Pakistan: Blasphemy

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 22nd May 2019.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case of the Pakistani Christian woman, Shagufta Kauser, who, with her disabled husband, Shafqat Emmanuel, was sentenced to death in 2014, for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages, including reports that the couple are illiterate and that the messages were in English; and what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about this case.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State

​We are aware and are monitoring the case of Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel. We remain deeply concerned about reports of discrimination against the Christian community and other religious minorities in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns about the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the government of Pakistan at a senior level.

I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February. The UK raised concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief at Pakistan's UN Universal Periodic Review of human rights in November 2017. We urged Pakistan to strengthen the protection of minorities, including by establishing an independent National Commission for Minorities from all faith communities.

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 publicly renewing the previously imposed moratorium on the death penalty.

We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee fully the rights of all Pakistani citizens, including religious minorities, and to honour its international obligations.

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