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House of Lords written question HL108.

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL108, tabled on 21 June 2017

Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan regarding the death sentence handed down by Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Court on 10 June to Taimoor Raza, a Shi'a Muslim, for allegedly committing blasphemy on Facebook.

Answered on

3 July 2017

The UK remains firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We have repeatedly called upon the Government of Pakistan to end capital punishment and, at a minimum, commit publicly to renewing the previously imposed moratorium on the death penalty. We regularly raise our concerns about freedom of expression and the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level. Our concerns are reflected in the latest update to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office annual human rights report.

The Foreign Secretary raised religious tolerance and misuse of the blasphemy laws during his visit to Pakistan in November 2016. Mr Sharma, in his previous role as Minister for Asia, discussed the death penalty and the importance we attach to freedom of expression with Kamran Michael, Pakistani Minister for Human Rights, and Barrister Zafarullah Khan, the Prime Minister's Special Assistant for Human Rights, during his visit to Pakistan in January 2017.

The Government will continue to urge Pakistan to honour, promote and protect its human rights obligations, including those related to the death penalty and freedom of expression and religion.