Procedure : 2014/3017(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0026/2015

Texts tabled :

B8-0026/2015

Debates :

Votes :

PV 15/01/2015 - 11.7
CRE 15/01/2015 - 11.7
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2015)0012

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 143kWORD 75k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0012/2015
12.1.2015
PE547.449v01-00
 
B8-0026/2015

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on the situation in Egypt (2014/3017(RSP))


Marietje Schaake, Marielle de Sarnez, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Frédérique Ries, Ivan Jakovčić, Jozo Radoš, Louis Michel, Gérard Deprez, Pavel Telička, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Fredrick Federley on behalf of the ALDE Group

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Egypt (2014/3017(RSP))  
B8‑0026/2015

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to its previous resolutions, in particular those of 6 February 2014 on the situation in Egypt(1) and 17 July 2014 on freedom of expression and assembly in Egypt(2),

–       having regard to the statements by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on 23 June 2014 on the jail sentences of several journalists and the confirmation of death sentences against several Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters,

–       having regard to the EU-Egypt Association Agreement of 2001, which entered into force in 2004 and was strengthened by the Action Plan of 2007, and to the Commission’s progress report on its implementation of 20 March 2013,

–       having regard to the Constitution of Egypt adopted by referendum on 14-15 January 2014, in particular Articles 65, 70, 73, 75 and 155 thereof,

–       having regard to Egyptian Law 107 on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations of 24 November 2013,

–       having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU foreign policy(3),

–       having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2013 on the freedom of press and media in the world(4),

–       having regard to the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline of 12 May 2014,

–       having regard to the 2013 Special Report of the European Court of Auditors, entitled ‘EU Cooperation with Egypt in the Field of Governance’,

–       having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,

–       having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, to which Egypt is a party,

–       having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are indispensable pillars of a democratic and pluralistic society; whereas freedom of the press and media are vital elements for democracy and an open society; whereas the Egyptian Constitution adopted in 2014 enshrines fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and assembly;

B.     whereas since the military intervention in June 2013 the Egyptian Government has conducted a large-scale campaign of arbitrary detention, harassment, intimidation and censorship against government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, and against political opponents, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood; whereas reports indicate that, since July 2013, more than 40 000 people have been detained following unprecedented waves of mass arrests and an estimated 1 400 protestors have been killed as a result of the excessive and arbitrary use of force by security forces; whereas the freedoms of association, assembly and expression have remained areas of particular concern since July 2013; whereas Egypt is rated as ‘not free’ by the 2014 Freedom in the World report by Freedom House;

C.     whereas thousands of protesters and prisoners of conscience have been detained in Egypt since the Egyptian army seized power in July 2013; whereas arrests and cases of arbitrary detention have continued since the election of President al-Sisi in May 2014; whereas on 11 June 2014 a court sentenced Alaa Abdul Fattah, a prominent activist who played a leading role in the 2011 revolution, and others to 15 years’ imprisonment on charges of violating Law 107 on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations of 2013 (Protest Law); whereas other prominent activists, including Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Douma and Ahmed Maher, as well as leading women’s rights defenders such as Yara Sallam and Sana Seif, continue to be detained; whereas on 28 April 2014 the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ruled in favour of banning the April 6 Youth Movement;

D.     whereas on 10 January 2015 an Egyptian court in the Nile Delta province of Baheira sentenced Karim al-Banna, a 21-year-old student, to three years in jail for announcing on Facebook that he is an atheist and for insulting Islam;

E.     whereas President al-Sisi has authorised the military to protect state facilities and try people on suspicion of launching attacks on state facilities; whereas Law No 136/2014 grants the military judiciary greater authority; whereas this law will be used against anti-government protestors and will bring back military trials for civilians;

F.     whereas the UN Universal Periodic Review has issued 300 recommendations, including the release of anyone arrested for exercising freedom of expression; whereas seven human rights groups based in Egypt did not take part in the UN review of their country’s performance, fearing persecution;

G.     whereas freedom of the press is still under great pressure in Egypt and journalists are still being detained on the basis of unfounded allegations; whereas the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest court of law, ruled that there were procedural failings in the trial of journalists Mohammed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed from Al-Jazeera; whereas, however, the three journalists are set for retrial and charges of ‘falsifying news’ and ‘involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood’ against them have not been dropped;

