Lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill has stated that the administration of the Lahore High Court (where Asia Bibi should start her appeal process) has received “orders not to schedule hearings for the moment and we do not know for how much longer.” This follows the sudden disappearance of her case from the docket on May 27, 2014, which was to be her fifth appeal attempt.
Asia Bibi has been imprisoned since 2009, in Pakistan, waiting for her appeal to be considered. She was convicted of blasphemy in a highly suspect trial, with no clear evidence to support the charges. She will be the first Christian woman to be executed under the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Asia Bibi’s last hope is in her appeal and, due to militant Muslims putting heavy pressure on the courts, that appeal has yet to be heard.
Asia’s lawyers are looking for a legal way to force the case to be heard. They are also looking into the possibility of asking for an official clarification to the President of the High Court. This is a formal process that ensures justice is done.
There are two avenues that the lawyers are considering. The first is to appeal to Section 561 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This article gives special powers to a court in order to prevent injustices or abuses committed by other courts. This avenue would allow the court to continue with the appeals process.
The second is in Article 426. This article allows for a suspension of the sentence and the release of the convicted person on bail. It does not overturn a conviction or nullify the sentence. It simply allows the convicted person to be out of prison while awaiting their appellate decision.
This second avenue would allow Asia Bibi to leave jail and hopefully return to her husband and children. Her family currently has to travel five hours one-way to visit with her in the prison. This is in addition to watching out for their own safety, as they have become targets of militant Muslims.
Asia Bibi is facing extreme difficulty in appealing her situation. Not only is the court delaying her appeals and taking her case of the dockets, but her two biggest advocates in the political arena were murdered for their support of her. Despite all this, her supporters are resolved to get her freedom.
“We will do everything in our power so that justice is done,” said her lawyers.
Show your support for Asia Bibi by signing a petition for her release at www.callformercy.com.
Go to Laura Murray’s Blog for updates and more in-depth information.