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Punishing False Accusers.

Mob justice violates the ideals of natural law. However, in our society, there is little regard for natural law leave alone the law of the land. One of the frequent charges that gather a mob to deliver on swift justice is the charge of blasphemy if hurled against anyone. We have seen countless examples of false blasphemy charges against people depriving them of their lives and in some cases are put behind bars.

A Senate Special Committee on Human Rights has come up with a recommendation where the penalty for false accusation of blasphemy will be the same as it is for actual charges of blasphemy. The proposal if adopted by the parliament will discourage people from hurling false accusations of blasphemy against their opponents or people belonging to religious minorities.

In the existing law, the effort to discourage people from falsely accusing someone of blasphemy has a very mild penalty. But the accused one's life becomes vulnerable and exposed to the threats of mob justice. The present recommendation of the committee is in line with the instructions of Islamabad High Court (IHC) given last year.

The proposal is only first attempt to correct the loopholes in the blasphemy laws that are enacted in Pakistan's legal system. The issues in our blasphemy laws bring substantial societal costs for the accused of blasphemy. Till this day, Pakistan uses its blasphemy laws at a level incomparable to other countries. The laws are discriminatory in application. They are procedurally deficient because charges are brought on hearsay and scant evidence, often leading to convictions. Law enforcement routinely fails at providing adequate protection to the accused.

It is about time to make necessary amendments to the loopholes present in Pakistan's blasphemy laws. The parliament should not be afraid of legislating on putting a stop to its misuse to protect the innocent ones. The recommendation can see some opposition in the legislative body; however, the government needs to remain steadfast in making it part of blasphemy laws.

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Publication:The Nation (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Mar 7, 2018
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