US report criticizes Pakistan's blasphemy laws

More than 40 people are on death row for blasphemy in the country, cites report

August 12, 2016
The United States has criticized Pakistan's blasphemy laws in an official report on religious freedom released Aug. 10.

"Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which prescribe harsh punishments for crimes such as the desecration of the Quran or insulting the Prophet Mohammad, have often been used as justification for mob justice," said the U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report for 2015.

"Since 1990, more than 62 people have been killed by mob violence [according to the Center for Research and Security Studies in Pakistan]," stated the report, which covers 199 countries and territories around the world.

"In 2013, there were 39 registered cases of blasphemy against a total of 359 people, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan," said the report.

"According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, more than 40 people remain on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan, many of whom are members of religious minorities," it continued.

"Numerous individuals involved in well-publicized blasphemy cases from previous years — including Sawan Masih, Shafqat Emmanuel, Shagufta Kausar, and Liaquat Ali — remained in jail awaiting appeal."

The report describes blasphemy, apostasy and anti-conversion laws in eight countries, including other Asian nations Indonesia and Nepal.

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