We recently obtained another victory for a Christian family facing persecution in Pakistan.
Our team on the ground – through our international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice’s (ECLJ) office in Pakistan, the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA) – represented Shahbaz Masih, a Christian man who was illegally detained by police because his nephew had a fight with a Muslim classmate.
On February 18, 2020, Shahbaz’s 14-year-old nephew, Ehtisham, an 8th grade student, had a fight with his classmate, Muhammad Faisal. The teacher had assigned Ehtisham to be a class prefect (essentially a teacher’s helper). But some of the Muslim students, including Faisal, did not like it and started to bully Ehtisham. After Ehtisham told Faisal to stop calling him names, the two boys got into a fight. The teachers intervened and helped reconcile the matter. One of the teachers, however, threatened Ehtisham with expulsion from the school.
Two days later, four men came to the Christian family’s residence and threatened them. The next day, five policemen entered their home, mistreated the women, and arrested Shahbaz (Ehtisham’s uncle), since he was the only male at the house at that time and Ehtisham and his father were not there.
The police detained Shahbaz without filing any report or telling him why he was being arrested.
Shahbaz’s family contacted the OLA, and on February 25, our attorney filed a habeas corpus petition in the Lahore High Court. The court instructed an official to visit the police station to investigate the matter. When the court official arrived at the police station, he was informed that Shahbaz was held as a suspect in a theft case.
The court official submitted his remarks to the court the next day. As we have explained many times before, due to police corruption in Pakistan, illegal detentions are a common practice. As a result, the High Court ordered an internal departmental inquiry in to Shahbaz’s detention.
Two days later, the police released Shahbaz, informing him that the theft case against him had been dismissed. Shahbaz has been able to return to his job and Ehtisham to school.
We thank you for your continued prayers and support so that we can help people like Shahbaz.
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