by the European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief on the case of Asia Bibi (Pakistan)
European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief (EPWG on FoRB) co-Presidents Peter van Dalen and Dennis de Jong issued the following statement today:
« We welcome the decision by the High Court in Lahore to process the appeal to her death sentence from Asia Bibi (Asia Noreen).
« We take note of the two hearings that have been organized in the Lahore High Court and regret that the responsible judges were on leave on both occasions. We trust that the responsible judges will be present for the third hearing, which is soon to be organized.
« We call on all those involved in the case to show courage and to not give in to any external pressure or threat. We call on the Pakistani government to safeguard the independence and the proper functioning of the Lahore High Court. Furthermore we urge the Pakistani authorities to provide sufficient protection to all those involved in the case, now and following a possible future court decision.
« The EPWG on FoRB will continue to closely monitor this case as well as other cases involving the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. »
In its 2013 report the EPWG on FoRB commented that Pakistan must ‘reform the way the country deals with the blasphemy laws and its frequent abuse, with a view to a future repeal of the most dangerous sections including Article 295 (B) and 295 (C) of the Pakistani Penal Code.’