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Procedure : 2018/2861(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0453/2018

Texts tabled :

B8-0453/2018

Debates :

PV 04/10/2018 - 5.1

Votes :

PV 04/10/2018 - 7.1

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0375

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 178kWORD 53k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0451/2018
2.10.2018
PE624.131v01-00
 
B8-0453/2018

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law

pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure


on Deterioration of media freedom in Belarus, notably the case of Charter 97 (2018/2861(RSP))


Rebecca Harms, Heidi Hautala, Barbara Lochbihler, Helga Trüpel, Michel Reimon on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.

European Parliament resolution on Deterioration of media freedom in Belarus, notably the case of Charter 97 (2018/2861(RSP))  
B8‑0453/2018

The European Parliament,

having regard to its previous resolutions and recommendations on Belarus with regard, in particular, to the one of 19 April 2018 and the one of 6 April 2017,

having regard to the Council conclusions on Belarus, especially those of 16 February 2016 lifting sanctions against 170 individuals and three Belarusian companies,

having regard to the conclusions of the Eastern Partnership Summit of 24th November 2017,

having regard to the decision of the Foreign Affairs Council to prolong for one year the restrictive measures against Belarus, including an arms embargo, ban on the export of goods for internal repression and an asset freeze and travel ban against four individuals listed in connection with the unresolved disappearance of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one journalist in 1999 and in 2000,

having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the decision of the EU to lift most of its restrictive measures against Belarusian officials and legal entities in February 2016 was aimed at starting a policy of engagement so as to encourage Belarus to improve its human rights, democracy and rule of law record,

B. whereas, however, the overall human rights situation in the country has not shown so far any substantial improvement; whereas according to human rights organisations Belarus authorities still detain political prisoners and prisoners of conscience,

C. whereas Belarussian authorities recently initiated a wave of police harassment and intimidation against journalists,

D. whereas Charter97.org, an independent news website founded in 1998 after more than 100, 000 Belarusians signed a declaration, inspired by famous "Charter 77" calling for democracy in Belarus, was forced to move to Warsaw where it operates since 2011 after being blocked several times by the Belarusian authorities with its offices raided twice by the police and the equipment confiscated in that same year,

E. whereas in 2017 Charter 97 was temporary blocked several times during mass protests against the decree about "social parasites" and against deteriorating economic conditions in the country,

F. whereas since 24 January 2018 Charter 97 is blocked on the territory of Belarus for undetermined duration without trial and with vague allegations of the "threats to the national interests",

G.whereas on 7 August 2018, the Investigative Committee of Belarus opened a criminal case under Part 2, Art. 349 of the Criminal Code (illegal access to computer information committed out of other personal interest, which caused substantial harm) against journalists and editors of a number of Internet resources and arrested at least 18 journalists, seven of whom were placed in the detention centre for three days as suspects,

H. whereas trade union leaders and human rights defenders Gennady Fedynich and Igor Komlik have faced judicial harassment with false allegations of tax evasion, and have been sentenced on 24 August 2018 to 4 years of restriction of liberty and a fine of 47. 000 Belarusian rubles (approximately €20,000),

I. whereas Belarusian lawyers defending cases considered by the authorities to be ‘troublesome’ are generally exposed to retaliatory measures which can culminate in the withdrawal of their right to practice against a background of changes to the legal framework that have gradually placed Belarusian bars, and lawyers themselves, under the direct authority of the Ministry of Justice; whereas access to the profession and its organization now fall under the almost exclusive competence of civil servants in the Ministry of Justice,

J. whereas on 25 October 2016 Belarus adopted its first National Human Rights Action Plan, which was approved by a resolution of the Council of Ministers and which defines the principle lines of action for implementing the country’s human rights commitments,

K. whereas Belarusian lawmakers passed some controversial amendments to the country’s media laws despite claims by domestic and international groups that the move risks leading to further censorship of the press,

