– having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR) and other United Nations(UN) human rights treaties and instruments, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted in New York on 16 December 1966,
– having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and to the European Parliament resolution of 27 November 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child(1),
– having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,
– having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights,
– having regard to Articles 2, 3, 8, 21 and 23 of the Treaty on European Union(TEU),
– having regard to the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy as adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June 2012(2),
– having regard to the European Union’s Human Rights Guidelines,
– having regard to the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 12 May 2014(3),
– having regard to the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief(4),
– having regard to the Guidelines for EP Interparliamentary Delegations on promoting human rights and democracy in their visits outside the European Union(5),
– having regard to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2014, adopted by the Council on 22 June 2015(6),
– having regard to the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019, adopted by the Council on 20 July 2015(7),
– having regard to the Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020 (GAPII), adopted by the Council on 26 October 2015(8),
– having regard to the Council conclusions of 14 May 2012 on ‘Increasing the impact of EU development policy: an agenda for change’(9),
– having regard to the Council conclusions of 5 December 2014 on the promotion and protection of children's rights(10),
– having regard to Council Decision 2015/260 of 17 February 2015 extending the mandate of the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights(11),
– having regard to the Council conclusions of 26 May 2015 on Gender in Development(12),
– having regard to UN Security Council resolution 1325 of 31 October 2000 on women and peace and security(13),
– having regard to its urgency resolutions on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law,
– having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on EU policies in favour of human rights defenders(14),
– having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2011 on external policies in favour of democratisation(15),
– having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy(16),
– having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2013 on the freedom of press and media in the world(17),
– having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2013 on corruption in the public and private sectors: the impact on human rights in third countries(18),
– having regard to its resolution of 10 October 2013 on caste-based discrimination(19),
– having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2014 on the EU’s priorities for the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)(20),
– having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on the EU’s priorities for the UNHRC in 2015(21),
– having regard to its recommendation to the Council of 2 April 2014 on the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)(22),
– having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2014 on the eradication of torture in the world(23),
– having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(24),
– having regard to its resolution of 18 June 2015 on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy(25),
– having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 on human rights and technology: the impact of intrusion and surveillance systems on human rights in third countries(26),
– having regard to its resolution of 10 September 2015 on migration and refugees in Europe(27),
– having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the renewal of the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development(28),
– having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the death penalty(29),
– having regard to the communication of 8 October 2014 from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions on the enlargement strategy and main challenges 2014-2015(30),
– having regard to the Joint Communication of 8 March 2011 of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to the European Council, the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean(31),
– having regard to the Joint Communication of 25 May 2011 of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a new response to a changing Neighbourhood(32),
– having regard to the Commission staff working document of 30 April 2014 on a rights-based approach, encompassing all human rights for EU development cooperation(33),
– having regard to the UN Human Rights Council Resolution of 26 June 2014 calling for the establishment of an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the aim of drawing up an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights(34),
– having regard to its report of 9 July 2015 on the EU’s new approach to human rights and democracy – evaluating the activities of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) since its establishment(35),
– having regard to the 2014 annual report of UNFPA-UNICEF on the Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation(36),
– having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0344/2015),
A. whereas Article 21 TEU commits the EU to developing a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) guided by the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principle of equality and solidarity and compliance with the UN Charter, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and international law;
B. whereas under Article 6 TEU the European Union is to accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
C. whereas respect for, and the promotion, indivisibility and safeguarding of, the universality of human rights must be cornerstones of the EU’s external action;
D. whereas increased coherence between EU internal and external policies, as well as between the EU’s external policies stands as an indispensable requirement for a successful and effective EU human rights policy; whereas improved consistency should enable the EU to respond more rapidly in the early stages of human rights violations;
E. whereas the EU’s commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is an integral part of the Union’s external policy and is rooted in the conviction that a multilateral system founded on universal rules and values is best suited to addressing global crises, challenges and threats;
F. whereas respect for human rights is being challenged and is under threat worldwide; whereas the universality of human rights is being seriously challenged by a number of authoritarian regimes, notably in multilateral forums;
G. whereas more than half the world’s population is still living under non-democratic and repressive regimes and global freedom has continuously declined over the past few years; whereas non-respect of human rights has a cost for society and for the individual;
H. whereas there are numerous attempts worldwide to shrink the space of civil society, including in the UN Human Rights Council;
I. whereas, in addition to the holding of free elections, features of democratic regimes include transparent governance, respect for the rule of law, freedom of expression, respect for human rights, the existence of an independent judicial system , and respect for international law and international agreements and guidelines on respecting human rights;
J. whereas the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) stated, when the New Joint Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy was proposed, that human rights would be one of the overarching priorities of her mandate, a compass in all relations with EU institutions as well as with third countries, international organisations and civil society; whereas in 2017 a mid-term review of the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy is to be performed which will coincide with the mid-term review of external financing instruments, which should contribute to greater coherence of the EU’s external action;
K. whereas the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Commission, the Council and the Member States are responsible for implementing the new Action Plan; whereas the EU missions and EU representations in third countries can play a significant supplementary role in the success of the Action Plan;
L. whereas appropriate resources need to be ensured, and those resources need to be deployed in the most efficient manner, in order to enhance the promotion of human rights and democracy in third countries;
M. whereas more should be done by the EU to measure the human rights impact of its own policies, maximise the positive impacts and prevent and mitigate the negative impacts, and reinforce access to remedies for affected populations;
N. whereas engaging with third countries' leaders and authorities, in all bilateral and multilateral forums, is one of the most effective tools for addressing human rights issues in third countries; whereas civil society organisations in third countries are key interlocutors in shaping and implementing the EU's human rights policy;
O. whereas the EU considers close cooperation with civil society and human rights defenders in third countries to be one of its main priorities in tackling human rights abuses;
P. whereas international cooperation should play an increased role in reinforcing respect for fundamental rights and effective parliamentary oversight of intelligence services using digital surveillance technology;
Q. whereas the EU and its Member States have been close allies of the International Criminal Court since its inception, providing it with financial, political, diplomatic and logistical support while promoting the universality of the Rome Statute and defending its integrity with the purpose of strengthening the Court’s independence;
R. whereas human rights and democracy support policy should be mainstreamed across all other EU policies with an external dimension, such as development, migration, security, counter-terrorism, enlargement and trade, in order to continue the promotion of respect for human rights;
S. whereas Article 207 TFEU stipulates that the EU’s commercial policy is to be based on the principles and objectives of the European Union’s external action;
T. whereas the various forms of migration represent an important EU external policy challenge requiring immediate, effective and sustainable solutions in order to ensure that the human rights of people in need, such as those fleeing war and violence, are respected in line with European values and international human rights standards;
U. whereas the world economy is going through a major crisis, the impact of which, alongside certain measures, in particular drastic budget cuts, is having an adverse effect on human rights, especially economic and social rights, on people’s living conditions (increases in unemployment and poverty, inequality and insecure employment, and lower quality of and restricted access to services), and therefore also on people’s wellbeing;
V. whereas on the basis of universal and indivisible values, freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief should become one of the priorities of the EU and must be unconditionally supported; whereas these rights remain widely under threat, as the number of related violations has significantly risen;
W. whereas the universal abolition of the death penalty remains one of the EU’s priorities in its external human rights policy; whereas in June 2016 the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty is to take place in Oslo, Norway;
X. whereas children, women and persons belonging to minorities face increasing and specific threats, acts of violence and sexual violence, especially in war zones;
Y. whereas the Sakharov Prize for 2014 was awarded to Dr Denis Mukwege for his unremitting efforts, as a doctor and human rights defender, on behalf of victims of sexual violence and genital mutilation; whereas female genital mutilation is a fundamental violation of the rights of women and children and whereas it is absolutely necessary to assign efforts to combat genital mutilation and sexual violence a central role in the EU’s external policy and human rights policy;
Z. whereas in 2014 230 million children currently living in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts were estimated to be exposed to extreme violence and trauma, being forcibly recruited or deliberately targeted by violent groups;
AA. whereas Article 25 of the UDHR recognises the right of every person to a 'standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family', in which motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance, and which includes medical care; whereas UNHRC Resolution 26/28(37) calls for the next UNHRC Social Forum meeting to focus on access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; whereas the Constitution of the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition;
AB. whereas climate change is undermining the most basic human rights such as access to water, natural resources and food;
AC. whereas the deliberate and systematic destruction of valuable archaeological sites which form part of the world heritage by terrorist organisations and warring groups has the aim of destabilising populations and depriving them of their cultural identity, and should be regarded not only as a war crime but also as a crime against humanity;
1. Expresses its deep concern that human rights and democratic values, such as freedom of expression, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of assembly and association, are increasingly under threat in many parts of the world, including under authoritarian regimes; also expresses its deep concern that the public space for civil society is shrinking and a growing number of human rights defenders are under attack worldwide;
2. Calls for the EU and its Member States to enhance their efforts to effectively place human rights and democratic values at the heart of their relations with the wider world, as they committed to so doing in the TEU; notes that the EU should use appropriate measures when dealing with serious human rights breaches in third countries, in particular in the case of authoritarian regimes, including through trade, energy or security relations;
3. Reiterates the crucial importance of ensuring increased coherence between the EU’s internal and external policies with regard to respect for human rights and democratic values; emphasises in this context that, while this report deals with the EU’s external policies for advancing human rights, Parliament also adopts an annual report on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union, drawn up by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs; equally stresses the importance of greater consistency, of coherence, and of avoiding double standards in the EU's external policies and all its instruments;
4. Calls on the EU and its Member States to effectively address internal human rights challenges, such as the situation of Roma, the treatment of refugees and migrants, discrimination against LGBTI persons, racism, violence against women, detention conditions and media freedom in the Member States, in order to maintain credibility and consistency in its external human rights policy;
