Pakistani Senate group to debate how to prevent misuse of blasphemy laws

Men pray over the grave of Mumtaz Qadri during their visit to Qadri's shrine on the outskirts of Islamabad

Men pray over the grave of Mumtaz Qadri, the man Pakistan executed last year for assassinating a governor who proposed reforming the country’s blasphemy laws, during their visit to Qadri’s shrine on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, January 5, 2017. Picture taken January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Source: Reuters

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik | ISLAMABAD

A Pakistani Senate committee is set to debate how to prevent the country’s blasphemy laws being applied unfairly, despite opposition from religious conservatives who support legislation that carries a mandatory death penalty for insulting Islam.

Senator Farhatullah Babar told Reuters that the Senate Committee on Human Rights, of which he is a member, will start discussions on blasphemy laws as early as next week, based on recommendations from a 24-year-old report.

He said it would be the first time in decades that any parliamentary body had considered a formal proposal to stop the abuse of the blasphemy laws.

According to Babar, the committee would consider a proposal making it binding to investigate complaints before registering a case, to ensure “genuine blasphemy” had been committed and the law was not being used to settle scores, as critics say it is.

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