Groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have issued calls for an investigation into the death in Toronto last Sunday of a prominent Pakistani activist who had sought asylum in Canada.
Karima Baloch was a 37-year-old human rights activist from the Balochistan region of Pakistan. She had applied for asylum in Canada in 2015 following persecution in her native country, and she continued to be an outspoken activist for human rights in Balochistan while living in Toronto. The Toronto Police Department quickly determined that her death was “non-criminal” and “no foul play [was] suspected.” However, her husband, Hammal Haider, said that his wife’s death “needs further inquiry” and asked the Canadian government “to leave no stone unturned in looking into the circumstances of her death as well the threats she had been facing since moving to the country.”
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, also called for a “thorough investigation,” noting that “Karima Baloch becomes the second Pakistani dissident from Balochistan living in exile to be found dead this year.” In April, the body of Sajid Hussain, a Pakistani journalist who covered the situation in Balochistan, was found in a river in Sweden. Mr. Hussain had gone missing in March after having applied for asylum in Sweden the previous year. Like Ms. Baloch, he had fled from persecution in Pakistan. He died due to drowning, and Swedish authorities have closed the investigation in his case.
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