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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Pakistan: murder of the fovernor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer


with request for inclusion in the agenda for the debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure

Eija-Riitta Korhola, Filip Kaczmarek, Cristian Dan Preda, Bernd Posselt, Tunne Kelam, Monica Luisa Macovei, Sari Essayah, Elena Băsescu, Csaba Sógor, Thomas Mann on behalf of the PPE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0041/2011

Procedură : 2011/2522(RSP)
Stadiile documentului în şedinţă
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European Parliament resolution on Pakistan: murder of the fovernor of Punjab, Salaam Taseer

The European Parliament,

having regard its previous resolutions on human rights and democracy in Pakistan, in particular of 20 May 2010 as well as those of 12 July, 25 October and 15 November 2007,


-          having regard to its resolution of 16 December 2010 on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World 2009 and the European Union's policy on the matter (2010/2202(INI)),


-          having regard to the Council conclusions adopted on 16 November 2009 on freedom of religion or belief, in which it underlines the strategic importance of this freedom and of countering religious intolerance,


-          having regard to the EU-Pakistan Joint Statement of 4 June 2010, in which both sides have reaffirmed their determination to jointly address regional and global security issues, to promote respect for human rights, and to cooperate to further strengthen Pakistan’s democratic government and institutions,


-          having regard to the statement of 4 January 2011 by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the murder of governor Salmaan Taseer,


-          having regard to Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),


-          having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,


A.  whereas on 4 January 2011 in Islamabad, Salman Taseer, governor of the important Pakistani province Punjab, and famous for his harsh criticism of radical Islamists and the blasphemy laws, was killed by a member of his own protection detail,


B.  whereas the Fundamental Rights chapter of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan guarantees "freedom to profess religion and manage religious institutions" (Article 20), equality of all citizens (Article 25) and the "legitimate rights and interests of minorities" (Article 26),


C.  whereas on 25 December 2009 President Asif Ali Zardari reiterated the pledge of the Pakistan People's Party to uphold the right of all minorities to be treated as equal citizens,


D.  whereas the legal provisions known as the "blasphemy laws", introduced in 1982 and 1986, undermine the fundamental religious and minority rights granted by the Constitution and are used by extremist groups and those wishing to settle personal scores, and have led to an increase of violence against members of religious minorities,


E.  whereas the vast majority of people accused under the blasphemy laws are Muslim, but accusations against individuals from minority faiths can trigger disproportionate violence against their community as a whole,


F.  whereas the Pakistan government has publicly reneged on December 30 on its manifesto commitment to review discriminatory laws, announcing in a policy statement that it had no intention to repeal or amend the blasphemy laws;


G.  whereas the murder of governor Salmaan Taseer raises security concerns for judges who hear blasphemy cases, given that Pakistan's lower court judges have already been pressured by Muslim extremists and even higher court judges might be cautious in awarding unbiased decisions in religious persecution cases for fear of terrorist attacks against their lives,


H.  whereas more than 500 religious scholars of the Jamaat e-Ahl-e-Sunnat Pakistan group had announced that no Muslim should offer funeral prayers, nor any religious cleric perform the funeral of the assassinated governor,


I.  whereas since Governor Taseer's assassination, religious minorities have felt increasingly insecure, and only very few voices have spoken out in condemnation of the murder,


J.  whereas such attacks by violent Islamic extremists are also attacks on the current regime of these states, aiming to create unrest and to start civil war between the different religious groups,


K.  whereas Article 3(5) of the Treaty on European Union states that the promotion of democracy and respect for human rights and civil liberties are fundamental principles and aims of the European Union and constitute common ground for its relations with third countries,


1.  Strongly condemns the brutal murder of Mr Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Pakistan's Punjab province on 4 January at a market in Islamabad and expresses its condolences to the family of the victim and to the people of Pakistan;


2.  Urges the Pakistan authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into all aspects of the murder and bring all perpetrators of this crime rapidly to justice;


