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Procedure : 2021/2647(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0259/2021

Texts tabled :

B9-0259/2021

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>B9‑0259/2021</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 Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel</Titre>

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


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Anna Fotyga, Karol Karski, Charlie Weimers, Bert‑Jan Ruissen, Elżbieta Kruk, Angel Dzhambazki, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Adam Bielan, Assita Kanko, Raffaele Fitto, Evžen Tošenovský, Valdemar Tomaševski, Bogdan Rzońca, Ryszard Czarnecki, Witold Jan Waszczykowski, Carlo Fidanza</Depute>

<Commission>{ECR}on behalf of the ECR 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.

B9‑0259/2021

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

(2021/2647(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Pakistan,

 having regard to the EU thematic guidelines on the protection and promotion of freedom of religion or belief,

 having regard to the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief,

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

 having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966,

 having regard to Rule 144 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. Whereas Pakistan’s blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws contribute to flagrant human rights abuses as its vague provisions are frequently abused to levy false accusations against those who do not adhere to the  majority Sunni interpretation of Islam; whereas this creates an overall atmosphere of intolerance for religious minorities that often leads to violence and discrimination;

B. whereas in 2020, the situation in Pakistan continued to worsen as the government systematically enforced blasphemy laws and failed to protect religious minorities from abuses by non-state actors; whereas 2020 saw a sharp rise in targeted killings, blasphemy cases, forced conversions, and hate speech targeting religious minorities including Ahmadis, Shi’a Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs; whereas the issue of abduction, forced conversion to Islam, rape, and  forced marriage remained an imminent threat for religious minority women and children, particularly from the Hindu and Christian faiths;

C. whereas according to research Pakistan accounts for by far most reported cases of state criminal blasphemy enforcement in the world, and accounts for nearly half of all reported incidents of mob activity, mob violence, and/or threats of mob violence as a result of alleged blasphemous acts;

D. whereas according to Pakistan’s Center for Social Justice at least 1,855 people have been charged under the blasphemy laws between 1987 and February 2021, with 2020 marking the highest number of accusations;

E. whereas Pakistan’s blasphemy laws make it dangerous for religious minorities to express themselves freely or engage openly in religious activities; whereas instead of protecting religious communities they have laid a blanket of fear over Pakistani society; whereas any attempts to reform the laws or their application have been stifled by threats and assassinations; whereas attempts to discuss these issues in the media, online or offline, are often met with threats and harassment, including from the government;

F. whereas several dozen people, including Muslims, Hindus, Christians and others, are currently in prison on blasphemy charges; whereas several accused have been killed by mob violence; whereas there is tremendous pressure on the Pakistani court system from certain religious leaders to uphold and carry out the death sentences, which are usually handed down by lower courts; whereas judicial proceedings often take many years and have a devastating effect on innocent Pakistani citizens and their families and communities;

G. whereas in 2020, some individuals charged with blasphemy were acquitted; whereas this sometimes resulted in violence directed at the property of the acquitted and some remain in hiding due to continued death threats;

H. whereas Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, a Christian couple, have been in prison since 2013 and were convicted and sentenced to death in April 2014 by a Trial Court in Toba Tek Singh; whereas the couple faces execution for sending ‘blasphemous’ texts to a mosque cleric insulting the Prophet Mohammed from a phone containing a sim registered in Shagufta's name; whereas both deny the allegations and believe that the sim was obtained by someone using a copy of her National Identity Card;

I. whereas their appeal was due to be heard in April 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak; whereas at their last two hearings – one scheduled on 15 February, and the latest on 24 February  – the judges have excused themselves from hearing their appeal, citing that court hours for the day had come to an end; whereas their lawyer has been struggling to get an appeal date set ever since;

J. whereas the health situation of Shafqat Emmanuel is rapidly deteriorating, while he is not being given adequate treatment; whereas he is being held at Central Jail, Faisalabad while Shagufta Kausar is being kept in solitary confinement to protect her security;

K. whereas religious minorities feel trapped between the Islamic culture, radical groups and the government appeasing these groups; whereas banned radical groups often do not dissolve but rebrand, go online or merge with an existing group and are influential, with the power to mobilize hundreds of thousands of predominantly young people, appealing to them with the promise of a better future;

