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20 January 2018

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02/02/2010 PAKISTAN

Activists warn, the murder of a 12-year-old Christian girl could go unpunished

The murder of young domestic worker, raped and murdered by her employer, is marred by delays and red tape. The murderer, a rich lawyer from Lahore, is getting a VIP treatment from police. Catholics and members of human rights groups have come out in support of the family and are suing the culprit.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Catholic leaders and Pakistani human rights activists are alarmed that the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl, Shazia Bashir, on 23 January might go unpunished. The main suspect is a rich and powerful Muslim lawyer from Lahore, Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem, who was employing the girl as a domestic. The city’s bar association has sided with the suspect, a former president of the association, who is being treated as a VIP whilst in custody. Prosecutors meanwhile have delayed filing charges.

Shazia’s family said they had no confidence in the committee set up by Punjab’s chief minister Shahbaz Sharif because of its delaying tactics. Some of her relatives and a number of human rights activists have staged a protest in front of the Lahore Press Club and have decided to sue.

Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church of Pakistan, told AsiaNews that the government is ill equipped when it comes to punishing the powerful and defending the rights of the poorest sections of society.

Along with members of human rights groups, the Catholic activist wants to continue the “struggle for justice” and have Shazia’s murderer pay for his crime.

On 29 January, a judge extended Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem’s remand in custody for another six days. Police has also deployed massive security around him. His lawyers also got a court order banning media from the courtroom. Outside the courthouse (pictured), Shazia’s family and supporters shouted protest slogans.

Meanwhile, two Christian organisations, the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) and the Pakistan Masihi League (PML), have appealed to the chief justice of the Supreme Court to do something about the culprit.

PML President Salamat Akhtar said that the girl’s death certificate was tampered with. He has also accused the police of treating the suspect as a “guest of the state” with all sorts of special privileges.

He also said that, whilst Lahore Bar Association “may defend their friend in court”, they cannot make “unlawful and unethical threats against the girl’s family” without “damaging or destroying justice” itself.

In a statement jointly signed by NCJP President Mgr John Saldanha, and Peter Jacob, Shazia’s murder is described “as not an isolated incident” because domestic workers are often “the victims of violence and coercion by their employers.”

Because the federal and provincial governments are unable to “ensure justice,” the cabinet must ban child labour and “guarantee speedy trials”.






See also

04/02/2005 PAKISTAN
New cases of violence and torture against Pakistani Christians
Instead of investigating, local authorities engage in cover-ups. In some cases, international organisations ignore the plight of Christians.

15/09/2009 PAKISTAN
Punjab: young Christian man accused of blasphemy killed in prison
Fanish, 20, was arrested last Saturday. His death was “judicial murder” according to human rights activist. The day before a Muslim mob attacked members of the dead man’s Christian community, setting fire to their church. Pakistani extremists are funded by Saudi “charities.”

17/09/2009 PAKISTAN
Collusion between police and extremists cause of deaths in judicial custody, Pakistani NGO says
A human rights group expresses concern over “increasing incidents of violence” against religious minorities. Fanatics enjoy impunity thanks to complicitous prison guards. The government is blamed for not prosecuting people responsible for such crimes. Police has not yet registered a first information report on the murder of a 20-year-old Christian man in Sialkot prison.

12/09/2009 PAKISTAN
Punjab, Muslim extremists burn church over alleged blasphemy case
The call to hunt Christians launched at local mosque after the Friday prayers. The mob stormed and set fire to the church, ransacked two houses. Muslims accuse a young Christian had desecrated the Koran. In reality the young man is involved with a Muslim girl.

16/02/2010 PAKISTAN
Christians outraged in Lahore over release of young domestic worker’s murderer
Angry protests receive judge’s decision to release Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem, charged with the murder of Shazia Bashir. Police, doctors and prosecutors are accused of complicity with the accused. The silence of political and legal authorities is deafening to many on Facebook.


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