Pakistan rejects EU demands to end death penalty

Pakistan cannot abolish the death penalty due to political implications and religious implications.

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Pakistan is refusing to comply with the European Union (EU) demands of abolishing the death penalty for the extension of the new Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

According to the details, the EU Parliament had proposed additional conventions for the new GSP+ scheme (2024-34). These conventions include the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – Individual complaints against State party in ICC – and First Optional Protocol to the International Convention Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – Individual complaints against State party in ICCPR-UNHRC.

There is also a second optional protocol to the ICCPR which bounds a country to abolish the death penalty. Pakistan, which has been a major recipient of the GSP+ scheme for the last seven years, had not ratified any of the conditions as the ratification carries several legal and political implications.

Read more: Status of GSP+ extension for Pakistan

Pakistan under pressure?

It seems that Pakistan will once again face the burden of meeting the demands of an international organization for the sake of its economy. To clarify, the GSP+ is an entrenched trade and development policy instrument that was first established in 1971. As part of this scheme, Pakistan enjoys zero duty on several products, however, this is set to expire on December 31, 2023.

Since upon expiration of the current scheme, members will have to reapply, their progress on the conventions is given a lot of weightage. On the other hand, Pakistan cannot abolish the death penalty due to political implications and religious implications as many believe that the death penalty is a suitable punishment for crimes of extreme severity. The Pakistan Penal Code contains 27 different offenses punishable by death, including blasphemy, rape, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, assault on the modesty of women, and smuggling of drugs.

Pertinent to mention that if Pakistan does not ratify the GSP+ conditions, it will then have to pay heavy export duty.

Read more: EU Ambassador stresses need for Pakistan to fully exploit GSP Plus regime