Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 17 July 2014 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Sudan, the case of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim
 Freedom of expression and assembly in Egypt
 Nigeria, recent attacks by Boko Haram
 Situation in Ukraine
 Youth employment
 Situation in Iraq
 Escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine
 Crime of aggression

Sudan, the case of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim
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European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on Sudan – the case of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim (2014/2727(RSP))
P8_TA(2014)0006RC-B8-0010/2014

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the joint statement of 10 June 2014 by the President of the Commission, the President of the European Council and the President of Parliament, together with those participating in the high-level meeting with religious leaders of that date,

–  having regard to the statement of 15 May 2014 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the death sentence passed for apostasy in Sudan,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

–  having regard to the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement in 2010,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on freedom of religion or belief of 2013,

–  having regard to the First Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa,

–  having regard to the Arab Charter on Human Rights,

–  having regard to the rights of children,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas in late 2013 Meriam Yahia Ibrahim (daughter of an Ethiopian Christian mother and a Sudanese Muslim father), who was raised as a Christian, was accused of adultery by her father’s side of the family after they reported her to the authorities for her marriage to a Christian man; whereas the accusation of apostasy was added in December 2013;

B.  whereas the verdict of the court of first instance was delivered on 12 May 2014, sentencing Meriam Ibrahim, then eight months pregnant, to a hundred lashes on charges of adultery and to death by hanging on charges of apostasy, but giving her three days to renounce Christianity; whereas Meriam Ibrahim was convicted under Islamic sharia law, in force in Sudan since 1983, which outlaws conversions on pain of death; whereas on 15 May 2014 the verdict was reconfirmed, as Meriam Ibrahim chose not to convert to Islam;

C.  whereas on 27 May 2014 Meriam Ibrahim gave birth to a baby girl, Maya, in prison; whereas it is alleged that Meriam Ibrahim’s legs were kept in shackles and chains while she was in labour, seriously endangering the health of both mother and child; whereas this constituted a gross violation of women’s and children’s rights;

D.  whereas on 5 May 2014 her case was successfully transferred to the Appeal Court;

E.  whereas Meriam Ibrahim was released from Omdurman Women’s Prison on 23 June 2014 after the Appeal Court found her not guilty of both charges, but whereas she was arrested again at Khartoum airport as the family was about to depart for the USA, for allegedly attempting to leave the country with forged travel documents issued by the South Sudan Embassy in Khartoum;

F.  whereas Meriam Ibrahim was freed again on 26 June 2014 and took refuge in the United States embassy with her family, and whereas negotiations are ongoing to enable her to leave Sudan, where she faces death threats from extremist Muslims;

G.  whereas freedom of thought, belief and religion is a universal human right that needs to be protected everywhere and for everyone; whereas Sudan has ratified the relevant UN and African Union conventions and thus has an international obligation to defend and promote freedom of religion or belief, which includes the right to adopt, change or abandon one’s religion or belief of one’s own free will;

H.  whereas the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ratified by the Republic of Sudan, includes the right to life and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment, but whereas the death penalty, flogging, amputation and other forms of corporal punishment are still being carried out in that country for a number of criminal offences;

I.  whereas the Sudanese authorities disproportionately convict women and girls of ill-defined crimes for private, personal decisions that should never have been criminalised in the first place, and whereas women disproportionally face cruel punishment such as flogging, in violation of their human rights to dignity, privacy and equality;

J.  whereas Sudan has acceded to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, Article 27 of which provides that persons from all religions have the right to practise their faith;

K.  whereas the Republic of Sudan is bound by the human rights clause of the Cotonou Agreement(1) and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(2);

L.  whereas, notwithstanding the declaration of a national dialogue by President Omar al-Bashir in January 2014, Meriam Ibrahim’s detention and inhumane treatment are emblematic of a worrying crackdown by the Sudanese authorities against minorities, human rights activists, student protesters, journalists, political opponents and rights-based organisations, in particular those promoting women’s rights and youth empowerment;

1.  Condemns the unjustified detention of Meriam Ibrahim; calls on the Government of Sudan to repeal all legislation that discriminates on grounds of gender or religion and to protect the religious identity of minority groups;

2.  Stresses that it is degrading and inhumane for a pregnant woman to give birth while chained and physically detained; calls on the Sudanese authorities to ensure that all pregnant women and labouring women in detention receive appropriate and safe maternal and newborn health care;

3.  Reaffirms that freedom of religion, conscience or belief is a universal human right that needs to be protected everywhere and for everyone; strongly condemns all forms of violence and intimidation that impair the right to have or not to have, or to adopt, a religion of one’s choice, including the use of threats, physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to renounce their religion or to convert; highlights the fact that adultery and apostasy are acts which should not be considered to be crimes at all;

4.  Recalls that Sudan has ratified the relevant UN and African Union conventions and thus has an international obligation to defend and promote freedom of religion or belief, which includes the right to adopt, change or abandon one’s religion or belief of one’s own free will;

5.  Demands that the Sudanese Government – in line with universal human rights – repeal any legal provisions that penalise or discriminate against individuals for their religious beliefs or for changing their religion or beliefs or for inducing others to change their religion or beliefs, especially when cases of apostasy, heterodoxy or conversion are punishable by death;

6.  Stresses that such laws are inconsistent with Sudan’s 2005 Interim Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and urges Sudan to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty(3);

7.  Calls on Sudan to issue an immediate moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty and all forms of corporal punishment;

8.  Notes with concern the continued and frequent violation of women’s rights in Sudan, notably Article 152 of Sudan’s Criminal Code; urges the Sudanese authorities to expeditiously sign and ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;

9.  Notes with concern that impunity for serious human rights violations remains a widespread and serious problem in Sudan, as in the case of the Darfur conflict, where the authorities have not prosecuted the vast majority of serious crimes committed, including crimes of sexual violence; calls on the Sudanese Government to investigate and prosecute those responsible for human rights abuses, including killings, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, and rape and other sexual violence;

10.  Reiterates its strong attachment to the strict separation between religion or belief, on the one hand, and the state, on the other, which implies the rejection of any religious interference in the functioning of government, as well as non-discrimination with respect to religion or belief;

11.  Calls on the Government of Sudan to accede to the First Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and to the Protocol of the Court of Justice of the African Union, both adopted in Maputo, Mozambique, on 11 July 2003;

12.  Calls on the Government of Sudan to undertake, with the support of the international community, urgent legal reform in order to protect fundamental human rights and freedoms, ensure the protection of every individual’s human rights and address, in particular, discrimination against women, minorities and disadvantaged groups;

13.  Expresses its support for efforts to achieve an inclusive negotiated solution to the situation in Sudan, and supports the efforts of civil society and opposition parties to promote the peace process;

14.  Calls on the EU to play a leadership role in pushing for a strong resolution on Sudan at the next Human Rights Council session in September 2014 which addresses the serious and widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the country;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the Government of Sudan, the African Union, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Pan‑African Parliament.

(1) Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000.
(2) UN General Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966.
(3) UN General Assembly Resolution 44/128 of 15 December 1989.


Freedom of expression and assembly in Egypt
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European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on freedom of expression and assembly in Egypt (2014/2728(RSP))
P8_TA(2014)0007RC-B8-0007/2014

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Egypt, in particular that of 6 February 2014 on the situation in Egypt(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on a digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2013 on the freedom of press and media in the world(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2013 on ‘The European Neighbourhood Policy: towards a strengthening of the partnership. Position of the European Parliament on the 2012 reports’(4),

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

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

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Catherine Ashton, on Egypt, and in particular her remarks following the Foreign Affairs Council meeting of 23 June 2014 concerning the sentences against Al Jazeera journalists and the death sentences against more than 180 people in Minya,

–  having regard to the preliminary statement of 29 May 2014 of the EU Election Observation Mission to the presidential elections in Egypt,

–  having regard to the declaration of 29 May 2014 by the Head of the European Parliament Delegation to the EU Election Observation Mission to the presidential elections in Egypt,

–  having regard to the statements of 23 June 2014 by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on the jail sentences against 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, strengthened by the Action Plan of 2007, and to the Commission’s progress report of 20 March 2013 on its implementation,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Egypt adopted by referendum on 14-15 January 2014, notably 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 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 Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are indispensable pillars of a democratic and pluralist 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 violations of fundamental freedoms and human rights – including violence, incitement, hate speech, harassment, intimidation and censorship, against political opponents, peaceful protesters, journalists, bloggers, trade unionists, civil society activists and minorities on the part of state authorities, security forces and services and other groups – continue to be widespread in Egypt; 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 published by Freedom House;

C.  whereas press, media, and digital freedoms have been repeatedly and increasingly under attack from the Egyptian Government; whereas journalists and news outlets, social media and the internet have been attacked or censored; whereas there is an extreme polarisation of the Egyptian media into pro and anti-Morsi factions, which is reinforcing the polarisation of Egyptian society; whereas, according to Reporters without Borders, at least 65 journalists have been arrested and 17 are still in detention; whereas at least six journalists have been killed in Egypt since July 2013;

