International body calls for repeal of 'cruel' blasphemy laws in Pakistan

The International Commission of Jurists have called for blasphemy laws in Pakistan to be repealed, calling it "cruel".

The commission, an organisation of over 60 eminent jurists from around the world, told Fides that the legislation, which punishes blasphemy with life imprisonment or death penalty, was cruel and outside international standards.

Protesters hold up placards condemning Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws, which are sometimes used to target Christians.Reuters

"The number of Christians and members of other religious minorities accused is massively disproportionate to the number of Muslims accused" according to data of the "Justice and Peace" National Commission. Despite the overall number of Muslims accused of blasphemy since 1987 is 633 – higher than the 200 Christians, proportionally the number of Christians accused is far higher.

They have asked the government to "modify it so it is in line with international standards on freedom of expression; freedom of thought, conscience and religion", noting that the abuse of law to resolve private disputes is very common in Pakistan.

The International Court of Justice has acquitted 60 per cent of the 25 cases of appeals at the High Court for blasphemy, after the judges ruled that the charges brought against them were "fabricated or used for personal or political reasons."

The Commission of Jurists has asked for immediate abolition of the death penalty for blasphemy and asked that the intent of the offender be immediately established, before he is condemned.

They also rejected and called for action on the number of extrajudicial killings of those who are found innocent of blasphemy.