UN team calls for urgent release from jail of mentally disabled Pakistani Christian

October 27, 2021

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, as we see here yet again, are frequently used to threaten and intimidate vulnerable religious minority communities. 

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, see here.

“UN team calls for urgent release from jail of mentally disabled Pakistani Christian,” Barnabas Fund, October 26, 2021:

United Nations human rights experts called on 21 October for the urgent release of Stephen Masih, a mentally disabled Pakistani Christian arrested more than two years ago for alleged “blasphemy” in Punjab province.

The team’s four members insisted that all charges against Mr Masih should be dropped, noting that reviews of his mental health and fitness to stand trial have been “repeatedly delayed”.

They said they were “seriously concerned by the persecution and ongoing detention of Mr Masih on blasphemy grounds, and by his treatment at the hands of the judicial and prison authorities who are aware of his psychosocial disability and health condition”.

The UN team went on to urge Pakistan to comply with its international human rights obligations and repeal its “blasphemy” laws and take measures to combat “the advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination and violence”.

A Barnabas contact confirmed that Mr Masih, who suffered brain damage as a result of typhoid fever at the age of ten, was attacked in jail by Muslim prisoners because of his faith and now occupies a cell on his own for his own security.

Mr Masih was 38 and living at home with his sister and bedridden elderly mother in Sialkot District when he became involved in a quarrel with a neighbour in March 2019. It led to him being beaten by a crowd of Muslim men and accused under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code of making derogatory remarks against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, which carries a mandatory death penalty. His family deny the claims….