Texts adopted
Thursday, 15 January 2015 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Russia, in particular the case of Alexei Navalny
 Pakistan, in particular the situation following the Peshawar school attack
 Kyrgyzstan: homosexual propaganda bill
 Ombudsman's annual report 2013
 Situation in Libya
 Situation in Ukraine
 Situation in Egypt
 The case of the two Italian 'marò'
 Freedom of expression in Turkey: Recent arrests of journalists, media executives and systematic pressure against media

Russia, in particular the case of Alexei Navalny
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European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on Russia, in particular the case of Alexei Navalny (2015/2503(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Russia, in particular Article 118 thereof, which states that justice in the Russian Federation shall be administered by courts alone, and Article 120 thereof, which provides that judges are independent and are subordinate only to the Russian Constitution and federal law;

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Russia, in particular its resolutions of 23 October 2012 on common visa restrictions for Russian officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case(1), 13 June 2013 on the rule of law in Russia(2), 13 March 2014 on Russia: sentencing of demonstrators involved in the Bolotnaya Square events(3), and 23 October 2014 on the closing-down of the NGO ‘Memorial’ (winner of the 2009 Sakharov Prize) in Russia(4) and its recommendation to the Council of 2 April 2014 on establishing common visa restrictions for Russian officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case(5),

−  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2013 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2012 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(6),

−  having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) of 30 December 2014 on the sentencing of Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg Navalny by the Zamoskvoretsky Court,

−  having regard to the EU-Russia human rights consultations of 28 November 2013,

−  having regard to the existing Agreement on partnership and cooperation establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of one part, and the Russian Federation, of the other part (PCA), and the suspended negotiations for a new EU-Russia agreement,

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

A.  whereas the Russian Federation, as a full member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and a signatory to the UN declaration, has committed itself to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights; whereas, as a result of numerous serious violations of the rule of law and the adoption of restrictive laws during the past months, there are grave concerns about to Russia’s compliance with international and national obligations; and whereas the EU has repeatedly offered additional assistance and expertise, through the Partnership for Modernisation, to help Russia to modernise and abide by its constitutional and legal order, in line with Council of Europe standards; whereas there are a multitude of judicial cases in which politically constructed reasons are used to eliminate political competition, threaten civil society and discourage citizens from participating in public rallies and protests opposing the country’s current leadership;

B.  whereas Alexei Navalny has consistently exposed massive corruption within the highest levels of the Russian state apparatus; whereas his first court verdict imposing a five-year sentence on him in July 2013 was seen as political; whereas he was placed under house arrest for two months in February 2014, and was fitted with an electronic bracelet to monitor his activities in March 2014;

C.  whereas Alexei Navalny won 27 % of the vote in the September 2013 Moscow mayoral elections, thus confirming himself as one of the most prominent faces of the Russian opposition to the Kremlin;

D.  whereas Alexei Navalny’s second court verdict had been due on 15 January 2015, but inexplicably the court brought the date forward to 30 December 2014, when most Russians were focused on the New Year holiday; whereas the same technique of bringing the date forward was used with Mikhail Khodorkovsky;

E.  whereas the human rights situation in Russia has deteriorated dramatically in recent years and the Russian authorities have adopted a series of laws which contain ambiguous provisions that are used to further restrict opposition and civil society actors, and hinder the freedoms of expression and assembly;

F.  whereas in the last year legislation on NGOs and on the right to freedom of assembly has been used to suppress civil society, stifle opposing political views and harass NGOs, democratic opposition and the media; whereas, pursuant to the ‘foreign agents’ law, the independent rights organisation ‘Memorial’ was de facto closed down; whereas the implementation of this law has involved severe actions aimed at preventing and dissuading civil society organisations, including the Soldiers’ Mothers organisation, from carrying out their work;

G.  whereas at the end of December 2014 the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation substantially amended the list of ‘foreign agents’, adding several organisations engaging in support for the protection of human rights, including the Sakharov Centre, thus hampering notably their activities and the protection of human rights in Russia;

H.  whereas several trials and judicial proceedings over the last few years, such as the Magnitsky, Khodorkovsky and Politkovskaya cases, have cast doubt on the independence and impartiality of the judicial institutions of the Russian Federation; whereas such high-profile cases as that of Alexei Navalny are merely the most well-known cases outside Russia of what amounts to a systematic failure of the Russian state to uphold the rule of law and to deliver justice to its citizens; whereas the current court decision represents a politically motivated attempt to punish Alexei Navalny as one of the most prominent opponents of the government;

I.  whereas there is an increasing need for a firm, coherent and comprehensive EU policy towards Russia, supported by all the Member States, with support and assistance backed up by firm and fair criticism;

1.  Expresses its deepest concern at the fact that, in Russia, the law is being used as a political instrument; underlines that the conviction of the prominent lawyer, anti-corruption campaigner and social activist Alexei Navalny, imposing a 3.5-year suspended sentence on him and a 3.5-year prison sentence on his brother, Oleg Navalny, was based on unsubstantiated charges; strongly deplores that the prosecution seems to be politically motivated;

2.  Notes with concern that, even though Alexei Navalny is being kept out of prison, his brother Oleg Navalny is currently imprisoned, and that this is giving rise to concern with regard to the possible political use of a family member to intimidate and silence one of Russia’s opposition leaders, Alexei Navalny; recalls that Alexei’s brother, Oleg, the father of two small children and a former executive of the state-owned postal service, has never played a role in the Russian opposition movement;

3.  Urges the Russian judicial and law-enforcement authorities to carry out their duties in an impartial and independent manner, free of political interference and to ensure that the judicial proceedings in the Navalny cases, and all the other investigations and trials against opposition activists, meet the internationally accepted standards; stresses the importance of ensuring that judicial decisions are free from political interference, independent, and are taken in full compliance with the rule of law;

4.  Fully backs the campaign against corruption in Russia initiated by Alexei Navalny, and supports the efforts of Russian people to find a settlement ensuring democracy, political pluralism, unity and respect for human rights;

5.  Takes the view that the Russian Federation, as a member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, should meet the obligations to which it has signed up; points out that the recent developments have moved in a direction that is contrary to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in the country;

6.  Calls on the Presidents of the Council and the Commission, and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) to continue to follow such cases closely, to raise these issues in different formats and meetings with Russia, and to report back to Parliament on the exchanges with the Russian authorities;

7.  Stresses that freedom of assembly in the Russian Federation is enshrined in Article 31 of the Russian Constitution and in the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Russia is a signatory and which the Russian authorities are therefore obliged to comply with;

8.  Urges the Council to develop a unified policy towards Russia that commits the 28 EU Member States and EU institutions to a strong common message on the role of human rights in the EU-Russia relationship and the need to end the crackdown on freedom of expression, assembly and association in Russia;

9.  Asks the VP/HR to come up, as a matter of urgency, with a comprehensive strategy towards Russia, aimed at maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of European states, and supporting, at the same time, the strengthening of democratic principles, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Russia;

10.  Expresses its deep concern about the continuous wave of attacks against independent human rights organisations and civil society groups in Russia, which is another sign of the crackdown on independent voices, a trend that is of growing concern to the European Union; urges the Commission and the EEAS, with regard to the ongoing programming phase of the EU financial instruments, to increase its financial assistance to Russian civil society through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the civil society organisations and local authorities funds, and to include the EU Russia Civil Society Forum in the Partnership Instrument in order to ensure sustainable and credible long-term support; welcomes the decision of the Board of Governors of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) to allow the Endowment to extend its work also to Russia;

11.  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 governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation.

(1) OJ C 68 E, 7.3.2014, p. 13.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0284.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0253.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0039.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0258.
(6) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0575.

Pakistan, in particular the situation following the Peshawar school attack
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European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on Pakistan, in particular the situation following the Peshawar school attack (2015/2515(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Pakistan, in particular that of 27 November 2014(1), 17 April 2014(2), 10 October 2013(3) and 7 February 2013(4),

–  having regard to the statements by the President of the European Parliament of 16 December 2014 and the chairs of the Human Rights Subcommittee and the Delegation for Relations with South Asia of 17 December 2014,

–  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 the attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan of 16 December 2014, the Local EU Statement on the resumption of executions in Pakistan of 24 December 2014 and the press statement on the visit of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to Pakistan of 29 October 2014,

–  having regard to the statement by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Sakharov prize winner Malala Yousafzai of 16 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Cooperation Agreement between Pakistan and the EU, the Five-Year Engagement Plan, the EU-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue and the GSP+ scheme of trade preferences,

–  having regard to the statements by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 16 December 2014 and by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar of 17 December 2014,

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

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 November 2009 on freedom of religion or belief, in which the Council emphasises the strategic importance of this freedom and of countering religious intolerance,

–  having regard to the report of 5 August 2011 to the UN General Assembly by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education on the protection of education during emergencies,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2014 on Pakistan’s regional role and political relations with the EU(5),

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

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

A.  whereas on 16 December 2014 seven armed men launched a deadly attack against an Army Public School in the city of Peshawar – which is surrounded on three sides by the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) – killing over 140 people, including 134 school children, and injuring a nearly equal number;

B.  whereas this attack has created great shock inside and outside of Pakistan, being perceived as the most cruel terrorist act in Pakistan’s history, intensified by the fact that it took eight hours before military forces regained control of the school; whereas many pupils and school personnel were executed and injured in that interval and those surviving the ordeal remain deeply traumatised;

C.  whereas Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner and recipient of the Sakharov Prize, was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in October 2012 for campaigning for girls’ education in Pakistan;

D.  whereas the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the massacre and said one of the reasons for the attack on the school was to send a strong message to the supporters of Malala, who advocates education for women and children, as well as to take ‘revenge’ for the army’s campaign against the militants;

E.  whereas since the government offensive against the Taliban and other militant groups started in the FATA area, one of the poorest areas of Pakistan, over one million people have been displaced to Afghanistan or various parts of Pakistan;

F.  whereas freedom of belief and religious tolerance in Pakistan are both threatened by terrorist violence and the widespread abuse of blasphemy laws; whereas women and girls are doubly exposed, both to enforced conversion and to widespread sexual violence;

G.  whereas according to the report by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), there were over 800 or more attacks on schools in Pakistan between 2009 and 2012;whereas militants have also recruited children from schools and madrassas, some to be suicide bombers; whereas, according to the report, at least 30 children, dozens of school teachers and other education personnel, including one provincial education minister, were killed in attacks on schools and school transport between 2009 and 2012;

H.  whereas the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has suggested that Pakistan establish a rapid response system whenever there are attacks on educational institutions, in order to promptly repair and rebuild them and replace educational materials so that students can be reintegrated into schools/universities as soon as possible; whereas recent changes to the constitution have made access to free compulsory education a fundamental right;

I.  whereas within hours of the APS Peshawar attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the death penalty moratorium which had been in place for six years; whereas so far several prisoners on death row on terrorism-related charges have been executed; whereas according to Pakistani officials 500 convicts could be executed in the coming weeks; whereas there are an estimated 8 000 people on death row in Pakistan;

J.  whereas on 6 January 2015, in reaction to the school massacre, the Pakistani Parliament passed a constitutional amendment which empowers military courts for the next two years to try suspected Islamist militants and could move defendants from arrest to execution in a matter of weeks; whereas as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Pakistan is obliged to uphold and take measures to ensure basic fair trials and is prohibited from using military courts to try civilians when the regular courts are functioning;

K.  whereas Pakistan recently ratified seven of the nine most significant international agreements on human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which contain a range of provisions on the administration of justice, the right to a fair trial, equality before the law and non-discrimination;

L.  whereas the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in her report of 4 April 2013 include reforming the legal system so as to ensure that fundamental rights are upheld and the system is effective; whereas human rights organisations regularly draw attention to corruption in the legal system;

