ICC Note: Pakistan’s Interior Ministry proposed amendments to the country’s penal code regarding punishments for false blasphemy accusations. These proposed amendments, which would impose stricter punishments, were submitted to the Islamabad High Court for review. Currently, false blasphemy accusations are only punished by a maximum punishment of six months in prison or a fine of 1,000 PKR. False blasphemy accusations in Pakistan are common and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Religious minorities, including Christians, are disproportionately falsely accused of blasphemy.
02/21/2018 Pakistan (Dawn) – The Interior Ministry on Friday submitted to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) a draft of proposed amendments to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016 which seek to equate punishments for a false accusation of blasphemy to the punishment for actually committing blasphemy.
The punishment for blasphemy in Pakistan ranges from several years in prison to a death sentence. Under existing laws, a person making a false accusation can only face proceedings under Section 182 of the PPC, which entails a maximum punishment of six months, or a mere Rs1,000 fine.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC had asked for the draft in connection with an order he had passed in a case pertaining to the circulation of sacrilegious content on social media.
The new draft was presented after the court had rejected an earlier draft while pointing out multiple shortcomings in it, including the omission of a punishment for those who falsely accuse others of blasphemy.
On being shown the new draft, Justice Siddiqui remarked that the law finally seemed to hold false accusers of blasphemy accountable, adding that it was “once again the courts which had to get it done.”
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