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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Pakistan, notably the situation of human rights defenders and the death penalty

13.6.2017 - (2017/2723(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

Barbara Lochbihler, Heidi Hautala, Bodil Valero, Davor Škrlec, Ernest Urtasun, Igor Šoltes, Bronis Ropė on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0419/2017

Förfarande : 2017/2723(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on Pakistan, notably the situation of human rights defenders and the death penalty


The European Parliament,

- having regard to its previous resolutions on Pakistan, notably of 16 March 2017 on EU priorities for the UN Human Rights Council sessions, 14 April 2016, 15 January 2015, 27 November 2014,

-having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson on the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty and recent executions in Pakistan of 17 March 2015 and on executions in Pakistan of 5 August 2015 and of 10 June 2015,


- having regard to the Council conclusions on Pakistan of 18 July 2016,


- having regard to the Joint Statement by the International Commission of Jurists and the

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan to the UN Human Rights Council on 14 March 2017,


- having regard to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, of 4 April 2013 and of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on its mission to Pakistan of 26 February 2013


- having regard to the EU guidelines on the death penalty as revised on 12 April 2013,


- having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,

- having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966,

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


A. Whereas In March 2017, the Islamabad High Court ordered the removal of all blasphemous material from the cyberspace, the Interior Minister, Nisar Ali Khan made multiple statements including terming “blasphemers as enemies of humanity” and “blasphemy as the worst form of terrorism” and on March 14, the Prime Minister ordered a ban on all blasphemous material online,


B. Whereas on 10 May 2017 the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority sent a text message to millions of citizens warning of sharing "blasphemous" content on social media, while on 14 May Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisan Ali Khan ordered the Federal Investigating Agency to take immediate action against "all those dishonoring the Pakistan Army through social media", and called on Facebook and Twitter to help identify Pakistanis abroad suspected of blasphemy so that the state can prosecute them or pursue their extradition,


C. Whereas Pakistan's "blasphemy law" (section 295-C of the penal code) carries a mandatory death sentence and blasphemy accusations often serve as direct incitement to violence by militant groups against religious minorities and critics and since the March measures, there has reportedly been a surge of cases of lynching or attempted lunching of individuals on the bases of blasphemy accusations,


D. Whereas since the enacting of the vague and overly broad cybercrimes law in August 2016, the climate of intimidation against journalists and activists has continuously increased, the most prominent cases being the temporarily disappeared activists and bloggers Salman Haider, Wakaso Goraya, Aasim Saeed, Ahmad Raza Naseer and Samar Abbas who became victims of a public blasphemy and treason campaign,


E. Whereas the crackdown against NGOs, which started when the Ministry of the Interior enacted regulations restricting the operation of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) in October 2015, continues unabated,


F. Whereas on 22 March 2017, Pakistan’s parliament extended the tenure of the secretive military courts for another 2 year period, which were originally intended only for a transitional period for the worst terrorist offenses, and people are being executed without any access to a transparent fair trial,


G. Whereas Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, one of the world’s largest populations of prisoners facing execution; whereas Pakistani law mandates capital punishment for 28 offenses,

1. Expresses its great concern about the continued radicalization of certain parts of Pakistani society and the increasing persecution of people who raise their voice in defense of pluralism and respect for fundamental rights;

2. Reacts with incredulity to the fact that government ministers as opposed to combatting the abuse of the blasphemy laws, incite the population to make active use of the laws;

3. Welcomes that Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a resolution on 18 April 2017 to condemn the lynching of Mashal Khan by a violent mob over alleged blasphemy and that the senate debated reforms in order to reign in abuse;

3. Deeply regrets the considerable roll back in Pakistan on the respect for human rights and rule of law, notably the intimidation of journalists and critics of government and military, the reinstatement of the military courts, the increase of extrajudicial killings and executions and the government sponsored atmosphere of intolerance versus minorities and voices of dissent;

4. Recalls in this context the National Action Plan and the promised and urgently needed reforms of the madrassas, notably the review of the curricula, government action again hate speech, as well as the outstanding police and judicial reform;

5. Expresses its concern over the large freedom to operate granted to the security forces and calls on government to assure better oversight to prevent excesses; urges the competent authorities to undertake a prompt and impartial investigation into deaths in custody and so-called 'encounters' and killings by the security forces, as well as allegations of torture and to prosecute suspected perpetrators of extra-judicial killings and torture;

6. Strongly criticizes the sad record of executions in Pakistan and calls on the government and Parliament to reinstate the former moratorium and to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aiming at the abolition of the death penalty;

7. Calls on the Government of Pakistan to issue an immediate and open invitation to the UN special rapporteurs, notably the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the one on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and on freedom of religion or belief;

8. Calls on the Government of Pakistan to fully support the work of the national human rights Commission and to grant the financial support needed for the office to function properly;

9. Underlines that under the reformed GSP+ the EU can no longer limit itself to UN/ International Labour Organisation reporting systems but will have to consider the "Effective implementation of conventions" and beneficiaries will have to proof that they are implementing their obligations concerning human rights, labour, environmental and governance standards, and that such proof is necessary for the ongoing provision of GSP+;

10. Calls on the Commission to start immediate inquiries into Pakistan's obvious and increasing breeches of the rules governing the granting of GSP+ preferences and to take the necessary measures to halt the preferences in case the government does not take the necessary measures to reverse the trend of increasingly serious violations;

11. Reminds that the authorities have the obligation to ensure that allegations of blasphemy are not used to target political dissent in the digital space and legitimate criticism of state institutions and other bodies; recalls the commitment by the government to set-up an office of a public prosecutor at the federal and provincial levels to investigate and prosecute attacks against journalists which still waits for its implementation;

12. Re-iterates its call on the Pakistani government to repeal Sections 295-A, 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (Blasphemy laws), And to commute all death sentences imposed under Section 295-C of the Penal Code, including Asia Bibi, Junaid Hafeez, and Mohammad Asghar’s sentences, ensuring their urgent release and protection following release; further to ensure adequate protection of judges, defence counsel, and defence witnesses involved in blasphemy cases;

13. Urges the Government and Parliament to amend the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, particularly, Sections 31, 32, 36, 37, and 42, to remove overbroad powers for monitoring and retaining data and shutting down websites based on vague criteria;

14. Calls on the government to bring provisions on the death penalty in national legislation in line with international law and standards, including removing from the scope of the death penalty any offence other than intentional killing and ensuring that all those who have been sentenced to death for other offences have their sentences commuted accordingly, no execution of juvenile offenders or mentally disabled and not to carry out executions while appeals are pending and that genuine consideration is given to all clemency applications; appeals in this context to the President to make use of his power of clemency;

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