Saturday, December 04, 2010

Pakistan: Allow Pardon for Blasphemy Victim

High Court Overreaches in Barring Presidential Pardon
Human Rights Watch, December 2, 2010

Protesters demand the release of Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, at a rally in Karachi on November 25, 2010.
© 2010 Reuters
The Lahore high court has overstepped its constitutional authority by preventing President Zardari from pardoning Aasia Bibi, who was unjustly convicted under a discriminatory law.
Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – A Pakistani court’s order to bar President Asif Ali Zardari from pardoning a woman sentenced to death for blasphemy contravenes Pakistan’s constitution and should be withdrawn immediately, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Lahore High Court in Punjab province issued an order on November 29, 2010, barring Zardari from exercising his constitutional authority to pardon Aasia Bibi, an illiterate farmhand who had been convicted by the Sheikhupura District Court of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Zardari had ordered a review of the case in mid-November, after domestic and international outrage over the sentence. A ministerial inquiry concluded on November 25 that the district court verdict was legally unsound.
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