ISLAMABAD, Aug 06 (APP):Federal Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Dr Muhammad Farogh Naseem Friday said Pakistan was determined to achieve the objectives of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Development Strategy till 2025.
He expressed these views while addressing the Eighth Justice Ministers Meeting of the Member States of SCO.
He said he wanted to convey his warmest regards and heartiest felicitations to all the Justice Ministers of SCO Member States on the completion of 20 years of the SCO.
This forum represented the ambitions of the Member States to build prosperous and sustainable partnerships for jointly promoting common values, interests and opportunities, he added.
He said ever since its accession as a full member, Pakistan had committed to play an effective role towards promoting of cooperation in law and justice as Pakistan considered SCO as a dynamic platform to forge ties with regional partners and would work on the promotion of issues of mutual legal assistance, combating corruption and supremacy of law.
He said noting the mutual understanding reached in the development of the legal systems of the SCO member states, Pakistan looked forward to cooperate in the promotion and development of the Organization’s treaty, including the draft SCO Convention on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil Cases for the development of information-communication technologies and providing mutual legal assistance.
He said Pakistan had already taken the initiative by passing the Legal Aid and Justice Authority Act which aimed to provide legal and financial assistance for access to justice for vulnerable segments of society.
The minister was of the view that the COVID-19 pandemic had presented numerous challenges globally and Pakistan’s courts had been limited to try cases of urgent nature to ensure the safety of judges, staff, lawyers, litigants in court offices across the country.
Recently, some district courts and tribunals resumed all operations in the country; he said and added at the federal level, the law dealing with public health was the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897.
He said Pakistan had also passed COVID-19 (Prevention of Smuggling) Ordinance, 2020 to prevent smuggling of certain articles including foreign currency, gold and silver, precious stones, live stock and certain items of food consumption.
He said countries worldwide should forge partnerships, revise legal frameworks, and formulate strategies to effectively combat the crises caused by the pandemic and to intensify the efforts to implement the Agreement on Cooperation between the Ministries of Justice of the SCO member states signed in Dushanbe in 2015.
He said the Ministries of Law and Justice had a vital role to play in the fight against corruption. One of the ways that the judiciary could combat corruption was by showing its independence in the dispensation of justice as the combating and prevention of corruption required extensive cooperation and maintaining mutual trust, he added.
He said adherence to the principles of supremacy of the law, equality before the law, and accountability, should ensure long-term sustainable economic growth, stability, progress and development of the SCO member states.
He said SCO should hold a regional conference dedicated to the provision of pro bono legal assistance to citizens.
He urged to improve national laws, introduce new technologies, and exchange information with other member states on best practices to combat the menace of corruption.
He said the work on formation of the treaty-legal base within the SCO framework on the provision of legal assistance to citizens in civil cases by further refining the draft SCO Convention on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil Cases should be continued.
He said, “The objectives of the SCO were in complete harmony with the foreign policy goals of the incumbent government which focuses on peace, stability and development. Pakistan shares with the Members of SCO deep-rooted, historical, and cultural links.
Our interests and objectives interconnect across a wide range of areas and challenges. Our priority of utmost importance is to promote friendly relations and strengthen regional cooperation through enhanced connectivity and people to people contacts.”
He said it would be a great honour for the Pakistan for hosting the next meeting of the Ministers of Law and Justice of the SCO Members States which would be held in 2022.
He said the region was undergoing far-reaching changes in realms of geo-politics, security and economics and in fact, people were living in a time of profound transformation in global politics and look forward to working together with SCO partners to materialize the objectives of peace, prosperity and development.