5. Insists on the importance of ensuring coherence of EU policy towards situations of occupation or annexation of territory; recalls that international humanitarian law should guide EU policy towards all such situations;
6. Expresses its firm opposition to the annexation, occupation and settlement of territories, and insists on the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination;
7. Considers that, in order to live up to their commitment to advancing human rights and democracy in the world, the EU and its Member States need to speak with a consistent, single voice and ensure that their message is heard;
8. Emphasises, moreover, the importance of enhanced cooperation between the Commission, the Council, the EEAS, Parliament and the EU Delegations with a view to improving the overall coherence of the EU’s policy on human rights and democracy and its centrality among all EU policies with an external dimension, particularly in fields relating to development, security, employment, migration, trade and technology;
9. Calls the EU to improve and systematise the full extent of the human rights impact of its own policies, and ensure these analyses serve to reframe its policies in consequence; calls for the EU to develop more efficient mechanisms to maximise the positive human rights impacts of its policies, prevent and mitigate the negative ones and reinforce access to remedies for affected populations;
10. Draws attention to its long-term commitment to promoting human rights and advancing democratic values, as reflected, inter alia, in the annual award of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, in the work of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and in the monthly plenary debates and resolutions on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
11. Expresses its deep concern at the deliberate and systematic destruction and looting of valuable archaeological sites which form part of the world heritage carried out with the aim of destabilising populations and undermining their cultural identity by terrorist organisations and warring groups which finance their violent activities by means of illegal trade in stolen artworks; calls, therefore, on the Commission, in cooperation with the UN and UNESCO, to combat illegal trading in art treasures from war zones and to devise initiatives to protect the cultural heritage in such zones; calls on the Commission to classify the deliberate destruction of the collective human heritage as a crime against humanity and to take legal action against it accordingly;
EU policy instruments for advancing human rights and democracy worldwide
EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World
12. Welcomes the adoption of the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014; considers that the Annual Report is an indispensable tool for scrutiny, communication and debate regarding the EU’s policy on human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the world; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to ensure comprehensive follow-up to the issues raised in the Annual Report, including specific proposals tailored to resolving these problems, as well as greater coherence of the various reports on the EU's external human rights and democracy policy;
13. Reiterates its invitation to the VP/HR to debate with the Members of the European Parliament in two plenary sessions per year, one at the time the EU Annual Report is presented, and the other in response to Parliament’s report; underlines that written answers from the Commission and the EEAS to Parliament's resolution on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy play an important role in interinstitutional relations, as they allow for a systematic and in-depth follow-up to all the points raised by Parliament;
14. Commends the EEAS and the Commission for their exhaustive reporting on the activities undertaken by the EU in the area of human rights and democracy in 2014; considers nevertheless that the current format of the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy could be improved by offering a better overview of the concrete impact of the EU’s actions on human rights and democracy in third countries, and of progress made, as well as a more reader-friendly format; calls, furthermore, for reporting on steps taken in response to resolutions of Parliament on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
15. Recommends in this respect that the EEAS adopt a more analytical approach in the drafting of the Annual Report, while continuing to report on the implementation of the EU Strategic Framework and the Action Plan; considers that the Annual Report should not only underline the EU’s achievements and best practices in the field, but also indicate what challenges and limitations the EU encounters in its efforts to promote human rights and democracy in third countries, and what lessons can be drawn for concrete action in the years ahead;
16. Maintains its view that the country reports presented in the Annual Report should be less descriptive and less static, and should instead better reflect the implementation of the human rights country strategies and give an overview of the impact of the EU’s action on the ground;
EU Strategic Framework and the (new) Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy
17. Reiterates its view that the adoption of the EU Strategic Framework and of the first Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy in 2012 constituted a major milestone for the EU in integrating human rights and democracy without exception in its relations with the wider world;
18. Welcomes the adoption by the Council in July 2015 of a new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2015-2019; commends the EEAS for consulting the Commission, Parliament, the Member States, civil society and regional and international organisations during the evaluation of the first Action Plan and the drafting of the new one;
19. Welcomes the EU’s renewed commitment to promoting and protecting human rights and supporting democracy worldwide; notes that the Action Plan aims to allow the EU to take a more focused, systematic and coordinated approach in the area of human rights and democracy, as well as to reinforce the impact of its policies and tools on the ground; supports, in this regard, the prioritisation of five strategic areas of action;
20. Calls on the VP/HR, the EEAS, the Commission, the Council and the Member States to ensure an efficient and coherent implementation of the new Action Plan; draws attention, in particular, to the importance of increasing the effectiveness and maximising the local impact of the tools used by the EU to promote respect for human rights and democracy in the world; highlights the need to ensure a rapid and appropriate response to human rights infringements; reiterates the importance of intensifying efforts to mainstream human rights and democracy in all EU external action, including at a high political level;
21. Stresses that in order to fulfil the ambitious objectives set out in the new Action Plan, the EU must set aside sufficient resources and expertise, both in terms of dedicated human resources in Delegations and in Headquarters and in terms of funds available for projects;
22. Reiterates its view that a solid consensus and enhanced coordination between Member States and the EU institutions is needed in order to coherently and consistently advance the human rights and democracy agenda; recalls that the Action Plan concerns both the EU and the Member States; firmly stresses, therefore, that Member States should, without exception, take on greater ownership of the implementation of the Action Plan and of the EU Strategic Framework and use them as their own blueprint in promoting human rights and democracy bilaterally and multilaterally; takes positive note of the foreseen interim evaluation of the new Action Plan, and highlights the importance of inclusive consultations in order to consistently reflect the results achieved in human rights mainstreaming;
23. Urges the Foreign Affairs Council, in this respect, to regularly discuss democracy and human rights topics; reiterates its call on the Foreign Affairs Council to hold an annual public debate on EU action in the area of human rights and democracy;
24. Commends the EEAS and the Commission on their reporting on the implementation of the first Action Plan, and expects such reporting to continue in the framework of the new Action Plan; recalls, moreover, its determination to be closely associated with and consulted on the implementation of the new Action Plan;
25. Calls on the VP/HR, in coordination with all the other Commissioners, to draft a programme that mainstreams human rights in various EU activities, particularly in the areas of development, migration, environment, employment, internet data protection, trade, investment, technology and business;
Overview of other EU policy instruments
Mandate of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights
26. Recalls the importance of the mandate of the EU Special Representative (EUSR) for Human Rights in enhancing the EU’s visibility and effectiveness in protecting and promoting human rights and democratic principles around the world; commends the current mandate holder for his significant achievements and for engaging in regular exchanges with Parliament and with civil society;
27. Welcomes the extension of the EUSR’s mandate until February 2017, and reiterates its request for this mandate to be turned into a permanent one; calls, therefore, for the revision of the mandate, so as to grant the EUSR own-initiative powers, adequate staff and financial resources, and the ability to speak publicly, to report on achievements of visits in third countries and to communicate the EU’s position on human rights issues, in order to reinforce the EUSR’s role by improving its visibility and effectiveness;
28. Reiterates its call for the Council to stipulate in the mandate of the geographical EUSRs the requirement to collaborate closely with the EUSR on Human Rights;
Human rights country strategies and the role of the EU Delegations
29. Notes that 132 human rights country strategies (HRCSs) have been endorsed by the Political and Security Committee, following concerted efforts by the EU Delegations, EU institutions and Member States; reiterates its support for the objective of the HRCSs, which is to tailor the EU’s action in each country to its specific situation and needs; points to the need to continuously assess the HRCSs and adjust them if necessary, and calls for further improvement in cooperation, communication and exchange of information between EU Delegations, Member States’ embassies and EU institutions in drawing up and implementing the HRCSs;
30. Reiterates its call for the Members of the European Parliament to have access to the content of the strategies in a proper format, so as to fulfil their duties properly and transparently; recommends that the EEAS and the Commission communicate externally the objective of each strategy in order to enhance the transparency of HRCSs; insists that the EEAS include clear and measurable progress indicators for each individual strategy;
31. Strongly underlines the importance of taking into account the HRCSs at all levels of policymaking vis-à-vis individual third countries, including during the preparation of high-level political dialogues, human rights dialogues, country strategy papers and annual action programmes;
32. Welcomes the designation of human rights and/or gender focal points by all Delegations and by the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions; notes, however, that the information publicly available online is in many instances out of date, and calls, therefore, for its swift revision;
33. Recalls its recommendation to the VP/HR and the EEAS to develop clear operational guidelines as to the role of focal points in Delegations, in order to empower them to act as true human rights advisors and enable them to efficiently carry out their work with coherence and inclusiveness, so as to optimise the work of the Delegations; believes that the work of the human rights focal points should be equally supported by Member States’ diplomatic staff; takes the view that the work of the human rights focal points should be fully independent and free of political interference and harassment from national authorities of third countries, especially in their contacts with human rights activists and civil society;
Human rights dialogues and consultations
34. Acknowledges that human rights dialogues with third countries can be an efficient tool for bilateral engagement and cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights, provided they do not constitute an end in itself but a means to secure specific commitments and achievements from the counterparts; welcomes and encourages, therefore, the establishment of human rights dialogues with a growing number of countries, such as Myanmar/Burma; takes positive note in this context, for example, of the sixth round of the EU-Moldova human rights dialogue;
35. Urges the VP/HR and the EEAS to conduct their human rights dialogues and the corresponding civil society seminars with a clear, results-oriented focus mirroring the HRCSs; urges the EEAS to consistently include a preparatory dialogue with civil society organisations, which should automatically feed into the dialogue proper; further insists that the VP/HR, the EUSR on Human Rights and the EEAS systematically raise individual cases of human rights defenders at risk or in jail, of political prisoners, and of human rights infringements in an accountable and transparent manner during human rights dialogues; considers it essential that the EEAS systematically ensure that all the commitments made during each of the human rights dialogues are honoured;
36. Reiterates its call on the EEAS to develop a comprehensive mechanism for monitoring and reviewing the functioning of human rights dialogues, in cooperation with civil society and human rights organisations, with a view to improving their impact; believes that if such dialogues persistently fail political conclusions should be drawn and alternative tools for supporting the advancement of human rights in the country concerned should be used; notes, in this respect, that the human rights dialogue with Russia was suspended in 2014, and also notes the lack of results from the human rights dialogues with China and Belarus; urges, therefore, that the EEAS profoundly rethink its human rights strategy vis-à-vis Russia and China;
37. Calls for the EU and its delegations to increase their political dialogue with governments in breach of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, together with civil society, and insists that the political dialogue on human rights between the EU and third countries must include a more inclusive and comprehensive definition of non-discrimination, inter alia with regard to LGBTI people, religion or belief, sex, racial or ethnic origin, age, disability and sexual orientation; underlines that, particularly in countries which have poor records on both development and respect for human rights, development aid should be maintained and even strengthened, but should preferably be channelled through civil society organisations and non-governmental local partners, and should be systematically monitored and accompanied by governmental commitments to improve the human rights situation on the ground;
