[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Sep 19 22:40:03 CDT 2005
Blasphemy 'law' is a death sentence for non Muslims
Pakistans non Muslim minorities are determined to challenge the laws
constitutionality before the Supreme Court.
Pakistan's minorities will challenge Section 295 of the country's Penal
Code, better known as the "blasphemy law", before the Supreme Court. This
will be done "as soon as possible because this law is used too often to
intimidate or punish religious minorities and creates an atmosphere of
insecurity and fear," Shahbaz Bhatti, chairman of the All Parties
Minorities Alliance (APMA), told AsiaNews. APMA is an umbrella group that
brings together and protects the countrys religious and ethnic minorities.
"This well-known law is a death sentence for non Muslim citizens of
Pakistan," Mr Bhatti said. "For this reason, we have decided to launch a
national campaign to challenge it before the Supreme Court."
It is not yet clear when the petition will be submitted because the APMA
is waiting for the opinion of the country's top constitutional lawyers.
"The Section does not define blasphemy and so it is open to the
interpretation of those who enforce it," said the minority rights
"Figures show that the law is applied for ulterior motives. After
subsections B and C (which impose the death penalty for insulting the
prophet Muhammad) were added, there has been an irrational rise in
sentences," he said. Subsection A is not as harsh: it 'only' entails life
sentence for those who "offend the Quran".
For Bhatti, the procedural changes the government introduced last year,
requiring punishment and sentencing only after blasphemy cases have been
proven, are worthless.
In the last three cases, involving Yousaf Masih from Noshera, a Hindu
couple from Swabi and Younis Masih from Lahore, charges were brought forth
without any evidence. The reason? "The government is under pressure from
the extremists," Bhatti said.
(source: Asia News)
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