THIS is in apropos of the four Ahmadi children arrested in Layyah district on Jan 28 under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code. These children remain in the police custody at this time. Although the Ahmadiyya Muslim community has sent representatives to meet the police, it is not clear if and when the bail will be granted.

These children are being kept in unacceptable and inhumane conditions and are totally innocent and the charges against them are false.

Mr President, Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code deals with the laws that have been used by Pakistan to institutionalise the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims for decades.

Under this law any defendant found guilty of a breach faces either death or life imprisonment.

The Asian Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have condemned these arrests. It is also worth mentioning that Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and is in prima facie breach of at least Articles 14 and 37. Article 14 relates to `Freedom of Religion` whilst Article 37 relates to punishments for crimes.

Mr President, this is a matter of grave urgency and I ask you to use your good offices to ask the government of Pakistan to immediately release the Ahmadi children and to repeal the blasphemy laws that continue to be used to persecute the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan.

KHALIDA MAHMOOD
Via email

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