Islamabad police charged Gulalai Ismail under Anti-Terrorist Act

Pakistan’s Islamabad police filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Gulalai Ismail, a human rights defender who has led a campaign against extra-judicial killings in the country. She has been charged with a number of offences, including under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Gulalai Ismail, along with many other human rights defenders and members of the public had recently spoken out against the abduction, rape and murder of a 10-year old girl, whose body was discovered on 21 May. It is believed the human rights defender is being targeted as a result of her advocacy on this case.

She is an award-winning Pakistani human rights defender, co-founder and Chairperson of Aware Girls, and Chairperson of the Youth Peace Network. She regularly speaks at home and abroad on peace-building in Pakistan and women’s empowerment. Aware Girls aims to challenge the culture of violence and oppression of women in the rural Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area (north west Pakistan).

On 15 May 2019, a 10-year old girl went missing near her home in Islamabad. Even though her parents reported her missing that day, it took four days for the police to register a FIR on the disappearance and even then a proper search was not launched. Her body was found in a forest on 21 May, leading to public outrage and protest.

Gulalai Ismail has been vocal in her criticism of the police response in this case. On 12 October 2018, Gulalai Ismail was detained for several hours by the Federal Investigative Authority while returning to Pakistan. In February 2019, she was arbitrarily detained and effectively disappeared for approximately 40 hours; after she was released, she continued her work and advocacy for other forcibly disappeared persons.

Front Line Defenders expressed concern about the immediate threat to Gulalai Ismail and for her physical siety and it believes she is being targeted solely as a result of her legitimate activities in defence of human rights. It demanded to immediately revoke the FIR and drop all charges against her

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