South Asia

Pakistan legal fraternity protests killing of human rights lawyer

Lawyers on Thursday protested the killing of human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman who was shot dead in his office in Multan on Wednesday even as the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned the fatal attack on its Multan Task Force coordinator.

HRCP in a statement said Rehman was a committed rights activist and lawyer and had been associated with HRCP for over 20 years. On April 10, 2014, the HRCP said that it had brought to the attention of the authorities that Rehman was being openly threatened by prosecution lawyers in the Multan District Prison where he was representing a blasphemy accused.

The hearing was being held in the prison due to security concerns. The judge, it was reported, did not take any notice of threats issued to Rehman in his presence, HRCP said. Three persons had addressed Rehman in the judge’s presence and said: “You will not come to court next time because you will not exist anymore.”

HRCP said it was regrettable that no attention was paid to HRCP’s or Rehman’s concerns and nothing was done to apprehend the three persons who had threatened him. It had demanded that the three persons who had threatened Rehman be “proceeded against under the law without delay and effective measures be taken to ensure the defence lawyer’s security”.

The Commission demands that cases be immediately registered against those who had threatened Rashid and his killers be brought to justice. It would be a travesty of justice for the cause of human rights and for Rehman’s family if this plea was also ignored and meaningful action was not taken, the statement said.

Rehman had bravely decided to represent a blasphemy accused in a society where bigots believe that those accused do not have the right of defence and in his death, HRCP has lost a courageous and committed human rights defender, the statement pointed out. The forces of religious extremism, unchecked by the state, may have won a battle but not the war, the statement added.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 8:03:13 PM |

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