38. Acknowledges the importance of additional measures against individuals (targeted sanctions such as freezing of assets or travel bans) in dealing with authoritarian regimes should dialogues persistently fail;
EU Human Rights Guidelines
39. Welcomes the Council’s adoption in May 2014 of the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline; recalls, however, its request to the EEAS to clarify the selection process for the topics covered by the EU Guidelines and also to consult Parliament and civil society on this matter prior to selecting the topics;
40. Reiterates its call on the VP/HR and the EEAS to effectively and consistently implement the EU Guidelines on International Humanitarian Law (IHL),(38) including in relation to conflicts and humanitarian crises in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine; recommends, in this context, that the EEAS support civil society organisations that promote respect for IHL by state and non-state actors; urges, moreover, that the EU actively use all instruments at its disposal to enhance compliance of state and non-state actors with IHL; calls for the EU and its Member States to contribute to the ongoing Switzerland/International Committee of the Red Cross initiative on strengthening compliance with IHL;
41. Underlines strongly the importance of systematically assessing the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights, including the implementation of the EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child, by using well-defined benchmarks; considers that, in order to ensure proper implementation of the Guidelines, further measures aimed at raising awareness of their content among EEAS and EU Delegation staff and Member State representations abroad must be taken; reiterates its call for civil society and human rights organisations to be more actively involved in the selection, development, evaluation and review of the Guidelines;
Human rights and democracy in EU external policies and instruments
42. Recalls that the EU has committed itself to placing human rights and democracy at the centre of its relations with third countries; stresses, therefore, that the advancement of human rights and democratic principles needs to be supported through all EU policies and appropriate financial instruments which have an external dimension, such as enlargement and neighbourhood policy, the Common Security and Defence Policy, and development, trade, migration and justice and home affairs policies; highlights in this context the EU's recent efforts to include human rights infringements in its early warning matrix linked to crisis prevention;
43. Underlines the EU’s treaty-based obligation to ensure that all its external policies and activities are designed and implemented in a manner which consolidates and supports human rights and the rule of law;
44. Considers the EU's external financial instruments an important tool for promoting and defending the values of democracy and human rights abroad; reiterates its calls for improvements in the coherence of different thematic and geographical instruments;
45. Notes the Commission’s efforts to fulfil its commitment to including human rights provisions in its impact assessments for legislative and non-legislative proposals, implementing measures and trade agreements; urges the Commission to improve the quality, comprehensiveness and follow-up of the impact assessments, so as to ensure the systematic incorporation of human rights issues; highlights the role which civil society could play in this process;
Enlargement and neighbourhood policy
46. Recalls that EU enlargement policy is one of the strongest tools for reinforcing respect for human rights and democratic principles; regrets the explicit freeze on enlargement decided by the Juncker Commission, but welcomes the implementation of the new approach in accession negotiations to the chapters covering the judiciary and fundamental rights and justice, freedom, and security, which duly takes into account the time needed for the reforms concerned to be properly implemented;
47. Expresses its concern at the deterioration of freedom of expression and media in certain enlargement countries and in a number of countries of the European neighbourhood; emphasises the urgent need to improve the independence and transparency of ownership of the media in those countries and to address the political and economic pressures on journalists, which often lead to censorship and self-censorship; calls on the Commission to continue monitoring and prioritising respect for freedom of expression and of the media in the accession negotiation process;
48. Deplores the fact that the proper implementation of legal frameworks for the protection of minorities remains a challenge, as stated in the Commission’s Enlargement Strategy for 2014-2015(39); invites the enlargement countries to step up their efforts to forge a culture of acceptance of minorities by improving their involvement in decision-making processes and their enhanced inclusion in the education system, with a special focus on Roma children; urges the EU to follow closely the implementation of provisions protecting human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities and the fight against all forms of discrimination, including hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation, throughout the enlargement process;
49. Notes with concern the deterioration of democratic political cultures in some candidate and potential candidate countries and in a number of European neighbourhood countries; recalls that good governance, respect for the rule of law, freedom of opinion and human rights, political dialogue, achievement of compromise and inclusiveness of all stakeholders in the decision-making process are at the heart of democratic regimes; notes with equal concern the weak progress made by enlargement countries in improving the independence of the judiciary and fighting corruption; joins the Commission in urging the enlargement countries to build up credible track records of investigations, prosecutions and final convictions;
50. Recalls, in the context of the ongoing review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, that the TEU stipulates that the EU shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries founded on the values of the EU, which include respect for human rights and democracy(40); also recalls that, following the 2011 Arab Spring, the EU has redefined its policy towards the neighbourhood on the basis of the principle of ‘more for more’, meant to reinforce democratic institutions and the advancement of human rights; underlines the fact that with the significant challenges the EU’s neighbourhood has faced in the last few years, such as the spreading of instability and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, with extremists and jihadist groups exploiting those situations, as well as the human suffering caused by Russia’s actions, respect for human rights and democratic principles has been significantly affected;
51. Expresses, therefore, its conviction that the revised European Neighbourhood Policy should continue to have the promotion of human rights and democratic principles at its core; reiterates that the promotion of human rights and democracy are at the same time in the interest of both partner countries and the EU;
52. Stresses that the EU should continue to actively support democratic and effective human rights institutions, civil society and free media in the neighbouring countries; positively notes in this context the continued substantial support under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Civil Society Facility; welcomes equally the consistent and efficient engagement of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) in the eastern and southern neighbourhood in favour of the promotion of democracy and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, as stated in Parliament's first evaluation report on the EED(41); strongly encourages the EU and the Member States to continue offering strong incentives and know-how from their own transition processes to support democratic reform processes in the EU’s neighbourhood;
53. Maintains that it is absolutely essential to end the Russian aggression in Ukraine and ensure stability and respect for human rights;
Human rights through trade
54. Reiterates its support for the systematic introduction of human rights clauses in all international agreements between the EU and third countries, taking into account, inter alia, the European social dialogue and ILO labour standards; calls on the Commission to effectively and systematically monitor and assess the implementation of the human rights clauses and to report regularly to Parliament on partner countries’ respect for human rights; welcomes the more systematic use by the Council of restrictive measures towards third countries which are deliberately violating human rights; in this regard recommends that, whenever a gross breach of human rights occurs in a third country with which an agreement has been concluded, the EU take concrete steps in carrying out the appropriate measures as stipulated in the human rights clauses;
55. Welcomes the entry into force of the new Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) (Regulation (EU) 978/2012) on 1 January 2014; positively notes that 14 countries had been granted GSP+ preferences by the end of 2014, and recalls that countries are required to maintain the ratification of the 27 core international conventions, as well as to monitor their effective implementation, in line with the criteria stipulated by those conventions as well as by the EU; looks forward to the Commission assessing matters in a genuine and transparent manner and reporting back to Parliament and the Council on the status of ratification and the effective implementation of the conventions by the beneficiaries of the GSP+ preferences by the end of 2015; reiterates its recommendation that the Rome Statute be added to a future list of conventions;
Business and human rights
56. Considers that trade and human rights can go hand in hand and that the business community has an important role to play in promoting human rights and democracy; believes that the promotion of human rights should be built on cooperation between government and private sector; reaffirms in this context that European companies should undertake adequate measures to ensure that their operations in third countries respect human rights standards; reaffirms, moreover, the importance for the EU to promote corporate social responsibility and for European enterprises to play a leading role in promoting international standards on business and human rights; calls, moreover, for the EU to take an active role in the 12th session of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and to support efforts to align their policies with the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises; recommends that the EU and its Member States engage in the debate regarding a legally binding international instrument on business and human rights within the UN system;
57. Believes, in view of the above, that the EEAS should require that EU Delegations engage with EU companies operating in third countries in order to ensure respect for human rights in their business-related activities; recalls, furthermore, its request that EU Delegations include respect for human rights in business operations as a priority in local calls for proposals under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), and that EU delegations take all necessary action to protect human rights defenders, in line with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders;
58. Reiterates its call on the Commission to report on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights(42) by the EU Member States, by the end of 2015;
59. Calls for concerted EU action to address the problem of land-grabbing through the promotion of adequate safeguards, in order to prevent this phenomenon in the countries concerned and among EU and other European companies present in those countries;
60. Calls for the EU to develop a pilot project on the indivisibility of human rights, land issues (land-grabbing and forced evictions) and the coherence of EU policies in that regard; calls for the EU to report on its consideration of accession to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in line with the commitment made in the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019;
Human rights and development
61. Considers that development cooperation and the promotion of human rights and democratic principles should go hand in hand; recalls in this context that the UN has stated that in the absence of a human rights-based approach development goals cannot be fully achieved; also recalls that the EU has committed itself to supporting partner countries, taking into account their development situation and their progress as regards human rights and democracy; encourages the inclusion of clearly defined results frameworks in all instruments in order to ensure the inclusion of marginalised and vulnerable groups, as well as to mainstream a human rights-based approach;
62. Welcomes the Commission’s staff working document on a rights-based approach (RBA), encompassing all human rights, including women's and girls' rights, for EU development cooperation, published in April 2014 and welcomed by the Council; encourages the Commission to monitor the implementation of the RBA and to ensure that human rights and development cooperation are mutually reinforcing on the ground; calls on the Commission to provide transparent and public assessment of the implementation of the RBA EU toolbox; urges that the EU reinforce its role as a strong promoter of human rights in the world, by the effective, consistent and considered use of all available instruments for the promotion and protection of human rights and their defenders and the effectiveness of our development aid policy, in line with the new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16;
63. Welcomes the adoption of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the special UN summit in New York, as well as the leading role played by the EU in this process, and in particular regarding the inclusion of fundamental EU values such as human rights and good governance; positively notes that the new agenda is clearly anchored in human rights commitments and that its 17 goals and 169 targets seek to realise human rights for all; shares the vision underpinning this document of a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination, as well as of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity and of equal opportunity, permitting the full realisation of human potential and contributing to shared prosperity; stresses the need to ensure that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, its monitoring measures and its future implementation by all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, are underpinned by human rights- and gender equality-based approaches, as well as by the goals of eradication of poverty, reduction of inequalities and social exclusion and democratisation of the economy;
