Nabeel Masih, Pakistan’s youngest ever blasphemy victims who was convicted at only 16 years of age and spent 4 years in prison until released on bail last month (click here), was almost rearrested by Pakistani police, due poor administration by Pakistani Courts.
The young man who is still coming to terms with the constant death threats he receives since his release and the tangible danger to his life, has been at his wits end after the poor court management made him and his bail guarantor a friend of BACA fugitives on a most wanted list.
The bizarre circumstance occurred after a court hearing at Kasur Court on 30th March during which it was ordered that Nabeel Masih’s case should be moved from Kasur District Court to Pattoki District Court (click here).
The move of courts raised many safety concerns for Nabeel and his family as it is placed within the community that the family have had to flee after the false blasphemy allegations were laid against Nabeel Masih.
When BACA counsel for Nabeel Masih was not informed of the date for the next hearing despite a call to both courts, it was agreed that our Operations Manager would visit Pattoki court on 31st March to uncover the next hearing date. When our officer arrived at the court he was given a date in mid-April for the next hearing and was not advised of any missed hearing.
The next day (1st April), however, our Solicitor called and confirmed that a warrant for the arrest of Nabeel Masih and his brave bail guarantor had been issued – this was not an April Fools prank!
Both men spent several restless nights and anxious days until our solicitor was able to attend court with Nabeel Masih on 9th April and submit an appeal for the quashing of the arrest warrants.
By God’s grace First Class Magistrate Shamroze Iftikhar accepted the appeal and dismissed the warrants.
But the sigh of relief was only fleeting as both men had to wait a further day for the order to reach District Police Office Kasur.
On 10th April Advocate Naseeb Anjum and Nabeel Masih attended court again and have resubmitted a petition for the court hearings to be moved to a court further away from Pattoki District Court and for the permitted absence of Nabeel Masih from hearings.
Our argument has been simple, we have expressed palpable fears for the safety of Nabeel Masih and improved fairness within the court process by avoidance of coercion.
On the same date an application for improved security for Nabeel Masih and his family has been submitted to the Superintendent of Police at Kasur District Police Office.
We have called for an immediate risk assessment of the threat to their lives and for a police protection plan to be put in place.
So far despite our attempts to galvanise police support – little help has been provided.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“Despite clear risk to the life of Nabeel and his family, Pakistani authorities have ignored their plight.
“Their failure to provide any protection reeks of prejudice and religious zeal.
“District courts are notoriously poor at giving justice for Christian blasphemy victims and judges are prone to threats and religious bias.
“We urge people of good conscience across the globe, to urge their politicians and parliamentarians to intervene on behalf of Nabeel Masih and his family by seeking more engagement with the Pakistani Government.”
BACA is providing full legal counsel to help Nabeel attain a full acquittal, a safe house, burgeoning security costs and more general costs for living and for travel to court for Nabeel Masih and his family. We are also about to buy bullet/slash-proof vests for Nabeel and our accompanying officer for their safety. If you feel moved to help please donate by clicking (here).