M.  whereas the EU and Pakistan have deepened and broadened their bilateral ties, as exemplified by the five-year engagement plan, launched in February 2012, and the second EU-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, held in March 2014; whereas the aim of the EU-Pakistan five-year engagement plan is to build a strategic relationship and forge a partnership for peace and development rooted in shared values and principles;

N.  whereas the stability of Pakistan is of a key importance to peace in South Asia and beyond; whereas Pakistan plays an important role in fostering stability in the region and could be expected to lead by example in strengthening the rule of law and human rights;

1.  Strongly condemns the brutal massacre of schoolchildren perpetrated by Pakistani Taliban splinter group Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) as an act of horror and cowardice, and expresses its condolences to the families of the victims of the Peshawar school attack and its support to the people and the authorities of Pakistan;

2.  Expresses its full commitment to tackling the threat posed by terrorism and religious extremism and its readiness to further assist the Pakistani Government in this;

3.  Expects the Government of Pakistan to take urgent and effective measures, in keeping with internationally recognised standards of the rule of law, to address the security threat posed by all militant groups operating within Pakistan and the surrounding region, without exception; underlines that no form of terrorism or extremism should be supported by the authorities;

4.  Calls on the Government of Pakistan to ensure the safety of schools and to make sure that children, regardless of gender, are never intimidated while going to school; believes the government should show significantly stronger determination and strengthen its efforts to arrest and prosecute TTP militants and others who target schools for violence, failing which its international credibility will be undermined;

5.  Recalls its constant opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances; regrets the decision by Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif to rescind a four-year unofficial moratorium on capital punishment, and calls for this moratorium to be reinstated immediately;

6.  Calls on the Government of Pakistan to reserve anti-terrorism laws for acts of terror, instead of being using them to try ordinary criminal cases; regrets strongly the recourse to fast-track military justice which lacks minimal conditions of international standards of the rule of law, and underlines that the prolonged granting of GSP+ preferences is linked to the accomplishment of certain basic standards enshrined in UN and ILO conventions;

7.  Welcomes the will of Pakistan’s political parties to come up with a national plan to tackle terrorism; emphasises that in the fight against terrorism and religious extremism it is crucial to work on its root causes, including by addressing poverty, ensuring religious tolerance and freedom of belief, reinforcing the rule of law and guaranteeing the right and safe access to education for girls and boys; calls for a long-term strategy to prevent the radicalisation of young people in Pakistan and tackle the ‘extensive learning crisis’ which UNESCO has established for Pakistan, in particular by increasing investment in a publicly funded education system and by making sure religious schools have the materials they need to provide a balanced and inclusive education to young people;

8.  Urges the Pakistani Government to abide by the recently ratified international agreements on human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which oblige the authorities to ensure basic fair trials prohibiting them from using military courts to try civilians when the regular courts are functioning;

9.  Calls for a renewed international commitment to fighting the financing and sponsorship of terrorist networks;

10.  Calls on the Commission, Vice-President/High Representative Federica Mogherini, the European External Action Service and the Council to fully commit in order to tackle the threat posed by terrorism and to further assist the Pakistan Government and the people of Pakistan with continuing their efforts to eradicate terrorism;

11.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice‑President of the European Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the UN, the UN Human Rights Council, and the Government and Parliament of Pakistan.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0064.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0460.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0422.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0060.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0208.

Kyrgyzstan: homosexual propaganda bill
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European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on Kyrgyzstan, homosexual propaganda bill (2015/2505(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Kyrgyzstan and Central Asian republics, in particular that of 15 December 2011 on the state of implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia(1),

–  having regard to Kyrgyzstan’s constitution, and in particular to Articles 16, 31, 33 and 34 thereof,

–  having regard to the international human rights obligations and instruments, including those contained in the UN conventions on human rights and in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, guaranteeing human rights and fundamental freedoms and prohibiting discrimination,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to respect for the personal, private and family lives of individuals and the right to equality, and bans discrimination in the enjoyment of those rights,

–  having regard to UN Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/17/19 of 17 June 2011 and UN Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/27/32 of 24 September 2014 on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity,

–  having regard to the statement by the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Kyrgyzstan of 24 October 2014,

–  having regard to the Kyrgyz Parliament’s ‘Partner for democracy’ status at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE),

–  having regard to PACE resolution 1984 (2014) of 8 April 2014 on the Request for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic, in particular paragraphs 15.24, 15.25 and 15.26 thereof,

–  having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Kyrgyz Republic, of the other part, in particular Articles 2 and 92 thereof,

–  having regard to the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, adopted in June 2004 and reviewed in 2008, and to the Guidelines to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons, adopted by the Council on 24 June 2013,

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

–  having regard the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda,

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

A.  whereas Kyrgyzstan has achieved great progress over the past years compared to the other countries in the region, most notably by becoming a parliamentary democracy, stepping up efforts in the fight against corruption, and committing itself to universal human rights standards;

B.  whereas the EU has a clear interest in a peaceful, democratic and economically prosperous Kyrgyzstan; whereas the EU has committed itself, in particular through its Central Asia Strategy, to act as a partner of the countries in the region;

C.  whereas the countries of Central Asia face a number of common challenges, such as poverty and serious threats to human security, and the need to strengthen democracy, respect for human rights, good governance and the rule of law;

D.  whereas all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; whereas all states have the obligation to prevent violence and discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression;

E.  whereas lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people must enjoy the same human rights as all other people;

F.  whereas the Kyrgyz Republic decriminalised male homosexuality in 1998;

G.  whereas on 15 October 2014 the Kyrgyz Parliament passed at first reading draft bill 6‑11804/14, which contains amendments to the Criminal Code, the Code of Administrative Responsibility, the Law on Peaceful Assembly and the Law on Mass Media aimed at prohibiting the ‘promotion of non-traditional sexual relations in an open or indirect way’ and providing for up to one year’s imprisonment;

H.  whereas some media and some political and religious leaders in the country are increasingly seeking to intimidate LGBTI people, limit their rights and legitimise violence against them;

I.  whereas numerous heads of states and government, United Nations leaders, government and parliamentary representatives, and the European Union, including the Council, the Parliament, the Commission and former High Representative Ashton, have strongly condemned similar ‘anti-propaganda’ laws;

J.  whereas discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity are linked, and whereas various NGOs and the UN have pointed out that gender inequalities remain significant, and that girls and women in Kyrgyzstan continue to suffer abuse such as abduction and forced marriage, although the law of 1994 forbidding this was reinforced in January 2013;

1.  Deeply regrets the presentation of this draft law, and any actions which could lead to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and calls on all countries to put an immediate end to the criminalisation of homosexuality;

2.  Reiterates the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are matters falling within the sphere of the individual right to privacy, as guaranteed by international human rights law, according to which equality and non-discrimination are to be protected, whilst freedom of expression is to be guaranteed;

3.  Reminds the Kyrgyz Parliament of its international obligations and of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union, which includes full respect for human rights as an essential element of the partnership and calls for the withdrawal of the draft law on ‘dissemination of information about non-traditional sexual relations’ currently under review in parliament;

4.  Notes that the draft law passed its first reading and must be voted on twice more before going to the President for signature, and stresses that the adoption of any legislation on ‘non‑traditional relations’ should not run counter to Kyrgyzstan’s human rights obligations and commitments;

5.  Calls on the Kyrgyz authorities to reaffirm publicly that all people in Kyrgyzstan have the right to live free from discrimination and violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and that any acts to the contrary are illegal and will be prosecuted;

6.  Calls on the Kyrgyz Parliament to follow the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Resolution 1984 (2014) on the Request for Partner for Democracy status, in particular recommendations 15.24, 15.25 and 15.26;

7.  Calls on the Kyrgyz Parliament to respect its constitution, including Article 16, which states that ‘laws that deny or derogate human and civil rights and freedoms shall not be adopted in the Kyrgyz Republic’, and Articles 31, 33 and 34, which affirm freedom of speech, freedom of information and freedom of assembly, and to reject draft bill 6-11804/14;

8.  Is deeply concerned about the negative consequences of the discussion and potential adoption of this bill, which are further increasing stigmatisation, discrimination and violence against LGBTI individuals; calls on politicians and religious leaders to refrain from anti‑LGBTI rhetoric, including hate speech and incitement to hatred;

9.  Is concerned about the possible effects of such legislation on international donors, non‑governmental organisations and humanitarian organisations working on LGBTI issues and HIV prevention;

10.  Calls on the UN Human Rights Council to take into consideration, as part of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of Kyrgyzstan, the disregard for the principles of equality and non-discrimination represented by this draft law;

11.  Calls on the Kyrgyz authorities to take all the measures needed to ensure that human rights defenders can carry on their work of promoting and protecting human rights without hindrance;

12.  Urges Kyrgyzstan, in the period leading to the fourteenth meeting of the Cooperation Council between the EU and the Kyrgyz Republic, to continue with reforms leading to transparency, independence of the judiciary, inter-ethnic reconciliation and respect for human rights, as these are key factors for the long-term sustainable development of the country;

13.  Welcomes the progress made by the Kyrgyz authorities in the domain of human rights in the period between the fourth and fifth rounds of the EU-Kyrgyz Republic Human Rights Dialogue; strongly urges the Kyrgyz authorities to continue progress in this field;

14.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the External Action Service to make clear to the Kyrgyz authorities that the eventual adoption of this bill could affect relations with the EU in line with Article 92 (2) of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement; further calls on the Council and the External Action Service to raise this issue in the relevant international fora, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations;

15.  Calls on the Kyrgyz authorities to ensure that allegations of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment are investigated promptly and efficiently and that perpetrators are brought to justice; calls, furthermore, for the release of all prisoners of conscience, with regard in particular to Azimjon Askarov pending a full, impartial and fair investigation, including into his allegations of torture and ill-treatment;

16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the European Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan and the President of Kyrgyzstan.

(1) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 91.

Ombudsman's annual report 2013
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European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman 2013 (2014/2159(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman in 2013,

–  having regard to Article 228 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to Decision 94/262/ECSC, EC, Euratom of the European Parliament of 9 March 1994 on the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman’s duties(1),

–  having regard to the European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour as adopted by the European Parliament in September 2001,

–   having regard to the principles of transparency and integrity in lobbying published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the European Ombudsman’s activities,

–  having regard to Rule 220(2), second and third sentences, of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Petitions (A8-0058/2014),

A.  whereas the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman 2013 was formally submitted to the President of Parliament on 15 September 2014, and the Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, presented the report to the Committee on Petitions in Brussels on 24 September 2014;

B.  whereas Article 24 TFEU lays down the principle that every citizen of the Union may apply to the Ombudsman established in accordance with Article 228;

C.  whereas Article 228 TFEU empowers the European Ombudsman to receive complaints concerning instances of maladministration in the activities of the Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, with the exception of the Court of Justice of the European Union acting in its judicial role;

D.  whereas Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights states: ‘Every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union’;

E.  whereas Article 43 of the Charter states: ‘Any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State has the right to refer to the Ombudsman cases of maladministration in the activities of the institutions, bodies, offices or agencies of the Union, with the exception of the Court of Justice of the European Union acting in its judicial role’;

F.  whereas this definition does not limit maladministration to cases where the rule or principle that is being violated is legally binding; whereas the principles of good administration go further than the law; whereas according to the first European Ombudsman, ‘maladministration occurs when a public body fails to act in accordance with a rule or principle which is binding upon it’; whereas this requires the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union not only to respect their legal obligations but also to be service-minded and to ensure that members of the public are properly treated and fully enjoy their rights;

G.  whereas the notion of good administration should be broadened to one of better administration, understood as an ongoing continuous improvement process;

