AHRC TV: Pakistan Supreme Court upholds Asia Bibi acquittal and other stories in JUST ASIA, Episode 246

This week Just Asia begins with Pakistan, where the Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the acquittal of Asia Bibi on blasphemy charges. After repealing her conviction and death sentence last October, the Court was petitioned by Islamists to review the acquittal. That petition was dismissed on Tuesday, and Asia Bibi is finally free. She is expected to leave Pakistan now, where she and her family have been facing severe threats.

Next, in China, two human rights activists have been convicted and sentenced for ‘inciting state subversion’. Liu Feiyue, the founder of the prominent Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in Hubei province last Tuesday. One day earlier, human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang was given a four and a half year sentence on similar subversion charges. According to a researcher at Amnesty International, the sentences indicate “how the Chinese government abuses the judicial system to silence dissidents”.

In Thailand, the Election Commission has released strict guidelines on social media campaigning for the upcoming March 24 elections. Social media posts containing anything other than candidate and party names, pictures, biographies and policies are banned. These rules are seen as a gag to freedom of expression, and there are fears that the military junta will retain strict control over the messaging of the first election since the 2014 coup.

Next, Indian NGO Aawaj, together with the Madhya Pradesh State Police, busted a multi-state child-sale racket recently, rescuing many children who had been sold to different families. The bust exposes only the tip of India’s human trafficking problem, with children the worst victims. Children are trafficked for various reasons, including forcing them into child labour, commercial sex work, forced marriage, domestic work and forced begging.
The Government of India recently admitted to parliament that over 1,90,000 children went missing in the last three years.

Moving to Burma, the country’s UN Special Rapporteur on human rights, Yanghee Lee said that Rohingya Muslim refugees won’t be able to return home anytime soon because of threats to their safety. Lee spent 10 days in Thailand and Bangladesh, speaking to refugees, local authorities, U.N. agencies and international experts. Lee told journalists she was disturbed by reports of new violence in Rakhine state, and she accused Burma of failing to create a peaceful environment so the refugees could return from Bangladesh.

Next, Nepal has slipped two notches in the global Corruption Perception Index, from 122nd place last year, to 124th place this year. According to Transparency International’s report, Nepal has a score of 31/100. The report states that after the 2017 elections, corruption in the public sector, business and by government officials continues to destroy the country. This is particularly concerning in a country undergoing rebuilding, development and modernization.

Finally, the Urgent Appeals Weekly features one case from Nepal.

The bulletin can be watched online at www.alrc.asia/justasia and AHRC TV YouTube. We welcome both human rights feeds to be considered for weekly news bulletin, and your suggestions to improve our news channel. Please write to news@ahrc.asia. You can also watch our Weekly Roundup on Facebook.