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HRCP praises law on conversions, urges enforcement

Zohra YosafLahore : The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has welcomed criminalization of forced conversion by the legislature in Sindh and urged the authorities to ensure that the law is enforced.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Commission said: “In adopting Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Bill the Sindh Assembly has responded to an oft-voiced concern of members of religious minority communities, especially Hindus, against forced conversion, mainly of girls and young women in the province.

“HRCP welcomes the adoption of the law, which makes forced conversion a crime with five years imprisonment and allows those who convert 21 days to reconsider. The effort to safeguard juveniles is particularly worthy of praise. We wish to emphasise, however, that nothing less was expected of the state in view of its obligation to guarantee fundamental rights of all citizens.

“We hope and expect not just civil society organisations but also religious groups and parties to appreciate the legislation, because we are certain that even the latter do not have any interest in a person converting to Islam where the convert’s decision is swayed by anything other than a voluntary desire to choose the faith.

“We call upon the provincial government to not to bow to pressure by some elements and ensure that the law is implemented and the citizens are protected from the practice of forced conversion.”

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