H.  whereas the main priority of the European Ombudsman is to ensure that citizens’ rights are fully respected and the right to good administration reflects the highest standards as expected of the institutions, bodies, offices or agencies of the Union; whereas the European Ombudsman plays a vital role in helping the EU institutions become more open, effective and citizen-friendly with the aim of strengthening citizens’ confidence in the Union;

I.  whereas Emily O’Reilly was elected European Ombudsman by the European Parliament at its plenary session of 3 July 2013 and took her oath on 30 September 2013;

J.  whereas 23 245 citizens called on the Ombudsman’s services for help in 2013; whereas with respect to the above, 19 418 citizens received advice through the interactive guide on the Ombudsman’s website, while 1 407 requests were for information; whereas 2 420 requests were registered as complaints (2 442 in 2012); whereas 2 354 actions were taken by the Ombudsman on complaints received in 2013;

K.  whereas it is important that the Ombudsman should provide more detailed information on the types of complaints format, so that comparisons can be made across the years between complaints received in electronic format via the Ombudsman’s interactive website and complaints received offline;

L.  whereas in 2013 the Ombudsman opened 350 inquiries (465 in 2012), of which 341 were opened on the basis of complaints and 9 were own-initiative inquiries;

M.  whereas in 2013 the Ombudsman closed 461 inquiries (390 in 2012), of which 441 were complaints-based and 20 were own-initiative inquiries; whereas of the inquiries closed, 340 (77,1 %) were submitted by individual citizens and 101 (22,9 %) by companies, associations or other legal entities;

N.  whereas the inquiries closed in 2013 concerned the following: requests for information and access to documents (25,6 %), the Commission as guardian of the Treaties (19,1 %), institutional and policy matters (17,6 %), administration and the Staff Regulations (16,5 %), competitions and selection procedures (14,8 %), award of tenders or grants (9,5 %), and execution of contracts (7,4 %);

O.  whereas regarding the inquiries initiated by the Ombudsman in 2013, the following key topics may be identified: transparency within the EU institutions, ethical issues, participation of citizens in EU decision-making, EU-funded projects and programmes, fundamental rights, and culture of service;

P.  whereas the most common issues in the field of transparency concern refusal of access to documents or information by the institutions, with meetings being held in camera, and lack of openness regarding appointments to EU expert panels; whereas public access to documents is one of the rights guaranteed under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU;

Q.  whereas in 2013 the Ombudsman received numerous complaints relating to conflicts of interest or ‘revolving door’ practices involving senior figures moving between closely related public and private sector posts; whereas the EU administration must attach the utmost importance to exemplary ethical conduct; whereas the Ombudsman accordingly published a set of public service principles and ethical standards; whereas many NGOs maintain that the Commission is failing to deal with what they describe as systemic ‘revolving door’ practices;

R.  whereas the Ombudsman works closely with various networks, the most prominent being the European Network of Ombudsmen, which comprises 94 offices in 35 European countries; whereas complaints which fall outside the Ombudsman’s mandate are referred to the member of the Network best placed to handle the case; whereas 52,5 % of complaints received were transferred to other members of the Network;

S.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Petitions is a full member of the European Network of Ombudsmen; whereas in 2013 the Ombudsman referred 51 cases to this Committee; whereas 178 cases were referred to the Commission and 503 to other institutions and bodies;

T.  whereas the Ombudsman also cooperates with other international organisations, such as the UN; whereas the Ombudsman, Parliament, the Commission, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) and the European Disability Forum (EDF) together form the EU framework under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD); whereas this framework is tasked with protecting, promoting and monitoring the implementation of the Convention at the level of the EU institutions;

U.  whereas the annual report for 2013 does not contain exact figures on the percentage of complaints which fell either within or outside the Ombudsman’s mandate; whereas it is essential to include concrete numbers in future in all annual reports, so that comparisons between years can be made and trends and tendencies regarding the (in)admissibility of complaints can be easily discerned; whereas according to the report, of a typical 100 complaints received 68 fall outside the Ombudsman’s mandate and are either transferred to national or regional ombudsmen, forwarded to Parliament’s Committee on Petitions, or referred to other complaint-handling bodies such as the European Commission, SOLVIT, Your Europa Advice or the European Consumer Centres; whereas a follow-up procedure and information on complaints transferred to other institutions or bodies are needed to ensure that citizens’ affairs are handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable timeframe;

V.  whereas of a typical 100 complaints received only 32 fall within the Ombudsman’s mandate; whereas 17 of these do not lead to an inquiry (9 are deemed inadmissible and 8 are found admissible but are considered to contain insufficient grounds for opening an inquiry); whereas of a typical 100 complaints received 15 give rise to an inquiry; whereas 4 of these are settled during the inquiry, 4 lead to findings of no maladministration, 1 leads to a finding of maladministration and 6 are considered to contain no grounds for further inquiries;

W.  whereas 80 % (40 cases) of inquiries where maladministration was found were closed with critical remarks addressed to the institution concerned and 18 % (9 cases) were closed with draft recommendations, which were either fully or partially accepted by the institution; whereas in one case (2 %) the Ombudsman drafted a ‘Special Report of the European Ombudsman in own-initiative inquiry OI/5/2012/BEH-MHZ concerning Frontex’; whereas the number of Special Reports submitted by the Ombudsman averages one a year;

X.  whereas the Special Report submitted to Parliament was the result of a comprehensive own-initiative inquiry concerning the obligations of Frontex in regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and was ultimately motivated mainly by the agency’s response to the specific recommendations of the Ombudsman for redressing the absence of an appeals mechanism for asylum seekers;

Y.  whereas a Special Report is the last resort of the European Ombudsman for dealing with cases of maladministration by institutions, bodies, offices or agencies of the Union; whereas the Ombudsman should further explore her political powers and develop the instruments available to her;

Z.  whereas compliance with the Ombudsman’s proposals in 2012 was 80 %; whereas the Commission, which accounts for the highest proportion of the Ombudsman’s inquiries, had a compliance rate of 84 %; whereas every year the Ombudsman publishes a comprehensive account of how the EU institutions have responded to the Ombudsman’s proposals for improving EU administration; whereas the 20 % non-compliance rate regarding the Ombudsman’s proposals represents a serious threat that could lead to further erosion of citizens’ confidence in the effectiveness of the European institutions;

AA.  whereas the European Commission is the institution concerning which the Ombudsman receives the highest number of complaints; whereas one of the investigations concluded in 2013 concerned documents regarding the UK’s exemption clause relating to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU;

AB.  whereas the average length of inquiries in cases closed by the Ombudsman in 2013 was 13 months; whereas 22 % of cases were closed within 3 months, 37 % within 3 to 12 months, 14 % within 12 to 18 months, and 27 % after more than 18 months;

AC.  whereas the Ombudsman’s budget in 2013 was EUR 9 731 371 and whereas the Ombudsman’s establishment plan consists of 67 posts; whereas maintaining sufficient budget and human resources is essential to ensure the efficiency of the Ombudsman’s services and rapid responses to citizens’ complaints;

AD.  whereas Emily O’Reilly has been the first woman elected to the position of European Ombudsman;

1.  Approves the annual report for 2013 presented by the European Ombudsman; congratulates Emily O’Reilly on her first annual report as Ombudsman and welcomes her approach in terms of keeping up positive working relations and cooperation with Parliament, in particular with its Committee on Petitions; acknowledges that 2013 was a transition year and that a large part of the annual report relates to the work of Professor Nikiforos Diamandouros, the outgoing European Ombudsman, and pays tribute to his legacy;

2.  Commits itself to restoring Parliament's practice of inviting the Ombudsman to plenary immediately after his/her election;

3.  Gives its full support to the new Ombudsman’s stated ultimate goal, which is to help strengthen the structures and institutions of accountability and transparency at European level, in order to promote good administration for every EU citizen and resident, and to improve the quality of democracy in the Union; reiterates the crucial role of the European Ombudsman in addressing citizens’ concerns and helping bridge the wide gap that exists between them and the EU institutions;

4.  Stresses the importance of social media as a channel for communication, and encourages the Ombudsman’s office to make greater use of such media in order to raise public awareness of the Ombudsman’s activities and promote the rights of EU citizens; considers, however, that the further digitalisation of the Ombudsman’s services should not lead to the exclusion of citizens who do not have access to or cannot use the internet; calls on the Ombudsman to pay special attention to the needs of such citizens, so that every EU citizen is ensured equal access and can thus make full use of the Ombudsman’s services;

5.  Notes that the Ombudsman’s annual report has been revamped for 2013 and that in addition to the traditional print version, a downloadable interactive version is now also available in e-book format; further notes that the report has been split into two parts, one part being an easy-to-read reference text setting out the most important facts and figures on the Ombudsman’s work in 2013, and the other containing an in-depth account of key cases investigated by the Ombudsman in 2013(2);

6.  Commends this new approach on the Ombudsman’s part, which was adopted to reflect her desire to make her institution as accessible and user-friendly as possible; encourages interested parties to read the in-depth investigations section entitled: ‘Good administration in practice: the European Ombudsman’s decisions in 2013’, and to take to heart the Ombudsman’s considerations and recommendations;

7.  Notes that in 2013 the Member State with the largest number of complaints was Spain (416), followed by Germany (269), Poland (248) and Belgium (153); notes that as regards inquiries opened per Member State Belgium (53) takes the lead, followed by Germany (40), Italy (39), and Spain (34);

8.  Notes that transparency-related issues once again topped the Ombudsman’s list of inquiries closed (64,3 %), representing an increase on 2012 (52,7 %); notes that the other key topics in complaints were ethical issues, citizens’ participation in EU decision-making, EU-funded projects, fundamental rights, and culture of service;

9.  Considers that transparency, openness, access to information, respect for the rights of citizens and high ethical standards are essential for building and maintaining citizens’ and residents’ trust in the European civil service; emphasises that trust between citizens and residents and the institutions is of paramount importance in today’s difficult economic situation; agrees with the Ombudsman that transparency is a cornerstone of an advanced democracy, making it possible to scrutinise the activities of public authorities, evaluate their performance and call them to account; agrees equally that openness and public access to documents form an essential part of the system of institutional checks and balances; acknowledges the right of citizens to privacy and to protection of their personal data;

10.  Notes that recommendations and critical remarks are not legally binding, but stresses that nevertheless the EU institutions can use them as an opportunity to fix a problem, learn a lesson for the future and avoid reoccurrence of similar cases of maladministration; urges all institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union to cooperate fully with the Ombudsman and ensure full compliance with her recommendations, and also to make full use of the critical remarks; recalls that the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 41) includes the right to good administration as a fundamental right of citizens of the European Union;

11.  Notes that a large majority of inquiries conducted by the Ombudsman over the past year (64,3 %) concerned the European Commission; recognises that the Commission is the institution whose decisions are most likely to directly affect citizens, civil society organisations and businesses; understands that the Commission is therefore the main object of public scrutiny; notes with concern, however, that the share of complaints concerning the Commission has risen compared to 2012 when it was 52,7 %; encourages the Ombudsman to examine the reasons for this increase in order to help improve the Commission’s administration and thus increase the credibility of the EU institutions as a whole; calls on the new Commission to take rapid action to improve its performance with the objective of reducing the number of complaints against it; considers that the involvement of the Commission in opaque entities such as the Troika does not tend to promote transparency and accountability within the Union, nor does it respect the principle of subsidiarity;

12.  Notes with concern that the percentage of complaints concerning EU agencies has almost doubled, from 12,5 % in 2012 to 24 % in 2013; suggests that the Ombudsman indicate whether this increase was the result of greater public awareness of complaints procedures or was caused by other factors, such as possible non-compliance of EU agencies with the Ombudsman’s recommendations from previous years; encourages the Ombudsman to monitor developments in the agencies and report back in good time; supports the Ombudsman’s plans to reach out to the various agencies with a view to emphasising the importance of good administration, good complaint handling, and a culture of service;

