A Pakistan court has delayed the appeal of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel once again after the couple were convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death several years ago.
The Christian husband and wife are on death row over ‘blasphemous’ texts the couple allegedly sent to a mosque cleric that insulted the Prophet Mohammad.
The texts were sent via a SIM card registered in Kausar’s name, however the couple both deny the allegations.
According to Amnesty International, Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel were imprisoned in 2013 and convicted and sentenced to death less than a year later.
An appeal was launched six years ago but the court continue to postpone the hearing. It was due to be heard in April 2020, however it was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and it has been delayed once again, this time indefinitely.
The couple’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, said: “We are not even given a date for next hearing. The judge keeps delaying the case due to fear, but it’s enough now. It should be heard. I fear for their lives.”
Domestic and international human rights groups have said that often in Pakistan they use blasphemy allegations to intimidate religious minorities.
The deputy regional director for south Asia at Amnesty International, Samira Hamidi, said: “They have been in prison for the better part of eight years waiting for their appeal hearing, when they should not be in jail in the first place. We call for their immediate and unconditional release.”