D.  whereas on 23 June 2014 20 Egyptian and foreign journalists, including three Al Jazeera journalists – the Australian Peter Greste, the Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and the Egyptian Baher Mohamed – and, in absentia, the Netherlands citizen Rena Netjes, were handed down jail sentences of between 7 and 10 years; whereas they were accused of ‘falsifying news’ and of belonging to or assisting a terrorist cell; whereas journalists are being locked up and branded criminals or ‘terrorists’ simply for doing their jobs; whereas Rena Netjes was falsely accused of working for Al Jazeera;

E.  whereas, according to numerous witnesses, various irregularities and examples of ineptitude were observed during the trial proceedings; whereas international observers, including the embassies of some EU Member States, attended this trial; whereas the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has denounced these legal proceedings as ‘rife with procedural irregularities and in breach of international human rights law’; whereas Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi recently acknowledged that these verdicts had negative consequences and said that he wished the accused had been deported immediately after their arrest instead of being put on trial; whereas these sentences can be appealed, in a process that could take months;

F.  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, Mahienour El-Massry 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 6 April Youth Movement;

G.  whereas government officials have acknowledged that the authorities have detained at least 16 000 individuals, including 1 000 protesters, since January 2014, and that many of those detained were rounded up for exercising their rights of free assembly, association and expression, or for their alleged affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood; whereas hundreds of students have also been arrested during protests and clashes;

H.  whereas an estimated 1 400 protesters have been killed as a result of excessive and arbitrary use of force by security forces since July 2013; whereas not a single security official has been held accountable for such acts or other abuses against protesters over the past year; whereas the fact-finding committee established in December 2013 is widely seen to have failed so far to provide a thorough, credible and impartial investigation into the violent incidents since July 2013;

I.  whereas Article 65 of the Egyptian Constitution declares that freedom of thought and opinion is guaranteed, and that every person shall have the right to express his or her opinion verbally, in writing, through imagery, or by any other means of expression and publication; whereas, in its preliminary statement, the EU Election Observation Mission to 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 by journalists, could be observed in the country;

J.  whereas Article 73 of the Egyptian Constitution declares that citizens shall have the right to organise public meetings, marches, demonstrations and all forms of peaceful protest, without carrying arms of any kind, by serving a notification as regulated by law, and that the right to peaceful and private assembly is guaranteed without need for prior notification, while security forces may not attend, monitor or eavesdrop on such meetings; whereas the passing in November 2013 of Law 107 on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations (Protest Law), placing restrictions on public gatherings and demonstrations and granting security forces licence to use excessive force against protesters, represents a grave threat to freedom of assembly;

K.  whereas peaceful protests have been dispersed and many protesters have been arrested and detained under the Protest Law over the past few months; whereas on 21 June 2014 the police dispersed a peaceful march in Heliopolis demanding the repeal of the Protest Law and the release of those detained under it, and arrested more than 50 people in connection with this event on the same day; whereas more than 20 of those arrested continue to be detained and are facing trial;

L.  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 Egyptian civil society organisations have recently expressed their deep concern over the latest draft NGO law, which would impose complete control over civic groups and subordinate them to security and administrative bodies, as well as permitting the sentencing of human rights defenders;

M.  whereas in September 2013 the Egyptian interim authorities banned the Muslim Brotherhood, imprisoned its leaders, seized its assets, silenced its media and criminalised its membership; whereas on 21 June 2014 an Egyptian court confirmed the death sentences against 183 Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters, convicted in an earlier mass trial; 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;

N.  whereas recent judicial practices cast serious doubts on the independence of the judicial system and on its ability to ensure accountability; whereas, in particular, these sentences resulting in the death penalty risk undermining the prospects for long-term stability in Egypt;

O.  whereas Article 155 of the Egyptian Constitution declares that, after consultation with the Cabinet, the President of the Republic may issue a pardon or reduce a sentence;

P.  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;

Q.  whereas, in line with its revised 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;

1.  Condemns strongly and calls for an immediate end to all acts of violence, incitement, hate speech, harassment, intimidation or censorship against political opponents, protesters, journalists, bloggers, trade unionists, women’s rights activists, civil society actors and minorities on the part of state authorities, security forces and services, and other groups in Egypt; reminds the Egyptian Government of its responsibility to ensure the security and safety of all citizens irrespective of their political views, affiliation or confession, and to guarantee that the freedoms of assembly, association, expression and the press can be exercised without arbitrary limitations and censorship in the country; calls on the Egyptian authorities to commit to dialogue and non-violence as well as to inclusive governance;

2.  Expresses its deepest concern over a series of recent court decisions in Egypt, including the lengthy jail terms handed down on 23 June 2014 to three Al Jazeera journalists and 11 other defendants tried in absentia, as well as the confirmation of death sentences against 183 people;

3.  Expresses its alarm at the increasingly severe clampdown and physical attacks on both media and civil society in Egypt, which are hampering their ability to operate freely; condemns the harassment, detention and prosecution of national and international journalists and civil society actors, including bloggers, for simply doing their job; reiterates its call for prompt, independent, serious and impartial investigations into cases of disproportionate use of force against, or arbitrary detention by, security forces and state authorities, and for those responsible to be held accountable;

4.  Regrets the existence of media and web censorship and the fact that access to some blogs and social networks is limited; condemns the harassment suffered by a number of newspapers and audiovisual media outlets;

5.  Calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained, convicted and/or sentenced for peacefully exercising their rights of freedom of expression and association, as well as all human rights defenders; calls on the Egyptian judiciary to ensure that all court proceedings in the country meet the requirements of a free and fair trial and to ensure respect for defendants’ rights; calls on the Egyptian authorities to order independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of ill-treatment and ensure that all detainees have access to any medical attention they may require;

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

7.  Calls on the competent Egyptian authorities to repeal or amend the Protest Law and to review the new NGO bill presented by the Ministry of Social Solidarity, in line with Articles 65, 73 and 75 of the Egyptian Constitution, international standards and the country’s international obligations, and to ensure that all existing and future legislation in the country is in compliance with the constitution and those standards and obligations;

8.  Recalls that the newly adopted Egyptian Constitution opened the way for building a country that respects freedom and democracy and makes rights and justice a way of life; reminds the Egyptian Government that freedom of expression, press freedom and digital freedom, as well as the right to participate in peaceful demonstrations, are fundamental human rights in a democracy, as recognised in the new Egyptian Constitution;

9.  Reminds the competent Egyptian authorities of their national and international legal obligations, and calls on President al-Sisi and the Egyptian Government to prioritise the protection and promotion of human rights and ensure accountability for human rights violations;

10.  Urges the competent Egyptian authorities to change course and take concrete steps to ensure that the provisions of the new Constitution on fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and assembly, are fully implemented, showing that they respect human rights and the rule of law and starting with the immediate and unconditional release of prisoners of conscience;

11.  Stresses the importance of the separation of powers as a fundamental principle of democracy, and the fact that the judiciary cannot be used as an instrument of political persecution and repression, and suggests reforming the judicial authority law to ensure a genuine separation of powers that would lead to the independent and impartial administration of justice;

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

13.  Regrets the fact that, despite a new law on sexual harassment, violence against women has been worsening, especially in the public sphere, with dozens of cases of rape and sexual violence occurring during protests; urges the Egyptian authorities to cease criminalising LGBT people for expressing their sexual orientation and right of assembly, on the basis of the ‘debauchery law’, and to release all LGBT people arrested and imprisoned under that 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;

14.  Reaffirms that freedom of the press and media are vital elements for democracy and an open society, and that as such they should be among the focal points of EU action concerning Egypt, as part of a broader, coherent EU strategy which should focus on improving the rights, freedoms and opportunities of Egyptians as the EU develops relations with the country;

15.  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 the Member States towards Egypt; once again urges the Council, the VP/HR and the Commission to work actively on the basis of the principle of conditionality (‘more for more’), and taking account of the serious economic challenges faced by Egypt, in the Union’s bilateral relations with and 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;

16.  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; 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;

17.  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, and for a ban, in line with the Wassenaar Arrangement, on the export of security equipment or military aid that could be used to suppress peaceful protest;

18.  Encourages the VP/HR to muster EU support in favour of a resolution on the situation in Egypt at the next session of the UN Human Rights Council, which would, inter alia, initiate an international investigation into the killings of protesters and allegations of torture and ill‑treatment by security forces over the past year;

19.  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, and the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and his interim government.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0100.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0470.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0274.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0446.