64. Underlines the importance of policy coherence for development (PCD) in achieving the new sustainable development agenda; points out that the human rights-based approach should lead to a deepened understanding of PCD, since without addressing the obstacles to the realisation of rights there can be no progress towards sustainable development and the eradication of poverty;
65. Reaffirms the urgent need to address the global burden of poverty-related and neglected diseases; calls for an ambitious long-term political strategy and plan of action on global health, innovation and access to medicines that includes, inter alia, investment in research and development, so as to safeguard the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of every human being, without discrimination on grounds of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition, gender identity or sexual orientation;
66. Insists that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda means a commitment to deliver a universal social protection floor, universal health coverage and essential public services for all, including health and education;
67. Takes positive note of the counter-terrorism guidance documentdrafted by the EEAS and the Commission and endorsed by the Council with the aim of ensuring respect for human rights in the planning and implementation of counter-terrorism assistance projects with third countries; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to ensure effective implementation of the document, starting with its wide dissemination; recalls, in this context, that respect for fundamental rights and freedoms is the foundation of successful counter-terrorism policies, including the use of digital surveillance technologies; supports the international efforts to stop the human rights violations being perpetrated by ISIS/Da'esh;
Rights of indigenous peoples
68. Calls on the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to support the review of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in line with the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (UN General Assembly Resolution 69/2(43)), with a view to monitoring, evaluating and improving the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; urges the Member States to request that all Special Procedure mandate holders pay special attention to issues affecting indigenous women and girls, and systematically report such issues to the UNHRC; urges the EEAS and the Member States to actively support the development of the system-wide action plan on indigenous peoples, as requested by the UN General Assembly in its September 2014 resolution, especially as regards the organisation of regular consultation of indigenous peoples as part of that process; deeply regrets that in some areas of West Africa individuals affected by mental disorders are chained to trees in the forests or abandoned in the streets, these being widespread practices approved by local communities;
EU action on migration and refugees
69. Expresses its deep concern and solidarity with regard to the large number of refugees and migrants who suffer grave human rights violations as the victims of conflicts, persecution, governance failures, and networks of illegal immigration, trafficking, smuggling, extremist groups and criminal gangs; also expresses its deep regret at the tragic loss of lives among people trying to reach the EU’s borders;
70. Stresses the urgent need to tackle the root causes of migration flows and, therefore, to address the external dimension of the refugee crisis, including by finding sustainable solutions to conflicts in our neighbourhood, through building cooperation and partnerships with the third countries concerned and through EU external policies; underlines the need for a comprehensive human rights-based approach to migration, and calls on the EU to reinforce its collaboration with the UN, including its agencies, as well as with regional organisations, governments and NGOs, in order to address the root causes of migration flows and improve the situation in refugee camps located near conflict areas; reiterates its call on the EU to ensure that all migration cooperation and readmission agreements with non-EU states comply with international law; recalls that a global strategy on migration is closely linked with development and humanitarian policies, including setting up humanitarian corridors and delivering humanitarian visas, as well as other external policies; takes note of the operation of the European Union Naval Force – Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med) against smugglers and traffickers in the Mediterranean; also stresses the urgent need to develop stronger policies at Union level in order to deal with the pressing issues related to migrants and refugees and find an effective, fair and sustainable mechanism for burden-sharing among Member States; highlights the measures proposed by the Commission on 9 September 2015 to address the refugee crisis, such as the foreseen revision of the Dublin regulation;
71. Calls on the EU and the Member States to increase their support for the fight against trafficking of human beings through external policies, with a particular focus on the protection of victims and especially minors; strongly considers that the EU should strengthen cooperation with third countries and other relevant actors in order to exchange good practices and contribute to the dismantling of international trafficking networks; reiterates the need for all EU Member States to implement the EU directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims(44) and the Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016(45);
72. Points out that 17.5 million people were displaced in 2014 as a result of climate-related disasters; points out that these displacements chiefly affect regions in the South, which are those most exposed to climate change impacts; points out that 85 % of these displacements occur in developing countries, primarily within one country or within parts of countries; points out that under the Millennium Development Goals the EU Member States have committed themselves to earmarking 0.7 % of GDP for development aid financing;
73. Requests the EU to participate actively in the debate on the term ‘climate refugee’, including its possible legal definition in international law or in any legally binding international agreements;
74. Reiterates its call for an EU common position on the use of armed drones which upholds human rights and international humanitarian law and should address issues such as legal framework, proportionality, accountability, protection of civilians and transparency; urges once again that the EU ban the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention; calls for the EU to oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial and targeted killings and to commit to ensuring appropriate measures, in accordance with domestic and international legal obligations, where there are reasonable grounds for believing that an individual or entity within its jurisdiction may be connected to unlawful targeted killings abroad;
International cultural and sports events and human rights
75. Is seriously concerned that some major sports events are being hosted by authoritarian states where human rights and fundamental freedoms violations occur; emphasises the need for awareness-raising campaigns among the general public concerning the need to ensure human rights provisions in regard to sports events, including the problem of forced prostitution and trafficking in human beings; calls for the EU and its Member States to engage with the UNHCR and other multilateral forums, as well as with national sports federations, corporate actors and civil society organisations to ensure full compliance with human rights in such events, including by being one of the determining awarding criteria for major international sports events; in this regard, pays particular attention to the upcoming FIFA World Cups in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, and the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022;
EU action in multilateral organisations
76. Reiterates its full support for the EU’s strong engagement in promoting the advancement of human rights and democratic principles through cooperation with the structures of the UN and its specialised agencies, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the OECD, in line with Articles 21 and 220 TEU; welcomes, therefore, the adoption of the SDGs;
77. Reiterates, furthermore, the importance of the EU actively and consistently engaging in all UN human rights mechanisms, in particular the Third Committee of the UNGA and the UNHRC; acknowledges the efforts of the EEAS, the EU Delegations in New York and Geneva and the Member States to increase EU coherence on human rights issues at UN level; encourages the EU to increase its efforts to make its voice heard, including by intensifying the growing practice of cross-regional initiatives and by co-sponsoring and taking the lead on resolutions;
78. Recalls the importance of keeping the institutionalised practice of sending a parliamentary delegation to the UNGA; welcomes the renewal of the practice in 2015, at the 28th session of the UNHRC;
79. Emphasises that in order to strengthen the credibility and legitimacy of the UNHRC, all its members must uphold the highest human rights standards and fulfil their human rights commitments; considers that human rights must be promoted, developed and consolidated in all international forums; calls on the Commission to publicly report on the activities and actions it is carrying out to advance the human rights agenda and to reinforce the human rights accountability and liability of international organisations such as the WTO and the World Bank (BIRD, IFC, MIGA);
80. Reaffirms its strong commitment to ending impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community and to providing justice for the victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and reiterates therefore its strong support for the International Criminal Court (ICC); considers it regrettable that no state ratified the Rome Statute in 2014; emphasises the responsibility to put an end to impunity and prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including those related to sexual violence; expresses serious concern that several arrest warrants have still not been executed; urges that the EU continue its strong diplomatic and political support for strengthening and expanding the relationship between the ICC and the UN, in particular in the UN Security Council, as well as in its bilateral relations and all other forums; calls for the EU, including its Delegations, as well as the Member States, to increase their efforts in promoting the universality of the Rome Statute and its ratification and effective implementation; calls on the Member States to provide the ICC with the resources needed, and to enhance their support for the international criminal justice system via, inter alia, financial support to civil society actors through, for example, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR); calls for the implementation of the 2013 EU toolkit on complementarity between international and national justice;
81. Calls on the EU and the Member States to actively promote the ICC and the need for the enforcement of its decisions in all type of dialogues with third countries;
Enhancing respect for human rights in the world
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief
82. Recalls that freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief is a fundamental human right, as recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as guaranteed by Article 18 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; equally, recalls its interrelatedness with other human rights and fundamental freedoms encompassing the right to believe or not to believe, the freedom to practise theistic, non-theistic or atheistic belief alike, and the right to adopt, change and abandon or return to a belief of one's choice; expresses its concern that some countries still fail to abide by UN standards and use state repression, which may include physical punishment, prison terms, exorbitant fines and even the death penalty in violation of freedom of religion or belief; is concerned at the increased persecution of religious or belief minorities, including Christian communities, as well as unlawful damage to their places of assembly;
83. Calls on the EU and the Member States to step up their efforts to contribute to the eradication of all form of religious discrimination and to promote inter-religious dialogue when engaging with third countries; requests concrete actions to protect religious minorities, nonbelievers, apostates and atheists who are victims of blasphemy laws, and calls on the EU and its Member States to engage in repealing such laws; welcomes the EU’s commitment to promote freedom of religion or belief in international forums, including by supporting the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; fully supports the EU practice of taking the lead on thematic resolutions at the UNHRC and the UNGA on this topic; requests concrete action and measures for the effective implementation and improvement of the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief; considers that action should be taken both in international and regional forums by maintaining an open, transparent and regular dialogue with religious associations and communities, pursuant to Article 17 TFEU, including through EU Delegations; equally draws attention to the need to ensure systematic and consistent training of EU staff, at headquarters and in delegations;
EU action against the death penalty
84. Welcomes the Joint Declaration by the VP/HR and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe(46) of October 2014, which reaffirmed their strong and absolute opposition to capital punishment in all cases and under all circumstances; maintains its view that the worldwide abolition of the death penalty should be one of the EU’s central objectives as regards human rights; notes that support for third countries for drug enforcement policy should aim at the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offences; requests the EU and the Member States, in the context of the Sixth World Congress against the Death Penalty to be held in Oslo, Norway, in June 2016, to speak out unambiguously against the death penalty, to intensify commitments for the abolition of the death penalty and to support public awareness campaigns on this topic;
85. Expresses its concern at the growing number of death sentences and executions worldwide; deeply regrets that some third countries still have capital punishment in their legislations; considers it regrettable that Belarus has resumed executions after a two-year pause; reiterates, therefore, its call on Belarus to implement a moratorium on the death penalty, which should ultimately lead to its abolition; notes that eight states legislate the death penalty for homosexuality;
86. Urges the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to provide guidance for a comprehensive and effective European death penalty policy with regard to dozens of European nationals facing execution in third countries, which should include strong and reinforced mechanisms in terms of identification, delivery of legal assistance and diplomatic representation;