H.     whereas since October 2014 more than 110 students have been arrested by the Egyptian authorities and 18 students have been suspended from university owing to their participation in protests calling for academic freedom; whereas these arrests are considered pre-emptive strikes on free speech and free assembly; whereas over 30 academics from universities across Egypt released a statement condemning the security presence on university campuses;

I.      whereas the Egyptian authorities’ crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been considered a terrorist organisation by Egypt since 21 December 2013, is ongoing and affiliated organisations and political parties are also banned; whereas on 2 December 2014 an Egyptian criminal court handed down provisional death sentences against 188 defendants; whereas these sentences are the latest in a string of prosecutions and court proceedings that have been rife with procedural irregularities and in breach of international law; whereas this was the third such mass sentencing in 2014; whereas no one has been held to account for the excessive use of violence in August 2013, when security forces raided camps on the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square;

J.      whereas former President Mubarak, his former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, and six other aides were released on 29 November 2014 after charges of murder and corruption were dropped, on the basis of a technical error;

K.     whereas the independence of the judiciary and respect for law and its implementation is an essential pillar in any democracy; whereas recent judicial practices have cast serious doubts on the independence of the judicial system and on its ability to ensure accountability; whereas particularly those sentences resulting in the imposition of the death penalty risk undermining prospects for long-term stability in Egypt;

L.     whereas Egypt is facing significant economic challenges, including an exodus of foreign money, rising inflation, unemployment and a ballooning public debt, among others, as well as security challenges embodied in the global threat represented by terrorism; whereas the security situation in Sinai is critical with hundreds of soldiers being killed by Jihadist groups operating in the area; whereas on 24 October 2014 at least 33 soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack; whereas a state of emergency has been declared in the peninsula since 24 October 2014;

M.    whereas Article 75 of the Egyptian Constitution declares that all citizens shall have the right to form non-governmental associations and foundations on a democratic basis; whereas on 10 November 2014 the authorities set a deadline for all civil society organisations to register under a Mubarak-era, highly repressive non-governmental organisation (NGO) law, 84/2002, or possibly face criminal charges; whereas the application of this law is meant to bring all civil society organisations in Egypt under the direct control of the government, which is why many Egyptian rights organisations have chosen instead to register as law firms or civil companies; whereas a revision of the law on associations is also currently being discussed;

N.     whereas the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and human rights, as well as social justice and a higher standard of living for citizens, are crucial dimensions of the transition towards an open, free, democratic and prosperous Egyptian society; whereas independent trade unions and civil society organisations have a crucial role to play in this process, and free media form a crucial part of society in any democracy; whereas Egyptian women continue to be in a particularly vulnerable situation in the current period of political and social transition in the country; whereas in recent months arrests of gay men have escalated; whereas there has been a series of police busts at suspected meeting places of homosexuals across Egypt; whereas the LGBT community is being persecuted and publicly shamed;

O.     whereas despite the issuance of a law in 2008 criminalising the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), it remains widespread and there have been no successful prosecutions of those who have administered it to girls;

P.     whereas according to the UNHCR and the EMHRN, the situation of refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt is critical and affected by difficult socio-economic conditions and a general deterioration of the security environment owing to political instability; whereas criminal networks are still operating on the human trafficking/smuggling routes within and towards the Sinai;

Q.     whereas the constitutional declaration of 8 July 2013 defined a political roadmap for Egypt; whereas, contrary to the roadmap, Egyptian interim President Adly Mansour called for presidential elections to take place first; whereas the programme of the interim government affirmed its commitment to working towards building a democratic system which guarantees the rights and freedoms of all Egyptians, and to completing this roadmap with the full participation of all political players and a referendum on the new constitution, to be followed by free and fair parliamentary elections, which have been announced for 22 and 23 March 2015, and presidential elections to be held in due time in accordance with all legislative rules;

R.     whereas the oil sector is the biggest investment attraction to foreign investors in Egypt historically, and it is the biggest commodity Egypt exports; whereas Egypt was given free oil shipments from the Gulf States in order to support the new government; whereas the government is adopting a declared plan to get rid of energy subsidies within five years starting from July 2014, and it aims to implement a plan for fuel distribution through smart cards in April 2015 in order to control oil smuggling to neighbouring countries and find out the exact fuel requirements;