13.  Is pleased to note that the percentage of complaints concerning the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) more than halved in 2013, down from 16,8 % in 2012 to 7,1 % in 2013; is equally pleased that the percentage of complaints against the European Parliament has decreased from 5,2 % in 2012 to 4,3 % in 2013; acknowledges the work of the Ombudsman and EPSO in bringing down the number of complaints against that agency;

14.  Notes that in 2013 the Ombudsman published a new version of the European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour; calls on all the institutions to fully respect and implement this code; calls on the new Commission to adopt common binding rules and principles on administrative procedure in the EU’s administration, and in particular to submit a draft regulation to this end; recalls that Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union stipulates that ‘every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions and bodies of the Union’;

15.  Encourages all EU institutions, bodies and agencies to improve their performance by deepening their commitment to good administration and to the principles of a culture of service to citizens; calls on them to assist the Ombudsman by speedily responding to her inquiries and to collaborate more closely with her in order to reduce the deadlines in the inquiry process for complaints; supports the Ombudsman in her efforts to further speed up the inquiry process and reduce the response timeframe for processing complaints with a view to serving citizens who exercise their rights in a timely and proper manner;

16.  Notes that overall compliance with the Ombudsman’s recommendations stood at 80 % in 2012, slightly down from 82 % in 2011; supports the Ombudsman in her ambition to improve the compliance rate; urges the Commission, in particular, to make all efforts to improve its compliance rate; is concerned at the 20 % non-compliance rate, and urges the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union to respond and react within a reasonable timeframe to the critical remarks of the Ombudsman and to make all the necessary efforts to improve their follow-up rate through the prompt implementation of the Ombudsman’s recommendations and critical remarks; looks forward to the specific information that will be provided in the Ombudsman’s upcoming annual report on compliance in 2013;

17.  Notes that the Ombudsman found maladministration in 10,8 % of the inquiries closed in 2013 and that in 80 % of these cases she addressed critical remarks to the institution concerned; notes that in 18 % of maladministration cases the Ombudsman’s draft recommendations were fully or partly accepted by the institution;

18.  Notes that the Ombudsman submitted one Special Report to Parliament, the subject of which was the absence of a mechanism in the Frontex agency for dealing with complaints about fundamental rights infringements arising from its work; is confident that this Special Report will be the subject of a report to be drawn up by its Committee on Petitions in cooperation with its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs;

19.  Encourages the Ombudsman to deepen her relations and cooperation with the various networks, in particular the European Network of Ombudsmen and the framework under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; recalls Parliament’s call in the Committee on Petitions’ Annual Report of 2012 for the setting- up, by Parliament, of a network encompassing petitions committees in the Member States, which could be supplementary to the European Network of Ombudsmen;

20.  Recalls that its Committee on Petitions is a full member of both networks mentioned above; notes that in 2013 the Ombudsman referred 51 complaints to the Committee; considers that, given the parallel and sometimes complementary work that the Committee on Petitions does in ensuring that EU legislation is duly implemented at every level of administration, more resources should be devoted to this committee, by analogy with those of the European Ombudsman;

21.  Takes note of the Ombudsman’s new strategy ‘Towards 2019’, which comprises three main pillars indicated by the words Impact, Relevance and Visibility; understands that the Ombudsman intends to make a larger impact by conducting strategic investigations into systemic problems, that she wishes to strengthen her role by contributing to key EU debates, and that she intends to increase her visibility by enhancing her outreach to stakeholders and attracting attention for important cases;

22.   Urges the Ombudsman to continue her efforts to improve communication channels and build on the work done in the framework of the European Year of Citizens 2013, as well as to improve the provision of information to European citizens so that they are properly informed on the Ombudsman’s services and sphere of responsibility;

23.  Reiterates the importance of the European Citizens’ Initiative as a new tool for enabling citizens' direct involvement in the decision-making process in preparing European legislation;

24.  Welcomes a number of important investigations which the Ombudsman has launched, such as the inquiries concerning the lack of transparency in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, whistleblowing in the EU institutions, lack of transparency in Commission expert groups, ‘revolving door’ and conflict of interest cases, fundamental rights in cohesion policy, and the European Citizens’ Initiative; looks forward to the findings of these inquiries;

25.  Welcomes the decision of the Council of the European Union to publish the EU negotiating directives for the ongoing negotiations on the TTIP between the EU and the US; equally welcomes the decision of the Commission to publish more EU negotiating texts and to allow broader access to other documents in the context of the TTIP negotiations; considers that the fact of closely monitoring transparency in the TTIP negotiations has strengthened the role of the Ombudsman as guardian of EU transparency; endorses the Ombudsman’s call for a transparent policy approach and an information campaign on TTIP, to be adopted by the European institutions; commits to following up on the outcomes of the consultation on TTIP transparency, inter alia by considering petitions received on this issue, in particular in view of the potential impact of TTIP and other trade negotiations on the lives of European citizens;

26.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the report of the Committee on Petitions to the Council, the Commission, the European Ombudsman, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the Member States’ Ombudsmen or similar competent bodies.

(1) OJ L 113, 4.5.1994, p. 15.

Situation in Libya
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European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on the situation in Libya (2014/3018(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Libya, in particular those of 15 September 2011(1), 22 November 2012(2) and 18 September 2014(3),

–  having regard to the recent statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini on Libya, including those of 16 and 30 December 2014 and 10 January 2015,

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of 15 August, 30 August 2014, 20 October 2014, 17 and 18 November 2014, and 15 December 2014,

–  having regard to the joint statement on Libya by the governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the USA of 11 January 2015,

–  having regard to United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970, 1973 (2011) and 2174 of 27 August 2014,

–  having regard to the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) report entitled ‘Overview of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the ongoing violence in Libya’ of 4 September 2014, updated on 27 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977, and to the obligation of parties to armed conflict to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law in all circumstances,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2013/233/CFSP of 22 May 2013 creating the European Union Integrated Border Management Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya),

–  having regard to the ENP package on Libya of September 2014,

–  having regard to the Sahel Summit held in Mauritania on 19 December 2014, which included leaders from Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso,

–  having regard to the joint communiqué issued on 22 September 2014 by 13 countries(4), pledging a policy of non-interference in Libya’s affairs,

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

A.  whereas Libyans took to the streets in February 2011, asking for political rights, and were confronted by indiscriminate state repression, which triggered nine months of civil conflict and the ousting of the Gaddafi regime;

B.  whereas Libya held its third general democratic and free elections in June 2014 to elect a House of Representatives to replace the General National Congress elected in July 2012;

C.  whereas despite national parliamentary elections in June 2014, the aspirations of the Libyan people born out of the fall of Colonel Gaddafi have been thwarted by political division and violence in what is becoming an all-out civil war; whereas rival governments and parliaments have been operating in Tripoli and Tobruk for several months;

D.  whereas Libya remains embroiled in political infighting that has evolved into a violent power struggle between two rival seats of government and numerous competing factions of nationalist, Islamist, tribal and regionalist forces, resulting in further civilian suffering, casualties, mass displacement and a spreading humanitarian crisis;

E.  whereas both sides are reported to have committed a wide range of violations and abuses under international human rights and humanitarian law; whereas UNSMIL estimates that at least 400 000 Libyans have been internally displaced by the latest wave of fighting while a further 150 000 people, including many migrant workers, have left the country; whereas foreign aid workers and diplomats, including EU and UNSMIL staff, have been evacuated from Libya; whereas the mass influx of Libyan refugees into neighbouring Tunisia is putting a significant strain on that country’s capabilities and its own stability; whereas there are estimated to be more than one million Libyans already staying in Tunisia;

F.  whereas on 23 December 2014 the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al‑Hussein, said that the indiscriminate shelling of civilians in Libya could well lead to prosecution for war crimes;

G.  whereas UN Special Envoy Bernardino León has actively sought to broker talks between the warring factions and to launch a national dialogue for a reconciliation process and the formation of a government of national unity; whereas a first round of talks took place in Ghadames on 29 September 2014 and continued in Tripoli on 11 October 2014, while a further round, initially scheduled for 5 January 2015, was postponed owing to a lack of agreement on both sides; whereas UNSMIL has announced that Libyan parties have now agreed to hold a new round of talks in Geneva, purportedly on 14 January 2015; whereas both camps have so far proven largely reluctant or unable to engage in compromise;

H.  whereas the UN Envoy for the Sahel region, Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, has warned the UN Security Council that the Libyan crisis threatens to destabilise the entire region in the near future, and has also stated that terrorist and criminal networks in Libya were developing closer ties to Mali and northern Nigeria, dealing in arms sales and drug trafficking amongst other illegal trade;

I.  whereas the unity of the Libyan state is at stake and there is a real risk of separation in at least three regions (Fezzan, Cyrenaika and Tripolitania) if a compromise solution, together with a process of reconciliation, is not achieved;

J.  whereas recent fighting has greatly facilitated the spreading and settlement of terrorist groups such as ISIS in the country; whereas, if not addressed, this could represent a major threat to the security of the region and of the EU; whereas the eastern Libyan branch of IS said on 8 January 2015 that it had executed reporter Sofiene Chourabi and camera operator Nadhir Ktari;

K.  whereas on 4 January 2015 war planes from forces loyal to the internationally recognised government bombed a Greek-operated oil tanker in the military zone of the port of Derna, leading to the killing of one Greek and one Romanian crew member and the wounding of two others; whereas the port is controlled by Islamist militants and has been attacked several times over the past year;

L.  whereas on 3 January 2015 an official government statement declared that Islamic State militia had killed 14 soldiers of the Libyan army and that the government called on the international community to lift the arms embargo on the country in order to fight this militia, which it designates as terrorists;

M.  whereas ISIS is training fighters in Libya and establishing a branch in the eastern part of the country; whereas on 30 December 2014 terrorists detonated a car bomb in Tobruk, targeting a session of the House of Representatives; whereas elements of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb are reported to have established logistical hubs in the southern periphery of Libya; whereas, according to an official government statement, an Islamic State militia executed 14 soldiers of the Libyan army on 3 January 2015;

N.  whereas on 28 December 2014 militia commander General Heftar conducted air strikes on Misrata, a stronghold of the militia group Libya Dawn, in what is seen as revenge for the 25 December 2014 militia attacks on Libya’s largest oil terminal in Sidra and on Libyan army soldiers in Sirte, killing 22 of them;

O.  whereas some 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians were abducted by Ansar al-Sharia militants in Sirte, under militia control, in the latest of an increasing number of attacks on Christians and other religious minorities in Libya; whereas detentions, abductions, torture and executions of suspected fighters on all sides have also continuously increased;

P.  whereas hundreds of migrants and refugees fleeing the violence in Libya have reportedly died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, leading to a major refugee crisis in Italy and Malta; whereas Libya is a primary departure point for migrants attempting to reach Europe;

Q.  whereas on 6 November 2014 the Libyan Supreme Court ruled that the June parliamentary elections which established the internationally recognised, Tobruk-based House of Representatives were illegitimate;

R.  whereas the House of Representatives has rejected the ruling, saying that the ruling oversteps the mandate of the court, that it was made under pressure from Islamist militias in Tripoli and that the House of Representatives and the government will continue functioning;

S.  whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 2174 (2014) authorises travel bans and asset freezes against ‘individuals and entities determined by the Committee to be engaging in or providing support for other acts that threaten the peace, stability or security of Libya, or obstruct or undermine the successful completion of its political transition’;

