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Pakistani Senate body says misuse of the blasphemy law must be prevented

Members of a Pakistani parliamentary committee have had it is necessary to prevent the misuse of the blasphemy law.

On Thursday the chairwoman of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights, Senator Nasreen Jalil, said innocent people have suffered and been wrongly accused of blasphemy.

The committee met to reconsider procedural changes to prevent the misuse of the blasphemy law.

In response the Ministry of Interior wrote that a thorough consultation process should take place involving stakeholders from provincial governments, the ministries of religious affairs, law and justice and information, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), ulema councils and law enforcement agencies.

The Committee highlighted that previous CII reports suggested punishment for false accusers under section 295-C.

It decided to prepare a brief based on recommendations from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the CII and a recent Islamabad High Court judgement in a blasphemy case.

The National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) proposed that no police officer below the rank of superintendent should investigate offences under section 295-C.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs supported the committee, saying that while substantial amendments to the law are not allowed, procedural amendments and any that prevent the law’s misuse are.

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