L. whereas Mikhail Zhamchuzhny, who was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in 2015 and now faces threats to his safety and well-being at Penal Colony 9 in Horki, and Dzmitry Paliyenka are considered political prisoners by Amnesty International,

M. whereas Belarus is the only country in Europe that carries out capital punishment,

 

N. whereas the EU and Belarus are about to finalise tailor-made Partnership Priorities concerning main areas of interests such as economic development and modernisation, strengthening institutions and good governance, connectivity and people-to-people contacts,

1. Deplores the harassment and detention of journalists, civil society activists and human rights defenders in Belarus and the blockage of the news portal Charter 97 and urges Belorussian authorities to end all judicial harassment, intimidation and threats against them and to allow the news portal to operate freely;

2. Calls for the immediate release of Gennady Fedynich and Igor Komlik and the remaining political prisoners;

3. Calls on Belarus to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Belarus are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment;

4. Urges the Belarusian authorities to allow bar associations to operate without any interference from the authorities relating to the regulation of the profession, including access to the profession, application of disciplinary measures and the organization of training

5. Calls for the removal of restrictions and easing of procedures of registration of political parties in Belarus; stresses that all political parties must be allowed unrestricted political activities, especially during election campaigns;

6. Reiterates its call on the Belarusian authorities to ensure, in all circumstances, respect for democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus;

7. Calls on the Belarusian Government to engage in a constructive dialogue with the opposition and civil society organisations, as well as to cooperate fully with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, carrying out long- overdue reforms to protect human rights and strengthen democracy;

8. Regrets that the current human rights dialogue is not yielding concrete results and urges the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to find ways and means to promote the full and effective protection of human rights in Belarus;

9. Calls on the EEAS to better coordinate the EU’s policy towards Belarus with the UN Special Rapporteur; calls on the EU and its Member States to promote and support the extension of the UN Special Rapporteur’s mandate in order to continue to monitor the situation in the country;

10. Calls on the Belarusian Government to fully cooperate with the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) and the UN Human Rights Committee under which Belarus is reviewed in 2018 and to implement their recommendations; calls on the EEAS to use the recommendations and their implementation to measure the human rights situation in Belarus in the coming months;

11. Urges Belarus, the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment, to join a global moratorium on execution of the death penalty as a first step towards its permanent abolition; recalls that the death penalty constitutes inhumane and degrading treatment, has no proven deterrent effect and makes judicial errors irreversible;

12. Calls on the EEAS and on the Commission to continue support for civil society organisations in Belarus and abroad; stresses, in this context, the need to support all independent sources of information for Belarusian society, including media broadcasting in the Belarusian language, and from abroad;

13. Underlines that the outcome of the negotiations on EU Partnership Priorities with Belarus must depend on the swift resolution of all the remaining issues which will allow Belarus access to wider scope of assistance; in this context notes the increased allocation of financial assistance by the European Commission for 2018-2020;

14. Calls, in this regard, on the EEAS and the Commission to find ways to inform and consult with Belarus civil society organisations about the ongoing negotiations;

15. Calls on the Government of Belarus to suspend the construction of the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), marred with numerous violations such as non-compliance with international conventions and standards and serious safety violations, including major incidents during the work; reiterates its concern at the selection of an unsustainable site for its construction; points out, moreover, the stress test exercise, led by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSERG), revealed serious deficiencies of the Astravets NPP and raised serious doubts about the credibility of the whole project; stresses that by further pursuing this project, the Belarusian authorities are putting the health and safety of European citizens at serious risk; urges the international community to make maximum efforts to avoid recurrence of Fukushima accident in Europe; takes the view that the future of the EU-Belarus relations will depend greatly on the willingness of the Government of Belarus to address these concerns in full and without delay;

16. 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 (VP/HR), the European External Action Service, the Council, the Commission and the Member States, OSCE/ODHIR, Council of Europe, as well as to the Belarusian authorities,

Last updated: 2 October 2018Legal notice