"Moving forward with any initiative to amend the ATA to include Section 295-C will only worsen the human rights situation in Pakistan."
In Pakistan, an extremist Muslim political party is calling for blasphemy charges to be tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). An agreement has been signed between Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Economic Affairs Minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and leaders of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
according to Morning Star News, the government also agreed to create an "anti-blasphemy wing" under the authority of the Federal Investigation Agency. She will be responsible for taking action against the dissemination of "blasphemous content" on the Internet.
Asad Jamal is a Muslim Supreme Court lawyer. He expressed his fears to Morning Star News. “Moving forward with any initiative to amend the ATA to include Section 295-C will only worsen the human rights situation in Pakistan,” he laments.
The lawyer denounces several biases. First of all, the management of the statements of the accused.
“Statements by defendants taken into custody under the CrPC [Code of Criminal Procedure] are generally considered involuntary by the courts, which is why defendants have the option of re-recording their statements in courtrooms. However, terrorism courts routinely admit statements made in custody, which can pose a serious problem for the accused."
Then, he fears a double stigmatization of the accused, as a blasphemer, then as a terrorist.
For Asad Jamal, "such surrenders [by the government] encourage religious forces to abuse the laws with greater vigor and impunity".
"I hope the government will realize the consequences of this deal with the TLP and instead work to curb the false accusations of blasphemy that have tarnished Pakistan's image in the world."
Fears shared by the director general of the Voice Society, Aneeqa Maria, who fears "unfair trials".
"If an accused of blasphemy is tried under the anti-terrorism laws in Pakistan, it would have a significant impact and consequences on the victims. By associating blasphemy with terrorism, the accused may face limited legal protections and risk increased violence or vigilante attacks against him."