Muslims for Progressive Values Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan


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This submission to the Universal Periodic Review of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan written by Muslims for Progressive Values calls for the abolition of the blasphemy law, which contradicts Pakistan’s ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The criminalisation of actual or perceived acts of blasphemy are without exception counter-intuitive to any state’s obligation to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religions, and freedom of expression as provisioned by article 18 ad 19 of the ICCPR, respectively. Furthermore, as a faith-based human rights organisation, MPV affirms that criminalisation of blasphemy and apostasy are contradictory to the Quranic mandate of “no compulsion in religion” (Verse 2:256), which safeguards freedom of conscience.

The Government of Pakistan (GoP) ratified the ICCPR on 23 June 2010, and submitted a communication to the Secretary-General on 20 September 2011 stating “that it had decided to partially withdraw the reservations, made upon ratification, to articles [18 and 19] of the Convention”. Despite these commitments, legal and institutional obstacles continue to prevent the GoP from achieving and sustaining its human rights obligations regarding freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression, particularly as these obligations pertain to the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.

As such, this submission addresses the legal, institutional, and social realities regarding how violations of article 18, 19, ad 27 of the ICCPR emerge when individuals accused of blasphemy are tried under certain provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code. In some cases, violations manifest against accused individuals as violence and persecution carried out with impunity by non-state actors. In the most extreme cases, accused individuals and other individuals associated with them have been murdered.