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New law to make death sentence compulsory for “blasphemy”

West & Central Africa

New law to make death sentence compulsory for “blasphemy”

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Photo credit: London Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania

The Mauritanian government has now passed into law amendments to the criminal code making the death penalty mandatory for anyone convicted of “blasphemous speech” or “sacrilegious acts”.

The changes also do away with the option for those found guilty to “repent” and avoid the death penalty.

The amendments to the criminal code also put in place a sentence of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 600,000 Ouguiyas (around £12,000) for “offending public indecency and Islamic values”. They were passed into law by country’s National Assembly on 27 April 2018.

The Mauritanian government last carried out an execution for “blasphemy” in 1987. A Muslim blogger, tried in 2014, was the most recent person to be convicted. However, his death sentence was downgraded to two years in prison.

The announcement of plans to amend the criminal code to make the death penalty for “blasphemy” compulsory, even if those found guilty “repent”, came in November, days after it was made public that the blogger would be freed after serving his sentence.

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is almost entirely Muslim, although there are a small number of predominantly expatriate Christians.