Death of Blasphemy Case Lawyer in Pakistan

We join with our partners in Pakistan in deploring the murder of a lawyer from Multan. Rashid Rehman was working on a case in which a professor from Multan University had been accused of blasphemy by some colleagues; he had been threatened, even in the court room, simply because he had taken on the case and was finally murdered in his office.

Our partner organisation (CLAAS) is in touch with the family of the accused man and deeply concerned at the level of hostility to defence lawyers in this and other blasphemy cases.

We extend our condolences to the family of Mr Rehman and invite the Methodist people to read further, to remember Pakistan in their prayers and to consider making their views known to the British Government and Pakistan's High Commissioner in London at 34-36, Lowndes Square, London SW1X 9JN.

Press Statement from CLAAS

Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is deeply grieved at the killing of Rashid Rehman, a rights defender and a practicing lawyer in Multan who has been killed brutally in his chamber in Multan.

Rashid Rehman was also Task Force coordinator, of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan as he was in committed and associated with HRCP for over twenty years.

Mr. Rehman was dealing with a blasphemy case as a defense lawyer of Junaid Hafeez a professor of Bahawaldin Zakria University Multan who false accused of blasphemy by his coworkers. Therefore Rashid Rehman was facing serious threats by the Islamic organizations who warned the lawyers of the Multan Bar Association that no one can defend Junaid Hafeed otherwise he would be killed.

Mr. Rashid Rehman was also threatened by the opponent lawyers during the court hearing in the court room in the presence of the judge. The Islamic groups has have been threatened him time to time and we remember that on 10 April, HRCP issued a statement, to bring the matter in the attention of the authorities that Rashid was being openly threatened by prosecution lawyers in the Multan District Prison while representing Junaid Hafeez.

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

Mr. Rashid Rehman personally gave an application to the Multan Bar association and the local police authorities and demanded security for his protection which was ignored.

It is regrettable that no attention was paid to Rashid's concerns and nothing was done for his life protection. CLAAS demands the meaningful action of the government and the immediate arrest of the lawyers who threatened him openly in the court and also a strict action should be taken against the police authorities in Multan for their negligence as it would be unjust to Rashid Rehman and his family if the accused remained free to kill another Rashid Rehman. 

CLAAS also strongly demands the immediate security of all Human Rights defenders and defense lawyers.

Joseph Francis, International Director, Centre for Legal Aid
Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS)

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