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‘Special cell’ planned for monitoring human rights

Pakistan on 21 January 2014
Location : Pakistan | Source : Dawn. Image Source: Dawn

In order to benefit from 10-year special trading status granted by the European Union, Pakistan has given an undertaking to the EU that it will set up a ‘special cell’ to ensure implementation of UN conventions requiring promotion of sustainable human rights in the country.

A senior government official told Dawn on Sunday that Pakistan’s decision to meet the requirement of having a special cell and focal point had been conveyed to the EU’s Head of Cooperation on Jan 17.

“The special support cell to be funded through a project called 'Promotion of Human Rights in Pakistan’ would be set up in the ministry of law, justice and human rights,” he said.

The EU would not only provide funds for the promotion of human rights in Pakistan but also coordinate with the law ministry on all issues arising out of complaints from any quarter regarding violation of human rights in the country.

The special cell will be headed by a senior professional with the required expertise in the field of human rights so that he or she could play an active and pragmatic role as mentioned in all the UN conventions. The cell will report to a steering committee comprising representatives of EU members and other stakeholders.

Approved by the EU in the second week of December last year, the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus facility to Pakistan became effective on Jan 1 and will remain in place for 10 years and even beyond if its exports remain below 2 per cent of EU’s total imports. At less than $4 billion, Pakistan’s share in EU’s total textile exports is less than 1.6pc at present.

The Federal Board of Revenue has already been directed to ensure that Pakistan’s export remains within the permissible limit of 2pc, the official said.

Pakistan has agreed not only to ratify all the 27 UN conventions, but also allowed monitoring by special EU teams every two years, he said.

The first such inspection is due in January 2016. In case of an adverse report about violation of human rights, the EU would consider withdrawing trade concessions.

The preferential status allows about 20pc Pakistani exports to EU at zero tariff and another 70pc on preferential rates.The government expects about $1.2bn per year of additional export gains from the facility in the first year.

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