Jubilee Campaign Urges UN Human Rights Council During Urgent Debate to Prioritize Repeal of Death Penalty for Apostasy and Blasphemy in Islamic Countries, Including Release of Prisoners of Conscience

GENEVA, Switzerland – Jubilee Campaign calls on the Council to prioritise the repeal of the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy, noting the support from over 90 multi-faith organizations and individuals. Laws which criminalise apostasy and blasphemy, severely restrict an individual’s right to choose, practice, or change their religion, undermining the core principles of human freedom and expression.

The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief has expressed concern over domestic laws that criminalize apostasy or blasphemy, stating that such laws can incite vigilante mobs or zealots to commit acts of violence against those accused of violating these laws.

Jubilee Campaign denounces the recent threats of violence made by Sunni militant groups against innocent and unrelated Christian communities in Pakistan following the protest in Sweden. This incident highlights the urgent need for action to protect individuals from violence and persecution based on their religious belief.

In light of these pressing concerns, Jubilee Campaign calls on the UN Human Rights Council to take the following measures:

  • Prioritize the repeal of anti-apostasy and anti-blasphemy laws that encourage violence against individuals solely based on their choice of religion or expression of beliefs.
  • Encourage peaceful and human rights-rooted counter-demonstrations in response to expressions of religious hatred;
  • Release religious prisoners of conscience detained under anti-apostasy and anti-blasphemy laws, including Anwar Kenneth, who has been held for alleged blasphemy for 23 years;
  • Release of Hamid Soudad in Algeria and others facing similar unjust detentions or travel bans, such as Imran Rahman in Pakistan, Rhoda Jatau in Nigeria, Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, Deborah Samuel in Nigeria, Mubarak Bala, Yahaya Sharif Aminu, and Hamid Soudad [now since July 21 released];
  • Hold perpetrators of violence against individuals exercising their freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief accountable for their actions.

The Jubilee Campaign firmly believes that protecting religious freedom and human rights is essential to fostering peace, tolerance, and understanding among diverse communities. By repealing these oppressive laws and safeguarding the rights of individuals, we can take significant strides towards promoting respect for human dignity and fostering an environment of mutual respect and coexistence.

We call upon all members of the UN Human Rights Council to support these critical initiatives and stand united in the fight for religious freedom and the protection of human rights.

Watch the oral statement below:

Download the written statement here: