For Immediate Release
UK Must Secure Return of Mentally Ill Briton Shot by Pakistani Prison Officer
LONDON - A 70-year-old British man from Edinburgh is in critical condition after being shot in a Pakistani prison by a police officer or prison guard earlier today.
Mohammad Asghar, who suffers from severe mental illness, was being held in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, after receiving a death sentence under Pakistan’s blasphemy law in January this year.
Judges had refused to consider clear evidence of his illness, even though he had been sectioned under the mental health act in Edinburgh shortly before travelling to Pakistan. Mr Asghar filed an appeal in the Lahore High Court in February this year against his sentence, but it has yet to be heard – appeals can take up to five years before they reach the court.
The attack took place this morning, at around 0830 local time, within Adiala Jail. Mr Asghar is now receiving treatment in hospital, where he is said to be in critical condition, but legal charity Reprieve – which is assisting him – remains deeply concerned about his security.
Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve said: “This appalling attack shows that the only way to ensure Mr Asghar’s safety is to have him returned home to Britain. The UK Government must redouble their efforts on this front – and as a first step, must urgently ensure that he is moved today to a safe location in Pakistan, until he is well enough to travel. Mr Asghar is a vulnerable, seventy-year old man suffering from severe mental illness – a fact which has been consistently ignored by the Pakistani courts during his four year ordeal. David Cameron said he was ‘deeply concerned’ about his case earlier this year – but now we must see concrete action to ensure his safety.”
Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.