Thursday 04 June 2020

Dutch offer Asia Bibi’s lawyer shelter under human rights programme

Photo: Stichting HVC

The Netherlands has offered Saif ul-Malook, the lawyer of Pakistani woman Asia Bibi who has been cleared of blasphemy charges, temporary refuge in the Netherlands.

Ul-Malook can stay in the country under the Shelter City programme, which offers help to human rights activists who are in danger in their own countries, foreign minister Stef Blok said on Twitter.

‘The situation of Asia Bibi has our full attention,’ Blok said.

A spokesman for the foreign affairs ministry stressed that Ul-Malook had not applied for asylum, but permission to stay for three months. It is up to him whether or not to accept the offer, the spokesman said.

Ul-Mulook arrived in Amsterdam on Monday and told a news conference later that he hopes the Netherlands will ‘invite him’ to stay. He was helped to reach the Netherlands by Dutch charity Stichting Hulp Vervolgde Christenen (HVC), which has also helped to finance Bibi’s legal defence.

Ul-Mulook said he feared for his life in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad, because of a lack of evidence. She had spent eight years on death row.

Her whereabouts are currently unknown although some have claimed she has left Pakistan and is heading for Europe.

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