Capital punishment: EU cautions against lifting moratorium

Published: August 28, 2013
“If Pakistan wants to qualify for the GSP plus plan then it will have to stop the execution of prisoners on death row,”  says an official. PHOTO: FILE

“If Pakistan wants to qualify for the GSP plus plan then it will have to stop the execution of prisoners on death row,” says an official. PHOTO: FILE


The European Union (EU) cautioned Pakistan on Tuesday that lifting the moratorium on the death penalty will be viewed as a major setback in the 28-member bloc and possibly affect Islamabad’s quest for duty-free access to the European markets.

Days ahead of presenting a formal request for seeking duty free access, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the interior ministry to halt executions till further orders. The instruction came in the wake of the foreign ministry’s recommendations to avail the Generalised Scheme of Preference (GSP), according to interior ministry officials.

Head of European Parliament Sub-Committee on Human Rights Ana Gomes voiced the EU’s stance against the death penalty.

“The EU is opposed to the capital punishment in all cases without exception. The EU delegation hopes that the moratorium on the death penalty will be extended, which will be a key step in the right direction,” Gomes said, adding that it will be viewed as a major setback if Pakistan lifted the moratorium.

Gomes, along with Andrzej Grzyb, is on a fact-finding mission to assess the country’s human rights situation, in particular that of women and children and ongoing discussion on the death penalty.

The EU warning comes at a time when the Taliban have also threatened to attack key government installations, if the government executed the captured Taliban.

The new government has assured the delegation that it would extend the moratorium on the death penalty, a European diplomat told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.

“The EU Parliament will soon vote on developing economic relations with Pakistan and it will take into account all considerations including human rights,” said Gomes. To a question, Gomes said the EU did not demand from Pakistan to amend the laws for abolishing the death penalty.

“What we want is that the capital punishment should not be awarded,” she added.

The EU Ambassador to Pakistan Lars Wigemark said the moratorium on the death penalty was not directly linked with the Generalised System of Preference plus status, which Islamabad is seeking for duty free access, but by declaring a moratorium on the death penalty Pakistan made very positive achievement that the country’s diplomats could exploit in its negotiations with the EU.

Lars said Pakistan has not yet formally presented a request for seeking duty free access. The request will be sent by Islamabad this week or by early next month.

In the first leg of the visit, the delegation held meetings with the government, members of parliament, political parties and representatives of the civil society.  Gomes said the static perception in Europe was very sombre and it was not just because of the security situation in Pakistan but also because of human rights indicators.

Blasphemy law and women’s rights

On the issue of blasphemy law, she said it was a sensitive topic but many people in Pakistan shared their views. “The blasphemy issue is bringing a bad reputation to Pakistan and we have conveyed this to the government,” Gomes said.

The EU also expressed alarm about the acute situation of women and girls in Pakistan. Gomes said Pakistan was required to take decisive actions to combat all forms of discrimination. She said the EU delegation also expressed concerns over abuse of minorities’ rights and sectarian killings and urged the government to establish strong institutional setup, including monitoring and accountability mechanisms, for protecting human rights and fulfilling Pakistan’s international human rights commitments.

Senate session

Two weeks ago, the foreign ministry had moved a summary to the prime minister as well as the interior ministry, seeking a ban on executions

“If Pakistan wants to qualify for the GSP plus plan then it will have to stop the execution of prisoners on death row,” a senior official told The Express Tribune.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s directions came five days ago, while foreign office summary was moved two weeks [ago] roughly,” confirmed interior ministry spokesperson Omar Hameed Khan.

The matter also came under discussion in the a meeting of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control on Tuesday, where interior ministry spokesperson stated on record that the prime minister had written a letter to the interior ministry to halt executions until further orders. Senator Mashadi, a member of the committee, insisted that consultation between the president and the prime minister over the matter, earlier this month, was illegal.

“If the government wants to stop executions, it should introduce amendments in the existing laws,” Mashadi suggested.

Pakistan aims to qualify for the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), which will take effect from January 2014, and will qualify for GSP plus if it continues to keep the moratorium intact.

The GSP plus offers the possibility for Pakistani companies to benefit from zero tariffs on all products being exported to the European Union.

Pakistanis jailed abroad

Foreign Office officials told the Senate Standing Committee that some 7,912 Pakistanis were languishing in foreign jails. As many as 206 Pakistani prisoners are jailed in China; 170 of them have already been convicted and 36 are under trial, according to the foreign minister’s special secretary Noor Muhammad Jadmani.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Saleem
    Aug 28, 2013 - 3:57AM

    Amazing! Killers have rights but no one care about victims.


  • smbfhs
    Aug 28, 2013 - 4:33AM

    Under the circumstances of;
    √The weak & strugling & incompetent govt offices, lack of training and check & balance of officers.
    √Lack of accountability, lack of funding, rampant corruption in high authorities, money laundering, fund embezlement, unaccounted monies, bribery, tax evasion.
    √Sympathy for extremists & their ideas, iron claw feudal & wealthier’s control over poor, negligible women rights, ethnic, religious & status favouritism
    ¶<All These Are Huge Factors in favour of hanging the innocent & the powerless.

