State Dept. urged to designate Pakistan accordingly

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
 | 
Bill Bumpas (OneNewsNow.com)

More attention is on Pakistan as it remains one of the worst countries for religious freedom.

In its 2015 annual report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) calls on the federal government to designate Pakistan as a CPC (Countries of Particular Concern).

"I would say it's probably one of the worst countries that has not been designated by the State Department," notes USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett. "We really feel that Pakistan meets the statutory definition."

She tells OneNewsNow that though Pakistan is a democracy, it faces plenty of challenges.

"Just to give you one example, there are more people on death row or serving life sentences for blasphemy in Pakistan than any other country on earth," Dr. Lantos Swett reports.

USCIRF believes penalties should be in place for false accusations of blasphemy.

"What we have been told from many different sources is that a lot of these accusations that are brought by citizens, and the way the Pakistani law works is anybody can go file a complaint and make the accusation," the Commission chair explains. "Many of them are really a means of settling other scores amongst people in a community, and at the moment there's no specific mechanism in the law for prosecuting people who file false charges."

According to USCIRF, an independent advisory board to the federal government, promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief must be an integral part of U.S. policy in Pakistan.

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