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ICC Note:

A recent report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws were among the harshest and most abused in the world. The report generally took on the issue of blasphemy laws in the religious freedom context and found that instead of protecting religious freedom, blasphemy laws harm religious freedom. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are widely abused, leading to many false accusations motivated by personal score settling or religious hatred. Will blasphemy laws, especially in Pakistan, ever be recognized as the hindrance they are to religious freedom? 

08/21/2017 Pakistan (Christians in Pakistan) – USCIRF chairman stated that blasphemy laws “invite abuse and can lead to assaults, murders, and mob attacks”. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has released a report that shows how blasphemy laws around the world fall short of international human rights benchmarks.

“Respecting Rights? Measuring the World’s Blasphemy Laws” catalogs the offending laws found in a wide range of countries in some countries, blasphemy laws are enforced weakly, if at all, yet such laws, “in both theory and practice, harm individuals and societies.” The report explains laws spanning the globe from nations, for example, Canada and Switzerland to Iran and Indonesia with punishments going from fines to death.

Shockingly, more than “Religious freedom includes the right to express a full range of thoughts and beliefs, including those that others might find blasphemous,” noted USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “Advocates for blasphemy laws may argue that they are needed in order to protect religious freedom, but these laws do no such thing. Blasphemy laws are wrong in principle, and they often invite abuse and lead to assaults, murders, and mob attacks. Wherever they exist, they should be repealed.”

The report analyzed the text of blasphemy laws against such indicators as freedom of expression, flexibility of religion or conviction, dubiousness of the law, seriousness of punishment, discrimination against groups, and state religion protections. Most laws in the investigation failed to ensure freedom of expression, were vaguely worded, and carried unduly harsh penalties for violators.

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