ASIA/PAKISTAN - Blasphemy: issue for the judiciary and the government

Saturday, 6 February 2016 blasphemy  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "The issue of the blasphemy law has become a legal issue, rather than religious. Parliament must take this issue seriously. The fight against hate speech becomes impossible to win if there exists a blasphemy law which is technically defective. It is the responsibility of the government to implement appropriate measures to tackle abuse. The government will do a great service to this country if it commissions an objective study on the abuse of the blasphemy laws, and makes it public as soon as possible": this is what is said in a note sent to Fides by the Catholic Peter Jacob, Director of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) in Pakistan in a period in which there is a heated debate on blasphemy laws in the country, the three articles of the criminal Code that punish with life imprisonment or death penalty, the vilification of Islam.
Jacob recalls the ruling of the Supreme Court that in November 2015 excluded that "criticising or challenging blasphemy laws is also an act of blasphemy against Islam ", a legal position which allowed in society, religious communities, the media and in politics to reopen the debate over the so-called "black law".
The Catholic scholar highlights significant data: a recent research carried out by the "Legal Aid Society" in Karachi showed that the majority of reported cases of blasphemy were based on false charges arising from ownership issues or other personal vendettas. Another search of the "International Commission of Jurists" said that in 15 cases out of 25 acquittals by the High Court, blasphemy trials, were "fabricated", while the acquittal in 9 cases was reached due to defects in the investigation and in 2 cases for reasons of insanity. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 06/02/2016)