A Pakistan government crackdown on freedom of speech online has reached worrying new levels, activists say, after a young man was sentenced to death over a series of Facebook posts.
On Saturday, 30-year-old Taimoor Raza became the first person to receive a death sentence in a Pakistan anti-terrorism court for “using derogatory remarks … in respect of the Holy Prophet” on social media.
Amnesty International’s Pakistan campaigner, Nadia Rahman, said in a statement the conviction set a “dangerous precedent.”
“No one one should be hauled before an anti-terrorism court or any other court solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief online,” she said.
Human rights advocates said 2017 has seen an unprecedented crackdown by the government on Pakistanis’ freedom of speech on the internet and in social media.
In January, the government shut down the websites and blogs of four online activists who regularly campaigned for humans rights and religious freedom, according to Human Rights Watch, right after they were went missing simultaneously.
They were later released. There is no proven involvement of the government in their abductions.