Islamabad-Ina Lepel, Ambassador of Germany to Pakistan said that a diverse section of influential stakeholders, including civil society, parliamentarians, members of state human rights institutions and political leaders called upon the government for implementing the National Plan of Action on Human Rights in order to fulfil its human rights commitments under Pakistan’s Constitution and international commitments.

She said that stakeholders termed implementation of the National Action Plan on Human Rights as an opportunity for the maintenance of Pakistan’s GSP+ status as well as an opportunity to present a better picture at the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR). These views were expressed at Democracy Reporting International’s national conference titled ‘Towards Human Rights Compliance; Pakistan’s GSP+ Status and Universal Periodic Review 2017 here today in Islamabad.

In her opening remarks Ina Lepel stated, “Pakistan has made progress in the field of human rights. Nevertheless, considerable concerns and many challenges remain, for example with regards to children’s, women’s and minorities’ rights.” Germany will continue to support Pakistan in its efforts to meet the obligations stemming from these conventions for the benefit of all Pakistanis, she said.

Adding to these views Jean-François Cautain, Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan stated that GSP+ is an opportunity for Pakistan to promote economic and social progress for improvement in the rights of its citizens.

He stated the status remains a win-win situation for Pakistan provided effective utilization. Welcoming reform efforts undertaken by the Federal government he cited formation of the Treaty Implementation Cell (TIC) and submission of delayed treaty body reports by Pakistan as positive developments. Reflecting upon on the impending GSP+ review of 2018 Ambassador Cautain highlighted continued serious concerns on a number of human rights issues, including access to justice, the death penalty, freedom of religion or belief and rights of women and children, and stressed the need to achieve positive deliverables ahead of the 2018 review.   Providing the government’s view point Attorney General of Pakistan and Convener of the Treaty Implementation Cell (TIC) Ashtar Ausaf Ali’s statement recognized GSP+ as a catalyst that is needed for the systematic overhaul of our human rights regime.

His statement pointed out that the government has approved and issued the National Plan of Action on Human Rights and some important legislation such as anti-honour and anti-rape laws enacted recently.  He stressed that laws are of no use if implementation is neglected and showed government’s commitments to ensure implementation of all laws. 

Senator Nasreen Jalil Chairperson Functional Committee of Human Rights taking the conference agenda forward assured stakeholders that her Committee will stand by recommendations of the conference in order to ensure the deliverance of rights that are under threat and achieve progress ahead of impending reviews.

Hassan Nasir Mirbahar, Country Representative of Democracy Reporting International, concluding the conference highlighted that Pakistan’s government has approved an important and ambitious National Plan of Action on Human Rights. 

He recognized that it covers important legislative and policy reforms on key human rights issues. Summarising the conference outcomes he acknowledged that such reforms will be crucial for democratic stability in the country and will help in compliance with Pakistan’s international human rights commitments.