17th March, 2016

A year on from the bombings of two churches in Pakistan, religious freedom advocacy Christian Solidarity Worldwide called for a full and impartial investigation into the incident and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Some 15 people were killed and 70 injured when the bombs exploded at St John's Church and Christ Church in Youhanabad, a predominantly Christian area of Lahore, on 15th March, 2015. Two Muslim men who were suspected of being connected to the bombings were subsequently killed by a lynch mob.

A police operation targeting those suspected of taking part in the lynching has since resulted in the arrest of more than 100 men who are now facing fast-track trials in anti-terrorism courts. Arrests are ongoing.

CSW says doubts have been raised about the impartiality of police in the response as well as concerns surrounding the following of proper procedure and the use of excessive force.

Mervyn Thomas, the UK-based organisation's chief executive, urged the Pakistani Government to launch a full enquiry into the bombings and to ensure the police "adhere to due process both in bringing the perpetrators to account and in apprehending those who killed the two Muslim men in the aftermath of the attack".

He also urged the government to enact recommendations made by the Supreme Court in 2014 to ensure that the rights of religiious minorities in Pakistan are upheld. They included the establishment of a special taskforce for minorities, taking effective measures to curb hate speech and developing curricula to promote religious and social tolerance.

~ www.csw.org.uk

- DAVID ADAMS