JULY 8, 2021
Brussels: Pakistan’s GSP Plus (GSP+) status can be suspended temporarily if it does not meet with the protection standards of human rights. The spokesperson in a press briefing referred to a resolution adopted by the European Parliament in April, which had announced for a thorough review of Pakistan’s eligibility criteria for the GSP+ status after prominent increase in laws and legislation that the commission saw as discriminatory and threatening to existence towards minorities and fundamental rights.
“A temporary withdrawal of the GSP+ status is believed to be the last resort when all other means of political dialogue and engagement do not produce necessary results,” she added. It bears mentioning that a final decision has not been taken on the matter yet.
The spokesperson added that the: “The Europe Union continues to engage with the Government of Pakistan to ensure compliance by Pakistan of its international commitments, in particular in the area of human rights” The GSP+ is a special element of the GSP scheme that provides additional trade incentives to developing countries already placed in the category of GSP
The GSP+ status awarded to Pakistan requires the country to demonstrate progress and resolution to existing problems on the implementation of 27 international core conventions. This checklist constitutes a strong hold and position for the European Union in terms of monitoring and acting as a watchdog in any direct advocacy with Pakistan.
The European Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS) has been closely observing political paradigm shifts and developments in Pakistan in the light of relevant UN/International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions, including the issues raised in the resolution.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s Human Rights and Foreign Affairs committees at the Strasbourg plenary session have recommended amendments to the global human rights sanction’s regime legislation, also known as the Magnitsky Act, to make it more forceful.
The amendments recommend that resolutions passed against human rights violations be passed by a majority vote rather than unanimously, and instead of imposing sanctions on the entire country and system that violate human rights under the Magnitsky Act, sanctions will be imposed on rulers and the government instead. Such sanctions may include bans on their travel to Europe, as well as seizure of their assets in Europe and freezing of bank accounts.