Death sentence Brit in Pakistan urgently needs mental health treatment, warn lawyers

January 28, 2014

Lawyers for Mohammad Asghar, a mentally ill British man sentenced to death in Pakistan on blasphemy charges, have today (28 January) finally gained access to their client.  As a result, they were able to get the necessary documents signed so that Mr Asghar is able to file his appeal against the sentence handed down last Thursday.

However, they have told legal charity Reprieve that, having seen him, they are seriously concerned about his mental health. Mr Asghar has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but the prison medical staff remain unaware of his serious psychiatric illness, and are not providing him the appropriate medication.

His lawyers said that during the visit, it was clear that he was in very poor health – appearing “pale, dehydrated, shaking and barely lucid,” and suffering from severe delusions.  They emphasised that it is more crucial than ever that he receives the expert medical treatment which he urgently needs.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team said: “We are extremely worried about Mr Asghar’s mental health, which appears to have seriously deteriorated. We are also extremely concerned by the reports that he is not being given the correct medication for his illness, putting him in a perilous position.  We hope that the authorities in Pakistan and the UK will take all necessary steps to ensure that he gets the expert treatment he needs without delay.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8160 / donald.campbell@reprieve.org.uk

2. An affidavit from Mr Asghar’s doctor concerning his mental health is available here: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/downloads/2011_06_17_PUB_Affidavit_of_Dr_McLennan_-_certified_by_FCO_and_PHC.pdf