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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Pakistan, in particular the situation following the Peshawar school attack

13.1.2015 - (2015/2514(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Jean Lambert, Igor Šoltes, Bodil Ceballos, Barbara Lochbihler on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0050/2015

Procedură : 2015/2514(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on Pakistan, in particular the situation following the Peshawar school attack


The European Parliament,

¾ having regard to its previous resolutions on Pakistan, in particular that of 27 November 2014, 17 April 2014, 10 October 2013 and 17 February 2013

¾ having regard to the statement of the President of the European Parliament on 16 December and the Chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee of 17 December 2014

¾ having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on the attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan of16 December 2014, the Local EU Statement on the resumption of executions in Pakistan of 24 December 2014 and the Press statement on the Visit of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to Pakistan of 29 October 2014

¾ having regard to the Cooperation Agreement between Pakistan and the EU, the Five-Year Engagement Plan, the EU-Pakistan Strategic dialogue and the GSP+ scheme of trade preferences

¾ having regard to the statements by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 16 December 2014, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the terrorist attack yesterday on a school in Peshawar, 17 December 2014,

¾ Having regard to the UN Convention on the Right of the Child and to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to which Pakistan is a party,

¾ having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

¾ having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, to which Pakistan is a party,

¾ having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  Whereas on December 16, 7 armed men launched a deadly attack against an Army Public School in the city of Peshawar – which is surrounded on three sides by the 'Federally Administered Tribal Areas' (FATA) - killing over 140 people, almost all of them children, and injuring a nearly equal number

B.  Whereas this attack has created a great shock inside and outside of Pakistan, being perceived as the most cruel terrorist act in Pakistan’s history, intensified by the fact that it took eight hours before military forces regained control of the school; whereas many pupils and school personnel were executed and injured in that interval and those surviving the ordeal remain deeply traumatized

C.  Whereas the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the massacre and said it acted in retaliation to the army's Zarb-e-Azb offensive, which has taken place in the Pakistan’s tribal areas since 15 June 2014

D.  Whereas since the government offensive against the Taliban and other militant groups started in the FATA area, over one million people have been displaced towards Afghanistan or different parts of Pakistan and US-led drone strikes that were largely halted in 2013 have strongly resumed

E.  Whereas the FATA are among the poorest areas in Pakistan, and residents live on subsistence agriculture and mining, without access to healthcare, sanitation or even shelter and whereas additionally more than 900 000 Afghan refugees live in camps in and around Peshawar

F.  Whereas Pakistan has thus hosted one of the world’s largest refugee populations for over 30 years putting a great strain on the state infrastructures and affecting the social fabric in the regions concerned

G.  Whereas according to the report from the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) there were over 800 or more attacks on schools in Pakistan during 2009-2012, more than in any other country, leaving hundreds of schools destroyed, mainly due to the Pakistani Taliban insurgency in the North-West; whereas militants have also recruited children from schools and madrassas, some to be suicide bombers

H.  Whereas according to the report at least 30 children, dozens of school teachers and other education personal, including one provincial education minister, were killed in attacks on schools and school transport from 2009 to 2012 and more than 97 were injured, at least 138 school students and staff were reported to have been kidnapped during the same period; whereas many of the attacks appeared to be motivated by the militant stance against female education and against women working outside the home

I.  Whereas while schools can be one of the best drivers to keep young people from recruitment into a life of violence, some 5,5 million children are out of school in Pakistan - the second highest number after Nigeria - and the government has reduced the education budget by a further 11% for the 2014-15 fiscal year while the defence budget was increased about the same percentage to absorb 28% of the country's overall revenue

J.  Whereas the day after the Peshawar massacre, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to restart executions for terrorism-related offences and thus ended the 4 year-long moratorium on the death penalty for civilians

K.  Whereas on 19th December the Pakistan authorities also announced retroactive changes to legislation governing the issuance of execution warrants, meaning that prisoners can now be executed within as little as 24 hours of the issuance of a warrant, severely limiting the opportunity for defence lawyers to secure stays of execution

L.  Whereas Pakistan’s interior minister, Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan, announced on December 21 that the government intends to execute about 500 prisoners on death row in the next two to three weeks and whereas 9 such executions have already taken place since

M.  Whereas there is no evidence that the death penalty acts as a particular deterrent in capital crimes and militancy compared to other forms of punishment

N.  Whereas there are currently dozens of people sentenced to death for terrorism-related offences in the country; whereas the legislation governing the anti-terrorism courts expressly curtails the fair trial rights guaranteed to prisoners in the ordinary criminal justice system such as access to legal counsel

O.  Whereas according to accounts of human rights organisations, as many as 86% of people tried in the anti-terrorism courts in Pakistan were actually tried for offences that have no relation to “terrorism” as it is commonly understood; whereas those persons are therefore at far greater risk of being wrongly convicted and the arbitrary distinction between individuals tried in the ordinary courts and those tried in the anti-terrorism courts for exactly the same crimes violates the principle of equality before the law

