South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders vehemently condemns the murder of Tahir Ahmad, an Ahmadi man accused of blasphemy, in a courtroom in Peshawar, Pakistan on 29 July 2020.
Ahmad, reportedly a person with intellectual disabilities, was shot six times during a hearing of his case at the District Courts in Peshawar. He was facing charges of having “defiling the sacred name of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)”, and if convicted would have faced the death penalty. This extra-judicial killing is a direct violation of the fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 9 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Hundreds have been arrested over blasphemy allegations in Pakistan, most of them members of religious minorities. The death penalty is mandatory for blasphemy, and many remain on death row. Religious minorities are disproportionately affected by blasphemy laws, although more Muslims are prosecuted than any other group. Civil society and the international community have continuously called for the repeal of blasphemy laws in Pakistan with successive governments not taking any action to date.
SAHR believes that all suspects have a right to a fair trial and the law enforcement authorities should take necessary steps to provide security to all persons while conducting due process diligently, honestly and expeditiously.
SAHR reiterates its call to the government of Pakistan to immediately repeal the draconian blasphemy laws targeting religious minorities and urges the relevant authorities to conduct a prompt impartial and independent inquiry into the murder of Tahir Ahmad and bring the perpetrators to justice.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights,
Featured Image: AFP