87. Calls for the EU to continue engaging with retentionist countries, making use of all diplomatic and cooperation tools in order to secure the abolition of the death penalty; reiterates, moreover, its call for the EU to continue monitoring the conditions under which executions are carried out in the countries that still use the death penalty;
Fight against torture and ill-treatment
88. Considers that, following the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention against Torture and given that torture and ill-treatment continue worldwide, the EU should intensify its efforts to eradicate these serious human rights violations; stresses the fact that members of vulnerable groups, such as children and women or ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities, who are exposed to torture or ill-treatment in detention, require special attention; urges, therefore, the EEAS and the VP/HR to engage more strongly in the fight against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, through increased diplomatic undertakings and a more systematic public positioning, reflecting the values and principles the EU has committed itself to; recommends that the EEAS, the EU Delegations and the Member States make use to their full potential of all existing instruments, such as the EU Guidelines on Torture(47); recommends in this context the constant improvement of export control mechanisms for drugs that can be used for executions or torture, including a targeted end-use clause that would suspend or halt the transfer of security-related items that clearly have no practical use other than for the purposes of capital punishment or torture;
89. Underlines that there are countries which have failed to take steps to address the urgent need for fully resourced plans to tackle prison conditions; notices that very little progress has been made in ensuring that prison facilities comply with international human rights standards and that prisoners' rights to life, physical integrity and dignity are protected; emphasises the need to improve conditions of detention in order to respect human rights and that incarcerated persons should not be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
90. Stresses that under no circumstances whatever can discrimination of any kind, violence, punishment by way of reprisal, torture, sexual abuse of women and girls, genital mutilation, child marriage, forced marriage, trafficking in women, discrimination or social exclusion on grounds of social class or origin, or domestic violence be justified on grounds of social, religious or cultural convictions or traditions;
91. Condemns in the strongest terms all forms of discrimination, including those based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, culture, religion or belief, social origin, caste, birth, age, disability or any other status; urges that the EU intensify its efforts to eradicate all types of discrimination, racism and xenophobia through human rights and political dialogues, the work of the EU Delegations and public diplomacy; further urges that the EU continue to promote the ratification and full implementation of all UN conventions that support this cause, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination or the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
92. Considers that the EU should continue its efforts to enhance respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people, in line with the EU Guidelines on the topic(48); recommends the implementation of the Guidelines, including through training of EU staff in third countries; regrets that 75 countries still criminalise homosexuality, including 8 which provide for the death penalty, and believes that practices and acts of violence against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation should not go unpunished; supports the continuing work of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to combat these discriminatory laws, as well as the work of other UN bodies; is concerned over restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI human rights defenders, and calls for the EU to increase its support for them; notes that the fundamental rights of LGBTI persons are more likely to be respected if they have access to legal institutions, possibly through registered partnership or marriage;
93. Emphasises that minority communities in third countries have specific needs and that their full equality should be promoted in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural life;
94. Notes with great concern the scale and consequences of caste-based discrimination and the perpetuation of caste-based human rights violations, including the denial of access to the legal system or employment, continued segregation, poverty, and stigmatisation; calls for the adoption of an EU instrument for the prevention and elimination of caste-based discrimination; recommends the mainstreaming of the topic in the EEAS and Commission guidelines and action plans, in particular in the EU fight against all forms of discrimination, and in efforts to combat violence against women and girls and all forms of discrimination against them;
Rights of persons with disabilities
95. Welcomes the ratifications of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; reiterates the importance of efficient implementation by both the Member States and the EU institutions; stresses, in particular, the need to credibly mainstream the principle of universal accessibility and all rights of persons with disabilities throughout all relevant EU policies, including in the area of development cooperation, and underlines the prescriptive and horizontal nature of this issue;
96. Encourages the VP/HR to continue to support the process of ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by those countries which have not ratified or implemented it as yet;
97. Stresses that the international community has identified the situation of women with disabilities as a priority; recalls the conclusions of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which stated that policies and programmes to address violence against women and girls with disabilities should be developed in close partnership with those persons who have disabilities, recognising their autonomy, and with disability organisations; underlines the need for regular oversight of institutions and appropriate training for caregivers; calls on the EU to incorporate the fight against disability discrimination into its external action, cooperation and development aid policies, including the EIDHR;
Rights of women and girls
98. Recalls that the 2014 Sakharov Prize was awarded to Dr Denis Mukwege for his strong engagement with victims of sexual violence and continuous promotion of women’s rights, which raised awareness of the use of violence and sexual mutilation of women, girls and children as means of war; strongly condemns all forms of abuse and violence against women, girls and children, especially the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, as well as female genital mutilation, child, early and forced marriage, sexual slavery, marital rape, and other forms of harmful traditional practices; stresses the need for women, girls and children abused in conflicts to have access to health and psychological care, in line with international law; takes note in this context of the VP/HR letter regarding humanitarian aid policy, in particular preventing sexual violence and providing women with appropriate support and access to health and psychological care in case of rape in conflict situations; calls on the Council of Europe member states to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence;
99. Stresses the need for exchange of good practices on the part of the EEAS to combat the lack of access to justice for victims of crimes related to sexual violence; strongly condemns the lack of access to justice for women in third countries, and specifically when they are victims of gender-based violence; asks the Commission to take an active role in the prosecution of these crimes in third countries and, in some instances, by Member States; urges the Commission to work with the EEAS to improve the support available for victims, to incorporate gender-based violence interventions into EU humanitarian actions and to prioritise EU humanitarian actions targeting gender-based violence and sexual violence in conflict; welcomes the EU’s commitment to give a follow-up to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict held in London in June 2014, and therefore urges the Commission to take concrete action;
100. Deplores the lack of prevention policies on gender-based violence, the lack of victim support and the high rate of impunity for offenders in a large number of countries; asks the EEAS to exchange good practices with third countries on law-making procedures and training programmes for police, judicial personnel and civil servants; urges the EU to support civil society organisations working to defend human rights and promote gender equality in third countries, and to cooperate closely with international organisations active in the gender equality field, such as the ILO, the OECD, the UN and the African Union, with a view to creating synergies and promoting women’s empowerment;
101. Is deeply concerned about the rise in gender-based violence in many parts of the world and the increasing rates of feminicide in Latin America, which takes place in the context of generalised violence and structural discrimination; strongly condemns gender-based violence in all forms and the abhorrent crime of feminicide, as well as the prevailing impunity for these crimes, which may encourage yet more violence and killings;
102. Expresses its deep concern about possible human rights violations affecting women and girls in refugee camps in the Middle East and Africa, including reported cases of sexual violence and unequal treatment of women and girls; asks the EEAS to push for stricter rules and good practices in third countries in order to put an end to inequality among refugees independently of gender;
103. Deplores the fact that half the world’s population is faced with wage discrimination, and that globally women earn between 60 and 90 % of men’s average income;
104. Invites the Commission, the EEAS and the VP/HR to continue promoting the political and economic empowerment of women and girls by mainstreaming gender equality in all their external policies and programmes, including through structured dialogues with third countries, by publicly raising gender-related issues and by ensuring sufficient resources for this purpose; takes positive note of the new framework for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment for 2016-2020(49); underlines the need to focus on the horizontal pillar, which aims for the Commission and the EEAS to deliver more effectively on EU commitments to strengthening women and girls' rights through external relations;
105. Deplores the lack of gender equality in the political realm; recalls that women and men are equal and should enjoy the same political rights and civil liberties, and deplores likewise the fact that women are under-represented in economic, social and political decision-making; underlines the need for effective protection mechanisms for women human rights defenders; recommends that a quota system be introduced in order to provide a way of promoting women’s participation in political bodies and the democratic process, primarily as candidates;
106. Calls for the EU to continue to support the economic, social and political empowerment of women as a tool for promoting the proper enjoyment of their rights and fundamental freedoms, and to attach the highest importance to access to quality education for girls, including those from the poorest and most marginalised communities; calls for support to be given to vocational education for women, for a greater take-up of vocational training to be ensured in the fields of science and technology, for gender equality training programmes to be devised for education professionals in third countries, and for steps to be taken to prevent stereotypes from being conveyed through educational materials; urges the EU to include this priority in all its diplomatic, trade and development cooperation activities;
107. Stresses the need for continuity of education for girls in refugee camps, in conflict areas and in areas affected by extreme poverty and environmental extremes such as drought and floods;
108. Encourages the EU to continue mainstreaming support for women and girls within CSDP operations and the UN peacebuilding architecture, and to pursue its efforts for the implementation and strengthening of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325(2000)(50) and 1820(2008)(51) on women, peace and security; in this regard, calls on the EU to support at international level the recognition of the added value of women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, as well as in peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction and democratic transition processes leading to lasting and stable political solutions; underlines equally the importance of ensuring the full range of human rights for women and of contributing to their empowerment, including in the framework of the post-2015 agenda and through support for the Beijing Platform for Action and the Istanbul Convention; welcomes the EU’s support for UN resolutions on gender issues, especially with regard to the role of freedom of expression and opinion in women´s empowerment; takes positive note of the conclusions of the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women(52);
109. Calls on the Commission to systematically include concrete actions to improve women’s participation in electoral processes in all EU election observation missions in line with the EU guidelines in that domain, taking into account the conclusions reached by the senior electoral expert seminar held in Brussels in April 2014 and learning from the experience of past missions;
110. Welcomes the efforts made by the EEAS in third countries to step up the implementation of the obligations and commitments in the area of women’s rights arising from CEDAW, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Cairo Declaration on Population and Development in the post-2015 development agenda;
111. Stresses the importance of not undermining the ‘acquis’ of the Beijing Platform for Action regarding access to education and health as a basic human right, and the protection of sexual and reproductive rights; emphasises the fact that universal respect for sexual and reproductive health and rights and access to the relevant services contribute to reducing infant and maternal mortality; points out that family planning, maternal health, easy access to contraception and safe abortion are important elements in saving women’s lives and helping them rebuild their lives if they have been victims of rape; highlights the need to place these policies at the core of development cooperation with third countries;
112. Regards underage marriages as fundamental human rights violations that affect all aspects of the lives of the girls involved, jeopardising their education and thus limiting their prospects, endangering their health and increasing the risks of them suffering violence and abuse;
