Two great Pakistanis – Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer – Christian and Muslim – were murdered for their advocacy on this case.
Asia Bibi has spent nine years in prison, facing execution. She now needs to be reunited with her family and given time and space to rebuild her life.
Oral Question January 30th 2019
Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
My Lords, the World Bank estimates that some 800 million people are racked by starvation, despair or living below any rational definition of human decency. The Minister is right to remind us that, as long ago as 1970, in Resolution 2626, the United Nations urged us to find this 0.7% figure. Does he agree that people expect their money to be spent well? I draw his attention to a Question that I asked him on the Order Paper today concerning discrimination and persecution in countries such as Pakistan, which is the biggest recipient of British aid—£383,000 each and every single day. Will he ensure that where British money is being spent, it will tackle the plight of minorities, particularly by preventing people from religious minorities from being subjected to discrimination, persecution and even genocide?
I am delighted to give that reassurance. This Government have been at the fore on this issue. The Prime Minister has made announcements on it and has appointed her first Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, my noble friend Lord Ahmad. We are proud of that, and we have to uphold, keep to and maintain those standards.
Lord Alton of Liverpool asked:
Question Tabled Monday 28th January 2019
What assessment they have made of the case of Pervais Masih, accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, the treatment of his family and the death of his daughter; and whether they have discussed this case with the government of Pakistan.
Whether they have discussed the case of Qaisar and Amoon Ayub with (1) the government of Thailand, and (2) the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; if so, when any such discussions took place; and if not, why not.
Question Tabled Tuesday 29th January 2019
What discussions they have had with the government of Pakistan about employment discrimination, with particular regard to advertisements published by that government which reserve low level jobs, such as street sweeping, for religious minorities; whether UK aid supports employment opportunities in the public sector closed to religious minorities; and whether they support programmes which help illiterate members of religious minorities in that country to improve their employment prospects.
Written Questions On the Order Paper January 31st 2019
What assessment they have made, if any, of the comments of Hafiz Entisha Ahmed published in the Guardian on 30 January that Asia Bibi “deserves to be murdered”; and, following the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to uphold her acquittal following nine years’ incarceration on death row, why she has not immediately been offered asylum in the UK.
why their review into the persecution of Christians does not include within its scope the effect of DfID and Home Office policies on aid and asylum.
when the full terms of reference for their review into the persecution of Christians will be published.
when it is expected that their review into the persecution of Christians will publish its findings and recommendations.