3.  Is worried that preliminary results from the investigation of the murder seem to indicate that the assassination of Salmaan Taseer appears to have significant support reaching into the heart of society and politics;


4.  Expresses its deep concern that the appeasement of political and religious extremists in Pakistan would tacitly or even openly be supported by the military, the judiciary and the political class;


5.  Expresses its concerns that the murderer of the governor in Islamabad was a policeman from his own protection detail; calls on the Pakistani government to eliminate the Islamic extremist forces in the Pakistani security forces and to ensure that the security forces abide by the constitution and the rule of law;


6.  Is concerned that the Pakistani blasphemy laws, which were publicly opposed by the late Governor Salmaan Taseer, are still used to persecute religious denominations, including Christians such as Asia Noreen, a Christian mother of five sentenced to death, and that the murderer of Governor Salmaan Taseer is treated by large sections of Pakistani society as a hero;


7.  Deplores that fact that the two large religious political parties in Pakistan have declared that Salmaan Taseer had deserved to be killed for his views, thus further inciting fear and appeasing both political and religious terrorism and crime;


8.  Is concerned about a possible curtailing of free speech in Pakistan following Taseer's assassination, as religious scholars from the Jamaat e-Ahl e-Sunnat Pakistan are openly stating that 'supporters are as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy', adding that 'politicians, the media and others should learn a lesson from the exemplary death';


9.  Supports the call from senior Pakistani journalists for an examination of the role of the media in providing a platform to fringe preachers and other extremists who had openly threatened Taseer and other like-minded public figures;


10.  Expects the Government of Pakistan to implement all necessary measures to guarantee the safety of all judges in Pakistan, allowing them to fulfil their constitutional role without fear of intimidation, violence or harassment;


11.  Expresses its deep concern that the blasphemy laws – which can carry the death sentence in Pakistan and are often used to justify censorship, criminalisation, persecution and, in certain cases, the murder of members of political, racial and religious minorities – are open to a misuse that affects people of all faiths in Pakistan;


12.  Reiterates its call upon the Government of Pakistan to carry out a thoroughgoing review of the blasphemy laws and their current application, as well as – inter alia – of Section 295 C of the Penal Code, which prescribes a mandatory death penalty for anyone found guilty of blasphemy, and in the meantime to implement amendments as suggested by the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs;


13.  Views positively the signing by Pakistan of the instruments of ratification of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture (CAT); calls on the Government of Pakistan to fully and without reserves guarantee the freedom of belief as enshrined in the UN Covenant, providing protection for their citizens in order to enable them to exercise their faith freely;


14.  Calls on the Government to guarantee the human rights of minorities laid down in the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, notably Article 18 thereof, which provides that "everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion";


15.  Supports all initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and mutual respect among communities; calls on political and religious authorities to promote tolerance and to take initiatives against hatred and violent extremism;


16.  Urges the Pakistani Government to implement the proposed reforms of the education system and to regulate and inspect Madrasas; invites the Pakistani authorities to remove all propaganda promoting hatred, religious superiority and defamation of religion from the textbooks approved by the national curriculum wing of the Ministry of Education;


17.  Calls on the Council to include the issue of religious tolerance in society in its counter-terrorism dialogue with Pakistan, this matter being of central importance to the long-term fight against religious extremism;


18.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to continue with financial support for human rights organisations and defenders, and to outline practical measures to support the growing civil society movement in Pakistan against the blasphemy laws and other discriminatory legislation;


19.  Urges the Council and the Commission to insist that the Government of Pakistan uphold the democracy and human rights clause enshrined in the Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; calls on the Commission to present a report on the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement and the democracy and human rights clause;


20.  Calls on the Council to support the Government of Pakistan in the development of its Ministry for Human Rights and in establishing a meaningful, independent and authoritative National Human Rights Commission;


21.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and Parliament of Pakistan.