Even the evidence doesn’t support the claim of blasphemy against a Pakistani Christian, but the American Center for Law and Justice is appealing to the United Nations to help protect him anyway because so many of those facing that charge in Pakistan simply are convicted based on no evidence.
The ACLJ said this week is has just filed a critical submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council, through its affiliate the European Center for Law and Justice, requesting that Pakistani authorities review the case based on its evidence and assure that justice is done.
“The submission points specifically to the fact that even the prosecution’s accusations against Shahzad do not constitute blasphemy under Pakistan’s law. This case is the epitome of a travesty of justice,” the ACLJ explained.
In Muslim-majority Pakistan, claims of blasphemy against Muhammad have been used in the past as a weapon by Muslims against Christians they simply dislike. Many are convicted because of mob pressure on the courts there.
And if they are released it’s not unusual for mobs to then find and execute such individuals.
The ACLJ explained its concerns: “Blasphemy laws and their abuse are still a big challenge in Pakistan. Many false accusations continue to surface, mobs threaten to kill the accused, and the justice system is failing to provide due process of law, even after the government of Pakistan stated that blasphemy laws will not be misused.”
The case at hand involves Shahzad Masih, a Christian who was accused, falsely, of blasphemy, by a Muslim co-worker.
He’s already spent four years in jail awaiting a resolution in his case.
The situation happened when Masih was at work in 2017.
The co-worker, a “fanatic,” began talking about religion and asking questions.
“During the conversation, Shahzad stated that a friend of his father swears whenever he hears that someone has Muhammad in his name. Later, the co-worker had Shahzad brought before dozens of members of the fanatic group where they asked him to repeat the words his father’s friend uses. Even though Shahzad’s response did not constitute blasphemy, the police registered a blasphemy case against him,” the ACLJ reported.
At trial, there was no evidence of anything wrong on the part of Masih.
“The investigating officer testified that he did not find Shahzad guilty in his investigation, and that no eyewitness heard any insult against the Prophet Muhammad in Shahzad’s conversation,” the organization reported.
“It is our hope that the trial court would not give in to social pressure and will actually protect an innocent life. Pakistani courts have often quoted William Blackstone in stating that ‘it is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.’ The trial court should not let this legal maxim be a superficial veneer on the Pakistani courts’ opinions, but apply it as one of the foundational principles of the criminal justice system, which it is supposed to be,” the ACLJ reported.
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