Nigeria, recent attacks by Boko Haram
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European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on Nigeria – recent attacks by Boko Haram (2014/2729(RSP))
P8_TA(2014)0008RC-B8-0016/2014

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria, including those of 4 July 2013(1) and of 15 March 2012(2),

–  having regard to the statements by Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton on Nigeria, including those of 26 June 2014 and 15 April 2014,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on abductions in Nigeria of 12 May 2014,

–  having regard to the statement by the EEAS spokesperson on Nigeria of 26 June 2014,

–  having regard to the Council decision to add Boko Haram to the EU list of designated terrorist organisations, which entered into force on 29 May 2014,

–  having regard to the statement by the spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General of 30 June 2014,

–  having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), published on 1 July 2014,

–  having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s message of 17 June 2014 to a panel discussion marking the Day of the African Child,

–  having regard to the Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2013 by the International Criminal Court (ICC),

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 1979,

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief of 1981,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, ratified by Nigeria on 22 June 1983,

–  having regard to the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement 2007-2013, ratified by Nigeria on 27 September 2010,

–  having regard to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in particular its provisions on the protection of freedom of religion in Chapter IV – Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Boko Haram is a growing threat for the stability of Nigeria, West-Africa and the Sahel region; whereas the violence instigated by this Islamist jihadi extremist organisation has caused many thousands of deaths in the past ten years; whereas the organisation indiscriminately targets Christians, moderate Muslims, government personnel and institutions and in fact anyone who does not adhere to its dogmatic and extreme beliefs;

B.  whereas in the night of 14-15 April 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped by Boko Haram from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State; whereas to date more than 200 students are still missing; whereas there are reports that the Nigerian security forces did not respond to an advance warning; whereas further kidnappings of schoolchildren have taken place following the Chibok attack;

C.  whereas the kidnapped girls face serious threats of sexual violence, slavery and forced marriages;

D.  whereas these abductions saw a strong response from civil society in Nigeria and throughout the world, demanding that the Nigerian Government take effective action to ‘bring back our girls’, ensure the protection of schoolchildren and tackle the spread of Boko Haram;

E.  whereas there are alarming reports, including from the EEAS and government sources, about indiscriminate violence as part of the government response, including from the Nigerian Joint Task Force of military and police units, set up in May 2013 to fight Boko Haram;

F.  whereas in recent months the rate of attacks by Boko Haram has dramatically increased and they are becoming increasingly violent, with over 4 000 casualties in the year to date in attacks on churches, schools, market places and villages, as well as security installations; whereas Boko Haram is currently extending its area of operations to encompass the entire northern half of Nigeria and adjacent areas of neighbouring countries;

G.  whereas Boko Haram is held responsible for at least 18 attacks on civilians in northern Nigeria in the past two weeks, coupled with growing political tensions ahead of the planned general elections in 2015;

H.  whereas Boko Haram’s attacks and the government response have sparked off a refugee crisis, with more than 10 000 people seeking refuge abroad, mainly in Niger and Cameroon, and many more Internally Displaced Persons, according to the UNHCR; whereas this puts further strain on meagre local food and water resources, especially in Niger, which itself is struggling with food insecurity after years of drought;

I.  whereas the humanitarian situation of a large part of the population remains critical, with 70 % of the population living on less than USD 1.25 a day;

J.  whereas freedom of expression and freedom of the press are being jeopardised by threats of arrest, intimidation, violence and even death against those reporting on the Nigerian authorities in a critical manner; whereas Boko Haram has repeatedly threatened to attack media outlets that have reported negatively on it;

K.  whereas, owing to the declaration of the state of emergency that has been in force since 14 May 2013 in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, large parts of these states have become inaccessible to aid agencies, journalists and reporters; whereas the government has shut down mobile phone services in several areas to stop militants communicating;

L.  whereas the EU and its Member States have repeatedly offered their support to Nigeria in its ongoing efforts to protect its citizens and defeat terrorism in all its forms, as well as ending the culture of impunity for the use of sexual violence;

M.  whereas on 28 May 2014 the EU placed Boko Haram and its leader, Abubakar Shekau, on its list of designated terrorist organisations, following the UN decision to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation and the example of other international partners;

N.  whereas the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has warned that Boko Haram’s attacks may constitute crimes against humanity; whereas an ICC preliminary investigation has confirmed this warning, concluding that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Boko Haram is committing crimes against humanity and war crimes;

1.  Strongly condemns the continuing wave of gun and bomb attacks, suicide bombings, kidnappings and other violent acts committed by the terrorist sect Boko Haram against civilian, government and military targets in Nigeria, in the north, as well as in Abuja and Lagos; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the Chibok schoolgirls;

2.  Expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and supports the efforts of the Nigerian Government to stop the violence and bring those responsible to justice;

3.  Calls on the Nigerian Government and authorities to work together to ensure that the girls are brought home safely, to improve transparency about the rescue efforts and to provide adequate information and medical and psychological support to families of abducted girls in order to end the climate of suspicion;

4.  Is extremely concerned about Boko Haram’s active targeting of women and children as part of its bloody guerrilla campaign et condemns the flagrant violation of fundamental rights constituted by the fact that Boko Haram is prohibiting young girls and boys from having access to education;

5.  Takes the view that the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on grave violations of children’s rights in situations of armed conflict should be activated in Nigeria and that UNICEF should increase its capacity in this area, in line with its mandate;

6.  Expresses, furthermore, its grave concern about reports of forced conversions to Islam and the imposition of Sharia law as part of the group’s stated goal of creating an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria;

7.  Urges the Nigerian Government and its forces to exercise restraint in tackling insurgent violence and to ensure that any efforts to tackle such violence are carried out in accordance with the Nigerian Government’s obligations under international law; requests the Nigerian authorities to investigate reports of indiscriminate and disproportionate violence by government forces, including the burning of homes and the execution of Boko Haram suspects, or even citizens with no apparent link to the organisation, and to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice;

8.  Urges the Nigerian Government to fight not only the Boko Haram insurgency but also some of its root causes, including underdevelopment, widespread corruption, embezzlement of oil money, radicalisation and a lack of prospects, and asks the Member States to assist Nigeria in addressing these issues;

9.  Urges the Nigerian authorities, furthermore, to bridge the economic divide between the north and south of the country, including by providing better education and health-care services in the north, and to ensure a fair distribution of benefits from oil wealth through the state budget to ensure proper regional development;

10.  Emphasises, in particular, the importance of an independent, impartial and accessible judicial system to put an end to impunity and enhance respect for the rule of law and the fundamental rights of the population; accordingly, calls for steps to be taken to improve the efficiency and independence of Nigeria’s judicial system as a means of making effective use of criminal justice to combat terrorism;

11.  Urges the Nigerian Government to recognise and respect freedom of the press and media and to allow journalists and reporters access to the front lines, given that the press and media can play an important role in strengthening accountability and documenting human rights abuses;

12.  Reiterates its calls for the abolition of the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law, along with sections 214, 215 and 217 of the Nigerian Penal Code, which would put LGBT people – both Nigerian nationals and foreigners – at serious risk of violence and arrest;

13.  Expresses concern at the increase in human trafficking and arms and drug smuggling in the region, and their links to Islamist terrorism; notes, furthermore, the connections between the Boko Haram, AQIM and Al Shabab militant groups in this illegal activity; calls on the Nigerian Government, working with ECOWAS governments, other governments and international agencies, to eradicate this trade as part of their efforts to combat the spread of international terrorism and the sources which fund it;

14.  Urges the EEAS, the Council and the Commission to work with the UN and other international partners to cut off funding for, and restrict the movements of, Boko Haram and, in particular, its leadership;

15.  Calls on the EEAS, the Commission, the Member States and international partners to continue to cooperate with Nigeria, including on the case of the Chibok schoolgirls, bilaterally and through regional and UN structures, in relief efforts, training of security forces and intelligence sharing;

16.  Calls on the EEAS and the Commission swiftly to conclude the 2014-2020 country strategy for Nigeria and to include aid and assistance aimed at removing the root causes of the rise of Boko Haram;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the institutions of the African Union, the UN Secretary-General, the UN General Assembly, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Pan‑African Parliament.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0335.
(2) OJ C 251 E, 31.8.2013, p. 97.


Situation in Ukraine
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European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on Ukraine (2014/2717(RSP))
P8_TA(2014)0009RC-B8-0025/2014

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the European Neighbourhood Policy, on the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and on Ukraine, with particular reference to its resolution of 17 April 2014 on Russian pressure on Eastern Partnership countries and in particular destabilisation of eastern Ukraine(1),

–  having regard to the joint statement of G7 leaders meeting in The Hague on 24 March 2014,

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 17 March, 14 April, 12 May and 23 June 2014,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 20 March and 27 June 2014,

–  having regard to the final report on the early presidential election in Ukraine of the OSCE/ODIHR International Election Observation Mission,

–  having regard to the signing of the final parts of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, on 27 June 2014,

–  having regard to the reports by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Ukraine of 15 May and 15 June 2014,

–  having regard to the statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission of 1 April 2014,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Ukraine continues to face serious security, political and socio-economic challenges; whereas the conflict in eastern Ukraine represents a serious impediment to the country’s development and prosperity;

B.  whereas the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea violates international law and Russia’s international obligations stemming from the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the Statute of the Council of Europe and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, as well as bilateral obligations deriving from the 1997 Bilateral Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership;

C.  whereas on 25 May 2014 Petro Poroshenko was elected the new President of Ukraine; whereas the election was monitored by an international election observation mission led by the OSCE/ODIHR and – despite the hostile security environment in eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia – deemed to have been largely in line with international commitments and respectful of fundamental freedoms in the vast majority of the country;

D.  whereas the new President put forward a 15-point plan for a peaceful settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine that would preserve the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of Ukraine on the basis of an amnesty for those who surrendered and did not commit grave crimes, the establishment of controlled corridors for the retreat of Russian mercenaries, and the launch of an inclusive dialogue;

E.  whereas, as a first step, President Poroshenko announced a unilateral ceasefire for the period of 20-30 June 2014 so as to enable consultations between Ukraine, Russia and separatist forces; whereas the ceasefire unilaterally declared by the Ukrainian Government was repeatedly violated, mainly by the separatists, and led to deaths on both sides;

