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Pakistan: Blasphemy

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 112663, tabled on 13 November 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what reports his Department has received on the case of three Ahmadi Muslims who were sentenced to death in early November 2017 by a court in Pakistan for allegedly breaking that country's blasphemy laws; and whether his Department has made representations to the Government of Pakistan on behalf of those three people.

Answered on

21 November 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 to renewing the previously imposed moratorium. We regularly raise our concerns about freedom of religion or belief and the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Mr Johnson), raised religious tolerance and misuse of the blasphemy laws during his visit to Pakistan in November 2016. During my visit to Pakistan earlier this month I raised the death penalty and the treatment of religious minorities, including discrimination and violence against the Ahmadiyya community with Pakistan’s Ministry of Human Rights.

During the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan on 13 November in Geneva we expressed our concerns about human rights and limits on freedoms of expression and religion or belief, particularly for the Ahmadiyya Muslim and Christian communities. We called for a clear timeline for the review of legislation carrying the death penalty with the aim of limiting the scope of crimes to which it applies.

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