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Procedure : 2021/2647(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0258/2021

Texts tabled :

B9-0258/2021

Debates :

PV 29/04/2021 - 9.3
CRE 29/04/2021 - 9.3

Votes :

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2021)0157

<Date>{27/04/2021}27.4.2021</Date>
<NoDocSe>B9‑0258/2021</NoDocSe>
PDF 151kWORD 46k

<TitreType>MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION</TitreType>

<TitreSuite>with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>


<Titre>on Blasphemy laws in Pakistan, in particular the case of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel</Titre>

<DocRef>(2021/2647(RSP))</DocRef>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Željana Zovko, Peter van Dalen, Isabel Wiseler‑Lima, David McAllister, Michael Gahler, Sandra Kalniete, György Hölvényi, Sara Skyttedal, Miriam Lexmann, Loránt Vincze, Krzysztof Hetman, Róża Thun und Hohenstein, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, David Lega, Romana Tomc, Tomáš Zdechovský, Peter Pollák, Christian Sagartz, Adam Jarubas, Janina Ochojska, Ivan Štefanec, Frances Fitzgerald, Lefteris Christoforou, Inese Vaidere, Paulo Rangel, Vangelis Meimarakis, Stanislav Polčák, Loucas Fourlas, Jiří Pospíšil, Antonio López‑Istúriz White, Luděk Niedermayer, Eva Maydell, Vladimír Bilčík, Tom Vandenkendelaere, Michaela Šojdrová</Depute>

<Commission>{PPE}on behalf of the PPE Group</Commission>

</RepeatBlock-By>

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0254/2021
NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.

B9‑0258/2021

European Parliament resolution on Blasphemy laws in Pakistan, in particular the case of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel

(2021/2647(RSP))

The European Parliament,

- having regard to its previous resolutions on Pakistan,

- having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

- having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

- having regard to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

- having regard to the EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan, which contains priorities such as good governance and dialogue on human rights,

- having regard to the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

- having regard to the Joint Report to the European Parliament and the Council Report on the Generalized Scheme of Preferences covering the period 2018-2019, especially the assessment of Pakistan,

A. whereas Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws in their present form have been in place since 1986, punishing blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad with death or life imprisonment;

B. whereas Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, despite having never led to official executions, incite harassment, violence and murder against those being accused, whereas those people being accused of blasphemy have to fear for their lives regardless of the outcome of judicial procedures;

C. whereas it is widely known that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often abused by making false accusations serving the personal interests of the accuser;

D. whereas the judicial procedures in blasphemy cases in Pakistan are highly flawed; whereas low standards of evidence are required for conviction and judicial authorities often uncritically accept allegations; whereas the accused are often presumed guilty and have to prove their innocence instead of the other way around;

E. whereas accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan are most often made against Muslims in particular Ahmadi Muslims, followed by Christians and Hindus; whereas attacks of places of worships also take place as a result of such accusations;

F. whereas on March 2 of this year, it had been 10 years since former Pakistan minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated following threats after publicly speaking out against the blasphemy laws;

G. whereas the Pakistani couple Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanual were sentenced to death on blasphemy charges in 2014; whereas these charges were based on the alleged sending of text messages insulting the Prophet Muhammad from a phone number registered to Shagufta Kausar to the person accusing them of blasphemy;

H. whereas the evidence based upon which the couple was convicted can be considered deeply flawed; whereas their illiteracy debunks the assumption that they could have sent the said messages; whereas the phone with which the alleged messages would have been sent has not been recovered for investigation; whereas the couple allegedly had been in an argument with the accuser not long before these accusations were made; whereas there is reason to believe that the confession of the couple was obtained through torture and its validity should therefore not be trusted;

I. whereas the couple has been waiting in jail for the Court to rule on the appeal against their death sentence, whereas this appeal case has been postponed multiple times, most recently on February 15, 2021;

J. whereas the couple has been separated from their four children since their conviction; whereas Shafqat Emmanuel suffers from the results of damages to his spinal cord following an accident in 2004 and is not offered appropriate medical attention in prison; whereas Shagufta Kausar is isolated in a women’s prison and suffers from depressions as a result of her circumstances;