F.  whereas on 25 June 2014 the Russian Federation Council approved a decision by President Putin to renounce the right to send Russian armed forces to the territory of Ukraine;

G.  whereas on 27 June 2014 the Foreign Affairs Council confirmed the analysis of the Commission that Ukraine had fulfilled all the benchmarks under the first phase of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan and moved to the second phase of the visa liberalisation process;

H.  whereas on 27 June 2014 the EU and Ukraine signed the remaining provisions of the Association Agreement / Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA); whereas this agreement recognises the aspirations of the people of Ukraine to live in a country governed by European values, democracy and the rule of law;

I.  whereas President Poroshenko decided to renew the anti-terrorist operation to defeat the separatist insurrection in the east following the failure of the unilateral ceasefire; whereas the Ukrainian army has regained control of several cities in eastern Ukraine, forcing rebels and mercenaries to withdraw towards Donetsk; whereas, however, violence still continues;

J.  whereas the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine met in Berlin on 2 July 2014 and agreed to a set of measures aimed at leading to a sustainable mutual truce in eastern Ukraine;

K.  whereas President Poroshenko expressed his willingness to announce a second ceasefire on three conditions, namely that the ceasefire be bilaterally observed, that all hostages be released and that effective control of the border be monitored by the OSCE;

L.  whereas President Poroshenko declared on 14 July 2014 that Russian military staff officers were fighting against Ukrainian forces alongside separatist rebels and that a new Russian missile system had been established; whereas, according to NATO sources, Russia has allegedly been sending main battle tanks, artillery and other weapons to the rebels, and allowing mercenaries from Russia to cross the border to join rebel militias;

M.  whereas a three-party consultation meeting between the EU, Ukraine and Russia was held in Brussels on 11 July 2014 on the implementation of the EU-Ukraine AA/DCFTA; whereas this is a useful process that may overcome long-lasting different understandings, by explaining the benefits of the AA/DCFTA and taking into account all the legitimate concerns of all parties;

1.  Welcomes the signing of the remaining provisions of the AA, including the DCFTA, and is convinced that it will be a driving force for political and economic reform, bringing about modernisation, strengthening the rule of law and stimulating economic growth; expresses its support for Ukraine in proceeding with the provisional application of the Agreement; declares that the European Parliament will complete its procedure for the ratification of the Agreement as soon as possible; calls on the Member States and Ukraine to ratify it swiftly with a view to its full implementation as soon as possible; stresses that the AA/ DCFTA is in no way connected to NATO integration;

2.  Warmly welcomes, also, the signing of the Association Agreements with Georgia and Moldova, which mark the beginning of a new era in the political and economic relations of these countries with the EU; calls for their swift ratification and welcomes the fact that the parliament of Moldova has already done this; refutes the adoption of ‘punitive’ trade measures by Russia against those countries that have signed Association Agreements with the EU, as these agreements do not pose threats to Russia; underlines the fact that these moves are in contradiction with World Trade Organisation rules, are politically motivated and are therefore not acceptable;

3.  Welcomes Petro Poroshenko’s election in the first round to the office of President of Ukraine, in a fair and democratic election; notes that the election result shows strong support among the population for a European and democratic perspective for the country;

4.  Supports the peace plan as a major chance for de-escalation and peace; supports President Poroshenko’s decisive actions to guarantee the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; welcomes his commitment to addressing the problem of systemic corruption and misuse of public funds; reiterates that Russia is involved in military action and supply; urges Russia to fulfil its international obligations, to genuinely commit to peaceful settlement negotiations and to use its real influence to stop any violence;

5.  Calls for a new meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on the settlement in south-eastern Ukraine, and supports new forms of communication between the parties;

6.  Stresses the fundamental right of the Ukrainian people to freely determine their country’s economic and political future and reaffirms the right of Ukraine to self-defence, in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter; reiterates that the international community supports the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; urges the Ukrainian security forces to fully respect international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) when conducting so-called anti-terrorist operations and stresses the need to protect the civilian population; and calls on rebels and mercenaries to do the same and not use civilians as human shields; underlines the need for a political solution to the crisis and urges all sides to demonstrate restraint and stick to a ceasefire, which needs to be declared and strictly implemented as soon as possible;

7.  Condemns Russia’s aggression on Crimea as a grave violation under international law of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and rejects the Russian policy of the fait accompli in foreign relations; considers the annexation of Crimea to be illegal and refuses to recognise Russian de facto rule on the peninsula; welcomes the decision to prohibit the import of goods from Crimea and Sevastopol which do not have a Ukrainian certificate, and encourages other countries to introduce similar measures in line with UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262;

8.  Condemns the ongoing violence and daily loss of lives in eastern Ukraine, the destruction of homes and properties and the flight of many thousand civilians from conflict areas to safe havens; welcomes the goodwill shown by the Ukrainian side in adopting a unilateral ceasefire and regrets the fact that the rebels and mercenaries refused to follow that example; is deeply concerned about the safety of ordinary people who remain trapped in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas; deplores the loss of lives and the fact that children have been registered among the victims; expresses its heartfelt condolences to their family members; condemns any targeting of the civilian population and calls for strict compliance with international humanitarian law;

9.  Calls on Russia to support the peace plan with true determination, to adopt measures to control its own border with Ukraine effectively and stop the continued incursion of illegal armed men and of arms and equipment, hostile action and infiltration, to immediately reduce and pull back its troops from its border with Ukraine, and to use its power over the rebels and mercenaries to force them to respect the ceasefire, lay down their weapons and withdraw back to Russia via a retreat corridor, as provided for in the Poroshenko peace plan, as the first long-awaited concrete steps to prove that Russia is serious about de-escalating the crisis;

10.  Deplores the illegal detention of Ukrainian air force navigator Nadija Savchenko in Russia and demands her immediate release, as well as the release of all hostages held in Ukraine or Russia;

11.  Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) and on the European External Action Service (EEAS) to have a stronger presence and greater visibility in the dialogue mechanisms established with a view to resolving the crisis, including the Contact Group;

12.  Welcomes the extension of the current sanctions to a further 11 people, most of whom are officials of the so-called separatist authorities; welcomes the preparatory work undertaken by the Council, the EEAS and the Member States with a view to further sanctions against Russia, which should include the economic, financial and energy sectors, and an arms and dual-use technology embargo; calls for a collective ban on the sale of arms to Russia and urges its implementation until the situation in eastern Ukraine has normalised; warns that any further steps by Russia to destabilise Ukraine will lead to additional and far-reaching consequences for EU-Russian relations;

13.  Demands that the Council call on Russia to fulfil its obligations under international law, and that it apply the third phase of sanctions should the situation so require;

14.  Urges the European Council to adopt a more coherent and firmer strategy – and to speak with one voice – vis-à-vis the Ukrainian crisis and the behaviour of the Russian Government, including on matters related to EU energy security; deplores the fact that some Member States are showing disunity in this regard and a lack of EU solidarity;

15.  Supports a renewed, mutually agreed ceasefire in order to stabilise the security situation, achieve a genuine de-escalation and create momentum for the implementation of President Poroshenko’s peace plan, which is conditional on the ceasefire being respected bilaterally, hostages being released and the OSCE monitoring effective border control; welcomes the latest successes of the Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine and the fact that they have regained control of several major cities;

16.  Strongly believes that the role of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should be strengthened, with increased material and financial means, so as to support Ukraine in securing and monitoring the regions along its border;

17.  Reminds the Ukrainian Government that domestic economic and political reforms are urgently needed; points out that domestic reforms should not be initiated solely on account of external pressure, but should be based on solid popular support for creating sustainable economic and social opportunities by modernising the country;

18.  Calls for an independent and impartial investigation of all the deadly events and crimes against humanity that have taken place in all parts of Ukraine since November 2013, with the inclusion of a strong international component and under the supervision of the Council of Europe, and for those responsible to be brought to justice; is convinced that only the effective investigation of these crimes will help Ukrainian society and the families and friends of the victims recover trust in the institutions;

19.  Recalls the necessity of ending the systematic and structural curtailment of human rights, the bad governance, the widespread corruption and the colossal shadow economy in Ukraine; stresses the importance of the ongoing process of constitutional reform, and the importance of supporting the development of civil society in achieving a true participatory democracy which promotes and protects human rights, ensuring justice and good governance for all people in all regions of the country and thus contributing to its security and stability; calls for the adoption of an anti-discrimination law in line with European standards;

20.  Underlines the need for confidence-building between various communities in society, and calls for a sustainable reconciliation process; emphasises, in this context, the importance of establishing an inclusive national dialogue and of avoiding propaganda, hate speech and rhetoric including from Russia which may further aggravate the conflict;

21.  Considers that it is of the utmost importance to start a gradual process of decentralising central powers to regional and municipal administrations without undermining the internal balance of powers or the effective functioning of the state;

22.  Welcomes the adoption of the public procurement law and calls for its diligent implementation; expects the prompt establishment of a politically independent anti‑corruption agency with powers to investigate corrupt conduct;

23.  Stresses the need to strengthen the rule of law, also by engaging in judicial reform which would contribute to restoring citizens’ trust in the judiciary, and the need to de-politicise and de-militarise the structure of the law enforcement bodies;

24.  Welcomes the decision to establish a robust civilian common security and defence policy mission to Ukraine; calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to speed up its deployment; is convinced that this mission needs to have an ambitious mandate in order to support the Ukrainians effectively in the necessary in-depth efforts to stabilise the situation in the country;