113. Notes with grave concern that since the 1980s the mail-order-bride industry has soared at an alarming rate; notes with concern that there are a number of documented cases of women being attacked and/or murdered after marrying a man as a ‘mail-order bride’; deplores the fact that a significant number of underage girls appear on ‘mail order’ websites, and stresses that where children are used for sexual purposes this must be considered child abuse;
114. Condemns the practice of surrogacy, which undermines the human dignity of the woman since her body and its reproductive functions are used as a commodity; considers that the practice of gestational surrogacy which involves reproductive exploitation and use of the human body for financial or other gain, in particular in the case of vulnerable women in developing countries, shall be prohibited and treated as a matter of urgency in human rights instruments;
115. Reaffirms the urgent need for universal ratification and effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child and its Optional Protocols; calls on all states to commit themselves to eliminating the worst forms of child labour as defined by Article 3 of ILO Convention No 182, which include child slavery, trafficking, prostitution, and hazardous work affecting a child’s physical and mental health;
116. Welcomes the Council conclusions on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child(53), adopted in December 2014, and calls for the EU to continue supporting partner countries in combating all forms of violence against children, including sexual exploitation, and reinforcing their capacities to protect children’s rights; welcomes the global rollout in 2014 of the EU-UNICEF Child Rights toolkit(54); takes note of the statement of May 2014 by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the rights of intersex children;
117. Reiterates its request for the Commission to propose a comprehensive Child Rights Strategy and Action Plan for the next five years, in order to prioritise children's rights within EU external policies, supporting the EU’s efforts to promote their rights, in particular by contributing to ensuring children’s access to water, sanitation, healthcare and education, by ensuring the rehabilitation and reintegration of children enlisted in armed groups, by eliminating child labour, torture, the issue of child witchcraft, trafficking, child marriage and sexual exploitation, and by assisting children in armed conflicts and ensuring their access to education in conflict zones and refugee camps; calls on the VP/HR to report annually to Parliament on the results achieved with regard to child-focused EU external actions; commends the ‘Children No Soldiers’ campaign, and calls for the EU and the Member States to step up their support in order to reach the target of ending the recruitment and use of children in conflicts by government armed forces by 2016;
118. Welcomes the EU's cooperation with UNICEF, which has resulted in a toolkit for the mainstreaming of children's rights in development cooperation and in support for key MDGs and child protection programmes for realising children’s rights, especially in fragile contexts, as well as with UNRWA;
119. Welcomes the EU’s active cooperation with several UN Special Rapporteurs (UNSRs) working on economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs), including the SR on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, the SR on the right to education, the SR on the right to food, the SR on extreme poverty and human rights, and the SR on adequate housing; positively notes that the promotion of ESCRs has been reinforced in the EIDHR Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2017, which aims, inter alia, to contribute to the strengthening of trade unions, increased awareness of wage-related issues, the protection of land heritage, the promotion of social integration through economic empowerment, and a reduction in economic discrimination and workplace violence;
Strengthening democracy worldwide
120. Emphasises the EU’s engagement in upholding and promoting respect for human rights and democratic values in its relations with the wider world; recalls that democratic regimes are characterised not only by free and fair electoral processes, but also by freedom of speech, the press and association, the rule of law and accountability, the independence of the judiciary, and impartial administration, among other aspects; stresses that democracy and human rights are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing, as recalled in the Council conclusions of 18 November 2009 on democracy support in the EU’s external relations; welcomes the fact that the new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy pays enhanced attention to democracy support activities;
Defending freedom of expression and strengthening civil society
121. Reiterates the fact that freedom of expression is a vital component of any democratic society, as it nourishes a culture of pluralism that empowers civil society and citizens to hold their governments and decision-makers accountable, and supports respect for the rule of law; urges the EU, therefore, to intensify its efforts to promote freedom of expression through its external policies and instruments;
122. Reiterates its call for the EU and its Member States to enhance their monitoring of all types of restrictions on freedom of expression and the media in third countries, and to rapidly and systematically condemn such limitations even when imposed with legitimate aims such as counter-terrorism, state security or law enforcement; emphasises the importance of ensuring effective implementation of the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline and of regularly monitoring their impact; recalls the EU's goal of ensuring and protecting non-discriminatory access to information and freedom of expression for all individuals, both online and offline;
123. Considers that by making information as accessible as possible information and communication technologies (ICTs) provide opportunities for the enhancement of human rights, democratic practices and for social and economic development; emphasises, moreover, the contribution of ICTs to the efforts of civil society movements, in particular in undemocratic regimes; expresses concern at the uses of ICTs by some authoritarian regimes which increasingly threaten human rights and democracy activists; highlights the need for increased support in the areas of promoting freedom of the media, protecting independent journalists and bloggers, reducing the digital divide and facilitating unrestricted access to information; calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to the human rights aspects of dual-use goods in the framework of the revision of the EU’s export control system;
EU support for human rights defenders
124. Deplores the fact that civil society, including human rights defenders, is increasingly under assault all over the world; is deeply concerned that an increasing number of countries, such as Russia and some of the Central Asian countries, are passing harsh laws to stifle NGOs’ activities by restricting their access to foreign funding and introducing burdensome reporting requirements and severe penalties for non-compliance; recalls that the right to freedom of association and assembly is an essential characteristic of a democratic, open and tolerant society; calls for renewed efforts to challenge the restrictions and intimidation that people working for civil society organisations face worldwide, and for the EU to set an example in protecting and promoting the rights concerned;
125. Positively notes that in the new Action Plan the VP/HR reiterates the EU’s commitment to empowering local actors and civil society organisations, and stresses that, given the significant shrinking of its space, civil society, including in particular human rights defenders, requires increased attention and efforts from the EU; urges that the EU and its Member States therefore elaborate a coherent and comprehensive response to the major challenges that civil society, including human rights defenders, faces worldwide;
126. Calls for the EU and its Member States to constantly monitor and raise, at every level of political dialogue, cases of violations of freedom of assembly and association, including through various forms of bans and limitations on civil society organisations and their activities;
127. Calls, in addition, for the EU and its Member States to use all available means to systematically raise individual cases of human rights defenders and civil society activists at risk, particularly regarding those currently imprisoned; encourages the EU Delegations and the Member States’ diplomatic staff to continue to actively support human rights defenders, by systematically monitoring trials, visiting detained activists, and issuing statements on individual cases, as well as addressing human rights violations with their relevant counterparts; insists that senior EU representatives, notably the VP/HR, Commissioners, EU Special Representatives and government officials from the Member States should systematically meet human rights defenders when travelling to countries where civil society is under pressure;
128. Positively notes the EU’s assistance to human rights defenders and civil society around the world through EIDHR funding; emphasises the particular importance of using the EIDHR to protect those human rights defenders most at risk; stresses also that support for human rights defenders at risk should primarily take into account the effectiveness criteria and avoid overly prescriptive conditions; calls on the Commission, the EEAS and the EU Delegations to ensure that the funding available for human rights defenders is properly used;
Supporting electoral processes and enhancing the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and impartial administration in third countries
129. Welcomes the eight Election Observation Missions (EOMs) and the eight Electoral Expert Missions (EEMs) deployed around the globe by the EU in 2014; reiterates its positive view of the EU’s continued support for electoral processes and its provision of electoral assistance and support for domestic observers;
130. Recalls the importance of a proper follow-up to the reports and recommendations of the EOMs, as a way of enhancing their impact and strengthening the EU’s support for democratic standards in the countries concerned;
131. Recommends that the EU step up its efforts to develop a more comprehensive approach to democratisation processes, of which free and fair elections are only one dimension, in order to positively contribute to the strengthening of democratic institutions and public confidence in electoral processes worldwide;
132. Positively notes, in this context, the start of a second generation of pilot projects on democracy support in 12 selected EU Delegations in 2014, following a commitment made in the Council conclusions of November 2009 and in the 2012 Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy; strongly emphasises the importance of these pilot projects for achieving greater coherence in supporting democracy through the EU’s external policies and instruments;
133. Welcomes the commitment made by the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States in the new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy to engage more firmly and consistently with election management bodies, parliamentary institutions, local NGOs, human rights defenders and civil society organisations in third countries, in order to involve them more intensively in monitoring elections and contribute to their empowerment and, therefore, to the strengthening of democratic processes;
134. Recalls that the experience gained by the European Union, politicians, academics, the media, NGOs and civil society, and the lessons learned from transitions to democracy in the framework of the enlargement and neighbourhood policies, could positively contribute to the identification of best practices that could be used to support and consolidate other democratisation processes worldwide;
135. Recalls that corruption is a threat to the equal enjoyment of human rights and undermines democratic processes such as the rule of law and the fair administration of justice; recalls also that the EU has claimed exclusive competence for the signing of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC);
136. Expresses the view that the EU should emphasise, in all platforms for dialogue with third countries, the importance of transparency and accessibility, integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs, the public budget and public property, as stipulated in the UNCAC; believes that corruption in all its forms undermines democratic principles and negatively affects social and economic development; calls for follow-up on its request for improved monitoring of the UNCAC and, equally, for proper consideration of OECD recommendations; considers that the EU should support third countries more consistently and systematically in tackling corruption, through expertise in setting up and consolidating independent and effective anti-corruption institutions, including through proactive cooperation with the private sector; equally recommends developing innovative financial mechanisms for strengthening the fight against all types of corruption; notes, in this context, the call for improved regulation of financial transactions at international level;
137. Is of the opinion that the EU should strengthen its efforts to promote the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary at multilateral and bilateral levels; encourages the EU to support the fair administration of justice worldwide by assisting processes of legislative and institutional reforms in third countries; also encourages the EU Delegations and Member States’ embassies to systematically pursue trial monitoring with a view to promoting the independence of the judiciary;
Enhancing the European Parliament’s actions on human rights
138. Welcomes the review of the Guidelines for the European Parliament's Interparliamentary Delegations on promoting human rights and democracy, conducted by the Conference of Delegation Chairs in cooperation with the Subcommittee on Human Rights; recommends, in this context, a more systematic and transparent practice of raising human rights issues, especially the individual cases referred to in Parliament's resolutions, during delegation visits to third countries, and of reporting in writing to the Subcommittee on Human Rights on actions taken and, where politically warranted, through a specific debriefing session;
139. Emphasises the need for continued reflection regarding the most appropriate ways to maximise the credibility, visibility and effectiveness of Parliament's resolutions on breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
140. Encourages discussion of the inclusion of the different tools available to Parliament regarding support for and promotion of human rights in a single strategy document, to be adopted by Parliament in plenary;
* * *
141. 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 Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the 70th UN General Assembly, the President of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Heads of Delegation.