    We see everyday how the rich & the powerfull never get to the noose or even to the jail or handcuffed more than an hour maybe. Thats were the real crime lies not with the poors.


  • aqib
    Aug 28, 2013 - 5:41AM

    So now we have to take directions from our masters in the west, rather than the ‘One and Only Master’.


  • Syed
    Aug 28, 2013 - 6:53AM

    This happens when rulers are unable to implement and allow rule of law :) when Rulers are corrupt to the core themselve – they simply cannot do anything except blaming each other. It is the outside world who dictate the terms – too bad so sad :(

    One question to Gomes though – Isn’t the situation in Karachi bringing bad name to Pakistan where Provincial and Federal Govt (current or previous) simply FAILED to act swiftly and with the committement to provide security to the people of Karachi?

    Isn’t bring bad reputation to Pakistan when previous govt. FAILED to provide any policy/law/ or was able to bring stabiity in the Country – or should i say – since these rulers have way too much investment in your country you wouldnt say anything to them and just pressurize these rulers to amend law that suits western needs – it doesnt matter if it is in the interest of Pakistan or not.


  • kala_bacha
    Aug 28, 2013 - 8:15AM

    What EU has to do with capital punishment. They are not having drone attacks or suicide bombers or ethnic cleansing?


  • Bilal
    Aug 28, 2013 - 8:50AM

    We don’t want duty free access,all we want is justice to be served.Even if we get access to EU’s markets,our law and order situation can’t be improved unless the death sentences are carried out.Our biggest problem is terrorism and God forbid if the government permanently banishes the death penalty than or security agencies should go with “NO PRISONERS” approach at least against the terrorists.


  • Aug 28, 2013 - 10:44AM

    Lack of measures for recovery of taxes, repayment of loans, a glut of subsidies and exemptions, rampant corruption remaining unchecked, and the predominance of the ‘biradari’ system has forced us to remain mendicants after sixty-six years.

    Beggars can’t be choosers. Salams


  • asad
    Aug 28, 2013 - 11:59AM

    That is How Terrorists are being protected Globally!

    Dedicated to all my Pro Secular, Liberal friends who are obsessed with WEST’s progress!


  • Aug 28, 2013 - 12:18PM

    In case,
    any one takes lives of other innocent people,have no right to live on the earth belonged to the country where he committed such heinous crime.


  • Aug 28, 2013 - 12:21PM

    There should be no classification in the way of justice.


  • gp65
    Aug 28, 2013 - 12:46PM

    “The European Union (EU) cautioned Pakistan on Tuesday that lifting the moratorium on the death penalty will be viewed as a major setback in the 28-member bloc and possibly affect Islamabad’s quest for duty-free access to the European markets.”

    Putting the blame falsely on EU threat

    when the real reason is that despite all the bravado, government does not are to ignore the TTP threat

  • darbullah
    Aug 28, 2013 - 12:55PM

    Beggars can’t be choosers. EU doesn’t say this to India.


  • NuPak
    Aug 28, 2013 - 12:58PM

    Wow! None of us realize that when the whole town is steeling rocks & stones from the security wall, everyones house will drown in the flood when water came. Here the foundation stones of_<Honesty, Hardwork, Work ethics & Selflessness are gone from the society and all sorts of straps, bandages, glues & support is being applied over the foundation, its not going to work we all know that.

    Stop the show of death sentances and start proving the real job of foundation building and repair. These criminals in jail are not the reason we have lost our direction neither killing them would get us on track but the absence of above characterstics in the powerfuls and the free relaxing in the office are defenitely the reason we are trapped in the dungeon.


  • Parvez
    Aug 28, 2013 - 1:18PM

    ‘ will be viewed as a set back ‘……………but our backs are already up against the wall.
    We must do what is right for us.


  • ashar
    Aug 28, 2013 - 1:47PM

    Where are the liberals? who advocate severe punishments for rapists, and where are the women rights organizations? They would not show up since they are on the payroll of the EU who are themselves objecting on this issue. Its dilemma for them.


  • SayWhat?
    Aug 28, 2013 - 3:56PM

    They do, but Indian papers are not as Free as ours. Plus, pointing toward a flaw in-land is a publisher’s suicide there.

    The line “India Shining” is what only sells there, period.


  • Ali
    Aug 28, 2013 - 4:28PM

    EU should mind it’s own business.Recommend

  • Ibad
    Aug 28, 2013 - 6:47PM

    if EU care so much about them, then why dont they keep them in European/American prison???strong text


  • ibad
    Aug 28, 2013 - 6:48PM

    if EU care so much about them, then why dont they keep them in European/American prison???


  • unbelievable
    Aug 28, 2013 - 11:08PM

    If you want special trade concession from the EU then it’s a good idea to avoid policies that offend them — pretty simple. If you want to execute people – fine – plenty of countries do so – but those countries aren’t asking for special deals from the EU.


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