Responding to the reports that Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman freed from death row in 2018, has left Pakistan and arrived in Canada, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director Omar Waraich said:
“If the news is true, it’s a great relief that Asia Bibi and her family are safe. She should never have been imprisoned in the first place, let alone faced the death penalty. That she then had to endure the repeated threats to her life, even after being acquitted, only compounds the injustice. This case illustrates the dangers of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the urgent need to repeal them.”
Asia Bibi is a Christian farm worker, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010. After an eight year ordeal, Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted her of all charges and released her in October 2018. Following which Pakistan’s government insisted the Supreme Court to hear a “review petition” in her case. On 29 January 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed the review petition and upheld its acquittal. Asia Bibi received repeated death threats from religious extremists in Pakistan, following the Supreme Courts orders.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are broad, vague and coercive. They have disproportionately targeted religious minorities, including in false cases brought forward to pursue personal vendettas.