T.  whereas a crucial element of the conflict concerns the control and administration of the National Oil Corporation; whereas both sides in the conflict have nominated their own oil ministers in an effort to channel oil revenues to themselves; whereas oil accounts for 95 % of Libya’s state revenue and 65 % of the country’s GDP; whereas Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa and the fifth largest in the world;

1.  Strongly condemns the sharp escalation of violence in Libya, particularly targeting civilians, which seriously undermines the future prospects for a peaceful settlement; strongly supports the UN-brokered talks in Geneva and calls on all parties to the conflict to accept the freeze in military operations proposed by UN Special Representative Bernardino León in order to create a favourable environment;

2.  Calls on all sides involved in the violence to commit to an unconditional ceasefire, to refrain from actions creating further divisions and polarisation, to publicly declare that they will not tolerate such actions and to engage without precondition with the efforts of the United Nations Special Representative for Libya, Bernardino León, aimed at bringing the rival groups together in an inclusive national political dialogue; insists that due attention be paid to the involvement of women and minorities in this process; recalls that there is no military solution to the current conflict;

3.  Reiterates its strong and full support for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya; applauds the tireless efforts of the United Nations Special Representative for Libya, Bernardino León, in brokering this political dialogue; welcomes the fact that a new round of political dialogue is scheduled to take place in Geneva within days;

4.  Calls on the EU to support these efforts by immediately enacting its own targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, for those responsible for armed violence and human rights violations and abuses, and for boycotting the UN sponsored negotiations;

5.  Reiterates its support for the House of Representatives in Tobruk as the sole legitimate body emanating from the June 2014 elections; reiterates its calls on the elected House of Representatives and the official government to carry out their tasks on the basis of the rule of law and human rights, in a spirit of inclusiveness, in the interests of the country and in order to protect the rights of all Libyan citizens, including religious and ethnic minorities;

6.  Is deeply concerned by the increasing presence of Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups, Islamic State militias and other extremist organisations and movements in Libya; believes that the region risks ending in destructive chaos along the lines of what is happening in Syria and Iraq; believes that these groups represent a major threat to the stability and security of the whole region, and also to the security of Europe; reaffirms the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and with international law, including applicable international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts;

7.  Calls on the EU and on the international community to continue to support efforts to combat terrorism with due respect for international law and to prevent it from spreading further and from establishing new bases in Libya;

8.  Underlines the destabilising impact of the Libyan conflict on other countries in the Sahel region as well as on European security; calls on neighbouring countries and regional players, especially Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE, to refrain from actions which might exacerbate current divisions and undermine Libya’s democratic transition, and to fully support the UN-led Ghadames process; recalls that those who are actively creating obstacles to a consensual political solution are in violation of Security Council resolutions on Libya and must face the consequences of their actions;

9.  Welcomes the recent declarations by the African Union on 3 December 2014 and by the League of Arab States on 5 January 2015 and their public commitment to support the UN-led process;

10.  Stresses the need for a common and coordinated action by all 28 Member States under the supervision of the High Representative; calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service to coordinate Member States’ action and focus their support on state-building and institution‑building and, together with the Member States, the UN, NATO and regional partners, to assist in the creation of effective and nationally commanded and controlled security forces (armed forces and police forces) that can ensure peace and order in the country, as well as supporting the initialling of a ceasefire and designing a mechanism to monitor it; stresses that the EU should also give priority to assisting with reform of the Libyan justice system, as well as other fields crucial for democratic governance;

11.  Recalls the EU’s strong commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of Libya and the need to prevent the spread of terrorism; recalls UNSC Resolution 2174, adopted on 27 August 2014, which broadens the existing international sanctions on Libya to include the criminal responsibility of people who engage in or support acts that ‘threaten the peace, stability or security of Libya, or obstruct or undermine the successful completion of its political transition’; calls on the EU to consider further actions, including restrictive measures;

12.  Stresses the need to ensure accountability for all violations of human rights and international humanitarian law; points to the statement by UNSMIL that many of the violations and abuses committed in Libya fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC, and calls for the latter to be granted the adequate political, logistical and financial resources to allow it to investigate these crimes; believes that strengthening international accountability mechanisms can dissuade militias from perpetrating further abuses and violations, and calls for consideration to be given to establishing a UN Commission of Inquiry or similar mechanism to investigate violations of human rights and international humanitarian law;

13.  Expresses its solidarity with the Libyan people; believes that the European Union must help the Libyan people fulfil their ambition to establish a democratic, stable and prosperous state, in line with the commitments set out in its neighbourhood policies for the southern Mediterranean; calls for continued humanitarian, financial and political assistance from the EU and the international community to address the humanitarian situation in Libya, the plight of internally displaced persons and refugees and that of civilians facing disruption of access to basic services;

14.  Calls on all parties in Libya to guarantee the safety and freedom of Christians and other religious minority groups who are facing increasing discrimination and persecution and find themselves in the crossfire; calls on the EU and its Members States to ensure that future bilateral agreements include effective monitoring mechanisms for the protection of the human rights of religious minorities;

15.  Insists on preserving the neutrality of key Libyan institutions, notably the Central Bank, the National Oil Corporation and the sovereign wealth fund, which are authorised by the UN to receive oil revenues from abroad;

16.  Commends the Tunisian hospitality towards an estimated 1,5 million Libyan citizens currently in Tunisia fleeing from violence; asks the EU to provide financial and logistical support to the Tunisian Government for that task;

17.  Asks international companies, before concluding any transaction involving Libyan oil, which belongs to the Libyan people, to make sure that such transactions do not finance, directly or indirectly, the warring militias; asks international companies involved in Libya, once again, to reveal their financial dealings in the energy sector;

18.  Remains concerned by the proliferation of weapons, ammunition, explosives and smuggling of arms, which poses a risk to the population and to the stability of Libya and of the region;

19.  Reiterates its call on the High Representative to review the mandate of the European Union Border Mission (EUBAM) in Libya, currently on hold and stationed in Tunisia, in order to take account of the dramatically changed situation in the country, and with a view to designing a properly coordinated Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission to operate in articulation with the UN and regional partners in the event that a political settlement is found; takes the view that that CSDP mission should be aimed at supporting the implementation of a political settlement, should give priority to security sector reform (SSR) and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and should also respond to other urgent needs of governance; additionally, expresses the view that in the face of prolonged war in Libya and deepening instability and serious threats to European security, the CSDP mission should be prepared to participate in a UNSC-mandated and coordinated action to stabilise Libya;

20.  Expresses its grave concern at the fate of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Libya, whose already precarious situation continues to deteriorate; calls on the EU and its Member States to effectively help Italy in its laudable efforts to tackle the spiralling migration and refugee flows from North Africa, particularly from Libya;

21.  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 Libyan Government and the House of Representatives, the UN Secretary-General, the Arab League and the African Union.

(1) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 114.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0465.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0028.
(4) Algeria, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as the EU and the UN.

Situation in Ukraine
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European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on the situation in Ukraine (2014/2965(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the European Neighbourhood Policy and on the Eastern Partnership (EaP),

–  having regard to the preliminary OSCE/ODHIR findings regarding the early parliamentary elections held in Ukraine on 26 October 2014,

–  having regard to the 8th report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the situation of human rights in Ukraine of 15 December 2014 and to the Ukraine situation report No 22 as of 26 December 2014 by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),

–  having regard to the signing on 27 June 2014 of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA), which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), and to its simultaneous ratification by the European Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada on 16 September 2014,

–  having regard to the Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014 and the Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014 on the implementation of the 12-point peace plan,

–  having regard to the UN report of 20 November 2014 on serious human rights violations in eastern Ukraine and to the Human Rights Watch reports on abuses in Crimea,

–  having regard to the joint statement of 2 December 2014 by the NATO-Ukraine Commission,

–  having regard to the European Council’s conclusions on Ukraine of 21 March 2014, 27 June 2014, 16 July 2014, 30 August 2014 and 18 December 2014,

–  having regard to the outcome of the first Association Council meeting between the EU and Ukraine held on 15 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 17 November 2014,

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

A.  whereas on 26 October 2014 Ukraine held parliamentary elections, which were conducted efficiently, in an orderly and peaceful manner and with general respect for fundamental freedoms, in spite of the ongoing conflict in the eastern regions and the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia;

B.  whereas the new government, formed by pro-European forces, has a constitutional majority for driving reforms forward and has already adopted a coalition agreement laying the grounds for a rigorous reform process aimed at fostering further European integration, modernising, developing the country, establishing a genuine democracy and rule of law and developing constitutional changes as proposed in the Poroshenko peace plan;

C.  whereas the so-called ‘presidential and parliamentary elections’ held in Donetsk and Luhansk on 2 November 2014 were in breach of Ukrainian law and the Minsk agreements, and therefore cannot be recognised; whereas the holding of these elections has had a detrimental impact on the peace and reconciliation process;

D.  whereas the ceasefire of 5 September 2014 has been violated by the separatists and Russian forces on a daily basis; whereas since 9 December 2014, thanks to the initiative of President Poroshenko calling for a ‘silence regime’, the number of violations has been dramatically reduced; whereas, however, the main points of the 19 September 2014 memorandum have not been implemented by the Russian-backed separatists; whereas, according to credible sources, Russia continues to support the separatist militias through a steady flow of military equipment, mercenaries and regular Russian units, including main battle tanks, sophisticated anti-aircraft systems and artillery;

E.  whereas the armed conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine has resulted in thousands of military and civilian casualties, with many more wounded and hundreds of thousands having fled their homes, most of them fleeing to Russia, while the situation in the conflict area is a matter of deep concern from both the humanitarian and the health point of view;

F.  whereas the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula was the first case of a forcible incorporation of a part of one country into another in Europe since World War II, and is in violation of international law, including the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the 1994 Budapest Agreement;

G.  whereas the EU Foreign Affairs Council of 17 November 2014 took a decision in principle on further sanctions targeting separatist leaders;

H.  whereas there are widespread abuses of human rights both in occupied eastern Ukraine and in Crimea, especially affecting Crimean Tatars and including intimidation and a new wave of disappearances;

I.  whereas closer EU-US cooperation in Ukraine-related policies would be beneficial;

J.  whereas the Ukrainian Parliament voted on 23 December 2014 to renounce the country’s non-aligned status;

1.  Expresses its full solidarity with Ukraine and its people; reiterates, once again, its commitment to the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of borders and European choice of Ukraine;

2.  Condemns the acts of terrorism and criminal behaviour of the separatists and other irregular forces in eastern Ukraine;

3.  Welcomes the positive assessment of the general elections of 26 October 2014, despite challenging security and political circumstances, and the subsequent inauguration of the new Verkhovna Rada; welcomes the strong political commitment of President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and Speaker Groysman to work together and enhance the rigorous reform process; strongly encourages the new government and parliament of Ukraine to adopt and implement the much-needed political and socio-economic reforms without delay in order to build a democratic and prosperous state based on the rule of law;

4.  Regrets that as a result of the current situation in the country not all parts of the territory and population of Ukraine are represented in the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that the Government and Parliament of Ukraine need to ensure the protection of the rights and needs of those citizens who have no representation in the decision-making of the state;

5.  Strongly condemns Russia’s aggressive and expansionist policy, which constitutes a threat to the unity and independence of Ukraine and poses a potential threat to the EU itself, including the illegal annexation of Crimea and waging an undeclared hybrid war against Ukraine, including information war, blending elements of cyber warfare, use of regular and irregular forces, propaganda, economic pressure, energy blackmail, diplomacy and political destabilisation; stresses that these actions are in breach of international law and constitute a serious challenge to the European security situation; emphasises that there is no justification for the use of military force in Europe in defence of so-called historical and security motives or for the protection of one’s so-called ‘compatriots living abroad’; calls on Moscow to stop escalating the situation by immediately halting the flow of weapons, mercenaries and troops in support of the separatist militias and to use its influence with the separatists to convince them to engage in the political process;