L. whereas Pakistan’s Parliament on 20 April 2021 began debates on a resolution calling for the expulsion of the French ambassador, a move widely seen as a capitulation by the government to the militant Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), which was banned on 15 April 2021 under the Anti-Terrorism Act, that has led large protests and clashed with the police; whereas the TLP has capitalized on public anger over the publication in France of caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammed;

***

1. Strongly condemns all acts of violence against religious communities, as well as all kinds of discrimination and intolerance on the grounds of religion and belief; stresses that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is a fundamental human right; stresses, furthermore, that all Pakistanis, irrespective of their faith and religion, deserve equal respect, and promotion and protection of their human rights and dignity;

2. Calls on the Pakistani government to immediately and unconditionally release Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar from detention, to provide them and their lawyer adequate security and to grant Shafqat prompt, regular and unrestricted access to adequate medical health care;

3. Calls on the Pakistani courts to proceed swiftly with the reviews of the death sentences against Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, and all other citizens currently on death row for allegedly violating the blasphemy laws; calls on the authorities to release other blasphemy prisoners and other individuals imprisoned for their religion or beliefs;

4. Expresses its deep concern that the controversial blasphemy laws are open to misuse; expresses its particular concern that the blasphemy laws are increasingly used to target vulnerable minority groups, including Ahmadis and Christians, in Pakistan;

5. Encourages the Pakistani government to carry out a thorough review of the blasphemy laws and anti-Ahmadiyya laws and their current application, with a view to repealing all blasphemy laws and ensure any new legislation is fully compliant with international law and standards; encourages that pending such a repeal, the Pakistan authorities must urgently put in place effective procedural and institutional safeguards at the investigative, prosecutorial and judicial levels to prevent the abusive use of these laws while ensuring that anyone prosecuted receives a fair trial; calls on the Government of Pakistan to abolish the death penalty for blasphemy or apostasy;

6. Stresses that freedom of religion or belief is a human right and recalls that freedom of religion and minority rights are guaranteed by Pakistan’s constitution;

7. Calls on the Pakistani authorities to guarantee the independence of the courts, the rule of law and due process in line with international standards on judicial proceedings; calls, furthermore, on the Pakistani authorities to provide sufficient protection to all those involved in blasphemy cases, including by shielding judges from outside pressure, protecting the accused and their families and communities from mob violence and providing solutions for those who are acquitted but cannot go back to their places of origin;

8. Calls on the Pakistani government to address extremist rhetoric often preceding attacks on minorities and to hold accountable individuals who incite or participate in vigilante violence, targeted killings, forced conversions, and other hate crimes;

9. Encourages the Pakistani government to ensure that any training or cooperation in regard to the criminal justice sector in Pakistan, including police and other law enforcement officials, prosecutors, defence lawyers and judges, includes a significant human rights component, particularly in regard to their specific roles in respecting and protecting human rights in blasphemy cases;

10. Encourages the Pakistani authorities to reform public educational textbooks, curriculum, and teacher training, so to ensure that the content of educational materials is inclusive of and not discriminatory toward religious minorities; calls for the promotion of interfaith harmony, compassion and tolerance towards other religions in the educational system;

11. Deplores the statements by the Prime Minister of Pakistan stating that insulting Islam's prophet should be the same as denying the Holocaust;

12. Is worried about the ongoing debate in the Parliament of Pakistan on the expulsion of the French ambassador as it is a clear example of the large influence of radical-Islamist movements on the executive and legislative branches of the country’s government;

13. Calls on the EEAS and the Commission to use any tools at their disposal, including as formulated in the EU Guidelines for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, to aid religious communities and to pressurise the Pakistani Government to do more for the protection of religious minorities; encourages the EEAS and the Commission to work with the Pakistani authorities in order to reform the way the blasphemy laws are used;

14. Urges the EEAS and the Commission to strictly monitor Pakistan’s compliance with its commitments under the GSP+, and to promote and defend human rights in Pakistan;

15. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the European External Action Service, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and to the Government and Parliament of Pakistan.

 

 

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