NEW YORK (February 12, 2018) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) mourns the passing of Asma Jahangir, a leading Pakistani lawyer who dedicated her career to defending the rights of women, minorities, and children from religious extremism, honor killings, and blasphemy laws. Jahangir was a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and served as the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary execution, and also as United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. She passed away on Sunday in Lahore.
“With Asma’s passing, the world has lost a moral and intellectual giant,” said HRF President Thor Halvorssen. “She dedicated her life to building a better future for her country, and her story will remain a permanent source of inspiration for human rights activists opposing authoritarian regimes around the world.”
Jahangir’s legal experience began in 1972 with her decade-long fight against the arrest of her father, who was jailed after resigning from the Pakistan National Assembly in protest of the country’s new military dictatorship. When she successfully resolved her father’s case in 1982, she joined other human rights activists to found Pakistan’s first all-female law firm. Jahangir was the author of many articles, scholarly works, and two books, “Divine Sanction: The Hudood Ordinance” and “Children of a Lesser God: Child Prisoners of Pakistan.” Her dedication to human rights and persistence in the face of adversity inspired countless activists around the world, drew crucial attention to the struggles of women and children in Pakistan, and won her a variety of international awards, including the American Bar Association International Human Rights Award, Millennium Peace Prize, the Stefanus Prize, and the Right Livelihood Award.
In 2012, Jahangir participated in HRF’s Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF), and used the OFF platform to share the lessons she had learned in her long career as an activist. Watch her talk here.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.