Asia Bibi death sentence upheld: MEPs call for statement by Baroness Ashton
Following news that the Pakistani High Court in Lahore has upheld the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian charged with blasphemy, ECR Human Rights spokesman Mark Demesmaeker and Dutch MEPs Peter Van Dalen and Bas Belder have demanded an urgent statement by the EU’s High Representative next week.
Asia Bibi has spent five years on death row accused of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad, a charge which Ms Bibi denies claiming that the allegations stem from an argument with a group of women over a pot of water. Her case has moved upward through the Pakistani legal system slowly but yesterday the High Court rejected her appeal. Ms Bibi’s lawyers, who have received funding from the EU, have vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court.
Mark Demesmaeker, Peter Van Dalen and Bas Belder will demand a statement by Baroness Ashton next week in Strasbourg, where they will press her to reinforce the EU’s objection to this on-going miscarriage of justice.
Mark Demesmaeker said:
“Pakistan’s blasphemy laws fall completely short of modern standards, causing many innocent people to be sentenced to death, often accused by others seeking to settle old scores.
“Asia Bibi has spent five years in a cell on death row, away from her family. It is time that this serious injustice is brought to an end and Asia Bibi released.
“We demand Baroness Ashton make an urgent statement next week clarifying the EU’s resolve in supporting Asia Bibi as she seeks justice.”
Peter Van Dalen said:
“The EU must reinforce that it finds this case, and the Pakistani blasphemy law, to be inhuman and unjust. The Pakistani Courts have repeatedly prevaricated and upheld what is clearly an unjust ruling, but now the Supreme Court must step in and end Asia Bibi’s suffering.
“I have worked closely with the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement in Pakistan, which has supported Asia Bibi through the courts. CLAAS has received support from the EU as it fights for Asia Bibi’s acquittal. Baroness Ashton must reaffirm the EU’s support for Asia’s rights and demand Pakistan’s courts stop postponing hearings and making cowardly decisions, and finally stand up for what is right.”
Bas Belder said:
“Unfortunately the Pakistani judges bowed to pressure from the Islamists and didn’t acquit this brave and innocent woman out of fear for their own lives. It shows that the Pakistani blasphemy laws have become a deadly trap for innocent people”