Lahore:The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is gravely concerned at the recent surge in blasphemy cases being registered against sectarian and religious minorities, particularly the Shia community, and the potential for ensuing sectarian violence. Anecdotal evidence suggests that over 40 such cases may have been registered under the blasphemy laws in the last month alone.
HRCP believes that the state has effectively abdicated its responsibilities under international human rights law by leaving those accused of blasphemy to the mercy of mobs, or trials that are marred by glaring legal and procedural flaws. It is well established that in most cases, those accused of blasphemy are eventually acquitted on appeal, but often after protracted periods in custody and trials that risk the lives of the accused, their lawyers and judges at the hands of organized far-right groups.
HRCP demands that the state uphold all citizens’ right to freedom of religion or belief. The police must also refrain from registering blasphemy cases so promptly, knowing full well the sensitive implications of doing so when such complaints are often fabricated and spurred on by personal vendettas.