Killing in the Name of God: State-sanctioned Violations of Religious Freedom
As of 2020, blasphemy was formally criminalised in some 84 countries. As many as 21 countries criminalised apostasy as of 2019. The legal penalties for such offences range from fines to imprisonment to corporal punishment—and in at least 12 countries, the death penalty.
This report examines the extent to which States commit, or are complicit in, killings that violate religious freedom. Focussing on the 12 States in which offences against religion are lawfully punishable by death, we examine four different types of State-sanctioned killings on the basis of religious offence (apostasy, blasphemy, or alike) or affiliation (most commonly, membership of a religious minority): judicial executions, extrajudicial killings, killings by civilians, and killings by extremist groups. We explore the relationship between the retention of the death penalty for religious offences and other forms of State-sanctioned killings motivated by alleged religious offending or by religious identity.