GUE/NGL MEPS protest refusal of visa for Pakistani trade union activist

Date

09 Dec 2010

Sections

Global Europe
Social Europe & Jobs

GUE/NGL MEPs today expressed anger at the refusal by Belgian authorities to grant a visa to Pakistani trade unionist Khalid Mehmood to attend the group's hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels on conflict prevention in Asia and Africa.

Khalid Mehmood, Secretary of the Progressive Workers' Federation in Pakistan, was one of several speakers invited from Asian and African countries in order to facilitate an exchange of views between MEPs and activists on the ground in Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Nigeria. Despite his compliance with all demands made by the Belgian immigration services, and assurances to the service from Joe Higgins MEP of Mr Mehmood´s integrity, he was not allowed to speak at today's event.



Given the disastrous situation in Pakistan after the floods which destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people, his first hand account would have been extremely important. The European Commission is in the process of proposing emergency autonomous trade preferences for goods from Pakistan into the European Union in order to - as they say- assist the rebuilding of the country and the lives of those affected by the devastating floods. However, to this day, no impact assessment was provided by the Commission which would give an insight into whether or not those trade preferences would really be to the benefit of the victims of the floods. Mr Mehmood who is representing a trade union with more than half a million members would have been in a position to shed some light on this important question.



Unfortunately Mr Mehmood was not able to attend this hearing. He complied with all demands made by the Belgian immigration services in a timely fashion and provided ample proof of the purpose of his visit. Mr Mehmood has visited the EU in the past and has always complied with his visa requirements.



This is clearly an unacceptable situation! Not only is it a serious obstruction of the work of Members of the Euopean Parliament, it is also an example of the restrictive immigration policy of the European Union and the Schengen countries.



Joe Higgins MEP, Socialist Party, Ireland.

Eva-Britt Svensson MEP, Vänsterpartiet, Sweden.

Rui Tavares MEP, Bloco De Esquerda, Portugal.
 
GUE/NGL PRESS CONTACTS:
David Lundy + 32 485 50 58 12
Gianfranco Battistini + 32 475 64 66 28
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
www.guengl.eu
Gauche Unitaire Européenne/
Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group