Dáil Éireann - Volume 574 - 13 November, 2003
Written Answers. - Human Rights Issues.
Mr. Wall Mr. Wall
91. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will liaise with the Government of Pakistan in regard to the position of one million tenants in the Punjab who face a grave and immediate threat to their livelihoods; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that violence is being used against them; and if he will raise with the EU the urgent need for requiring that aid given to the Pakistan Government be conditional on their observance of the rule of law and of human rights. [26730/03]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): I am aware of the dispute in the Punjab region of Pakistan concerning the rights of tenant farmers under proposed amendments to the Punjab Tenancy Act. I am concerned that the dispute should be managed in a manner that fully respects the human and civil rights of the tenant farmers in question.
The EU Presidency plays an important role in fostering a constructive relationship with Pakistan in which positive developments with regard to human rights can be encouraged. As a member of the troika, Ireland participated in the recent EU ministerial mission to Islamabad, on 21 October 2003. The meeting focused on EU-Pakistan relations, the security situation in Afghanistan, terrorism, and relations with India. The discussion of democratisation and human rights in Pakistan was a core element of the mission.
The European Commission's development assistance is in keeping with the broad principle that such aid should be neutral, focused on humanitarian need and delivered in co-operation with independent civil society groups and NGOs as a means of supporting democratic principles in the receiving society. The European Commission has adopted a national indicative programme for Pakistan – NIP – covering the period 2003-2005, under which a sum of €71 million has been allocated. The NIP outlines activities to be supported, on the basis of priorities set out in the country strategy paper for Pakistan 2002-06, namely human development in the education sector, with emphasis on good governance and accountability in the provision of educational services, and trade development and promotion of business and institutional links.
The Asia-Latin America Management Committee oversees EU-assisted projects delivered under the NIP for Pakistan. Ireland participates fully in this committee which is chaired by the European Commission. Concerns regarding human rights as they relate to the delivery of development assistance in Pakistan, and other Asian and Latin American countries, are raised at this committee. Together with our EU partners, we will continue to monitor closely developments with regard to human rights in Pakistan and raise them, as appropriate, in both our political and aid-related contacts with the Government of Pakistan.
Dáil Éireann 574 Written Answers. Human Rights Issues.