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Humanists UK at the UN: End Death Penalty for Apostasy and Blasphemy


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/09/18

One of the most prominent humanist groups in Europe, Humanists UK, sent a representative to the United Nations (UN) to speak on the importance of the removal of the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy, which, to many freethinkers and humanists, is an imaginary crime (Humanists UK, 2019a).

This amounts to an irreversible punishment — the ending of life — over a crime with an entirely fundamentalist character, as an extreme human rights violation, in my opinion.

Some can see concern over the rise of what some see as default blasphemy laws or restrictions on free speech without a formal statement as blasphemy laws (Webb, 2019).

Still others, we can see reportage on prominent anti-blasphemy law campaigners against, for example, regimes in Pakistan, with the outspoken rhetoric by Asia Bibi (Maule, 2019).

As per the Humanists UK statement to the UN, it was a general call against any and all forms of blasphemy and apostasy laws with the consequent punishment of death if in violation of these purported fair and just blasphemy and apostasy laws (Humanists UK, 2019b).

There was, as well, a call to release Muhammed Asghar (Ibid.). Farah Mohammed deserves due credit for delivering this call to the UN, stating:

Fourteen states still impose such punishments, including Pakistan where no evidence is required to prosecute a charge of blasphemy, and there are no penalties for making false allegations, and in two states in Malaysia where apostasy is an offence punishable by death. In light of such concerns we call upon member states to recognise that blasphemy and apostasy are actions whose very criminalisation violates freedom of expression, and freedom of religion or belief. We further call upon member states to continue to work towards the universal abolition of the death penalty.

The outcomes of continual calls may reflect the general decline in the number of blasphemy laws in the world today in addition to the liberal democratic systems as a form of governance in which blasphemy laws slowly, but surely, go the way of the dinosaurs or the dodo bird (Erasmus, 2019).


End Blasphemy Laws. (2019). End Blasphemy Laws. Retrieved from

Erasmus. (2019, August 25). Blasphemy laws are quietly vanishing in liberal democracies. Retrieved from

Humanists UK. (2019a, September 13). Humanists UK at UN calls for abolition of death penalty for blasphemy and apostasy. Retrieved from

Humanists UK. (2019b, September 9–27). United Nations Human Rights Council 42nd Session (9 September-27 September 2019): Item 3 — General Debate Speaker: Humanists UK Representative, Farah Mohammed. Retrieved from

Maule, W. (2019, July 9). Asia Bibi Slams Blasphemy Laws in First Interview Since Release After Nearly a Decade on Death Row. Retrieved from

Webb, E. (2019, August 26). We must not introduce new blasphemy laws. Retrieved from


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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