6.  Urges all parties to fully implement the Minsk Protocol without further delay and thus demonstrate their true commitment to de-escalation and maximum restraint; calls on Russia to allow international monitoring of the Russian-Ukrainian border, to use its influence over the separatists to ensure they abide by the ceasefire, and to work constructively for the implementation of the Minsk arrangements; encourages the adoption of confidence-building measures that support the peace and reconciliation efforts; underlines, in this context, the importance of an inclusive political dialogue and an economic programme for the rehabilitation of the Donbas economy;

7.  Calls for the continuation of the current EU sanctions regime, in particular with a view to the upcoming March 2015 Council meeting, as long as Russia does not fully respect and, above all, deliver on its Minsk obligations, and urges the Commission to find ways to enhance solidarity among Member States should the crisis with Russia continue; stresses the need to adopt a clear set of benchmarks which, when achieved, could prevent imposing new restrictive measures against Russia or lead to lifting of the previous ones, including: implementation of the ceasefire, unconditional withdrawal from Ukraine of all Russian troops and Russian-backed illegal armed groups and mercenaries, exchange of all prisoners including Nadia Savchenko, and restoration of Ukraine’s control over its whole territory, including Crimea; in the case of any further Russian actions destabilising Ukraine, invites the European Council to take up further restrictive measures and broaden their scope, by covering the nuclear sector and by limiting the ability of Russian entities to conduct international financial transactions; recognises that the EU must be ready to support bordering Member States, which should be given the same level of security as all Member States;

8.  Believes that sanctions should be part of a broader EU approach towards Russia and of the efforts of the VP/HR to strengthen the dialogue; recalls that the sole aim of these sanctions is to commit the Russian government to change its current policy and contribute meaningfully to a peaceful solution of the Ukrainian crisis; stresses that the maintenance, reinforcement or reversibility of the EU’s restrictive measures depends on Russia’s own attitude and on the situation in Ukraine;

9.  Stresses that the political and diplomatic channels towards Russia must stay open in order to enable diplomatic solutions to the conflict, and therefore supports formats such as Geneva and Normandy if tangible results can be achieved;

10.  Supports the policy of not recognising the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, and, in this context, takes positive note of the recently adopted additional sanctions on investment, services and trade regarding Crimea and Sevastopol;

11.  Stresses that the AA/DCFTA should constitute the roadmap for swift necessary reforms that need to be urgently implemented, despite the difficult war environment in parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts; calls on the Council and the Commission to spare no effort in assisting Ukraine in the adoption and, above all, the implementation of these reforms with a view to paving the way for the full implementation of the bilateral EU-Ukraine Association Agreement; welcomes, in this regard, the launch of the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM); shares the opinion of the Venice Commission that in order for a constitutional reform to succeed it is essential that the reform is prepared in an inclusive manner, ensuring broad public consultations;

12.  Calls for swifter and more substantial technical assistance by the Commission’s ‘Ukraine Support Group’, including identifying the areas where such assistance is needed to support Ukraine in the elaboration and implementation of a comprehensive reform programme and deployment of advisers and experts from EU institutions and Member States; calls on the Ukrainian authorities to set up an EU Integration and Assistance Coordination Ministry or Office, and a high-level interministerial coordination committee which would be vested with powers to effectively monitor and supervise the progress of EU approximation and reforms and would be able to prepare and coordinate their implementation;

13.  Strongly believes that an ambitious anti-corruption programme, including zero tolerance for corruption, is urgently needed in Ukraine; calls on the Ukrainian leadership to eradicate systematic corruption by immediate and effective implementation of the National Strategy against Corruption, and stresses that the fight against this practice must become one of the top priorities of the new government; to this end, advises establishing a politically independent Anti-Corruption Bureau, equipped with sufficient competences and resources to enable it to significantly contribute to building well-functioning state institutions; welcomes the request by Ukraine to Interpol and the issuing of an arrest warrant against former President Yanukovych on charges of embezzlement of public funds; calls on the Member States to execute the Interpol arrest warrant and to help recover the assets stolen; welcomes the establishment of the institution of Business Ombudsman, and invites the Ukrainian Government to put forward a draft law thereon;

14.  Recalls that on 16 July 2014 the Council of the European Union lifted the arms embargo on Ukraine, and that there are thus now no objections or legal restrictions to prevent Member States from providing defensive arms to Ukraine; considers that the EU should explore ways to support the Ukrainian Government in enhancing its defence capabilities and the protection of Ukraine’s external borders, based on the experience of the transformation of the armed forces of the former Warsaw Pact EU Member States, especially within the framework of training missions already provided for armed forces in other parts of the world; supports the existing delivery of non-lethal equipment;

15.  Notes the adoption of a law that abolishes the ‘non-aligned status’ of the state, introduced in 2010; while recognising the right of Ukraine to freely make its own choices, supports the position of President Poroshenko that Ukraine now urgently needs to focus on political, economic and social reforms and that NATO accession is an issue that should be put to the people’s judgment in an all-Ukrainian referendum at a later stage; stresses that a closer relationship of Ukraine with the EU is distinct from the question of NATO accession;

16.  Stresses the importance of a commitment by the international community to support economic and political stabilisation and reform in Ukraine; invites the Commission and the Member States to develop a major assistance plan for Ukraine based on ‘more for more’ and conditionality, and to step up their efforts in rendering assistance to Ukraine by, inter alia, organising a donor/ investment conference and cooperating with international financial institutions in order to define further steps for addressing the economic and financial recovery of Ukraine; welcomes the EUR 11 billion support package for Ukraine to be disbursed over the next few years, as well as the proposal by the Commission to extend an additional EUR 1.8 billion in medium-term loans;

17.  Reiterates its view, in this context, that the Association Agreement does not constitute the final goal in EU-Ukraine relations; points out, furthermore, that pursuant to Article 49 TEU, Ukraine – like any other European state – has a European perspective and may apply to become a member of the European Union, provided it adheres to the Copenhagen criteria and the principles of democracy, respects fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and ensures the rule of law; urges the EU Member States to ratify the AA before the Riga summit;

18.  Stresses the importance of energy security in Ukraine and underlines the need for reforms of Ukraine’s energy sector, in line with its Energy Community Commitments; welcomes the agreement between the EU, Russia and Ukraine on the winter package to secure gas delivery from Russia until March 2015 and the solidarity shown by the EU, as well as the increased amounts of gas coming to Ukraine through reverse flows from EU Member States;

19.  Underlines the need to radically enhance the EU’s energy security and independence and its resilience to external pressure, as well as to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, while putting in place concrete alternatives to help those Member States that currently rely on Russia as single supplier; calls on the EU to pursue a genuine Common External Energy Policy as well as to work for the creation of a European Energy Union; encourages the full enforcement of the internal common energy market, including the Third Energy package and the non-discriminatory pursuit of the pending court case against Gazprom;

20.  Stresses that priority must be given to pipeline projects which diversify the energy supply to the EU, and hence welcomes the stopping of the South Stream project; invites the European Energy Community to develop a cooperation agenda with Ukraine, as well as with Southern Caucasus, Central Asian, Middle East and Mediterranean countries, aiming at developing infrastructure and interconnectivity between the EU and its European neighbours independently from Russian gas geopolitics; acknowledges that stable gas supplies to Ukraine are also critical to ensuring Member States’ energy security;

21.  Stresses the need for the EU, along with the Ukrainian authorities, to devote further attention to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and in Crimea and to address the catastrophic humanitarian situation, in particular the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs); calls on the Commission and on the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management to prepare a robust, direct and long overdue humanitarian action, omitting intermediary organisations, in the form of ‘Blue Convoy’ type humanitarian action clearly marked as coming from the EU; calls on the Commission to present such a plan of action to the Parliament within the next two months; stresses the need for further financial assistance for Ukraine from the EU and its Member States to help it cope with the dire humanitarian crisis; echoes the alerts issued by the WHO to the effect that eastern Ukraine is facing a health emergency, with hospitals not fully functioning and a shortage of medicines and vaccines, and calls for increased and more effective humanitarian assistance to IDPs, with regard in particular to children and the elderly, and for full and unhindered access for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the conflict areas; welcomes the enactment of the long-awaited IDP law, as well as the decision to deploy EU experts through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to advise the Ukrainian authorities on IDP issues;

22.  Calls for further humanitarian aid and assistance to conflict-affected populations; recalls that the delivery of humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine must be carried out in full compliance with international humanitarian law and the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and in close coordination with the Government of Ukraine, the UN and the ICRC; calls on Russia to permit the international inspection of humanitarian convoys for Donbas in order to elude doubts about their cargos;

23.  Emphasises that the OSCE has a crucial role to play in resolving the Ukrainian crisis owing to its experience in dealing with armed conflict and crises and to the fact that both the Russian Federation and Ukraine are members of the organisation; regrets the fact that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission is still understaffed and consequently underperforming; calls on the Member States, the VP/HR and the Commission to make further efforts to strengthen the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine with personnel and equipment; believes that the EU should, if requested by the Ukrainian authorities, deploy an EU monitoring mission to contribute to the effective control and monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian border;

24.  Calls on the VP/HR and the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations to take steps within their power to facilitate a political solution of the Ukraine crisis that that would be respected by all the parties involved; emphasises that such a solution must avoid a frozen conflict scenario in eastern Ukraine and Crimea; calls on the HR/VP to chart an approach that combines a principled and robust position as regards Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the principles of international law with the pursuit of a negotiated solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine and Crimea; reiterates that unity and cohesion among EU Member States constitute a prerequisite for the success of any EU strategy towards Russia; in this context, calls on the governments of the Member States to refrain from unilateral actions and rhetoric, and to intensify efforts to develop a common European position vis-à-vis Russia;

25.  Calls for the resumption of a genuine and inclusive national dialogue that could also lead to a solution for the payment of social allowances and pensions and the provision of humanitarian assistance by the Ukrainian Government to the conflict-zone population; takes the view that it is of crucial importance to impartially and effectively investigate all major moments of violence, including those of Maidan, Odesa, Mariupol, Slovyansk, Ilovaysk and Rymarska; believes that civil society organisations can play an important role in facilitating people-to-people contacts and mutual understanding in Ukraine, as well as promoting democratic change and respect for human rights; urges the EU to step up its support for civil society;

26.  Welcomes the decision by the French Government to halt the delivery of the Mistral helicopter carriers, and calls on all Member States to take a similar line regarding exports not covered by the EU sanctions decisions, in particular as regards arms and dual-use materials;

27.  Calls on the Commission and the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations to prepare and present to Parliament within two months a communication strategy to counter the Russian propaganda campaign directed towards the EU, its eastern neighbours and Russia itself, and to develop instruments that would allow the EU and its Member States to address the propaganda campaign at European and national level;

28.  Reiterates its support for the international investigation into the circumstances of the tragic downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, and reiterates its call for those responsible to be brought to justice; regrets the obstacles faced in this process, and urges all parties to show genuine willingness to cooperate, guarantee safe and unrestricted access to the MH17 crash site, and allow access to all other relevant resources that can contribute to the investigation; expresses its wish to be kept informed on the progress of this investigation;

29.  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 Member States, the President of Ukraine, the governments and parliaments of the Eastern Partnership countries and of the Russian Federation, the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, and the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Situation in Egypt
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European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on the situation in Egypt (2014/3017(RSP))

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Egypt of August 2013 and of February 2014,

–  having regard to the recent statements by the European External Action Service on Egypt, including those of 21 September 2014 on the bombing at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of 3 December 2014 on court rulings in Egypt,