OPINION of the Committee on Development
for the Committee on Foreign Affairs
on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the European Union’s policy on the matter
The Committee on Development calls on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:
1. Stresses that respect for human rights, gender equality, good governance, the rule of law, peace and security are prerequisites for the eradication of poverty and inequalities and are central to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals; recalls that human rights are universal, inalienable, indivisible and interdependent and that cultural diversity cannot in consequence be invoked as a justification for infringing human rights, which are guaranteed by international law and based on natural law;
2. Insists that harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation, early and forced marriages, gendercide including girl infanticide or female foeticide, honour crimes, or denial of a proper education for women should therefore be banned, and violations of such prohibitions severely punished; strongly condemns the continued use of rape of women and girls as a weapon of war; stresses that more needs to be done to ensure respect for international law and access to health and psychological care for women and girls abused in conflicts, including the full range of sexual and reproductive health services for victims of war rape;
3. Stresses the need to ensure that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, its monitoring measures and its future implementation by all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, are underpinned by human-rights and gender-equality based approaches as well as that of the eradication of poverty, reduction of inequalities and social exclusion, and democratisation of the economy, and should include women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive health and other rights, LGTBI rights, minority rights, including those of sexual minorities and disabled people, children’s rights, strengthened political participation by citizens, democratic values, good governance, the promotion of democracy, and the fight against corruption, impunity, tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax havens;
4. Underlines that the EU should address the external dimension of the migration crisis and both the root causes of poverty in third countries and the root causes of migration from third countries to Europe, while recognising that the nexus between migration, securityand development is complex and multi-dimensional and cannot be reduced to a mechanical and simplistic link between more development aid and less migrants; recalls the principle of non-refoulement and urges the EU and its Member States not to cooperate with some third countries, in particular those where civil war is ongoing or where there is no functioning or accepted government; underlines that children and women are particularly vulnerable in the current crisis;
5. Stresses thatthe Addis Ababa Action Agenda committed to delivering a universal social protection floor, universal health coverage and essential public services for all, including health and education;
6. Urges the EU to reinforce its role as a strong promoter of human rights in the world, by the effective, consistent and considered use of all available instruments for the promotion and protection of human rights and its defenders and the effectiveness of our development aid policy, in line with the new SDG 16; encourages the Commission to monitor the implementation of its toolbox for a rights-based approach and to ensure that human rights and development cooperation are mutually reinforcing on the ground; requests that the EU Annual Report on Human Rights attach more importance to the role of development cooperation;
7. Calls for the EU and its delegations to increase their political dialogue with governments in breach of human rights, democracy and the rule of the law, together with civil society, and insists that the political dialogue on human rights between the EU and third countries must cover a more inclusive and comprehensive definition of non-discrimination, inter alia towards LGBTI people and on the basis of religion or belief, sex, racial or ethnic origin, age, disability and sexual orientation; underlines that, particularly in countries which have poor records in both development and respect for human rights, development aid should be maintained and even strengthened, but should preferably be channelled through civil society organisations and non-governmental local partners, and be systematically monitored, along with governmental commitments to improving the human rights situation on the ground;
8. Recalls the primary importance of the principle of Policy Coherence for Development; urges the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to ensure that human rights are genuinely protected in the remit of any agreements concluded or revised with developing countries, through binding human rights clauses; recommends a procedure for consultation between the parties, detailing the political and legal mechanisms to be used in the event of a request for bilateral cooperation to be suspended, but also a warning mechanism and process for descriptive and evaluation purposes; insists that the Commission conduct systematic human rights impact assessments of trade and investment agreements to help ensure effective enforcement of human rights; urges that the genuine enforcement of GSP Plus be implemented alongside a suitable transparent reporting mechanism and funding for civil society monitoring; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to support legal frameworks and initiatives aimed at transparency and good governance of mining and other resource sectors;
9. Stresses the need for reinforced corporate accountability and transparency mechanisms, and for initiatives aimed at implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; asks the Commission to encourage Member States to report on this implementation; calls on the Commission to take all necessary initiatives to present a legally binding international instrument on business activities and human rights within the framework of the United Nations; in particular, insists upon the need to analyse the consequences of the activities of corporations for human rights in developing countries and to set up effective remedies to sanction corporations in breach of human rights and to provide redress for the victims of such breaches; highlights the obligation to respect international labour standards, in line with the fulfilment of the ILO Decent Work Agenda;
10. Underlines the importance of property rights and land tenure security in protecting small farmers and local communities from inconsequential land acquisitions by state and non-state actors, including corporations or unwarranted claims to land by national governments; calls for stronger protection of property rights in developing countries, with special attention to be given to land tenure security, as well as to intellectual property rights;
11. Calls for the EU and its delegations to increase their political dialogue with governments in breach of human rights, democracy and the rule of the law, stopping all association treaties and agreements currently in force with those countries, and insists that the political dialogue on human rights between the EU and third countries must cover a more inclusive and comprehensive definition of non-discrimination, inter alia on the basis of religion or belief, sex, racial or ethnic origin, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity; reiterates that the involvement of civil society in this dialogue is crucial to promoting the effective enjoyment of human rights, and stresses the key role the EU can have in strengthening the role of civil society in this regard;
12. Recognises that human rights such as freedom of religion, thought or expression play a direct role in the promotion and protection of cultural diversity and that enjoyment of human rights is promoted by a pluralistic society.
RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION
Result of final vote
Members present for the final vote
Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Ignazio Corrao, Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Nathan Gill, Charles Goerens, Enrique Guerrero Salom, Heidi Hautala, Maria Heubuch, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Linda McAvan, Norbert Neuser, Cristian Dan Preda, Lola Sánchez Caldentey, Elly Schlein, Pedro Silva Pereira, Davor Ivo Stier, Paavo Väyrynen, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Rainer Wieland, Anna Záborská
Substitutes present for the final vote
Marina Albiol Guzmán, Louis-Joseph Manscour, Paul Rübig, Joachim Zeller
OPINION of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
for the Committee on Foreign Affairs
on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the European Union’s policy on the matter
The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality calls on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:
– having regard to the Joint Staff Working Document on ‘Gender Equality and Women´s Empowerment: Transforming the lives of Girls and Women through EU External relations 2016-2020’(55),
– having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the renewal of the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women´s Empowerment in Development(56),
A. whereas women and girls in many parts of the world continue to be subject to gender-based violence, including rape, enslavement, trafficking in human beings, forced marriage, honour crimes, female genital mutilation (FGM) and cruel and inhuman punishments amounting to torture, violating their fundamental rights to life, liberty, justice, dignity and security, their physical and psychological integrity, and their right of self-determination in sexual and reproductive matters; whereas no attempt should ever be made to justify any form of discrimination and violence against women on political, social, religious or cultural grounds or in relation to popular or tribal traditions;
B. whereas in countries where capital punishment is practised, methods that are equivalent to torture (such as stoning to death) and involve bodily humiliation (such as public hanging) are used to execute women, in order to intimidate other women;
C. whereas violence against women and girls is the world’s most widespread human rights violation, affects all levels of society, regardless of age, education, income, social position and country of origin or residence, and represents a major barrier to equality between women and men;
D. whereas the term feminicide is grounded in the legal definition of violence against women which is laid down in Article 1 of the Belém do Pará Convention: ‘violence against women shall be understood as any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, whether in the public or the private sphere’;
E. whereas the EU is committed to promoting gender equality and ensuring gender mainstreaming in all of its actions;
F. whereas the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019 refers to promoting non-discrimination, gender equality and women’s empowerment within and outside the EU;
G. whereas many women and girls are denied access to high-quality education and many are forced to abandon their studies when they marry or have children;
H. whereas, in times of armed conflict, women and children, including female and child refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons, are among the most vulnerable groups in society; whereas, likewise, the risks posed to displaced adolescent girls are significantly heightened during humanitarian crises;
I. whereas three fifths of the billion people living below the poverty line are women(57);
J. whereas the World Health Organisation (WHO) Constitution states that ‘the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition’(58);
K. whereas women and girls account for two thirds of the 960 million people around the world who are illiterate(59);
L. whereas the surge in terrorism and armed conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has led to a significant increase in these forms of violence, with rape and enslavement of women and girls being used systematically as a weapon of war, and trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, as a source of financing terrorist activities; whereas the participation of women in peacebuilding processes and democratic reform is critical to their success;
M. whereas despite the clear obligation to respect, protect and fulfil rights related to women´s and girl´s sexual and reproductive health and rights, violations remains frequent, and widespread in many states;
N. whereas, according to UNICEF, more than 500 000 women die in childbirth each year around the world(60);
O. whereas, despite progress in recent years, girls continue to suffer severe disadvantages and exclusion in education systems in many countries, with girls from the poorest backgrounds being most affected;
P. whereas women continue to be trafficked for prostitution, in most cases under conditions tantamount to slavery, as their identity papers are taken away and they are told that if they attempt to rebel, harsh reprisals will be taken against their families;
Q. whereas women and girls make up 98 % of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation;
R. whereas women and girls with disabilities are at greater risk of violence, abuse, negligent treatment and multiple forms of discrimination;
S. whereas in some countries around the world women still do not enjoy the same economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, including the right of assembly, as men and whereas they are also poorly represented in local and national decision-making bodies; whereas the EU gender equality strategy already provides for gender mainstreaming in EU commercial policy;
T. whereas sexual and reproductive health and rights are grounded in basic human rights and are essential elements of human dignity(61); whereas, therefore, access to basic health-care services and sexual and reproductive health services are fundamental aspects of equality between women and men; whereas, furthermore, these have not yet been secured in all parts of the world;
U. whereas women and girls from cultural, traditional, linguistic, religious, gender identity or sexual orientation minority groups experience multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination based on both their minority status and their gender;
V. whereas women human rights defenders are more at risk of being subject to certain forms of violence than their male counterparts and face specific challenges;
1. Reiterates that religious, cultural and traditional differences can never justify discrimination or any form of violence, in particular against women and girls, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual abuse of young girls, femicide, early and forced marriages, domestic violence, honour killings and honour-related violence and other forms of torture, such as those that occur when sentences to death by stoning are carried out;
2. Stresses the importance of the authorities undertaking to develop information, awareness-raising and education campaigns, especially in communities in which gender-based human rights violations are practised, with the aim of preventing and gradually eliminating all forms of gender-based violence; underlines in this regard the crucial importance of involving human rights defenders who are already fighting to put an end to these practices in the preparation and implementation of such campaigns; urges all Member States to ratify the Istanbul Convention, to give effect more rapidly to the obligations and commitments regarding women’s rights entered into under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and under the Beijing Platform for Action, and to support civil society organisations working to promote gender equality in third countries;
3. Calls on all Council of Europe member states to sign and ratify the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women without delay; calls, in this connection, for the EU to take steps to accede to the convention in order to ensure coherence between the EU’s internal and external actions as regards violence against women;
4. Notes with grave concern that since the 1980s the mail-order-bride industry has soared at an alarming rate; notes with concern that there are a number of documented cases of women being attacked and/or murdered after marrying a man as a ‘mail-order bride’; deplores the fact that a significant number of under-age girls appear on ‘mail order’ websites, and stresses that where children are used for sexual purposes this must be considered child abuse;
5. Is deeply concerned about the rise in gender-based violence in many parts of the world and the increasing rate of femicide in Latin America, which takes place in the context of generalised violence and structural discrimination; strongly condemns gender-based violence of all forms and the abhorrent crime of feminicide, as well as the prevailing impunity for these crimes, which may encourage yet more violence and killings;