S.     whereas on 22 June 2014 the US revealed that it had released USD 575 million in military aid to Egypt that had been frozen since the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013; whereas the funds will mainly be used to pay for existing defence contracts, and 10 Apache attack helicopters for use by the army against militants in the Sinai Peninsula will be provided;

T.     whereas Egypt entered into negotiations with the IMF more than once after the January 2011 Revolution, wherein it pursued a USD 4.8 billion loan, but negotiations stopped after 30 June 2013; whereas some contacts took place and IMF experts visited Egypt in November 2014 to conduct Article IV consultations, an assessment by IMF experts of a country’s financial and economic state of affairs;

U.     whereas, in line with its reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy, and notably the ‘more for more’ approach, the EU’s level and scope of engagement with Egypt should be incentive-based and therefore dependent on the country’s progress in terms of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and gender equality;

V.     whereas the EU is traditionally Egypt’s main trading partner, covering 22.9 % of Egypt’s trade volume in 2013 and ranking first as both Egypt’s import and its export partner; whereas, following the EU-Egypt Task Force, the Commission committed to providing additional financial support to Egypt for an overall amount of nearly EUR 800 million; whereas this is made up of EUR 303 million in the form of grants (EUR 90 million from Spring funds, 50 million as a grant component of the micro-financial assistance operation, with the balance coming from the Neighbourhood Investment Facility) and 450 million in the form of loans (macro-financial assistance); whereas, however, the EU will deliver on its financial support only if the necessary political and democratic conditions are met, with the democratic transition being pursued, strengthened and fully inclusive with full respect for human and women’s rights;

W.    whereas on 16 June 2014 Mr Lambrinidis, European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, visited Cairo and held meetings with the Presidency, the Shoura Council and civil society representatives; whereas discussions focused on preparations for a new NGO law, and the importance the EU attaches to the crucial role of civil society in Egypt was stressed;

1.      Expresses grave concern at the ongoing restrictions of fundamental democratic rights, notably the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, political pluralism and the rule of law in Egypt; calls for an end to all acts of violence, incitement, hate speech, harassment, intimidation or censorship against political opponents, protesters, journalists, bloggers, students, trade unionists, women’s rights activists, civil society actors and minorities by state authorities, security forces and services, and other groups in Egypt; condemns the excessive use of violence against protesters;

2.      Emphasises that respect for freedom of the press, information and opinion (online and offline) and political pluralism are fundamental to democracy; calls on the Egyptian authorities to guarantee that those freedoms can be exercised without arbitrary limitations and censorship in the country, and calls on the authorities to ensure freedom of expression;

3.      Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, including the journalists Mohammed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, as well as those detained for their alleged membership of the Muslim Brotherhood; calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure the right to a fair trial in accordance with international standards;

4.      Urges the Egyptian authorities to conduct prompt, impartial and independent investigations into allegations of excessive use of force, ill-treatment and other human rights violations, including sexual abuse, by law enforcement forces during protests, punish those responsible, grant redress to the victims and establish an independent mechanism for monitoring and investigating the behaviour of security forces; calls on Egypt to ratify the Rome Statute and to become a member of the ICC;

5.      Calls on the authorities to repeal the presidential decree, Law 136, of 2014 and urges the Egyptian authorities to stop trying civilians in military courts and to annul all verdicts against civilians handed down by military courts since July 2013;

6.      Calls on the Egyptian authorities to revoke the Protest Law of November 2013 and to engage in a genuine dialogue with civil society organisations and legal experts in order to enact legislation on associations and assembly in line with international standards, and to safeguard the right to form an association enshrined in Article 75 of the Egyptian Constitution, including the right to receive and impart funding;

7.      Calls on the competent authorities to review the new draft law for non-government organisations presented by the Ministry of Social Solidarity; urges that the new proposed law should be in line with the Egyptian Constitution and with all international treaties to which Egypt is a signatory;

8.      Reminds the Egyptian Government of its responsibility to ensure the security and safety of all citizens irrespective of their political views, affiliation or confession; insists that only building a truly pluralistic society, respectful of the diversity of views and lifestyles, can ensure long-term stability and security in Egypt, and calls on the Egyptian authorities to commit to dialogue and non-violence, as well as to inclusive governance;

