ICJ mourns the loss of human rights icon Asma Jahangir

The ICJ mourns the loss of its former Commissioner, Executive Committee Member and Honorary Member, Asma Jahangir, who was at the frontline of the struggle for the rule of law and human rights in Pakistan and around the world.

Ms. Jahangir died of cardiac arrest on Sunday, 11 February, in Lahore, Pakistan. She was 66.

“The ICJ benefited immeasurably from Asma Jahangir’s contribution and leadership. She was a giant of the human rights movement, dedicated to defending the rule of law and fighting for the rights of everyone – including her fiercest detractors,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Secretary General.

Asma Jahangir was elected to the ICJ in 1998, and went on to serve on the organization’s Executive Committee until the end of her term.

She continued to work closely with the ICJ as an Honorary Member.

Asma Jahangir started her journey as a human rights defender as a petitioner is a case challenging the military dictatorship of Yahya Khan. She was only 19 at the time.

She continued throughout her life to be an outspoken critic of military rule and abuses in Pakistan and at the forefront of the struggle for human rights and the rule of law in the country.

In 1987 she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, which remains one of the oldest and most preeminent human rights organizations in the region.

Asma Jahangir was a senior advocate of the Supreme Court with a legal career spanning nearly forty years.

In 1987, along with other women lawyers, she established the first legal aid cell in the country for free legal representation to women, children, bonded laborers and religious minorities.

She also made lasting contribution to the human rights globally, and served as a UN Special Rapporteur for three different mandates: Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (1998 to 2004); freedom of religion or belief (2004 to 2010); and the situation of human rights in Iran (2016 – 2018).

In the course of her work as a human rights activist, she was repeatedly threatened, put under house arrest and even imprisoned. However, these attacks did not deter her from her commitment to human rights.

“Asma Jahangir’s brave, powerful voice for human rights and dignity has fallen silent much too soon. We will miss her and strive to live up to her example,” said Zarifi.

Last year, Asma Jahangir participated in ICJ’s Women profiles video series:

Asma Jahangir profile

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