A gifted scholar was arrested for Blasphemy in Pakistan and spent six years in jail awaiting trial. His first attorney was threatened in open court by the prosecutor, saying he would not live for the next hearing. Shortly, thereafter, an assassin entered his office and killed him. Following the murder, getting a new attorney to take the case was difficult, and getting a judge to hear the case was also difficult. Hearing after hearing was postponed and moved to other judges. Finally, on December 16 (six years after his arrest) Hafeez’ case was heard and the verdict was handed down on December 18, 2019. He was sentenced to death. CCS has written to the authorities in the Pakistani government, as well as, the U.S. government requesting the verdict and charges be dismissed with Hafeez being released and his safe assured.
December 27, 2019 The Honorable Imran Khan Prime Minister Office of the Prime Minister Islamic Republic of Pakistan Islamabad, Pakistan Your Excellency: The Committee of Concerned Scientists (“CCS”) is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. For almost 50 years CCS has been helping persecuted scholars overcome injustice and return to their academic work. At this time, CCS is writing out of grave concern for Junaid Hafeez, a former lecturer and MPhil candidate in the English Literature Department of Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan. He was held in pre-trial detention for over six years charged with “Blasphemy.” His trial was rescheduled over and over for the past six years. His attorney was murdered after being threatened in court by the prosecutor and his trial has been moved from one judge to another (seemingly that everyone was too frightened to rule honestly on this case so they continually moved it to another civil servant). Additionally, the prosecutor would continue to modify the case requiring papers to be filed anew. Mr. Hafeez went to court on December 19, 2019 and the verdict was finally rendered on December 21st – the sentence called for his execution. This sentence and this charge violate all of Pakistan’s domestic and international legal obligations relating to due process, fair trial and the humane treatment of prisoners, including under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which Pakistan is a signatory. We, therefore, implore you, at this time, to intervene, and ensure that Mr. Hafeez’s verdict is overturned, his case is dismissed, he is released and his safety ensured. This is a most serious situation for which we are certain you will comply with the agreements that Pakistan has signed regarding freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, the right to due process and related rights for those accused. We would appreciate your speedy response to this most egregious situation. Sincerely,
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Cc: The Honorable Justice Asif Saeed Khosa Chief Justice of Pakistan 58 D, Sir Syed Road Gulberg – III Lahore, Pakistan Mohammad Usman Buzdar Chief Minister Government of Punjab Province’ Chief Minister Secretariat’ 5-Club Road GOR-I Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan Mr. Ehtisham Qadir Office of the Prosecutor General, Punjab Kasuri Tower, 4-Fane Road Opposite Punjab Bar Council Lahore, Pakistan Arif Alvi President of Pakistan President’s Secretariat Islamabad, Pakistan Shireen Mazari Federal Minister for Human Rights Ministry of Human Rights State Life Building No. 5, Blue Area Jinnah Avenue, China Chowk Islamabad, Pakistan The Honorable Michelle Bachelet UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Palais des Nations CH-1211, Geneva 10, Switzerland Dr. Ahmed Shaheed Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights United Nations at Geneva 8-14 avenue de la Paix CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland The Honorable Mike Pompeo US Secretary of State Department of State 2201 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20520 United States of America