An atomic bomb test explosion off Bikini Atoll ©Keystone/Getty Images
On 5 October, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) upheld the objection to jurisdiction raised by India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom (UK) in the case opposing them to the Marshall Islands. As a consequence, the Court cannot proceed to the merits of the case.
The Marshall Islands had filed an Application against the three states alleging a failure to fulfill obligations concerning negotiations relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament.
In the first phase of the proceedings on admissibility, the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan raised several objections to the jurisdiction of the Court and the admissibility of the application. Continue reading
By Vani Sathisan, Sanhita Ambast and Reema Omer*
Blasphemy prosecutions are undermining the rule of law in Myanmar, India and Pakistan.
Writer and National League for Democracy information officer Htin Linn Oo (right) arrives at Chaung Oo Township Court in Sagaing Region on March 24. (Than Naing Soe/The Myanmar Times)
Blasphemy laws, such as section 295(a) of these countries’ penal codes, are inconsistent with human rights, including freedom of opinion and expression; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; the right to liberty; and the right to equality before the law without discrimination. They are also applied arbitrarily, and accused people are often punished after unfair trials.
Section 295(a), enacted by colonial authorities in 1927 to curb communal tension, is the same in all three countries. It states that “deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” shall be punished with imprisonment, a fine or both.
In a litany of recent cases, however, courts have convicted individuals in the absence of evidence of any deliberate and malicious intent to insult a religion. People have been severely punished simply because their acts of expression without such intent were perceived to be at odds with conservative interpretations of a religion. In Myanmar, at least, statements offensive to minority religions go unpunished. Continue reading