UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR RELEASED FROM HOUSE ARREST ON FRIDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2007:
The office of Ms Asma Jahangir, based at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva has been glad to confirm that the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief was released on Friday morning 16 November, after nearly 2 weeks of house arrest. During this time her residence was encircled and filled with police.
As chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Ms Jahangir had a 90 day preventive detention order served on her late on Saturday 3 November. (You can read a copy of this below).
UN spokesman Jose-Luis Diaz told journalists in Geneva on Friday 16 November “we are very happy” about her release. In preceding days, both UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour appealed for her freedom.
On 8 November, the Foreign Secretary and Lord Malloch-Brown met with Ms Jahangir's sister -Ms Hina Jilani, the UN Special Representative of the
UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders, to be briefed on the situation.
Ms Jilani -the sister of Ms Jahangir faced similar immediate arrest and a 90 day detention if she returned to Pakistan.
In Mr Diaz's press briefing on 16 November, he went on to call for the immediate release of all “human rights defenders and others who have been imprisoned or detained for the peaceful expression of beliefs or exercising their activities” within Pakistan.
The release of Ms Jahangir, and twice serving former Prime Minister Ms Benazir Bhutto, coincided with the arrival of US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.
Both he and the British High Commission in Islamabad have been calling for the release of the thousands of lawyers, politicians, and human rights activists who remain in detention, and raising concerns about their welfare and safety.
Please go on lobbying on behalf of figures who do not enjoy such a high international profile as Ms Jahangir. On Sunday 4 November, police raided, for example, the offices of the HRCP in Lahore and arrested 55 of its members, including Ms Jahangir's colleagues, Secretary General Syed Igbal Haider and Executive Director I.A. Rehman.
Back to Index