MEPs urge prevention of blasphemy laws’ misuse based on false accusations.

ISLAMABAD   -   European Members of Parliament (MEPs) yesterday called for action to tackle human rights challenges in Pakistan. In a departure statement, the MEPs from the Sub-Committee on Human Rights (DROI) – who visited Pakistan on September 19-21 - were briefed on Pakistan’s emergency

response, relief activities and its vulnerability to climate disasters. On behalf of European Parliament,

the members expressed their condolences for victims and  their families, and their solidarity with the people of Pakistan. They underlined that the international community must increase its efforts to reduce global carbon emissions and help the countries suffering the most from climate change. In other meetings, MEPs focused on the human rights situation, against the backdrop of the final round of EU monitoring of Pakistan’s preferential trade access to the EU market under the ‘GSP+’ scheme for 2014-2033, and its preparations for an application to the next GSP system to be determined in 2024.

The EU is Pakistan’s most important export market and as a major ‘GSP+’ country, it has committed

to ratifying and complying with 27 international conventions on human  rights, labour rights, sustainable

development and good governance. MEPs discussed a wide range of human rights topics in their

meetings with the speaker and members of Pakistan’s National Assembly, as well as with the chairman

and members of the Senate. They also held meetings with  the minister of human rights, the minister of law and justice and the chairwoman of the national commission on human rights (NCHR). The delegation met with civil society organisations, women human  rights activists and media. In these

discussions, they talked about the criminal justice system, torture and  the death penalty, economic and social rights, prevention of domestic  violence, and the freedom of religion and belief and the freedom of expression both online and offline.  MEPs said it was important for  Pakistan to undertake timely reforms  and legislative changes on human rights issues, and translate them into concrete  mprovements. They called for determined  and structured action, including the swift adoption of laws against torture and enforced disappearances,  steps to substantially reduce the number of crimes, carrying the death penalty and to apply  the new procedures for mercy petitions. Laws protecting journalists, eliminating obstacles to the work of civil society organisations and media, and the rights to collective  bargaining and unionisation should be implemented. The delegation raised the need to prevent the misuse of blasphemy laws, by applying safeguards against false accusations.