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Human rights: freedom of speech in Kazakhstan, Giulio Regeni, DRC

Plenary Session Press release - Humanitarian aid / External relations10-03-2016 - 12:36

Parliament condemns the deteriorating climate for the media and free speech in Kazakhstan, the torture and assassination under suspicious circumstances of EU citizen Giulio Regeni in Egypt, and the worsening security and human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in three resolutions voted on Thursday.

Freedom of expression in Kazakhstan

MEPs are deeply concerned about the climate for the media and free speech in Kazakhstan, where strong pressure on independent media outlets includes some being closed down, and news agency directors and journalists being detained, placed under criminal investigation and sentenced to prison. "Freedom of speech for independent media, bloggers and individual citizens is a universal value that cannot be bargained away", they say, stressing that the Kazakh authorities should "ensure that any measure to restrict access to internet resources is based on law.”

The EU has a "great interest in a sustainable relationship with Kazakhstan in terms of political and economic cooperation", stresses the resolution. But deeper political and economic relations with the EU "must be based on shared values and correspond to an active and concrete engagement by Kazakhstan to conduct political and democratic reforms stemming from its international obligations and commitments", adds the text.

Egypt, notably the case of Giulio Regeni

The European Parliament strongly condemns the torture and assassination under suspicious circumstances of EU citizen Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old Italian doctoral student at Cambridge University, who disappeared on 25 January 2016 in Egypt. His body, found on 3 February beside a road on the outskirts of Cairo, showed signs of severe beating and "an unacceptable violence", according to the Italian Interior Minister. Results of the post-mortem examination performed by both Egyptian and Italian authorities have yet to be made public.

The case of Mr Regeni, who was doing research in Cairo on the development of independent trade unions in post-Mubarak and post-Morsi Egypt, and had contacts with opponents of the government, "is not an isolated incident but occurred within a context of torture, death in custody and enforced disappearances across Egypt in recent years", add MEPs, who express their deep sympathy and condolences to the family.

The Egyptian authorities should provide their Italian counterparts "with all the documents and information necessary to enable a swift, transparent and impartial joint investigation" and make every effort "to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice as soon as possible", adds the resolution.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

MEPs express grave concern about the deteriorating security and human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where since January 2015 Congolese security and intelligence officials have clamped down on peaceful activists, political leaders and others who oppose attempts to allow President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, to amend the constitution to enable him to stay in power beyond his constitutionally-mandated two-term limit.

The government is "responsible for preventing any deepening of the current political crisis or escalation of violence and to respect, protect and promote the civil and political rights of its citizens", they say.

The European Parliament calls on the DRC authorities to comply with the constitution, and to guarantee an environment conducive to transparent, credible and inclusive elections, to be held in November 2016, which should be seized as "a further opportunity for a democratic transition of power" in the country.

Procedure:  Non-legislative resolutions

REF. : 20160303IPR16950
Updated: ( 10-03-2016 - 17:12)