Asia Bibi Decision
The decision by the Pakistani Supreme Court to acquit Asia Bibi in her final death-row appeal of blasphemy charges is welcome.
While justice has ultimately come to pass and Ms Bibi has been granted her freedom, it is disappointing that Ms Bibi has sat on death row for almost a decade. That said, along with millions of people around the world, I warmly welcome this decision.
Throughout the world, there are still too many places where the death penalty exists and, like in Pakistan, where it is a criminal and hangable offence to worship God. The Australian Government’s strong work in advocating for the removal of the death penalty and for religious freedom around the world is very positive.
I have found it deeply troubling throughout this saga that the United Nations has been virtually silent on this case – something that ought to be in the core business of the organisation. Simply put, if the UN doesn’t stand for a persecuted minority facing death, what does it stand for?
I want to pay tribute to the Australian Christian Lobby and the British Pakistani Christian Association who have worked to bring this particular case to the attention of a number of my Parliamentary colleagues over a number of years.
I am also pleased that the Australian Government has handled this case in such a thoughtful and careful manner and appreciate the Foreign Minister, Senator Payne’s willingness to keep me informed about it.