By Maryam Usman
ISLAMABAD: A European Union representative said on Monday the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) facility can be withdrawn in full or in part if a country does not fulfil its commitment to implement 27 conventions. European Union Ambassador Stefano Gatto was among EU representatives who were especially invited to attend a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights. The EU representative gave a detailed briefing to the committee about the GSP+ status. Federal Minister for Human Rights Kamran Michael and other officials were also present.
The EU representative, however, did not explicitly comment on the prospects of Pakistan being under threat for non-compliance with the EU conventions related to human rights. Burning women alive: Senate panel set to discuss honour killings “The GSP regulation outlines the process for withdrawal, which requires a clear decision from the commission to initiate the procedure and provides opportunity for the beneficiary country to submit additional information.”
EU has produced the first progress report, which has been published in January 2016. The report has been based on the information received from UN treaty monitoring bodies, the government of Pakistan, international organisations, including the UN and the Pakistani civil society. The committee noted that though Pakistan has made some progress on human rights, much more needs to be done. “Institutions need to be made to function better, including the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) and rights of the people must be implemented on the ground, by the provinces, police and judiciary.” Referencing general trends from the EU report, the committee was informed that Pakistan has made more progress on labour rights, environment and governance conventions and less on human rights. The report registers more progress on the institutional and legislative framework and less on implementation of the conventions on the ground.
The report has particularly raised concerns over accessing justice in terms of the right to a fair trial, military courts, death penalty, disappearances and extrajudicial killings, blasphemy laws, violence against women, including honour killings, discrimination, forced marriages and conversions, etc. Human rights and minority affairs: House lacks standing committee, three years on
Ambassador Stefano Gatto said that it was a collective endeavour for the government, parliament, the business community and civil society to improve human rights and people a safe environment. “We are in this with you, we just have different roles,” he said, adding, “The report will help Pakistan improve its human rights, instead of examining it like a professor.” Honour killings condemned meanwhile, the United Nations has condemned the growing number of honour killings in Pakistan and demanded that the government take steps to stop such incidents and punish the culprits.
Neil Buhne, UN Resident Coordinator for Pakistan, said in a statement that hundreds of women and girls have been killed in Pakistan every year to save honour of a family or a tribe. The increase in the number of killings in recent years show the high price women and girls have to pay to such incidents. He said the murder of 22-year-old Muqaddas Bibi is an example of such incidents as she was killed by his own family for her marriage of choice. Neal said according to international and national laws the responsibility of protecting the rights and freedom of women rested on the state.