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ACLJ Calls on UN Human Rights Council to Take Action after Christians Sentenced to Death in Pakistan

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The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) recently delivered an urgent plea for the United Nations to do something about the plight of Pakistan's minority Christian population, and the constant human rights violations they face.  

Christians in Pakistan are regularly targeted both with physical attacks and false accusations of blasphemy by Islamic extremists, the ACLJ noted. And the country's judicial system persists in sentencing Christians to death without evidence. 

The ACLJ's European affiliate office, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), appeared before the full U.N. Human Rights Council last month, to make a presentation on the plight of Pakistani Christians. 

"Pakistan is ranked as the seventh worst country in the world for Christians due to persecution under blasphemy laws, mob attacks on Christian neighborhoods, assault and murder of innocent Christians, and kidnapping and forced religious conversions of young Christian girls by Muslims," the ECLJ representative told the U.N. council. 

slider img 2As CBN News has reported, Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws have existed since before the country's 1947 founding. During the 1980s, the U.S.-backed military dictator, Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, amended it to add the death penalty and to single out Islam as the religion that may not be insulted, among other changes.

Although no one has been officially executed for it, dozens of people have been killed by mobs for just being accused.

Those Islamic blasphemy laws are often used to intimidate and persecute Christians. Just to be accused can often lead to being arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.  

"Instead of heeding the international community's calls to repeal its blasphemy laws, Pakistan recently amended one section, increasing punishment from three years to life in prison for defaming the Prophet Muhammad's friends or family," the ECLJ representative told the council. "Of course, anyone who says anything that could be taken as defaming the Prophet Muhammad is punished by death."

The ECLJ also appealed to the HRC to help three innocent Christians in Pakistan who are on death row after being sentenced to death for blasphemy. 

Shahzad Masih, a Christian, was 16 years old when he was arrested in 2017 after being accused of blasphemy. He was sentenced to death after spending 5 years in prison. No evidence was submitted during his trial last November to uphold the charge that he had blasphemed. Masih remains in prison still waiting for his appeal to come before Pakistan's High Court. 

Two Christian brothers, Qaiser and Amoon Ayub, were also sentenced to death after being accused of blasphemy for their names and addresses appearing on a website they did not create. 

"Based on this information alone, the trial court sentenced them to death, and the High Court upheld their conviction," the ECLJ told the HRC. "The Ayub brothers have spent nine years in prison and are now waiting for the Supreme Court to hear their appeal."

"We urge this council to urge Pakistan to stop the abuse of the blasphemy laws and comply with its international commitments under Human Rights treaties," the ECLJ representative told the U.N. council. 

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As CBN News reported in December of 2022, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman who spent the best part of a decade on death row after being falsely convicted of blasphemy, spoke out about the plight of many others who continue to be imprisoned for their faith and has called for Pakistan's archaic blasphemy laws to be abolished.

"I pray to God that everyone falsely implicated in blasphemy cases should be released, that they get freedom and God helps them," Bibi told the Sunday Telegraph. "There should be proper investigation mechanisms while applying this law. We should not consider anyone sinful for this act {blasphemy} without any proof."

In 2022, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom gave a negative update on conditions in Pakistan. 

"In 2022, Pakistan's religious freedom conditions remain on a negative trajectory with religious minorities subject to frequent attacks and threats including accusations of blasphemy, targeted killings, lynchings, mob violence, forced conversions, and desecration of houses of worship and cemeteries," the commission said. 

Last December, Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan's current prime minister, vowed to protect the rights of religious minorities including Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and Parsis. 

However, in spite of Sharif's pledge, in January of 2023, Pakistan's parliament amended one of its blasphemy laws, increasing the penalties for insulting the Prophet Muhammad's companions, wives, and family members. 

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a persecution watchdog, criticized the amendment that the Pakistan newspaper Dawn reported was passed without debate and without other government leaders being present, including Prime Minister Sharif. 

CSW founder Mervyn Thomas said in a statement that Pakistan must do more to protect its minority communities. 

"Pakistan must do more to protect its most vulnerable minority communities by upholding its international obligations and guarantees enshrined within the country's constitution, and the international community must hold the government to account for where it fails or refuses to do so," he said. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of