–  having regard to the statements by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay of 23 June 2014 on the jail sentences of several journalists and the confirmation of death sentences against several Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters; having regard to the statement of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon of 25 October 2014 concerning terrorist attacks in Sinai,

–  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 European Neighbourhood Policy and the most recent progress report on Egypt of March 2014,

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

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

–  having regard to the presidential decree Law 136 of 2014, which places all ‘public and vital facilities’ under military jurisdiction for two years,

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

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

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

–  having regard to the final statement of 22 July 2014 of the EU Election Observation Mission to the presidential elections in Egypt,

–  having regard to the speeches of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of 1 January 2015 concerning Islamic extremism and of 6 January 2015 concerning the need for peaceful and constructive relations between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, the EU Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all Human Rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons, and the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,

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

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

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (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 is a vital element for democracy and an open society; whereas fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and assembly, are enshrined in the Egyptian Constitution adopted in 2014;

B.  whereas Egypt is a long-standing strategic partner for the European Union, with shared goals of building stability, peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean and Middle East regions; whereas Egypt has gone through several difficult political challenges since the 2011 revolution and its people are in need of support and assistance from the international community to address the country’s economic, political and security challenges;

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

D.  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 of 2013 on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations (Protest Law); whereas other prominent activists, including Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Douma and Ahmed Maher, as well as leading women’s rights defenders such as Yara Sallam and Sana Seif, continue to be detained; whereas on 28 April 2014 the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ruled in favour of banning the April 6 Youth Movement;

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

F.  whereas the Egyptian authorities have tightened the noose on freedom of expression and assembly under repressive legislation introduced, making it easier for the government to silence its critics and crack down on protests;

G.  whereas, in the absence of the parliament, a number of repressive laws have been passed by the government of President al-Sisi, such as the presidential decree Law 136 of 2014 designating all public property as military installations, the most immediate consequence of which is that any crime committed on public property can be tried in military courts and with retroactive effect; whereas the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (to which Egypt is a state party), has said that military courts should not, in any circumstances whatsoever, have jurisdiction over civilians;

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

I.  whereas freedom of the press is still under great pressure in Egypt and journalists are still being detained on the basis of unfounded allegations; whereas a number of journalists were prosecuted in 2014 on charges related to threatening national unity and social peace, spreading false news reports and collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood; whereas the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest court of law, ruled that there were procedural failings in the trial of journalists Mohammed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed from Al‑Jazeera; whereas, however, the three journalists are set for retrial and charges of ‘falsifying news’ and ‘involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood’ against them have not been dropped; whereas three other journalists – Sue Turton, Dominic Kane and Rena Netjes – were sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison; whereas Egyptian journalists Mahmoud Abdel Nabi, Mahmoud Abu Zeid, Samhi Mustafa, Ahmed Gamal, Ahmed Fouad and Abdel Rahman Shaheen were convicted for merely carrying out their legitimate activities; whereas there is extreme polarisation of the Egyptian media into pro- and anti‑Morsi factions, which is reinforcing the polarisation of Egyptian society;

J.  whereas on 2 December 2014 an Egyptian criminal court handed down provisional death sentences against 188 defendants in the third such mass sentencing in 2014; whereas these mass trials have principally targeted members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement, which was declared a terrorist group by the authorities in December 2013; whereas these sentences are the latest in a string of prosecutions and court proceedings that have been rife with procedural irregularities and in breach of international law; whereas no one has been held to account for the excessive use of violence in August 2013, when security forces raided camps on Rabaa al-Adawiya Square and, according to an independent Egyptian fact-finding committee, killed 607 pro-Morsi demonstrators;

K.  whereas the majority, but not all, of the death sentences handed down in mass trials in March and April 2014 against Muslim Brotherhood members and alleged supporters of ousted President Morsi have been commuted to life imprisonment;

L.  whereas 167 members of the lower and upper houses of the parliament elected in 2011 are currently being detained;

M.  whereas former President Mubarak, his former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, and six other aides were released on 29 November 2014 after charges of murder and corruption were dropped on the basis of a technical error; whereas on 13 January 2015 the Egyptian Court of Cassation overturned the convictions of former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons for embezzlement and ordered a retrial on the basis that legal procedures had not been followed properly;

N.  whereas these 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 Egypt is facing significant economic challenges, including an exodus of foreign money, rising inflation, unemployment and a ballooning public debt, as well as security challenges embodied in the global threat represented by terrorism; whereas the security situation in Sinai is critical, with hundreds of soldiers being killed by jihadist groups operating in the area; whereas on 24 October 2014 at least 33 soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack; whereas acts of terror are taking place in this region almost on a daily basis; whereas the state has ordered the eviction of thousands of residents of Rafah and established a 500-metre buffer zone along the Gaza border, and whereas a state of emergency has been declared in the peninsula since 24 October 2014; whereas criminal networks are still operating on the human trafficking/smuggling routes within and towards Sinai;

P.  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 proposed new legislation would further restrict the work of domestic and foreign NGOs, which are concerned in particular at a new draft law aimed at stopping money and material from reaching terrorists and other armed groups, but which could prevent NGOs from receiving foreign funds, on which many of them depend; whereas a presidential decree of 21 September 2014 amending the penal code places severe consequences, including life sentences, on NGOs receiving foreign funding for the vaguely formulated purpose of ‘harming the national interest’;

Q.  taking note of the speech given by President al-Sisi at Cairo University about the need for modernisation and reformation in Islamic thought;

R.  whereas violence against women is reported to be worsening, in spite of the adoption of a new law on sexual harassment, whose application remains to be observed, according to Egyptian women’s rights NGOs; whereas Egyptian female activists are in a particularly vulnerable situation and are often subject to violence, sexual assaults and other forms of degrading treatment in relation to their peaceful activities; whereas despite the issuance of a law in 2008 criminalising the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), it remains widespread and there have been no successful prosecutions of those who have administered it to girls;

S.  whereas in recent months arrests of gay men have escalated; whereas there has been a series of police busts at suspected meeting places of homosexuals across Egypt; whereas the LGBT community is being persecuted and publicly shamed; whereas the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights estimates that at least 150 people have been arrested over the past 18 months on charges of debauchery; whereas on 12 January 2015 an Egyptian court acquitted 26 men who had been arrested a month earlier in a raid on a bathhouse in Cairo and charged with ‘inciting debauchery’;

T.  whereas the 2014 presidential elections in Egypt took place in a context where room for freedom of expression had been severely restricted, and all forms of dissent and criticism, including those of human rights organisations, stifled; whereas parliamentary elections have been officially announced for 21 March and 25 April 2015;

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

V.  whereas Egypt entered into negotiations with the IMF more than once after the January 2011 revolution, wherein it pursued a USD 4,8 billion loan, but whereas negotiations stopped after 30 June 2013; whereas renewed contacts took place and IMF experts visited Egypt in November 2014 to conduct Article IV consultations, an assessment by IMF experts of a country’s financial and economic state of affairs;

W.  whereas the EU’s level of engagement with Egypt should be incentive-based, in line with the ‘more for more’ principle of the European Neighbourhood Policy, and should depend on progress in reform of democratic institutions, the rule of law and human rights;

X.  whereas the EU is traditionally Egypt’s main trading partner, covering 22,9 % of Egypt’s trade volume in 2013 and ranking first as both Egypt’s import and export partner; whereas, following the EU-Egypt Task Force, the Commission committed to providing additional financial support to Egypt for an overall amount of nearly EUR 800 million; whereas this is made up of EUR 303 million in the form of grants (EUR 90 million from Spring funds and EUR 50 million as a grant component of the micro-financial assistance operation, with the balance coming from the Neighbourhood Investment Facility) and EUR 450 million in the form of loans (macro-financial assistance); whereas, however, the EU will deliver on its financial support only if the necessary political and democratic conditions are met, with the democratic transition being pursued, strengthened and fully inclusive, with full respect for human and women’s rights;

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

1.  Underlines the importance that the EU attaches to its cooperation with Egypt as an important neighbour and partner; stresses the important role of Egypt for stability in the region; stresses its solidarity with the Egyptian people and is committed to continuing to support Egypt in the process of building its democratic institutions, respecting and defending human rights and promoting social justice and security; urges the Government of Egypt to fulfil its international commitments as an important player in the southern Mediterranean region;

2.  Reminds the Egyptian Government that the long-term success of Egypt and its people depends on the protection of universal human rights and on the establishment and anchoring of democratic and transparent institutions also engaged in protecting citizens’ fundamental rights; calls, therefore, on the Egyptian authorities to fully implement the principles of international conventions;

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

4.  Welcomes the fact that Yasser Ali, the former spokesperson of the ousted President Morsi, and prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood has been released and  acquitted of charges; calls for the swift release of all political prisoners;

5.  Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, all those detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, as well as those detained for their alleged membership of the Muslim Brotherhood; calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure the right to a fair trial in accordance with international standards; urges the Egyptian authorities to 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;

6.  Emphasises that respect for freedom of the press, information and opinion (online and offline) and political pluralism are fundamental to democracy; calls on the Egyptian authorities to guarantee that those freedoms can be exercised in the country without arbitrary limitations or censorship, and calls on the authorities to ensure freedom of expression; believes that all journalists must be allowed to report on the situation in Egypt without fear of prosecution, imprisonment, intimidation or restrictions on their freedom of speech or expression;

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

8.  Calls on the Egyptian authorities to reverse the death sentences handed down without consideration for due process which respects the rights of the defendants, to repeal repressive and unconstitutional laws that severely restrict basic human rights and freedoms, in particular the presidential decree Law 136 of 2014; calls on the authorities to annul all verdicts against civilians handed down by military courts since July 2013; calls for the release of the 167 members of the parliament elected in 2011 who are currently in detention; calls on the authorities to establish immediately an official moratorium on executions, as a first step towards abolition;

9.  Calls on the Egyptian authorities to revoke the Protest Law of November 2013 and to engage in a genuine dialogue with civil society organisations and legal experts in order to enact legislation on associations and assembly in line with international standards, and to safeguard the right to form an association enshrined in Article 75 of the Egyptian Constitution, including the right to receive and impart funding; calls on the competent authorities to review the new draft law for non-governmental organisations presented by the Ministry of Social Solidarity; urges that the proposed new law should be in line with the Egyptian Constitution and with all international treaties to which Egypt is a signatory;

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

11.  Welcomes and encourages the steps taken by the Egyptian Government in support of respect for the rights and freedoms of religious communities; recalls the provision included in Article 235 of the Egyptian Constitution which stipulates that the newly elected parliament, during its first legislative term, must issue a law to regulate the construction and renovation of churches in a manner that guarantees the freedom of religious practices for Christians; welcomes the fact that President al-Sisi became the first president to attend mass at a church in Cairo, on the Coptic Christmas Eve, and believes this is an important, symbolic statement in the efforts to build unity within Egyptian society;

12.  Highlights the importance of Egypt as an international actor and hopes that it will continue to play an active role in the launch of genuine peace negotiations that will put an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and to make its constructive contribution to the search for stability in the Mediterranean region, in particular, at present, in Libya and in the Middle East; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all kidnapped Egyptian citizens currently held in Libya, including the 20 Egyptian Copts abducted on 3 January 2015; reiterates the willingness of the EU to work with Egypt as a partner in the region to address these serious threats;

13.  Strongly condemns the recent terrorist attacks in the Sinai Peninsula and all other acts of terrorism against Egypt; expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims; underlines the fact that the EU and the international community must stand firm and cooperate with Egypt in its fight against terrorism; calls on the Egyptian authorities to do their utmost to stop criminal networks that are still operating on the human trafficking/smuggling routes within and towards Sinai;

