Pakistan: Civil society calls for the immediate release of Mohammed Ismail

 UPDATE 26 November 2019: 


The undersigned members of CIVICUS, the global alliance of civil society organisations, and the Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) call for the immediate release of Professor Mohammed Ismail from pre-trial detention in Pakistan and an end to all forms of harassment, intimidation and threats against him and his family.

Mohammed Ismail is a long-standing member of AGNA, a network of 90 national associations and regional platforms from around the world. He is the focal person for the Pakistan NGO Forum (PNF), an umbrella body of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Pakistan. His daughter Gulalai Ismail is a human rights defender who has faced persecution from authorities for her advocacy for the rights of women and girls, and her efforts to end human rights violations against the ethnic Pashtun people. She was subsequently granted asylum in the United States of America.

In July 2019, Mohammed Ismail was accused of charges under the Anti-Terrorism Act in connection with the legitimate human rights work of his daughter, Gulalai Ismail. On 24 October 2019, he was accosted outside Peshawar Court by men dressed in black militia uniforms, who forced him into a black vehicle. His whereabouts remained unknown until the morning of 25 October, when he appeared in the custody of Pakistan’s Federal Investigations Agency before a judicial magistrate and brought with further charges under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act. He remains detained and his bail requests have been rejected by the courts.

We are furthermore deeply concerned by credible reports we have received around the appalling conditions under which Professor Ismail is being detained which may amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. He has been denied medical care despite having multiple health conditions including a neurological disorder, dislocated discs in his back, kidney pain and high creatinine levels. He has also been denied medical care for his hypertension.

Prior to his detention, Mohammed Ismail and his family had faced months of intimidation, including at least three raids on their family home in Islamabad, as well as threats of physical harm to Gulalai Ismail’s younger sister.

The accusations against Mohammed Ismail are unfounded and appear to have been leveled by the authorities to silence Mohammed Ismail and Gulalai. Such judicial harassment and intimidation highlights the hostile environment for human rights defenders, journalists, and others in Pakistan to exercise their freedom of expression and be critical of the state.

We, CIVICUS and AGNA members urge the Pakistan authorities to release Professor Ismail immediately and unconditionally, and to put an end to all acts of harassment against Professor Mohammed Ismail, Gulalai Ismail and their family and drop all charges against them. We also call on the authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that all human rights defenders in Pakistan can carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.

  1. PCS Palestine
  2. Hui E! Community Aotearoa
  3. Uganda National NGO Forum
  4. Plataforma de ONG de accion social
  5. Balkan Civil Society Development Network
  6. Botswana Council of NGO’s
  7. Réseau des Organisations de la Société Civile pour le Développement (RESOCIDE)
  9. Network of Estonian Non-profit Organizations
  10. Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo
  11. Alianza ONG
  12. Samoa Umbrella Non Government Organization
  13. NGO Federation Nepal
  14. Nigeria Network of NGOs
  15. Scotland’s International Development Alliance
  16. Civic Initiatives, Serbia
  17. SOSTE Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health


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