Pakistan: Blasphemy

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 15th July 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 sentencing of Shagufta Kauser and her husband to death in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy; what assessment they have made of whether Shagufta Kauser is (1) from a Christian minority, and (2) illiterate; what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan on her behalf; what response they have received to these representations; and what estimate they have made of the number of people currently facing the death sentence in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy.

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

We continue to monitor the case of Shagufta Kauser and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel who were sentenced to death in April 2014. We understand that Shagufta Kauser is of the Christian faith and we are aware of media reports stating that she and her husband are both illiterate.

We regularly raise our concerns about the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the government of Pakistan at a senior level. The harsh penalties for blasphemy, including the death penalty, add to these concerns. We remain firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We have repeatedly called upon the Government of Pakistan to end capital punishment and, as a minimum, commit to publicly renewing the previously imposed moratorium on the death penalty. Concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities were raised with Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during a ministerial visit to Islamabad in February.

We do not hold figures for individuals on specific charges overseas. According to the US State Department 2018 Report on Freedom of Religion or Belief, at the time of publication, 77 individuals were imprisoned in Pakistan on blasphemy charges, 28 of whom had received death sentences.

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