Report: The Voiceless Victims of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws
According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) 2018 Factsheet on Blasphemy, roughly one-third of the world’s nations maintain a law, or a set of laws, punishing the crime of blasphemy.
In Pakistan—one of three countries where blasphemy is punishable by death— these laws are widely abused to settle personal scores and incite religious hatred. Due to widespread religious intolerance and bias, members of Pakistan’s religious minority communities are disproportionately accused and punished under the country’s blasphemy laws.
In 2018, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, was acquitted of the blasphemy charges that had kept her on death row for nearly a decade. The lessons learned from her case, including the international advocacy critical to her acquittal, help to create a template for advocating on behalf of other religious minorities facing similar charges in Pakistan.
In this report, International Christian Concern (ICC) reviews Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the experience of religious minorities under these laws. ICC goes on to analyze the Asia Bibi case and draws out important lessons that should be applied to similar, ongoing cases.
This report then provides the profiles of 19 current cases in which Pakistani Christians sit charged with or convicted of committing blasphemy. These 19 cases need appropriate international advocacy to come to a successful conclusion. Towards this end, this report provides practical recommendations for the international community which ICC has drawn from the Asia Bibi case and from years of experience working with Christian victims of blasphemy in Pakistan.