Human rights: Pakistan, Bolivia and the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America

  • Pakistani authorities must release Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar from jail 
  • Europe and Latin America must step up cooperation to combat the pandemic 
  • Bolivian authorities must free imprisoned former President Jeanine Áñez 

On Thursday, Parliament adopted three resolutions assessing the human rights situation in Pakistan and Bolivia, and the COVID-19 situation in Latin America.

The COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on the Latin American continent, MEPs say, expressing their solidarity towards all victims and their families, as well all those affected by the health, economic and social crises.

The resolution calls on European and Latin American governments, EU institutions and Latin American integration bodies to step up bi-regional cooperation and to improve preparedness, access to basic healthcare, and to manage widespread vaccination plans more efficiently.

The EU and its member states must cooperate with the authorities in Latin American countries in need and deploy the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and other solidarity funding, MEPs say. They urge the international community to increase their efforts to strengthen the capacity of the COVAX initiative to distribute vaccines, while recognising the EU’s leading role in efforts to secure fair and equitable access to safe and effective vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.

The resolution in full will be available here. (29.04.2021). It was adopted by 597 votes in favour, 51 against with 43 abstentions.

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan, in particular the case of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel

MEPs are concerned for the health and wellbeing of Pakistani couple Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, who were sentenced to death on blasphemy charges in 2014. Since their conviction, based on deeply flawed evidence, they have been held captive and isolated from each other and their families, while their appeal process has been postponed repeatedly, MEPs say.

The resolution notes that Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, despite never having led to official executions, incite harassment, violence and murder against those being accused. Parliament calls on the Pakistani authorities to release Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar immediately and unconditionally and to overturn their death sentence.

Should they need to leave Pakistan, EU countries must issue emergency visas and offer international protection to the couple, MEPs urge, as well as for their lawyer Saiful Malook and others that stand accused for peacefully exercising their rights.

For all the details, the resolution will be available in full here. (29.04.2021). It was adopted by 681 votes in favour, 3 against with 6 abstentions.

Bolivia and the arrest of former President Jeanine Áñez and other officials

Parliament condemns the arbitrary and illegal detention of former Bolivian interim President Jeanine Áñez, two of her ministers, and other political prisoners in the country.

The text states that, on 13 March, Ms Áñez, two of her ministers and other individuals who made up the interim government from 2019 to 2020 “were detained on charges of ‘terrorism, sedition and conspiracy, and are accused by prosecutors of taking part in a coup in 2019.”

A former Second Vice-President of the Bolivian Senate, Ms Áñez assumed the interim presidency of Bolivia after her predecessor Evo Morales stepped down in 2019 following accusations of a fraudulent re-election, political unrest and violent protests.

The resolution underlines that former President Áñez fully complied with her duties under the Bolivian constitution when taking up the post of interim president. MEPs demand that she and the other political prisoners in Bolivia be immediately released and provided with all the medical assistance they need to ensure their well-being.

For all the details, the resolution will be available in full here. (29.04.2021). It was adopted by 396 votes in favour, 267 against with 28 abstentions.