14.  Reminds the Egyptian authorities of their national and international legal obligations, and calls upon them to prioritise the protection and promotion of human rights and to ensure accountability for violations of human rights, including through the independent and impartial administration of justice;

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

16.  Urges the Egyptian Government to fully implement national strategies for combating violence against women and eliminating all forms of discrimination, ensuring the effective consultation and involvement of women’s organisations and other civil society organisations throughout the process;

17.  Expresses its outrage at the intensifying clampdown against the LGBT community in Egypt urges the Egyptian authorities to cease criminalising LGBT people, on the basis of the ‘debauchery law’, for expressing their sexual orientation and for assembling, and to release all LGBT people arrested and imprisoned under this law;

18.  Calls on the Egyptian authorities to cooperate fully with UN human rights mechanisms, including by approving pending visit requests by several UN special rapporteurs, and to act upon Egypt’s commitment to the opening of a regional bureau of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights;

19.  Reiterates, in line with the findings of the EU Election Observation Mission to the presidential elections of 2014, that the elections fell short of applicable international standards and did not fully respect the fundamental rights set out in the newly adopted Constitution, as there were, notably, limits to freedom of expression and assembly and insufficient regulation of campaign financing, the right to stand and the right to vote; calls on the Egyptian Government to address the shortcomings in the presidential elections in the preparations for the parliamentary elections announced for 21 March and 25 April 2015;

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

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

22.  Reiterates its calls on the VP/HR to clarify the specific measures taken in response to the Foreign Affairs Council’s decision to review EU assistance to Egypt, also referring to the Court of Auditors report of 2013; requests, in particular, clarification of the status of: (i) the planned justice reform programme; (ii) the EU budget support programmes; (iii) the trade and domestic enhancement programme; and (iv) Egypt’s participation in EU regional programmes such as Euromed Police and Euromed Justice; calls on the Commission to clarify the safeguards established within the programmes funded under the Neighbourhood Investment Facility, in relation to corruption risks as well as to economic and financial entities controlled by the military;

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

24.  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, P8_TA(2014)0007.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0470.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0274.

The case of the two Italian 'marò'
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European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on the case of the two Italian ‘marò’ (2015/2512(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the additional protocols thereto,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular Articles 9, 10 and 14 thereof,

–  having regard to the declarations of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the case of the Italian marines (marò) Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone,

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 May 2012 on maritime piracy(1),

–  having regard to the statement by the spokesperson for United Nations Secretary‑General Ban Ki-moon of 6 January 2015 inviting the two countries – Italy and India – to try to reach a reasonable and mutually acceptable solution,

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

A.  whereas on the night of 15 February 2012 the Italian commercial vessel Enrica Lexie, en route from Singapore to Djibouti, came across the fishing trawler St Anthony off the coast of Kerala, India;

B.  whereas six Italian marines (marò) were aboard the Enrica Lexie to protect the ship from potential attacks by pirates; whereas, fearing a pirate attack, warning shots were fired at the approaching boat, and two Indian fishermen, Valentine alias Jelastine and Ajeesh Pink, were tragically killed;

C.  whereas on 19 February 2012 members of the Indian police force boarded the vessel, confiscated the marines’ arms and arrested the two who had been identified as those responsible for opening fire on the fishing boat;

D.  whereas these events have caused diplomatic tensions, given the legal uncertainty surrounding the case of the two Italian marines; whereas even after three years, charges have still not been brought by the Indian authorities;

E.  whereas one of the soldiers, Massimiliano Latorre, left India to spend four months at home after he suffered a cerebral ischemia and is still in need of medical care, and whereas Mr Girone is still in the Italian embassy in India;

F.  whereas, with both sides citing international law, Italy asserts that the incident took place in international waters and that the marines should be tried in Italy or in an international court; whereas, however, India maintains that it can try the marines because the incident took place in coastal waters under Indian jurisdiction;

G.  whereas on 15 October 2014 the then EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, made a statement on the behaviour of the Indian authorities, encouraging the government to find a quick and satisfactory solution in conformity with the International Convention on the Law of the Sea and with international law;

H.  whereas on 16 December 2014 the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, expressed her disappointment at the lack of leniency shown in response to Massimiliano Latorre’s plea for an extension of his stay in Italy for medical treatment;

I.  Whereas that on the 14 January 2015  the Supreme Court of India granted an extension to allow sergeant Latorre to spend extra time in Italy for medical purposes;

J.  whereas the two marò are European citizens, and whereas on 15 February 2012 they were on board an Italian commercial vessel, en route off the coast of the State of Kerala and performing their functions as a part of international counter-piracy activities, to which the EU is strongly committed;

1.  Expresses great sadness at the tragic death of the two Indian fishermen and extends its condolences;

2.  Stresses that the consequences of the event of 15 February 2012 should nevertheless be treated strictly within the rule of law, fully respecting the human and legal rights of those allegedly involved;

3.  Expresses great concern at the detention without charge of the Italian marines; stresses that the marines must be repatriated; stresses that the lengthy delay and restrictions on the marines’ freedom of movement are unacceptable and represent a serious breach of their human rights;

4.  Regrets the manner in which the issue has been handled and supports the efforts of all parties involved to work urgently towards a reasonable and mutually acceptable solution in the interest of all the families – Indian and Italian – as well as of both countries;

5.  Hopes, considering the positions taken by Italy, as a Member State, as regards the events related to the incident, that jurisdiction will fall to the Italian authorities and/or international arbitration;

6.  Encourages the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to take any necessary action to protect the two Italian marines in order to achieve a quick and satisfactory resolution to the case;

7.  Reminds the Commission of the importance of stressing the human rights situation in the framework of relations with India and hence of considering further measures to facilitate a positive resolution to the case;

8.  Recalls that the rights and security of EU citizens in third countries should be safeguarded by the EU diplomatic representation, which should work actively for the defence of the fundamental human rights of EU citizens in detention in any third country;

9.  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 EU Member States, the United Nations Secretary-General, and the President and Government of India.

(1) OJ C 261 E, 10.9.2013, p. 34.

Freedom of expression in Turkey: Recent arrests of journalists, media executives and systematic pressure against media
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European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on freedom of expression in Turkey: Recent arrests of journalists, media executives and systematic pressure against media (2014/3011(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Turkey,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the General Affairs Council of 16 December 2014,

–  having regard to the statement of 15 December 2014 by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights,

–  having regard to the joint statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of 14 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Turkey 2014 Progress Report of 8 October 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Indicative Strategy Paper for Turkey (2014-2020) of 26 August 2014,

–  having regard to the 1996 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular Article 19 thereof,

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

A.  whereas on 14 December 2014 the Turkish police arrested journalists and media executives, including Ekrem Dumanlı, editor-in-chief of the Zaman newspaper, and Hidayet Karaca, general manager of the Samanyolu broadcasting group; whereas a warrant, issued by a judge in Istanbul, states that they were under criminal investigation for forming an organisation that had ‘by pressure, intimidation and threats attempted to seize state power’ and that they had done so ‘through lies, depriving people of their liberty and falsifying documents’;

B.  whereas a number of those arrested in December 2014 have been released; whereas on 19 December 2014, an Istanbul court announced the release of Ekrem Dumanlı, subject to probation and a travel ban pending completion of a criminal investigation, but the continued detention of Hidayet Karaca, pending completion of the investigation; whereas on 31 December 2014 an Istanbul court rejected a prosecutor’s objection to the release of Ekrem Dumanlı and seven other persons;

C.  whereas the government’s response to the allegations of corruption in December 2013 cast serious doubts on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and demonstrated an increasing intolerance of political opposition, public protest and critical media;

D.  whereas Turkey already holds a very large number of jailed journalists and journalists awaiting trial, and the pressure against the media has increased over the past few years, including against owners and executives of media groups as well as online and social media platforms; whereas intimidating statements by politicians and proceedings launched against critical journalists, combined with the ownership structure of the media sector, have led to widespread self-censorship by media owners and journalists, as well as to dismissals of journalists; whereas the Turkish Government mostly charges journalists under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Act (TMK) and the penal code articles related to ‘terrorist organisations’;

E.  whereas on 6 January 2015 the Dutch correspondent Frederike Geerdink was arrested in Diyarbakir, interrogated by the police and released the same day after interference by the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, who was visiting Turkey at that time, and on 7 January 2015 another Dutch journalist, Mehmet Ülger, was arrested on departure at the airport in Istanbul, interrogated at a police station and released later that day;

F.  whereas respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, are at the core of EU values, to which Turkey is formally committed through its application for EU membership and related negotiations, and through its membership of the Council of Europe;

G.  whereas the EU and its Member States have strongly criticised the arrests which took place on 14 December 2014, saying that they are ‘incompatible with European values’ and ‘incompatible with the freedom of media’; whereas President Erdoğan has firmly rejected the EU’s criticism;

1.  Condemns the recent police raids and the detention of a number of journalists and media representatives in Turkey on 14 December 2014; stresses that these actions call into question respect for the rule of law and freedom of the media, which is a core principle of democracy;

2.  Recalls that a free and pluralistic press is an essential component of any democracy, as are due process, presumption of innocence and judicial independence; stresses, therefore, the need, as regards this latest round of arrests, in all cases (i) to provide ample and transparent information on the allegations against the defendants, (ii) to grant the defendants full access to the incriminating evidence and full defence rights, and (iii) to ensure the proper handling of the cases to establish the veracity of the accusations without delay and beyond reasonable doubt; reminds the Turkish authorities that the utmost care must be taken when dealing with the media and journalists, as freedom of expression and freedom of the media remain central to the functioning of a democratic and open society;

3.  Expresses its concern over backsliding in democratic reforms, and in particular the government’s diminishing tolerance of public protest and critical media; notes, in this regard, that the arrests on 14 December 2014 fall into a deplorable pattern of increased pressure and restrictions on press and media outlets, including internet-based social media and fora; notes that website bans are of disproportionate scope in Turkey; deplores the number of journalists in pre-trial detention, effectively punishing them, and calls on Turkey’s judicial authorities to review and address these cases as soon as possible;

4.  Urges Turkey to work on reforms which should provide for adequate checks and balances fully guaranteeing freedom, including freedom of thought, of expression and of the media, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights;

5.  Underlines the importance of press freedom and respect for democratic values for the EU enlargement process; stresses that a number of provisions of the Turkish legal framework and their interpretation by members of the judiciary continue to hamper freedom of expression, including freedom of the media; recalls that freedom of expression and media pluralism are at the heart of European values and that an independent press is crucial to a democratic society, as it enables citizens to take an active part in collective decision-making processes on an informed basis and therefore strengthens democracy; urges the Government of Turkey, in this regard, to address media freedom as a matter of priority and provide an adequate legal framework guaranteeing pluralism in line with international standards; further calls for an end to pressure and intimidation against critical outlets and journalists;

6.  Notes that the Action Plan for the Prevention of Violations of the European Convention on Human Rights does not envisage revision of all relevant provisions of the Anti-Terror Law or of the Criminal Code that have been used to limit freedom of expression; stresses the need to reform these laws as a matter of priority;

7.  Stresses that, as was concluded by the Council on 16 December 2014, the Instrument for Pre‑Accession Assistance (IPA II) for the period 2014-2020 sees the introduction of enhanced coherence between financial assistance and the overall progress made in the implementation of the pre-accession strategy, including full respect for fundamental rights and freedoms;

8.  Calls for increased attention to be paid to independent media within the framework of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance; underlines, furthermore, in this respect, the importance of also supporting civil society organisations (CSOs), since only a transparent and well functioning civil society can build trust and confidence among the different components of a lively and democratic society;

9.  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 and the Government and Parliament of Turkey.

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