25.  Reiterates its support for President Poroshenko’s intention to hold early parliamentary elections; underlines the fact that these elections must be conducted in line with the Venice Commission recommendations;

26.  Expresses deep concern over the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, caused by rebels and mercenaries at Russia’s instigation, in particular with regard to torture, killings, disappearances of journalists and activists, and hostage taking, including cases of child abduction; calls for better protection of civilians and for the Ukrainian authorities to grant humanitarian aid in the regions concerned;

27.  Draws attention, in this connection, to the recent report of Amnesty International and expresses its firm condemnation of the abductions, savage beatings, torture, murder, extrajudicial killings and other serious abuses of human rights and breaches of humanitarian law against activists, protesters, journalists and many other citizens not active in the conflict in eastern Ukraine that have occurred over the last three months, perpetrated mainly by armed separatists and in some cases also by government forces; supports the call on the Ukrainian Government to create a single and regularly updated register of incidents of reported abductions, and to thoroughly and impartially investigate all allegations of abusive use of force, ill-treatment or torture;

28.  Underlines the necessity of finding a clear, fair and stable solution to ensure the security of gas supply from Russia to Ukraine, as this is a necessary prerequisite for the economic development and stability of Ukraine; believes that the EU should continue to play its role in facilitating an agreement allowing Ukraine to pay a competitive price, which is not politically motivated, for its gas purchases; stresses that the use of energy resources as a foreign policy tool undermines the long-term credibility of Russia as a reliable trading partner for the EU and that further measures to lower the EU’s dependency on Russian gas must be a priority;

29.  Calls on the Member States to ensure sufficient gas supply through reverse gas flow from neighbouring states in the EU; welcomes, to this end, the memorandum of understanding on reverse flows between the Slovak Republic and Ukraine, which should encourage Ukraine to establish a transparent and reliable gas transportation system; recalls the strategic role of the Energy Community, of which Ukraine holds the presidency in 2014; welcomes the fact that cooperation with Ukraine forms an integral part of the Commission’s European Energy Security Strategy presented in June 2014;

30.  Welcomes the fact that Ukraine has recently moved to the second phase of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, thereby reconfirming its determination to put in place the necessary legislative, policy and institutional framework; expresses its firm conviction that the end-goal should be the swift introduction of a visa-free regime; calls, in the meantime, for the immediate introduction of very simple, low-cost procedures on a temporary basis at EU and Member State level;

31.  Welcomes the Commission’s creation of the Support Group for Ukraine, which will provide the Ukrainian authorities with all necessary assistance in undertaking political and economic reforms and will work on the implementation of the ‘European Agenda for Reform’;

32.  Underlines the need to defend European interests and values and to promote stability, prosperity and democracy in the countries of the European continent;

33.  Reiterates its view that the AAs with Ukraine and the other EaP countries do not constitute the final goal in their relations with the EU; points out in this connection that, pursuant to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – like any other European state – have a European perspective and may apply to become members of the Union provided that they adhere to the principles of democracy, respect fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights and ensure the rule of law;

34.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the President, Government and Parliament of Ukraine, the Council of Europe and the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0457.


Youth employment
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European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on Youth Employment (2014/2713(RSP))
P8_TA(2014)0010RC-B8-0027/2014

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its position of 8 September 2010 on the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States: Part II of the Europe 2020 Integrated Guidelines (COM(2010)0193 – C7-0111/2010 – 2010/0115(NLE))(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 December 2011 entitled ‘Youth Opportunities Initiative’ (COM(2011)0933),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions, adopted in Luxembourg on 17 June 2011, on promoting youth employment to achieve the Europe 2020 objectives,

–  having regard to the Commission communication on the implementation of the Youth Opportunities Initiative (COM(2012)0727),

–  having regard to the proposal from the Commission of 5 December 2012 for a Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee (COM(2012)0729),

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 7 February 2013 on a Youth Employment Initiative,

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2013 on tackling youth unemployment: possible ways out(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2014 on respect for the fundamental right of free movement in the EU(3),

–  having regard to its position of 16 April 2014 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on enhanced cooperation between Public Employment Services (PES) (COM(2013)0430 – C7-0177/2013 – 2013/0202(COD))(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2010 on promoting youth access to the labour market, strengthening trainee, internship and apprenticeship status(5),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on the implementation of the Youth Opportunities Initiative (COM(2012)0727),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2013 on a Youth Guarantee(6),

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas unemployment is a major cause of inequality, with youth unemployment rates having reached unprecedented levels, averaging 23 % for the EU as a whole, and whereas youth unemployment is unevenly distributed across the EU, with unemployment rates among young people aged 16 to 25 being higher than 50 % in some Member States;

B.  whereas in March 2014, 5,340 million young people (under 25) were unemployed in the EU28, 3,426 million of whom were in the euro area;

C.  whereas the causes of youth unemployment vary across the EU, and can include underlying structural problems of our economies which affect the labour markets; whereas the situation and problems faced by young people are not uniform, with some groups being disproportionately affected and in need of tailored solutions;

D.  whereas the labour market situation is particularly critical for young people, regardless of their level of education, since they often end up either unemployed or with limited employment contracts while receiving lower wages and a lower level of social protection, or are forced to accept precarious employment contracts or unpaid traineeships;

E.  whereas a Youth Guarantee would contribute to fulfilling three of the Europe 2020 strategy objectives, namely that 75 % of the population aged 20-64 should be employed, that early-school-leaving rates should be below 10 %, and that at least 20 million people should be lifted out of poverty and social exclusion;

F.  whereas 7,5 million young Europeans between 15 and 24 are not employed, not in education and not in training (NEETs) and whereas, in the EU28 in 2012, 29,7 % of young people aged between 15 and 29 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion(7);

G.  whereas by emphasis on practical skills, the dual system of vocational training and also the combined academic-vocational degree courses employed in some Member States have proven their worth during the crisis in particular, keeping levels of youth unemployment lower by making young people more employable;

H.  whereas the current limitation of the youth guarantee to age 25 is insufficient as it does not take into account the 6,8 million NEETs who are aged between 25 and 30;

I.  whereas SMEs have an important job creation potential and play a crucial role in the transition towards a new, sustainable economy;

J.  whereas despite the number of workers moving from one Member State to another increasing from 4,7 million in 2005 to 8 million in 2008, in percentage terms that is an increase from 2,1 % to 3.3 % of the total labour force;

K.  whereas Member States have a crucial role to play in combating youth unemployment, also through the financial support of EU-financed instruments such as the European Social Fund, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) and the Youth Guarantee for the programming period 2014-2020;

L.  whereas the European Union has allocated EUR 6 billion to support employment of people under the age of 25;

M.  whereas the causes of youth unemployment cannot be reduced to skill mismatches, because they are linked to issues like the lack of new jobs due to the deindustrialisation of Europe, outsourcing and speculation, and this situation has been aggravated by the crisis and austerity policies; whereas education and training alone cannot solve the problem of youth unemployment;

N.  whereas any measures or programmes introduced to boost youth employment should include the consultation and/or cooperation of all relevant stakeholders on the respective levels, especially Social Partners and youth organisations;

O.  whereas 20.7 million SMEs account for over 67 % of private-sector employment in the EU, with 30 % deriving from micro-enterprises;

P.  whereas SMEs and micro-enterprises have a huge potential for job creation, being responsible for 85 % of all newly created jobs;

Youth Guarantee - Youth employment

1.  Warns that there will be no significant sustainable economic growth in the EU unless inequalities are reduced, and recalls that this starts with reducing unemployment, especially youth unemployment, and alleviating poverty;

2.  Calls for an efficient monitoring of the implementation of the Youth Guarantee; calls on the Commission to closely monitor the challenges that have been identified in the 2014 Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs) regarding the quality of offers and the lack of active outreach to NEETs, as well as the administrative capacity of public employment services and the lack of effective engagement with all the relevant partners, while at the same time identifying best practices that might function as a reference for programme improvements; calls for more transparency in the monitoring of the implementation and for more ambition with regard to addressing the Member States showing no progress in this regard;

3.  Calls on the Commission to propose a European legal framework, introducing minimum standards for the implementation of the youth guarantees, including the quality of apprenticeships, decent wages for young people and access to employment services, and also covering young people aged between 25 and 30, where the existing recommendations on youth guarantees are not respected by Member States;

4.  Calls for the reduction of youth unemployment to be made a specific objective under the European Semester; also calls for measures to combat youth unemployment to be included in the CSRs and the national reform programmes (NRPs); calls on the Commission to closely monitor and review the introduction of such measures; calls for the comprehensive involvement of Parliament in this regard under the European Semester process;

5.  Calls on the European Commission to accelerate the establishment of the Youth Employment Initiative and to publish a communication on how it has been established before the end of 2014;

6.  Encourages the Member States to consider extending the Youth Guarantee to young people under 30 years of age;

7.  Emphasises the need for an active, comprehensive and integrated labour market policy with special measures for young people;

8.  Urges the Member States to take strong measures to fight youth unemployment, in particular through preventive action against early dropout from school, or by promoting training and apprenticeship schemes (e.g. by implanting a dual educational system or other equally efficient types of framework), to develop comprehensive strategies for young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs) and to implement the national Youth Guarantee Schemes in full;

