Humanists UK at UN calls for an end to Pakistan’s persecution of belief minorities

22 March, 2022

Humanists UK has urged Pakistan to do more to protect religious and non-religious minorities. Speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council, it has called on Pakistan to repeal its blasphemy law, which carries the death penalty, and to revive proposed legislation to protect minority groups from state-led persecution and mob violence.

The intervention was made by video by Humanists UK’s Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan. During a ‘General Debate’ with the President of the Human Rights Council, she said:

‘Blasphemy is not only enshrined in the Pakistani Penal Code but further entrenched by the Anti-Terrorism Act, falsely equating the non-religious, religious minorities, and dissenting Muslims as a threat to the nation itself.

‘The pandemic has exacerbated an existing climate of intolerance towards the non-religious and religious minorities, with blasphemy allegations being used to enact personal vendettas. They have led to extrajudicial violence and mob justice. In February, a mob of 80 killed a man for allegedly burning pages of the Koran. The month before, a Pakistani court sentenced a 26 year-old woman to death, for sharing images on WhatsApp deemed to be insulting of the Prophet Muhammad. And the month before that, a Sri Lankan textile factory manager was beaten to death and his body set on fire by a mob of 100 people following rumours that he had tore down posters with the name of the Prophet Muhammad. This cannot continue.’

She went on to call on the Pakistan Government to revive the failed Protection of the Rights of Religious Minorities Bill from 2020, to abolish its blasphemy laws, and to do more to end all violence provoked by allegations of blasphemy or apostasy.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Watch the intervention.

Read the intervention.