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Thursday, 31 May 2012

UN legal expert on Pakistan blasphemy cases

Gabriela Knaul - UN special rapporteur

A UN legal and human rights expert has highlighted a major factor in the endemic injustice in Pakistan over blasphemy cases.  Gabriela Knaul, from Brazil pointed out that many judges are pressured by threats and intimidation to declare people guilty even when there was no evidence to support such a verdict.  In addition, such threats often prevent defence lawyers from properly defending those accused of blasphemy (and this doesn't even take into account threats against witnesses).  

Gabriela Knaul made her comments after her 11 day trip to examine Pakistan's justice system in action.  She raised a number of other points, including the poor conditions (no lighting, electricity, water, sanitation) in many lower courts, the extremely low level of female judges, and the ambiguity inherent in a country having two separate supreme courts.  

She was especially critical of the way the blasphemy law is used to deprive women of their rights, and gender bias right from the police initial involvement up seriously discriminates against women and renders them less likely to receive justice.  She was also critical of parallel court systems, including the Federal Shariat Court (FST).  

Her visit was the first of it's kind for 13 years.  

For more, see herehere and for the Pakistan Christian Posts take - see here

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