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Blasphemy laws and mental illness in Pakistan

  • Muzaffar Husain (a1)
Summary

There is emerging evidence that individuals who are mentally ill are over-represented in the group of defendants prosecuted under the blasphemy laws of Pakistan. This article discusses the background of blasphemy legislation in Pakistan, and proposes causal interactions between underlying mental illness in the defendant and prosecution for blasphemy. It sketches possible legal safeguards for such blasphemy defendants with mental illness in mental health legislation.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Muzaffar Husain (Muzaffar.Husain@kmpt.nhs.uk)
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

M.H. is an advocate for the repeal of all blasphemy laws from the Pakistan Penal Code. He has consulted for blasphemy defendants with mental illness held in custody in Pakistan, and remains professionally involved with Pakistan-based mental health charities that are working to introduce meaningful legal and social safeguards and protections for patients with mental illness in Pakistan.

Footnotes
References
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1 Pakistan Penal Code (XLV of 1860) with the New Islamic Laws of 1979 (2009–2010 edn). Mansoor Book House, 2010.
2 Riaz Ahmad v. The State, PLD 1994 Lah. 485.
3 Siddiqui T. Timeline: accused under the blasphemy law. Dawn News 2012; 19 September (http://dawn.com/2012/09/19/timeline-accused-under-the-blasphemy-law/).
4 Tahir, Z. Qadri case judge sent abroad. Dawn News 2011; 25 October (http://dawn.com/2011/10/25/qadri-case-judge-sent-abroad/).
5 Jillani, S. Pakistan mob burns man to death for ‘blasphemy’. BBC News 2012; 4 July (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18713545).
6 Anon. Change in Pakistan's blasphemy laws unlikely. Dawn News 2012; 14 September (http://dawn.com/2012/09/14/change-in-pakistansblasphemy-laws-unlikely/).
7 Khushik, QA. Desecration case: lynch mob kills suspect, burns body in Dadu. Dawn News 2012; 22 December (http://dawn.com/2012/12/22/desecration-case-lynch-mob-kills-suspect-burns-body-in-dadu/).
8 Shahbaz Masih v. State, MLD 2007 Lah. 1040.
9 Pakistan Association for Mental Health. Mental Health Act. Pakistan Association for Mental Health, 2011–2012 (http://www.pamh.org.pk/Mental%20Health%20Law.php).
10 Anon. Sindh Mental Health Bill 2012. Pakistan Association for Mental Health, no date (http://www.pamh.org.pk/Compiled%20Sindh%20Mental%20Health%20Sindh.pdf).
11 Government of Sindh. Mental Health Ordinance 2013. Government of Sindh, 2013 (http://www.pamh.org.pk/smho-2013.pdf).
12 Raza, M. Blasphemy laws: a fact sheet. Dawn News 2010; 15 April (http://archives.dawn.com/archives/31344).
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 2053-4868
  • EISSN: 2053-4876
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Blasphemy laws and mental illness in Pakistan

  • Muzaffar Husain (a1)
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