Mr President, despite the request made by the Pakistani Minister for Religious Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, for more protection after numerous threats, an assassin managed to murder him on 2 March. Our sympathies go out not only to his loved ones, but also to all Pakistanis who seek a more tolerant society. This is a real blow to Pakistan as well as to humanity as a whole.
Why did the Pakistani authorities deny the Minister’s request for a bullet-proof official car, as well as his request that he select his own bodyguards that he trusted? By calling for reforms in the inhumane blasphemy laws, he was a human rights defender.
We equally want to pay tribute to the work of Naeem Sabir Jamaldini, the coordinator of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, who was murdered on 1 March.
We need practical action such as investigations, including within the government. These have to take place in line with international standards because impunity has to end. The European Union should monitor the situation and try to fund civil society through the Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.