Killing of human rights lawyer Rehman in Pakistan leads to low level response

May 17, 2014

The recent killing of the lawyer Rashid Rehman (or Rahman) in a case of blasphemy in Pakistan has created a lot of media attention. This report from the local newspaper The News International of 17 May throws an interesting light on the follow up within the police and alleges that two lower level policemen have been made the scapegoats:

“Police bosses have held their subordinates responsible for their incompetence and negligence in the murder of human rights activist Rashid Rahman. The Multan CPO has transferred Chyllyak SHO Ghulam Abbas and Shah Shamas SHO Akbar Kamboh for their negligence in providing security to Rashid Rahman. On the other hand, a senior police official has contradicted receiving any sort of application from Rashid Rahman for security protection. The official said the government could not provide security to each citizen on demand. The government only provides security to the accused and complainant in all cases, including in blasphemy cases, instead of providing security to counsels. Rashid Rehman was gunned down in his chamber on May 7 evening just a month after he had been threatened by the prosecution during a court hearing. No progress could be made on his murder after eight days of the high profile assassination, which had been condemned across the world. The UN and the US have urged the government to ensure the arrest of killers. Sources in the CPO office disclosed that the route of providing security shelter passed through the SSP Operations. “When someone seeks security, he submits his request to the CPO office who forwards it to the SSP Operation for looking into the matter whether the applicant is deserved for security or not,” they added. They said the HRCP Task Force had informed the Multan CPO office on receiving life threats. The CPO office directed Cantonment SP Mehmoodul Hassan to ensure security to Rashid Rehman. The SP asked Shah Shamas SHO Akram Kamboh to ensure security in jail while Chyllyak SHO Ghulam Abbas was directed to ensure security in his chamber at District Courts. They said that both the SHOs had been suspended in this regard. On the other hand, the Punjab IGP office had directed the Multan CPO to ensure security for Rashid Rahman at any cost on the report submitted by Punjab Special Branch on April 21. However, the CPO office did not comply with the IGP office order and assigned a task to SSP Operation to provide security to rights activist. The sources said that the senior officers had suspended two SHOs to save their skin. CPO Sultan Ahmed Chaudhry was repeatedly contacted on Friday, but his gunman Abdur Razaaq promised every time to ring back, but to no avail. Multan SSP Operations Shaukat Abbas, however, denied that the application was sent to the police by the slain for security. “The government does not provide security to everyone in blasphemy cases. The government only provides security to the complainant and the accused,” he said. The government cannot provide security to the defence counsel even in blasphemy cases, he added. Meanwhile, human rights activists criticised the police for adopting dual standards. The police did not provide security to Rashid Rahman despite his application, but security was provided to a Muhammad Latif Ansar Sial alias Prof Lajpal. He is not an academician but always shows himself as professor. Lajpal had contested in all general elections or local bodies held in the past. He participated in the 2013 elections from NA-151 and PP-198, securing only 59 and 9 votes as an independent candidate. He contested the 2008 elections from NA-151 and secured 183 votes. Rights activists observed police were not taking one of the valuable assassinations seriously and using delaying tactics. The United Nations declared it a cold-blooded murder and strongly condemned it on May 9, right after the second assassination. They urged the government to ensure prompt investigation into the matter so that lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists could work without any fear. The spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville in Geneva said the murder of Rashid Rahman had “brought into stark focus the climate of intimidation and threats that permeates the work of human rights defenders and journalists in the country.“ The UN had urged the government last month to investigate the threats and ensure security for Rehman. “We condemn the killing of Rehman and urge the government to ensure a prompt investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the UN spokesman said.

via MULTAN City News – thenews.com.pk.

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