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Pakistan, child accused of blasphemy acquitted

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In Pakistan, the authorities acquitted the eight-year-old boy accused of blasphemy for “intentionally urinating” on the carpet in the library of an Islamic school. “The police overturned the charges against the Hindu child,” he told the Ansa the human rights activist Kapil Dev.

Given his young age, the judge had decided that, pending trial, he could go home to his parents in exchange for a bail. But the decision had sparked the anger of the fanatics who, in order to convince the authorities to arrest him again, had stormed the Hindu temple. Many faithful of the religious minority were forced to leave the village in the state of Punjab, including the child’s family.

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The blasphemy law governed by article 295.C of the criminal code, which provides for the mandatory death penalty, has been used disproportionately to persecute the faithful of minority religious beliefs in the country. “There is overwhelming evidence that blasphemy laws violate human rights and encourage people to apply them for their own benefit. Once a person is accused he enters a system that offers him very little protection, presumes him guilty and does not protect him from those who want to use violence “, he declared. Audrey Gaughram, director of Amnesty International’s Global Themes program, in a 2016 report.

The dossier explains that the accused person she can be arrested, even without the police checking whether the complaint is well founded. Once formalized, release on bail may be denied and a time-consuming and unfair process. But no child had been detained for this crime up to now. Amnesty International had urged the judicial authorities to quash the charge and to guarantee protection for him and his family.

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According to the Prime Minister’s Representative for Harmony and Religious Minorities, Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, the two policemen who accused the child and dozens of people responsible for the attacks on the Hindu temple were arrested. The boy and his family are still in hiding and in police custody for fear of possible riots.

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