9.  Stresses that the Youth Employment Initiative should not prevent Member States from using the European Social Fund to finance broader projects related to young people, especially on poverty and social inclusion; calls on the Commission to monitor the use of ESF funds for youth-related projects;

10.  Strongly believes that EU funding, particularly that under the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), should not be used to replace national approaches, but should be used to provide additional support to young people in a way that complements and enhances national programmes according to the decision of the Member States;

11.  Believes that EU programmes must allow appropriate flexibility to enable Member States to implement individualised support in line with local needs, to ensure funding is used in the areas where youth unemployment is highest and funding is most needed, without compromising on audit and control;

12.  Stresses that the Youth Employment Initiative should not prevent Member States from using other EU programmes, e.g. under the European Social Fund or ERASMUS +, to finance broader projects related to youth, especially on young entrepreneurship, poverty and social inclusion; underlines the importance of Member States allocating the necessary cofinancing in this regard; calls on the Commission to monitor the use of ESF funds for youth-related projects;

Vocational education and training

13.  Recalls that the EUR 6 billion allocated to the YEI are not sufficient to combat youth unemployment in a lasting manner; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to make the Youth Guarantee a priority and to increase its budget allocation for the overall period 2014-2020 when deciding on the compulsory post-electoral revision of the MFF 2014-2020, which is due to take place at the end of 2016 at the very latest;

14.  Calls on the Member States to set up or improve vocational education and training systems; stresses that in order to improve the transition from school to work, a European framework for dual education should be set up, based on European best practices in this field; further suggests the EU-wide use of ‘Ice-Breaker Schemes’ giving practical work experience to young graduates and those who have already done vocational training, with companies recruiting them for six to twelve months in order to solve a specific problem centred on innovation and development;

15.  Urges the Member States to implement strong measures to fight youth unemployment and early exclusion from the labour market, in particular through preventive action against early dropout from school or from training or apprenticeship schemes (e.g. by implanting a dual educational system or other equally efficient types of framework);

16.  Calls on the Member States to reform, in particular, education and training standards for young people, in order to significantly increase their employability and life opportunities;

17.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to further improve the transparency and recognition of qualifications within the Union, in particular through the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training, Europass and the European Qualifications Framework;

18.  Underlines the importance for young people to acquire transversal skills such as ICT skills, leadership skills, critical thinking and language skills, also by studying abroad, to improve their prospects on the job market, their adaptability to future labour market developments and their active participation in society;

19.  Calls on the Member States to focus on sectors with high growth and job creation potential and take measures to prioritise the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their educational programmes in order to meet expected future developments on the labour market, in line with the need to shift to a resource-efficient economy;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support new types of economy, especially social entrepreneurship, co-working, crowdsourcing and providing supporting measures for youth cooperatives and social enterprise start-ups;

21.  Calls on Member States to foster growth-promoting policies and calls for action at EU level in terms of a European growth strategy where investment in and development of key sectors such as the digital market, the telecom market and a common energy community will provide sustainable jobs;

22.  Regrets that the Council priorities, as published by the European Council on 27 June 2014 as a strategic agenda for the EU and the new European Commission, do not include targeted measures and investment to help in the creation of quality jobs for young people;

23.  Underlines that delivering on the objectives of a Youth Guarantee requires strategic reforms to achieve more successful transitions from school to the labour market;

24.  Urges the Member States to respectively build up and reform their labour market agencies;

25.  Stresses that, given predicted rapid labour market changes, today more than ever strong investments in education and training are necessary; emphasises that skills policies should not only be seen as a means to fulfil labour market needs, but should also recognise competences acquired through non-formal education, support the implementation of lifelong learning policies and ultimately be part of a holistic approach to education;

26.  Calls on the Commission and agencies such as Eurofound and Cedefop to analyse existing systems of dual professional education to provide this information to other Member States which are interested in these systems on a voluntary basis, without lowering the education standards that already exist;

27.  Recognises the role of the family as an effective support system for young people facing unemployment, poverty and social exclusion;

28.  Urges Member States to strengthen, and to remove existing cross-border barriers to vocational training, orientation and apprenticeships, traineeships and internships, and to better match the supply and demand of work-based training opportunities for young people, thereby improving mobility and employability, particularly in border regions;

29.  Welcomes the Council recommendation on a Quality Framework for Traineeships, adopted on 10 March 2014, and calls on the Member States to implement it without any delay in favour of its addressees, and underlines the fact that the Member States’ programmes promoting and offering traineeships can be financially supported by European funds;

New environment for jobs

30.  Underlines the need for Europe to create an SME-friendly environment, which includes providing the best financial and legal conditions for start-up businesses, as overall SMEs accounted for 66.5 % of all European jobs in 2012(8);

31.  Reiterates the need to ensure wide and easy training and access to Internet and online information and to digital skills; in line with the Digital Agenda’s objectives, calls on Member States to encourage and facilitate the digitalisation of services and education opportunities for young people in order to enable them to access digital jobs;

32.  Highlights the recent trend of companies returning production and services to Europe and the opportunities this brings for job creation, particularly for young people; believes that the economies of the EU have a unique opportunity to accelerate this trend of re-shoring;

33.  Insists there is a need for the reindustrialisation of Europe based on a coherent strategy and its implementation, which will promote and facilitate growth-friendly policies and creation of new jobs;

34.  Urges Member States to associate youth employment policies with quality and sustainable working contracts in order to tackle increasing structural precariousness and underemployment;

35.  Calls on Member States to ensure that young people have access to quality jobs that respect their rights, including the right to stability and security, through a job that offers a living wage and social protection and enables a secure life of dignity and autonomy, in order to protect young workers from discrimination and exploitation;

36.  Believes that young entrepreneurs and growth-orientated SMEs are the necessary enablers of innovation and job creation;

37.  Believes that businesses will only create more jobs and recruit more people if the economic environment encourages growth and if they can rely on a qualified workforce;

38.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to take a rights-based approach to youth and employment; stresses that, particularly in times of crisis, the quality of work for young people must not be compromised and that the core labour standards and other standards related to the quality of work, such as working time, social security, and occupational health and safety, must be central considerations in the efforts that are made; stresses that an end must be put to discrimination based on age;

39.  Stresses the importance of recognising and respecting the different social and economic systems in place across Member States;

40.  Calls on the Member States and on the Commission to support and promote mobility mechanisms, in particular EURES, which facilitate job seeking in other Member States;

41.  Calls on the Member States to make full use of the Public Employment Services (PES) in order to balance the offer and demand of employment vacancies and qualifications required between Member States;

42.  Calls on the European Commission to support initiatives as well as other forms of cooperation with the private sector in tackling youth unemployment;

43.  Calls on the European Commission to take a leading role with an initiative for the reindustrialisation of Europe, enhancing industrial competitiveness without placing an excessive regulatory burden on businesses, and facilitating job creation, tackling unemployment and enlarging the scope of possibilities for young people to start their own businesses or to find a job;

44.  Recommends that any future evaluation by the European Commission of relevant ESF schemes in the area of youth employment should look beyond the cost and number of participants and consider the impact on the youth job market in real terms over a long period of time, and prioritise understanding of how and why actions are successful;

45.  Calls on the Member States to eliminate unnecessary administrative burdens and bureaucracy for the self-employed, micro-enterprises and SMEs, introduce favourable tax policies, establish a more favourable climate for private investment and address disproportionately punitive bankruptcy laws when combating unemployment. SMEs constitute a large share of the European economy and their role can be a key determinant in ensuring a prompt and sustainable recovery from the economic crisis and creating new jobs, including for young people;

46.  Calls on the Member States to improve cooperation between businesses and the education sector at all levels, with a scope of better linking curricula to the demands of the labour market;

47.  Stresses that the European economy requires efforts to be made to enhance free movement and labour mobility in the EU, rather than limitations being placed on this, and calls on the Member States to ensure the free movement of all citizens and workers in order to allow the development of a genuine Union labour market, to remove bottlenecks and to allow EU workers to move to areas where their skills are demanded; stresses that freedom of movement is a core right; stresses, also, that young people should also have the opportunity to access employment opportunities in their own community;

48.  Calls on the Member States to pay particular attention to high youth unemployment rates among disadvantaged groups, giving priority to accession and integration into the labour market and the mainstreaming of accession and integration policies, as employment is the key to successful integration;

49.  Believes that Member States must meet the specific needs of young people with disabilities by providing them with the right tools and support services, in order to create an equal environment and actively increase the employability of young people with disabilities in the labour market, education and training;

50.  Stresses the importance of focussing on stimulating entrepreneurship, particularly amongst younger people and graduates, promoting graduate internship and placements in small businesses and micro-enterprises to improve young people’s experience of business and increase awareness of opportunities and the ability to set up their own businesses;

51.  Stresses that, given the consequences of the crisis for young people, a stronger commitment and improved monitoring are needed from Member States, to improve the situation of young people; calls, in this context, on Member States to address the issue of youth unemployment during the next EPSCO informal Council on 17 and 18 July 2014 in Milan and to deliver actions and policies instead of statements;

o
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52.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and the Council.

