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UK Government expresses concern over minority rights in Pakistan… but still seeks to deport Hamza

The UK Government has expressed serious concerns about the protection of minorities in Pakistan as part of the United Nations Periodic Review (UPR) of its human rights. However, it remains willing to deport ex-Muslim apostate Hamza bin Walayat who could face the death penalty for his beliefs if returned to Pakistan over his failure to identify Plato and Aristotle as humanists (they’re not), and because humanists were said not to face the same protections in law as the religious (they do). Humanists UK has helped to bring Hamza’s case to public attention. Today it has asked the Government to take a consistent approach to human rights in Pakistan which doesn’t put lives at risk.

The UPR is a mechanism to monitor and report on the human rights performance of all UN member states. Approximately 42 states are reviewed each year with each state being reviewed at least once every five years.

In its comments as part of the UPR, the UK Government stated that it ‘remained concerned about the overall human rights record of Pakistan’ and recommended the establishment of an independent National Commission for Minorities from all communities to try to ensure such individuals are better protected. However, despite openly acknowledging human rights abuses, the UK Home Office decided in Hamza’s case that the ‘1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees is not one that engages the United Kingdom’s obligations under the Convention, as it is not based in the fear of persecution in Pakistan [and presumably everywhere else] because of race, religion…’ This is in spite of the fact that the UN itself is clear that the reference to religion should be read as inclusive of non-religious beliefs.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘Since 1990 there have been at least 67 extrajudicial murders of people accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, and many more people convicted. Pakistan’s laws against blasphemy disproportionately discriminate against the non-religious and other religious minorities. The UK Government is fully aware of the human rights abuses suffered by the non-religious, but in Hamza’s case, has still failed to acknowledge that human rights laws offer equal protection to the non-religious as to the religious. This puts lives at risk. We call on the Government to put pressure on Pakistan to repeal its blasphemy law and review the way it handles asylum claims with regards to persecution of the non-religious.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on or 0781 55 89 636.

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At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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