Asma Jahangir | Global Commission on Drug Policy


Asma Jahangir

Asma Jahangir is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and has been twice elected as Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) which was set up in 1986. She is also one of the Directors of AGHS Legal Aid Cell, established in year 1980, providing free legal assistance to the needy. Asma Jahangir was instrumental in the formation of Punjab Women Lawyers Association (PWLA) in 1980 and Women Action Forum (WAF) in 1985. In 1998 she was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or arbitrary execution of the Commission on Human Rights. At present she is serving as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or belief of the Council on Human Rights.

Dr. Jahangir was house arrested and later imprisoned for participating in the movement for the restoration of political and fundamental rights during the military regime in 1983 and 2007. She was one of the leading figures in the campaign waged by the women activists against the promulgation of the controversial Hadood Ordinances and draft law on evidence.

Asma represented several clients who were denied their fundamental rights. Notable amongst them are the cases she fought for brick kiln workers, who are mostly bonded labourers in Pakistan. She represented them and was subsequently successful in getting a legislation passed through the parliament in favour of bonded workers. She has defended cases of discrimination against religious minorities, women and children. She defended three Christians, one amongst them a fourteen-year-old boy, accused of blasphemy. In her effort to secure justice for the disadvantaged groups she has been frequently threatened by militant groups. Asma and her family also faced murderous attempt by the militants of religious outfit in 1995.

She has authored two books: Divine Sanction? The Hadood Ordinance 1988 and Child Prisoners of Pakistan. There are five papers to her credit. Child Labour, Bonded Labour and Slavery; Women, Tradition and Religion; The independence of Judiciary and Lawyers; Women’s Movement in Pakistan; Strategies for Human Rights and Electoral Process in Pakistan. Asma Jahangir was conferred honorary degrees of Doctor of Law by University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, Queen’s University, Kingston Canada, and the Amherst College, USA.

She is a recipient of number of international and national awards. Amongst these is the Ramon Magsaysay award in 1995.

Asma Jahangir elected President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan in 2011 and has been twice elected as Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She is also a Director of the AGHS Legal Aid Cell, which provides free legal assistance to the needy. Jahangir was instrumental in the formation of the Punjab Women Lawyers Association in 1980 and the Women Action Forum in 1985. She was placed under house arrest and later imprisoned for participating in the movement to restore political and fundamental rights under the military regime in 1983. Due to her efforts to secure justice for disadvantaged groups, she has been frequently threatened by militant groups. Jahangir has authored two books and five papers. She has received honorary Doctor of Law degrees from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, Queen’s University, Canada, and Amherst College, USA. She has been the recipient of a number of international and national awards, among them the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1995.

In 1998, Mrs. Jahangir was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or arbitrary execution of the Commission on Human Rigths and in 2004 she was appointed United Nation Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the Council of Human Rights.
She served as a leading figure in the campaign waged by the women activists against the promulgation of the controversial Hadood Ordinances and draft law on evidence. Moreover, she has defended cases of discrimination against religious minorities, women and children. Ms. Jahangir represented several clients who were denied their fundamental rights. Notable amongst them are the cases she fought for brick kiln workers, who are mostly bonded labourers in Pakistan, and tried in setting for them a legislation passed through the parliament in favour of bonded workers.