First ever EU-Pakistan summit an opportunity to strengthen human rights and rule of law

First ever EU-Pakistan summit an opportunity to strengthen human rights and rule of law

(Brussels, 17 June) The EU should support Pakistan in strengthening human rights and the rule of law says Amnesty International as EU leaders meet the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari for the first ever EU-Pakistan summit in Brussels.

In a letter addressed to the Czech Presidency (available here) Amnesty International urged the EU to ensure that protection of human rights is the basis for any further intensification of EU-Pakistan relations.

“Respect for human rights has to be the red thread that runs through all the issues due to be discussed today from regional security and counter-terrorism to trade and development” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.

The summit takes place at a crucial time against the backdrop of a deepening humanitarian crisis in Pakistan with more than 2 million people having to flee their homes because of fighting. Just last week humanitarian organizations warned of serious shortfalls in funding to assist them.

The crisis needs a strong international response to ensure that the protection of civilians is paramount. The EU should stress the importance of Pakistan fully complying with its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law in all its military operations.

“We have seen both the government and insurgent groups violate the rules of armed conflict” Beger said. “Schools have been targeted by insurgent groups, and the government has used disproportionate force resulting in civilian deaths, or has failed to differentiate between militants and civilians.” 

EU officials, together with the member states are due to report back to the Council before October on the outcome of the summit and on progress made on concrete recommendations, policy priorities and a strategy for EU engagement.

“With this summit, the EU has formally recognised Pakistan’s strategic importance for stability in the region and as an actor in countering terrorism. Enhancing the EU’s cooperation with Pakistan must mean ensuring that a strategy for EU engagement reflects respect for human rights and rule of law on both sides” he said.

Amnesty International calls on the EU to use the occasion of the first ever EU-Pakistan summit to press Pakistan on the need to:

  • Take every precaution to spare civilian lives and to comply with humanitarian and human rights law in all its military operations
  • End the practice of enforced disappearances and either charge all those in detention with a recognizably criminal offence, or release them
  • Take steps to ensure the independence of the judiciary, including freedom from intimidation or other undue interference in the judiciary’s functioning. 

For further comment/background and interviews:

Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):

Tel: 32-2-5021499

Fax: 32-2-5025686

Email: [email protected]