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PAKISTAN: ARBITRARY DETENTION OF AHMADI MUSLIM MALIK ZAHEER AHMAD

The International League Against Arbitrary Detention urges the Government of Pakistan to take all the necessary actions to implement the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion No. 7/2023 concerning Malik Zaheer Ahmad (Pakistan) starting for the Government of Pakistan to immediately and unconditionally release M. Ahmad and to accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations in accordance with international law.


Read the full WGAD Opinion concerning Malik Zaheer Ahmad (Pakistan): Opinion 7/2023


DEPRIVED OF HIS LIBERTY SOLELY BECAUSE OF HIS RELIGIOUS FAITH


Mr. Ahmad is an Ahmadi Muslim. The Working Group noted at the outset that the situation of Ahmadi Muslims remains under close attention by United Nations entities and recalled that it has already found arbitrary the deprivation of liberty of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan merely for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of religion and conscience. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was founded in 1889 and its adherents consider themselves Muslim, but the Constitution of Pakistan declares Ahmadi Muslims to be non-Muslim, and the Penal Code contains anti-Ahmadi and blasphemy provisions that prohibit Ahmadis from manifesting any aspect of their faith as Muslims.


In the present case, two proceedings have been initiated against Mr. Ahmad. The first case involves allegations of possession of Ahmadi books prohibited under the anti-blasphemy laws of Pakistan. The second case involves previous charges, together with an accusation of directing two other Ahmadis to share Ahmadi books on an all-Ahmadi WhatsApp group in 2019.


Mr. Ahmad has been held in pretrial detention for more than two and half years, and a trial is not yet scheduled, which led the Working Group to conclude that the continued pretrial detention of Mr. Ahmad lacks legal basis, is arbitrary and falls under category I. More, the Working Group found that Mr. Ahmad was deprived of his liberty as a result of the exercise of his rights to freedom of expression, freedom of religion and conscience and peaceful assembly under articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 18, 19 and 22 of the Covenant and is arbitrary under category II.


A DISCRIMINATORY PATTERN OF PERSECUTION AGAINST AHMADI MUSLIMS IN PAKISTAN


The Working Group has previously concluded that Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan are persecuted and deprived of their freedom merely for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of religion and conscience.


In this case, the Working Group found that Mr. Ahmad was also deprived of his liberty on discriminatory grounds, based on his religious faith and opinions. His detention violates articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 26 of the Covenant and articles 1–4 of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. It is therefore arbitrary, falling within category V.


CONCLUSIONS OF THE UN WORKING GROUP AGAINST ARBITRARY DETENTION


In light of the foregoing, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that the detention of Malik Zaheer Ahmad (Pakistan) was arbitrary and fell under categories I, II and V because the deprivation of liberty of M. Ahmad was in contravention of articles 2, 7, 9, 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9, 18, 19, 22 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended that the Government of Pakistan take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of M. Ahmad without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, starting with his immediate release and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.

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