9.      Highlights the importance of Egypt as an international actor and hopes that it will continue to play an active role in the launch of genuine peace negotiations that will put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict; also underlines its constructive contribution to the search for stability in the Mediterranean region, currently notably in Libya following the abduction of 20 Egyptian Copts on 3 January 2015, and in the Middle East; reiterates the willingness of the EU to work with Egypt as a partner in the region to address these serious threats;

10.    Expresses its full solidarity with the Egyptian people in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism; condemns the terrorists’ attacks on Egyptian civilians and military; expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims;

11.    Is concerned about the lack of respect for judicial standards and an independent judiciary as defined by national and international laws; calls on the EU to prioritise the issue of separation of powers in Egypt; in this regard, recalls that judicial reform is crucial to the establishment of a genuine separation of powers, as is the prohibition of unwarranted interference of the executive in judicial matters;

12.    Stresses that Egypt’s anti-terrorism laws have also been used to gain convictions in a number of trials; urges the President to act without delay, including through his constitutional right to grant pardon, to ensure that no death sentence is executed and that no-one can be detained in Egypt under a verdict issued in a court procedure that does not meet these requirements; calls on the authorities to establish immediately an official moratorium on executions, as a first step towards abolition;

13.    Calls on the EU to address longstanding structural issues relating to Egypt’s treatment of refugees, such as its detention policies and lack of access to education and work for recognised refugees; calls on Egypt to ensure that regulations on the right of asylum are in line with the Constitution and with international standards; calls urgently for the protection of refugees against violence and exploitation, especially sexual and gender-based violence;

14.    Notes that the decline in oil prices will lead directly to lower allocations of energy subsidies, which is the biggest challenge that post-revolution regimes have faced since the 25 January Revolution; is concerned that this decline may have a huge impact on many government plans, the most important of which are efforts to maintain a safe margin on foreign currencies;

15.    Urges the Egyptian Government to tackle poverty, official neglect and discontent among the local Bedouin tribes in the Sinai, and calls on the Egyptian authorities to do their utmost to stop criminal networks that are still operating on the human trafficking/smuggling routes within and towards the Sinai;

16.    Urges the Egyptian authorities to stop criminalising LGBT people for expressing their sexual orientation and for assembly, using the ‘debauchery law’, and to release all LGBT people arrested and imprisoned under this law; urges the Egyptian Government to adopt national strategies for combating violence against women and LGBT people and eliminating all forms of discrimination, ensuring the effective consultation and involvement of women’s and LGBT rights groups and other civil society organisations throughout the process;

17.    Reiterates that in its preliminary statement the EU Election Observation Mission for the Presidential Elections in Egypt of May 2014 said that although the new Constitution set out a wide-ranging catalogue of fundamental rights, respect for these rights fell short of the constitutional principles, and that a general climate of limited freedom of expression, leading to self-censorship of journalists, could be observed in the country; calls on the Egyptian authorities to address the shortcomings in the presidential elections in the preparations for the parliamentary elections announced for 22-23 March 2015;

18.    Expresses again its strong solidarity with the Egyptian people in the current period of troubled transition in their country; calls for a common strategy among Member States towards Egypt; again urges the Council, the VP/HR and the Commission to work actively in accordance with the principle of conditionality (‘more for more’) and to take into consideration the serious economic challenges faced by Egypt in its bilateral relations with, and its financial support for, the country; reiterates its call for clear and jointly agreed benchmarks in this regard; reaffirms its commitment to assisting the Egyptian people in the process of moving towards democratic and economic reform;

19.    Encourages representatives of the EU Delegation and the embassies of EU Member States in Cairo to attend politically sensitive trials of Egyptian and foreign journalists, bloggers, trade unionists and civil society activists in the country;

20.    Calls on the VP/HR to clarify the specific measures taken in response to the Foreign Affairs Council’s decision to review EU assistance to Egypt, also referring to the Court of Auditors report of 2013; requests, in particular, clarification of the status of: (i) the planned justice reform programme; (ii) the EU budget support programmes; (iii) the trade and domestic enhancement programme; and (iv) Egypt’s participation in EU regional programmes such as Euromed Police and Euromed Justice;

21.    Calls for an EU-wide ban on the export to Egypt of intrusion and surveillance technologies which could be used to spy on and repress citizens; calls for a ban on the export of security equipment or military aid in line with the Wassenaar Arrangement that could be used in the suppression of peaceful protest;

22.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and its interim government.

(1)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0100.

(2)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0007.

(3)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0470.

(4)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0274.

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