Non-religious continue to face severe persecution in 70 countries – new report
Humanists UK has welcomed the release of a new report which documents the persecution faced by humanists, atheists, and other non-religious people, including in 70 countries that have severe punishments for leaving a religion or expressing non-religious beliefs.
The 2019 Freedom of Thought Report by Humanists International, released today, finds that while eight countries have abolished ‘blasphemy’ laws in the past five years, around 70 others still retain such laws with prosecutions and penalties in some states harshening.
Pakistan remains one of the most dangerous places to be non-religious, with the death penalty, mob violence, incarceration, and extrajuidical violence being the norm against people who express non-religious views publicly or who leave Islam.
It also highlights the deterioration of human rights in countries including Brunei and Mauritania which have cracked down on ‘blasphemy’ and ‘apostasy’ in the past two years. Brunei’s new 2019 penal code renders blasphemy and apostasy, as well as other hudud crimes such as adultery and homosexuality, punishable by death. Mauritania introduced a mandatory death sentence for blasphemy and apostasy in April 2018.
In Italy and Spain, prosecutions against artists and protesters in recent years have increased. Indonesia, Iran, and India are also carrying out harsher crackdowns on people expressing their views.
Humanists International founded the End Blasphemy Laws campaign, of which Humanists UK is an active member. Since then, the campaign has succeeded in persuading Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Malta, France, New Zealand, Canada, and Greece to all repeal their blasphemy laws, with the Republic of Ireland and Spain committing to doing the same.