(1) OJ C 308 E, 20.10.2011, p. 116.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0365.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0037.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0435.
(5) OJ C 351 E, 2.12.2011, p. 29.
(6) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0016.
(7) Eurostat: http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=yth_incl_010&lang=en
(8) http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/facts-figures-analysis/performance-review/files/supporting-documents/2013/annual-report-smes-2013_en.pdf report


Situation in Iraq
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European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on the situation in Iraq (2014/2716(RSP))
P8_TA(2014)0011RC-B8-0059/2014

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Iraq, in particular that of 27 February 2014 on the situation in Iraq(1),

–  having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Iraq, of the other, and to its resolution of 17 January 2013 on the EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement(2),

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Iraq, in particular those of 23 June 2014,

–  having regard to the statements by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Iraq,

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

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

–  having regard to the EU guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief adopted on 24 June 2013,

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on Iraq,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2014 on Saudi Arabia, its relations with the EU and its role in the Middle East and North Africa(3), its resolution of 24 March 2011 on European Union relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council(4) and its resolution of 3 April 2014 on the EU strategy towards Iran(5),

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Iraq continues to face serious political, security and socioeconomic challenges, and whereas its political scene is extremely fragmented and plagued by violence and sectarian politics, to the severe detriment of the Iraqi people’s legitimate aspirations for peace, prosperity and a genuine transition to democracy; whereas Iraq is facing the most severe wave of violence since 2008;

B.  whereas the jihadist al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State (IS) – formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – conquered parts of north-western Iraq, including Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, followed by summary executions of Iraqi citizens, the imposition of a harsh interpretation of Sharia law, the destruction of the Shiite, Sufi, Sunni and Christian places of worship and shrines, and other atrocities against the civilian population;

C.  whereas the disintegration of the Iraqi-Syrian border has provided the IS with opportunities to enhance its presence in both countries; whereas the IS gains have been tolerated or even supported by parts of the disenchanted Sunni population and former Baathists; whereas on 29 June 2014 it was reported that the IS had proclaimed a ‘caliphate’, or ‘Islamic state’, in the territories it controlled in Iraq and Syria, and whereas its leader, Abdu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has declared himself as the caliph;

D.  whereas the IS has secured significant income sources by looting banks and businesses on territories it controls, taking over up to six oilfields in Syria, including Syria’s largest oil facility, the al-Omar field, close to the border with Iraq, and receiving funds from wealthy donors, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates;

E.  whereas the rapid surge of the IS has revealed the fragility of the Iraqi army and institutions which are plagued by corruption, sectarianism and the exclusivist policies of the government of the Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, which has led to substantial alienation of the Sunni and other minorities in Iraq;

F.  whereas military units of the Kurdish Regional Government took over the control of the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk in the middle of June 2014, thus integrating decade-long disputed oil-rich territory into the Kurdish province, and whereas the Kurdish Government announced plans for a referendum among the Kurdish population to obtain independence from Iraq;

G.  whereas the EU has acknowledged the burden placed on the Kurdistan region and the Kurdistan Regional Government, which are hosting a large number of IDPs;

H.  whereas on 30 April 2014 parliamentary elections were held in Iraq which handed a majority to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s ‘Rule of Law’ bloc; whereas there has been a failure by the incumbent government to build a more inclusive society in Iraq; whereas there are increasing calls on al-Maliki not to seek a third term as prime minister and for a genuinely inclusive government to be formed instead; whereas the Shiite religious leader Ayatollah Sistani has called on all Iraqi parties to urgently reach a consensus on such a government, but the newly elected Iraqi parliament has so far failed to do so;

I.  whereas the United States of America, Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran have provided support for the Government of Iraq; whereas the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has indicated readiness to cooperate with the US in countering the IS threat in Iraq, while extremist Sunni armed groups in the region, including the IS, have been receiving ideological support over the past years from actors in Saudi Arabia and certain Gulf countries;

J.  whereas hundreds of foreign fighters, including many from EU Member States, have reportedly joined the fighting alongside the IS; whereas the EU citizens in question are identified as a security risk by the governments of the Member States;

K.  whereas according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) there are an estimated 1.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in central and northern Iraq and an estimated 1.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance; whereas the upsurge of the IS has produced a humanitarian crisis, notably a massive displacement of civilians; whereas the EU has decided to increase its humanitarian assistance to Iraq by EUR 5 million to provide basic assistance to displaced people, thus bringing humanitarian funding for Iraq to EUR 12 million so far in 2014;

L.  whereas the Iraqi constitution guarantees equality for all citizens by law, along with the ‘administrative, political, cultural and educational rights of the various nationalities’; whereas the Iraqi Government bears responsibility for ensuring that the rights, wellbeing and security of the whole population are guaranteed;

M.  whereas there are reports of the deliberate targeting of women and girls in Iraq and of kidnapping, rape and forced marriage by militants of the IS and other armed groups; whereas, according to the Human Rights Watch report of 12 July 2014, Iraqi security forces and government-affiliated militias appear to have unlawfully executed at least 255 prisoners over the past month in apparent revenge for killings by Islamic State fighters,

N.  whereas up to 10 000 people from the predominantly Christian communities of Qaraqosh (also known as Al-Hamdaniya), a historic Assyrian town, fled their homes on 25 June 2014 after mortar rounds landed near the town; whereas since 2003 at least half of Iraq’s Christians are believed to have left the country; whereas according to Open Doors International the number of Christians in Iraq has significantly dropped from 1.2 million at the beginning of the 1990s to between 330 000 and 350 000 now;

1.  Expresses its deep concern about the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq; strongly condemns the attacks perpetrated by the IS against Iraqi citizens and the Iraqi state, leading to summary executions, the imposition of a harsh interpretation of Sharia law, the destruction of places of worship and of the region’s historic, cultural and artistic heritage, and other atrocities; warns that the extreme anti-Shia and anti-Christian views of the IS increase the risk of sectarian killings on a massive scale, should the IS be allowed to hold on to the territory it has seized and to expand further;

2.  Strongly condemns attacks directed at civilian targets, including hospitals, schools and places of worship, and the use of executions and sexual violence in the conflict; underlines the fact that there should be no impunity for the perpetrators of these acts; is deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis and the massive displacement of civilians;

3.  Supports the Iraqi authorities in the fight against IS terrorism and other armed/terrorist groups, but emphasises that the security response needs to be combined with a sustainable political solution involving all the components of Iraqi society and addressing their legitimate grievances; stresses, further, that in the fight against terrorism human rights and international humanitarian law must be respected; urges the Iraqi Security Forces to act in line with international and national law and with respect for Iraq’s commitments to international agreements on human rights and fundamental freedoms; calls on the Iraqi Government and on all political leaders to take the necessary measures to provide security and protection for all people in Iraq, in particular members of vulnerable groups and religious communities;

4.  Rejects without reservation and considers illegitimate the announcement by the IS leadership that it has established a caliphate in the areas it now controls, and rejects the notion of any unilateral changes to internationally recognised borders by force while also respecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of people in the IS-controlled territories;

5.  Stresses that the IS is subject to the arms embargo and assets freeze imposed by United Nations Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011), and underlines the importance of prompt and effective implementation of those measures;

6.  Believes that the parliamentary elections held in Iraq on 30 April 2014 present an opportunity to create a truly representative government with an inclusive agenda; welcomes the election of the new speaker of the Iraqi parliament on 15 July 2014; urges all political leaders, especially Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to make sure that an inclusive government is formed as a matter of urgency; stresses that such a government should properly represent the political, religious and ethnic diversity of Iraqi society, in order to stop the bloodshed and the fragmentation of the country;

7.  Calls on all regional actors to contribute to efforts to promote security and stability in Iraq, and in particular to encourage the Iraqi Government to reach out to the Sunni minority and reorganise the army in an inclusive, non-sectarian and non-partisan way;

8.  Calls on all regional actors to do everything in their power to stop all activities by official or private bodies to propagate and spread extreme Islamist ideologies in words and acts; calls on the international community, especially the EU, to facilitate a regional dialogue on the problems facing the Middle East and include all significant parties, in particular Iran and Saudi Arabia;

9.  Underlines that the EU should develop a comprehensive policy approach to the region and, notably, that Iran, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states need to be included as essential players in any de-escalation effort in Syria and Iraq;

10.  Stresses the need to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in this time of crisis, notably freedom of expression, press freedom and digital freedoms;

11.  Takes note of the announcement by the Kurdistan Regional Government of a referendum for independence; appeals, however, to the parliament and the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, to uphold an inclusive process in respect of the rights of the non-Kurdish minorities living in the province;

12.  Voices concern at reports of hundreds of foreign fighters, including citizens of EU Member States, having joined the IS insurgency; further calls for international cooperation in order to take appropriate legal action against any individuals suspected of being involved in acts of terrorism;

13.  Welcomes the EU’s decision of 19 June 2014 to increase its humanitarian assistance to Iraq by EUR 5 million to provide basic assistance to displaced people, thus bringing humanitarian funding for Iraq to EUR 12 million so far in 2014;

14.  Reaffirms the EU’s commitment to strengthening its relationship with Iraq, including through the implementation of the EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA); calls on the Council to continue assisting Iraq in promoting democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law, including by building on the experiences and achievements of the EUJUST LEX-Iraq mission; supports, also, the efforts of UNAMI and those of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq to assist the Government of Iraq in strengthening its democratic institutions and processes, promoting the rule of law, facilitating regional dialogue, improving the provision of basic services and ensuring the protection of human rights;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Council of Representatives of Iraq, the Regional Government of Kurdistan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the United Nations Human Rights Council.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0171.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0023.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0207.
(4) OJ C 247 E, 17.8.2012, p. 1.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0339.


Escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine
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European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine (2014/2723(RSP))
P8_TA(2014)0012RC-B8-0071/2014

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the ongoing conflict is causing tragic loss of life and unacceptable suffering to the civilian populations of both involved parties;

B.  whereas, in its statement of 12 July 2014, the UN Security Council expressed serious concern regarding the crisis relating to Gaza, called for de-escalation of the situation, the restoration of calm and the reinstatement of the November 2012 ceasefire, and for respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians, and expressed support for the resumption of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the two-state solution;

C.  whereas Egypt proposed a ceasefire plan on 14 July 2014, so far only accepted by Israel;

D.  whereas Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU;

E.  whereas Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked the United Nations to put Palestine under ‘international protection’ because of the worsening situation in Gaza;

F.  whereas international and humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, is fully applicable to all parties involved in the conflict;

G.  whereas direct peace talks between the parties have stalled and all recent efforts to resume negotiations have failed; whereas the EU has called on the parties to pursue actions conducive to an environment of confidence which is necessary to ensure meaningful negotiations, to refrain from actions that undermine the credibility of the process, and to prevent incitement;

1.  Calls for an end to rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip, which Hamas and other armed groups must cease immediately, and for an end to the Israeli military action against Gaza;

2.  Expresses its deepest concern about the critical situation in the Gaza Strip and in Israel; mourns the loss of civilian life, including many women and children; denounces the murders of the three Israeli teenagers on 12 June and the Palestinian teenager on 2 July 2014, which have been met with universal condemnation; expresses its condolences to the families of all innocent victims;

3.  Stresses that both Israeli and Palestinian citizens have the right to live in peace and security; stresses the need for all sides fully to respect international humanitarian law, and that there can be no justification for the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, which is a war crime in international law, and for the destruction of civilian infrastructure;

4.  Calls for the immediate de-escalation of the conflict through a ceasefire agreement between the two sides and an immediate end to all acts of violence which threaten civilian lives; welcomes all efforts to negotiate a permanent truce between the parties, and calls on the High Representative / Vice-President and the Member States to step up diplomatic pressure in order to support these actions;

5.  Urges the international community, and the UN Security Council in particular, to find an adequate response and solution to the current crisis without delay; encourages key regional actors, notably Egypt and Jordan, to continue their efforts to calm the situation; welcomes the decision of the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing to facilitate humanitarian access to Gaza and to enable the transit of Palestinian civilians;

6.  Reiterates its strong support for the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security, which would imply the lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip; stresses again that non‑violent means are the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians;

7.  Calls, in this spirit, for serious and credible efforts by both sides and the international community to resume direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and to achieve concrete results in these talks; urges again the EU to play a more active role in the efforts aimed at achieving a just and lasting peace;

8.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Quartet Envoy to the Middle East, the Knesset and the Government of Israel, the President of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Parliament and Government of Egypt, and the Parliament and Government of Jordan.


Crime of aggression
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European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on the crime of aggression (2014/2724(RSP))
P8_TA(2014)0013RC-B8-0066/2014

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

–  having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and in particular Article 5 relating to the crime of aggression as one of the core crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction,

–  having regard to the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute, adopted at the Review Conference held in Kampala, Uganda, in 2010, and in particular with regard to Resolution RC/Res. 6, on the crime of aggression,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2011/168/CFSP and to its reference to the Kampala Amendments,

–  having regard to the revised Action Plan adopted on 12 July 2011 in line with Council Decision 2011/168/CFSP,

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 May 2010 on the Review Conference on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in Kampala, Uganda(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 November 2011 on EU support for the ICC: facing challenges and overcoming difficulties(2),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Annual Reports on Human Rights in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter, including implications for the EU’s strategic human rights policy,

–  having regard to the Ninth Report of the International Criminal Court to the United Nations for 2012/13,

–  having regard to the outcome of the 25th session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in April 2014,

–  having regard to the Latin American Parliament General Assembly Resolution of 19 and 20 October 2013 on the ‘Promotion of the International Criminal Court and Ratification of Kampala Amendments’ (AO/2013/07XXIX),

–  having regard to the resolution of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 27 November 2013 on the ‘Strengthening of the International Criminal Court and the Assembly of States Parties’, which includes a call on future States Parties to ratify the Statute as amended, a call on all States Parties to consider ratifying the amendments and a recognition of the recent ratifications of the amendments by a number of States Parties (ICC-ASP/12/Res.8),

–  having regard to the Ratification and Implementation of the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute of the ICC handbook produced by the Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the United Nations, the Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression and the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University,

–  having regard to International Justice Day (IJD), commemorated on 17 July, which celebrates progress towards greater accountability for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the EU Member States have been staunch allies of the ICC since its inception, providing financial, political, diplomatic and logistical support, while promoting the universality of the Rome Statute and defending its integrity, with the purpose of strengthening the independence of the Court;

B.  whereas on 17 November 2011(3) Parliament welcomed the adoption of the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute, including on the crime of aggression, and called on all Member States to ratify them and incorporate them into their national legislation;

C.  whereas on 18 April 2012 Parliament subsequently adopted a resolution (4) and called on the Council and the Commission to use their international authority in the interests of securing and strengthening the universality of the Rome Statute for an internationally agreed definition of acts of aggression in breach of international law;

D.  whereas the ratification of the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression by at least 30 States Parties and a decision to be taken after 1 January 2017 by a two-thirds majority of States Parties will allow for the establishment of a permanent system of international criminal accountability by penalising the crime of aggression;

E.  whereas 122 countries are States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;

F.  whereas, thus far, 14 States Parties have ratified the Kampala Amendment on the crime of aggression, including eight EU Member States, namely Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Slovenia; whereas at least 35 States Parties are currently actively working on the ratification of the amendments on the crime of aggression, and others have made commitments towards ratification;

G.  whereas on 8 May 2012 Liechtenstein was the first country to ratify the amendments on the crime of aggression together with the amendments on Article 8 (war crimes) adopted at the 2010 Review Conference of the Rome Statute of the ICC, held in Kampala, Uganda;

H.  whereas states not party to the Rome Statute can ratify the Rome Statute, including the Kampala amendments, and thereby contribute to the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression;

I.  whereas the Kampala Amendments are fully compatible with the United Nations Charter in that they only criminalise the most serious forms of the illegal use of force, namely those that manifestly violate the UN Charter by their ‘character, gravity and scale’;

J.  whereas the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression will contribute to the rule of law at international level and to international peace and security by deterring the illegal use of force and thus proactively contributing to the prevention of such crimes and the consolidation of lasting peace;

K.  whereas the ratification of both Kampala Amendments by states and activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression will contribute to ending impunity for the perpetrators of this crime;

L.  whereas the ratification of the Kampala Amendments and activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression will contribute to protecting human rights by criminalising the act of aggression that often stands at the beginning of the causal chain of gross violations of human rights and grave breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law;

M.  whereas the criminalisation of acts of aggression will also protect the right to life of combatants who are unlawfully sent to war and those of the attacked state, thus closing a loophole in the Rome Statute and in international humanitarian law insofar as they are currently aimed solely at protecting civilians and other categories of ‘protected persons’;

N.  whereas the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression will contribute to the universality of the Rome Statute since several states may be interested in ratifying the completed Rome Statute, including the Kampala Amendments, which also serves their national policy goal of deterring the illegal use of force against them;

1.  Reiterates its full support for the work of the International Criminal Court in helping end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community;

2.  Calls for the EU to adopt a common position on the crime of aggression and the Kampala Amendments;

3.  Underlines the importance of the principle of universality of the Rome Statute and urges the EU to be at the forefront in pushing for the Kampala Amendment on the crime of aggression to enter into force and to support the efforts under way to achieve this goal, and to encourage its Member States to first ratify the amendment and then positively support the one-time decision by the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, once the required 30 ratifications are achieved, to activate the ICC’s jurisdiction for the crime of aggression;

4.  Stresses the need to actively promote support for the ICC, the ratification of the Rome Statute as amended and the ratification of both Kampala Amendments in all EU external actions, including through the EU Special Representative on Human Rights (EUSR) and EU Delegations on the ground, also including technical assistance for states seeking ratification and/or implementation; calls, in this regard, for the EU and its Member States to renew their commitment to and support, including financial, for the ICC;

5.  Calls on the EU to commit to the fight against genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression, as well as calling for combating impunity for grave human rights violations to be made a priority for the EU, and for the Member States, in their external actions; encourages the HR/VP to step up efforts in promoting the implementation of and compliance with international humanitarian law standards in general, including by non-state armed groups;

6.  Calls on the Member States to swiftly align national legislation with the Kampala Amendments’ definitions, as well as other obligations under the Rome Statute, to enable national investigations and prosecutions of the crimes by EU Member States and to cooperate with the Court;

7.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights and the President of the International Criminal Court.

(1) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 78.
(2) OJ C 153 E, 31.5.2013, p. 115.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0507.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0126.

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