P.  Whereas child offender Shafqat Hussain, who was 14 when sentenced in 2004 for kidnapping and killing a 7-year-old boy - the only evidence being his own confession that was made after nine days of torture, intimidation, and humiliation by police - is among the hundreds facing imminent execution

Q.  Whereas on 6 January in reaction to the school massacre, the Pakistani Parliament passed a constitutional amendment which empowers military courts for the next two years to try suspected Islamist militants and could move defendants from arrest to execution in a matter of weeks

R.  Whereas the military, responding to public anger over the Peshawar killings, is moving fast and announced on 9 January the establishment of nine new courts, with a promise that they would start work soon


1.  Expresses its sympathy and solidarity with the victims of the 16 December terrorist attack, their families and friends and the entire Pakistani nation;

2.  Remains shocked over the message of cruelty and obscurantism, which the terrorists conveyed by killing innocent children in their place of learning;

3.  Reiterates its great concern over the recurring and dramatic attacks against school buildings as well as teachers and schoolchildren – especially girls - who are being kidnapped, shot, attacked with acid or poisoned by groups whose ideology is directed against the very foundations of any thriving society: its capacity to develop;

4.  Expresses its understanding for the frustrations of the Pakistani population with the lack of reform of the country's dysfunctional criminal justice system, which has almost entirely failed to bring militant leaders to justice;

5.  Is however very concerned about the strong focus on military and repressive short term solutions to the problem of militancy, which carry the risk of further escalation at the expense of long-term investments into a more rules-based, socially just, educated and democratic Pakistani society in order to alter the root causes of the violence;

6.  Regrets strongly the recourse to fast track military justice which lack minimal conditions of international standards of rule of law and underlines that the prolonged granting of GSP+ preferences is linked to the accomplishment of certain basic standards enshrined in UN and ILO conventions

7.  Recalls in this context the military’s poor human rights record with hundreds of suspected militants imprisoned in secret jails across the country where torture and extrajudicial executions are reportedly common, as well as the harsh tactics used in crackdowns on separatists in Baluchistan Province

8.  Calls on the government to withdraw its declaration upon accession to the CEDAW and to encourage the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies, which since 2010 have the policymaking authority on crucial sectors such as health, education, and employment as well as on all matters related to the advancement of women, to take the necessary steps with regard to the implementation of the observations made within the reporting process under the CEDAW

9.  Refers notably to the suggestion for the establishment of a rapid response system whenever there are attacks on educational institutions, in order to promptly repair and rebuild them and replace educational materials so that women and girls can be reintegrated into schools/universities as soon as possible

10.  Calls on the government to urgently redirect more government funding to education in view of the "extensive learning crisis" which UNESCO has established for Pakistan

11.  Deeply regrets the decision of the Government of Pakistan to lift the moratorium on executions and calls on the Government to stay all executions of individuals convicted in the anti-terrorism courts pending a review of the procedures under which they have been sentenced

12.  Draws attention to indications that at least one prisoner convicted under the existing military court system and executed on 22nd December, Russian-Pakistani dual national Akhlas Ahkalq, may have been innocent of the charges for which these courts convicted him, however, because he was tried in a military court there was no recourse for him to appeal his wrongful conviction to Pakistan’s Supreme Court

13.  Urges Pakistani legislators to review the new legislation in order to guarantee a reasonable period of time between the issuance of a warrant and an execution date and to allow for the re-opening of cases on the basis of new evidence once a case has been reviewed by the Supreme Court; appeals to the legislators - in view of the many possible errors of justice - to re-establish the moratorium on the death penalty and move to its eventual abolition;

14.  Welcomes in this context the government's recent decision to halt the planned execution of alleged child offender Shafqat Hussein - considering the absolute perversity if the child victims of the Peshawar attack would lead to the execution of a child offender;

15.  Considering that there may be over a thousand juveniles among Pakistan’s 8,000 strong death row population, urges the Pakistani government to publish information about the numbers of juvenile defendants on death row, to initiate a full inquiry into the prisoners' ages which are often wrongly recorded

16.  Calls on Pakistan's law enforcement authorities to combat all forms of terrorism evenly and in application of internationally recognised standards of rule of law, notably to end the pattern of inaction against Islamist groups that share the military’s strategic goals, like Lashkar-e-Taiba and other groups fighting in Indian-administered Kashmir

17.  Re-iterates its grave concern about the overwhelming proportion of civilians becoming victims to drone strikes, the psychological stress inhabitants particularly of the FATA province endure due to constant drone buzzing creating an imminent fear of death and the complete lack of accountability of the victims - not to talk about any compensation; appeals to end the drone program in Pakistan

18.  Calls on the government to withdraw its declaration upon accession to the CEDAW and to encourage the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies, which since 2010 have the policymaking authority on crucial sectors such as health, education, and employment as well as on all matters related to the advancement of women, to take the necessary steps with regard to the implementation of the observations made within the reporting process under the CEDAW

19.  Instructs its President to forward the present resolution to the Government and Parliament of Pakistan, to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), the Commission, the EEAS, the parliaments of the Member States, the EU Special Representative on Human Rights.