The European Parliament supports human rights

The respect for human rights is one of the European Union's fundamental values. Any violation of these rights affects the democratic principles upon which our society is founded, whether they take place within or outside the EU.  The European Parliament fights such violations through legislative action, including election observation, monthly human rights debates in Strasbourg and by enshrining human rights in its external trade agreements.

The European Parliament also supports human rights through the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, established in 1988.  The prize is awarded to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause.

Democratic Opposition in Venezuela, 2017 laureate of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

Democratic Opposition in Venezuela: National Assembly (Julio Borges) and all Political Prisoners as listed by Foro Penal Venezolano represented by Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos and Andrea González

Sakharov Prize 2017 laureate Democratic Opposition in Venezuela

© EU 2017 - EP/AP Images / Ariana Cubillos

For the last several years, Venezuela has been in political crisis. The ruling party has steadily limited the rule of law of and the constitutional order, and in March 2017 the Supreme Court stripped the democratically elected National Assembly of legislative power. Julio Borges, the president of the National Assembly, summed up the situation in Venezuela in the following words: "It's not only a political confrontation in Venezuela. It's a vital, existential, values-based confrontation".

At the same time, the number of political prisoners has amounted to more than six hundred, according to the latest report of Foro Penal Venezolano (Venezuelan Penal Forum), a prominent Venezuelan human rights organisation that provides legal assistance pro bono, to those with limited economic resources and presumed to be detained arbitrarily, tortured or assaulted during protests. Among the political prisoners are prominent opposition leaders Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos and Andrea González.

While Venezuela opposition leader Leopoldo López was temporarily granted house arrest in July after more than three years in detention, he was transferred back to prison in August 2017. Another prominent opposition politician and former mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledesma, has been under house arrest since 2015, while fellow former mayors Alfredo Ramos, of Iribarren, and Daniel Ceballos, of San Cristobal, have also been imprisoned, as well as a student activist Lorent Saleh. Two Spanish citizens, Andrea Gonzalez and Yon Goicoechea, are among the political prisoners.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 130 opponents have been murdered and more than 500 have been arbitrarily imprisoned.

How does the European Parliament support human rights?

In addition to the Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament also supports human rights through concrete political and legislative action.


Communication campaigns (DG COMM)

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