K. whereas the Lahore High Court has postponed the case several times and whereas the lawyer of the couple, Saif ul Malook, has been very active to ensure that Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel finally can hear their case in court and that finally their judicial rights to a fair and just case are implemented;

L. whereas the social and political tension created by Muslim extremists around enforcing blasphemy laws leads to the Lahore High Court’s reluctance towards ruling in this case;

M. whereas Pakistan has been benefiting from trade preferences under the GSP+ program since 2014; whereas the economic benefits from this unilateral trade agreement for the country are considerable; whereas the GSP+ status comes with the obligation of ratifying and implementing 27 international conventions including commitments to guaranteeing human rights and religious freedom;

N. whereas the European Commission, in its latest evaluation of Pakistan in the light of the GSP+ program dated February 10, 2020, expressed a variety of serious concerns on the human rights situation in Pakistan, especially concerning the lack of progress in limiting the scope and implementation of the death penalty;

1. Is concerned at the continued abuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan and believes that this is heightening the climate of religious intolerance, violence and discrimination; calls, therefore, on the Government of Pakistan to review and ultimately abolish these laws and their application; calls for protection of judges, defense counsel and defense witnesses in all so-called blasphemy cases;

2. Notes that accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan are most often made against Muslims, followed by Christians and Hindus; emphasizes that freedom of religion and conscience applies to every individual regardless of its beliefs;

3. Calls on the Government of Pakistan to put in place effective, procedural and institutional safeguards at the investigative, prosecutorial and judicial levels to prevent the abusive use of these laws, pending the abolition of the blasphemy laws; recalls the 2014 mob attack on the Ahmadi community in Gujranwala, following allegations of blasphemy against its member Aqib Saleem, who was acquitted in court, that killed three members of the community, amongst whom two children; notes that it has been made mandatory that no police officer below the level of a police superintendent will investigate charges before registering a case;

4. Recalls the case of former Pakistan minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who in March 2011 was killed after publicly speaking out against the blasphemy laws;

5. Recalls the case of Mashal Khan, a Muslim student who in April 2017 was killed by an angry mob over allegations of posting blasphemous content online, something of which no evidence as found;

6. Is concerned by the fact that blasphemy laws in Pakistan are often abused to make false accusations serving various incentives, including settling personal disputes or seeking economic gain; therefore calls on the Government of Pakistan to recognize this fact and take it into account when reviewing the blasphemy laws; strongly rejects the reported statement by Pakistan’s minister of state for parliamentary affairs, Ali Khan, calling for the beheading of people who commit blasphemy;

7. Regrets the fact that the appeal of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel keeps being postponed, therefore calls on the Lahore High Court of Pakistan to deliver the ruling on the date announced most recently or give a reasonable explanation in case of postponement;

8. Calls on the High Court to do justice to the facts of the case and do not let social unrest get in the way of justice when delivering its ruling;

9. Notes that Shafqat Emmanuel is kept in a hospital inside the prison because of the seriousness of his condition and was twice treated outside the Faisalabad prison; regrets the fact that the couple has been held capture over a period of seven years, isolated from each other and their families, therefore calls on the Government of Pakistan to make sure that its prisons offer fair and humane circumstances;

10. Urges all EU and European diplomatic personnel to do everything they can to provide protection and support to Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, including by attending trials, requesting prison visits and consistently and resolutely reaching out to the authorities involved in this case;

11. Calls on the member states to declare willingness to offer international protection to Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel and their lawyer Saif ul Malook in the event they need to leave Pakistan;

12. Calls on the European Commission and the European External Action Service to immediately review Pakistan’s eligibility of the GSP+ status in the light of current events and whether there is sufficient reason to initiate a procedure for temporary withdrawal of this status and the benefits that come with it, and to report to the European Parliament about this matter as soon as possible;

13. Calls on the Vice‑President of the European Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to express the concerns and requests made in this resolution to the Government of Pakistan and to urge the Government of Pakistan to review the blasphemy laws and possibly abandon them; urge to review the blasphemy laws, suspend all already imposed convictions and possibly abandon them;

14. Calls on the EEAS and the EU Delegation to focus on the situation of religious minorities and freedom of religion;

15. Considers the violent demonstrations and attacks against France unacceptable; is deeply concerned by the anti-French sentiment, which leads French nationals and companies to have to temporarily leave the country;

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

 

 

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