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ICC Note:

A recent written judgment by Pakistan’s Supreme Court has given Christians accused of blasphemy a glimmer of hope. According to the Supreme Court’s judgment, the government must take steps to provide adequate safeguards to the country’s notorious blasphemy laws against false accusations. Christians and other religious minorities are often falsely accused of blasphemy whose abusers use the law to settle scores, for personal gain, or to incite religious hatred. Safeguards being added to these often abused laws would be a great start in protecting Christians and other religious minorities. 

10/30/2015 Pakistan (Evangelical Focus) – Embattled Christians in Pakistan now have a glimmer of hope after the country’s Supreme Court stepped in to ask politicians to review the use of the blasphemy laws.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has called on the country’s politicians to ensure that hundreds of people facing imprisonment and even execution under controversial blasphemy laws have not been falsely charged, often by enemies wanting to settle personal scores.

The Supreme Court has urged the government to conduct a major review of people who are in prison charged with blasphemy. It said politicians should ensure that those who are currently in prison facing charges aren’t there under false pretenses.

The ruling from the court states, “It is, therefore, for the State of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to ensure that no innocent person is compelled or constrained to face an investigation or a trial on the basis of false or trumped-up allegations regarding commission of such an offence.”

The penalties for being convicted of blasphemy can be severe – beginning with fines but at their most extreme the death penalty can be given.

The blasphemy laws have been widely used to attack people of minority faiths – especially Christians. There have been numerous cases of minor disputes which have led to accusations of blasphemy because one of the parties is a Christian.

Blasphemy is “abhorrent and immoral”, the judgment said, “but at the same time a false allegation regarding commission of such an offence is equally detestable besides being culpable.”

Critics, including European governments, claim the laws are misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges that could see them face fines, life imprisonment or hanging.

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