Anti-blasphemy and defamation laws curtail free speech

Publication Date: 
July 28, 2011
UN Multimedia


Anti-blasphemy laws and defamation laws against public officials and Heads of State seriously restrict free speech.

That’s according to the , which has issued a commentary on freedom of expression.

Some countries, such as Pakistan, regard blasphemy towards holy personages or their religion, as a serious offence punishable by death.

The extent to which freedom of opinion and expression can be restricted by a state is one of the most challenged and sensitive topics in international human rights law.

Committee member Michael O’Flaherty who is the principal drafter of the commentary says free speech is one of the most cherished of all the human rights.

“Without freedom of expression we have no politics. Without freedom of expression we have no assembly. What is the point of meeting if we can’t speak to each other and listen to each other? So it is vitally important for the well being of societies anywhere. Not just democracies, it’s crucial for democracy, it’s crucial for human life.” (Duration: 17″)

The committee also says anti-terrorism laws should also be clearly defined to avoid any interference with freedom of expression.





Pakistan - Asia Bibi ill, fears for her life, after 3 months in prison isolation

By Jibran Khan - 04/07/2011

The Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy has been ill with chicken pox, probably because of the unhygienic conditions of the cell where she is kept. Christians concern for the growing violence against them.