6. Stresses that the international community has identified the situation of women with disabilities as a priority; recalls the conclusions of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights which stated that policies and programmes to address violence against women and girls with disabilities should be developed in close partnership with those persons who have disabilities, recognising their autonomy, and with disability organisations; underlines the need for regular oversight of institutions and appropriate training for caregivers; calls on the EU to incorporate the fight against disability discrimination into its external action, cooperation and development aid policies, including the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights;
7. Deplores the lack of gender equality in the political realm; recalls that women and men are equal and should enjoy the same political rights and civil liberties and deplores, likewise, the fact that women are under-represented in economic, social and political decision-making; underlines the need for effective protection mechanisms for women human rights defenders; recommends that a quota system be introduced in order to provide a way of promoting women’s participation in political bodies and the democratic process, primarily as candidates;
8. Deplores the breaches of human rights by third countries in the form of government-imposed limits on numbers of children per family;
9. Calls on the Commission to systematically include concrete actions to improve women’s participation in electoral processes in all EU Election Observation Missions in line with the EU guidelines in that domain, taking into account the conclusions reached by the senior electoral expert seminar held in Brussels in April 2014 and learning from the experience of past missions;
10. Reiterates that the EU should lead by example on gender equality; calls on the EU institutions to encourage women’s participation in the European electoral process by including gender-balanced lists in the next revision of the European Electoral Law;
11. Stresses the importance of strengthening women’s role in conflict prevention and in promoting human rights and democratic reform, and of supporting the systematic participation of women as a vital component of the peace process and post-conflict reconstruction through more effective consultation and coordination with civil society and EU institutions, so as to ensure more accurate and systematic impact assessments in the field of human rights; objects to any legislation, regulation or government pressure that unduly curtails freedom of expression, especially that of women and LGBTI;
12. Calls for the promotion of women’s rights, gender equality and the fight against violence against women to be systematically included in the human rights country strategies and in the human rights and political dialogues with third countries and candidate countries; welcomes the appointment of the European External Action Service (EEAS) advisor on gender issues and gender-sensitive training programmes for diplomats and officials who are taking part in EU delegations; recalls the commitment to include human rights in all EU impact assessments so as to ensure that the EU respects, upholds and implements human rights and that its external policies and activities are formulated and implemented in such as way as to consolidate human rights abroad; points out that gender equality is not confined to men and women, but must encompass the whole LGBTI community; points to the need to mainstream gender issues more strongly into EU humanitarian aid;
13. Calls for the EU to ensure that fundamental human rights safeguards, in particular for women and girls, are written into its economic and trade agreements with third countries, and to review such agreements in cases where those rights are not upheld;
14. Expresses its deep concern about possible human rights violations affecting women and girls in refugee camps in the Middle East and Africa, including reported cases of sexual violence and unequal treatment of women and girls; asks the EEAS to push for stricter rules and good practices in third countries in order to put an end to inequality among refugees of whichever gender;
15. Recalls that the EU plan of action on gender equality and women’s empowerment in development is one of the fundamental tools of the EU for improving gender equality in third countries, and therefore believes that GAP2 should take the form of a Commission communication; calls on the Commission to take into account Parliament’s resolution on the renewal of the GAP;
16. Calls for the use of gender-sensitive quantitative and qualitative indicators and systematic and timely collection of gender-disaggregated data as part of the monitoring and evaluation process of the new GAP;
17. Deplores the fact that in some third countries marriages between adults and minors are legal and in some cases involve brides under the age of nine (child brides);
18. Regards under-age marriages as fundamental human rights violations that affect all aspects of the lives of the girls involved, jeopardising their education and thus limiting their prospects, endangering their health and increasing the risk of them suffering violence and abuse;
19. Draws attention to the need for women to be afforded proper health care, free of charge, during childbirth, in order to reduce the still extremely high number of mothers and babies who die in childbirth in many third countries as a result of inadequate or non-existent health care;
20. Deplores the lack of prevention policies on gender-based violence, the lack of victim support and the high rate of impunity for offenders in a large number of countries; asks the EEAS to exchange good practices with third countries on law-making procedures and training programmes for police, judicial personnel and civil servants; urges the EU to support civil society organisations working to defend human rights and promote gender equality in third countries and to cooperate closely with international organisations active in the gender equality field, such as the ILO, the OECD, the UN and the African Union, with a view to creating synergies and promoting women’s empowerment;
21. Stresses the need for an exchange of good practices by the EEAS to combat the lack of access to justice for victims of crimes related to sexual violence; condemns firmly the lack of access to justice for women in third countries, specifically when they are victims of gender-based violence; asks the Commission to take an active role in the prosecution of these crimes in third countries and, in some instances, by Member States; urges the Commission to work with the EEAS to improve the support available for victims, to incorporate gender-based violence interventions into EU humanitarian actions and to prioritise EU humanitarian actions targeting gender-based violence and sexual violence in conflict; welcomes the EU’s commitment to give a follow-up to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict held in London in June 2014, and therefore urges the Commission to take concrete actions;
22. Calls on the Commission to take concrete actions also within the EU to combat violence against women by proposing a dedicated directive in that area;
23. Urges all actors involved in conflicts to provide the victims with all necessary health care, including abortions, with no distinction based on sex in any circumstances and irrespective of local laws, as provided by the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols;
24. Deplores the fact that women and girls are the most affected by extreme poverty, while it is factually proven that investment in women and girls and empowering them through education is one of the most efficient ways of combating poverty; stresses the need to do more to secure the right to education and access thereto, especially for girls, and that action must be taken to prevent them from being forced to abandon their studies, as they often are when they marry and have children; stresses the need for action to include women and girls in investment and growth processes in third countries; maintains that it is essential to continue counteracting the gender pay gap; notes that European companies operating in third countries have a vital role to play in promoting gender equality in those countries, since they act as role models; encourages women to become actively involved in trade unions and other organisations, as this will do much to introduce gender aspects into labour relations and working conditions;
25. Deplores the fact that in some countries extreme and fundamentalist laws and social, cultural and religious ideologies are preventing women from taking up certain occupations;
26. Deplores the fact that half of the world’s population is faced with wage discrimination, and that globally women earn between 60 and 90 per cent of men’s average income;
27. Stresses the need for continuity of education for girls in refugee camps, in conflict areas and in areas affected by extreme poverty and environmental extremities such as drought and floods;
28. Welcomes the efforts made by the EEAS in third countries to step up the implementation of obligations and commitments to women’s rights made in CEDAW, under the Beijing Platform for Action, and in the Cairo Declaration on Population and Development in the post-2015 development agenda;
29. Welcomes the reviewed EU humanitarian aid policy which allows women and girls raped in armed conflict access to safe abortion services under International Humanitarian Law; stresses the need for rapid implementation of this reviewed policy;
30. Calls on the EU to continue to support economic, social and political empowerment of women as a tool for promoting the proper enjoyment of their rights and fundamental freedoms and to attach the highest importance to access to quality education for girls, including girls from the poorest and marginalised communities; calls for support to be given to vocational education for women, for a greater take-up of vocational training to be ensured in the fields of science and technology, for gender equality training programmes to be devised for education professionals in third countries, and for steps to be taken to prevent stereotypes from being conveyed through educational materials; urges the EU to include this priority in all its diplomatic, trade and development cooperation activities;
31. Stresses the importance of combating gender stereotypes and discriminatory socio-cultural attitudes that reinforce women’s subordinate position in society and constitute one of the main causes of inequality between men and women, human rights violations against women and gender violence; emphasises the need to step up efforts to combat the persistence of stereotypes, through awareness-raising campaigns aimed at all levels of society, greater media involvement, strategies to encourage women and involve men, gender mainstreaming in education and in all EU policies and initiatives, in particular external action, cooperation and aid for development and humanitarian aid;
32. Regrets that all too often women are discriminated against by not providing them with easy access to financial resources such as loans by banks as compared to men; underlines the fact that women’s empowerment in the entrepreneurial realm has been proved to be a vital factor in boosting the economy and, in the long term, combatting poverty;
33. Deplores the fact that in some third countries homosexuality is a crime, and one that is in some cases punishable by death;
34. Deplores the frequent violations of women’s sexual and reproductive rights, including the denial of access to family planning services; recalls Article 16 of the CEDAW, which guarantees the right to choose the number and spacing of children and to have access to the information, education and means to exercise this right;
35. Stresses the importance of not undermining the ‘acquis’ of the Beijing Platform for Action regarding access to education and health as a basic human right, and the protection of sexual and reproductive rights; emphasises the fact that universal respect for sexual and reproductive health and rights and access to the relevant services contribute to reducing infant and maternal mortality; points out that family planning, maternal health, easy access to contraception and safe abortions are important elements in saving women’s lives and helping them rebuild their lives if they have been victims of rape; highlights the need to place these policies at the core of development cooperation with third countries;
36. Condemns the desperate plight and inhumane living conditions of refugees in Europe, which are particularly dangerous not only for children but also for women, who are more likely to fall prey to violence, abuse and even human trafficking;
37. Calls for the EU to pay proper attention to, and step up protection for, women migrants, to give them the assistance they require and to protect them against human trafficking and exploitation for prostitution by criminal organisations, which occur all too frequently.
RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION
Result of final vote
Members present for the final vote
Daniela Aiuto, Maria Arena, Catherine Bearder, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Malin Björk, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Iratxe García Pérez, Anna Hedh, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Angelika Mlinar, Maria Noichl, Margot Parker, Terry Reintke, Liliana Rodrigues, Elissavet Vozemberg-Vrionidi, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Anna Záborská
Substitutes present for the final vote
Inés Ayala Sender, Stefan Eck, Eleonora Forenza, Mariya Gabriel, Constance Le Grip, Elly Schlein, Branislav Škripek, Dubravka Šuica, Monika Vana
Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote
Seb Dance, Davor Ivo Stier, Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu
INDIVIDUAL CASES RAISED BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BETWEEN JANUARY AND DECEMBER 2014
ACTION TAKEN BY THE PARLIAMENT
Leyla Yunus, Arif Yunus and Rasul Jafarov
Omar Mammadov, Abdul Abilov and Elsever Murselli
Leyla Yunus is the well-known director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy. She has been imprisoned together with her husband, the historian Arif Yunus, and Rasul Jafarov, the chair of Azerbaijan’s Human Rights Club on apparent politically motivated charges.
Leyla Yunus has been subjected to acts of violence in prison committed by her cellmate, and no measures have been taken to punish the cellmate or to ensure the protection of Ms Yunus. In addition, Ms Yunus’ health has deteriorated in prison and no suitable medical care has been provided.
Intigam Aliyev is the chair of Azerbaijan’s Legal Education Society and a human rights lawyer who has defended more than 200 cases before the European Court of Human Rights in the areas of infringement of freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial and electoral law in Azerbaijan, was arrested on 8 August 2014 and subjected to three month’s detention on criminal charges.
Hasan Huseynli is another prominent human rights activist and head of the Intelligent Citizen Enlightenment Centre Public Union, was sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment on 14 July 2014. Rauf Mirkadirov is an investigative journalist with the leading Russian-language newspaper ‘Zerkalo’ who held on pre-trial detention on charges of treason. Seymour Haziyev is a prominent opposition journalist who was charged with criminal hooliganism and held in 2 months' pre-trial custody.
Ilqar Nasibov is a journalist who was viciously beaten in his office on 21 August 2014 and no prompt, effective and thorough investigation has been carried out.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has issued numerous rulings in cases of breaches of human rights in Azerbaijan, the latest being on 22 May 2014 in the case of Ilgar Mammadov, chair of the Republican Alternative Civic Movement (REAL); in which despite it being ruled that his detention was politically motivated, the authorities refused to release him.
Anar Mammadli is the chair of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS), and Bashir Suleymanli is the director of the same centre. Both were sentenced to prison terms of, respectively, 5 years and 6 months and 3 years and 6 months, on charges ranging from tax evasion to illegal entrepreneurship.
Omar Mammadov, Abdul Abilov and Elsever Murselli are social media activists and were sentenced to between 5 and 5.5 years’ imprisonment on charges of drug possession. None of them is having access to a lawyer of their own choosing and all complaining of ill treatment in police custody.
In its Resolution, adopted on 18 September 2014, the European Parliament:
- Condemns in the strongest possible terms the arrest and detention of Leyla Yunus, Arif Yunus, Rasul Jafarov, Intigam Aliyev and Hasan Huseyni, and demands their immediate and unconditional release as well as the withdrawal of all charges against them; demands an immediate and thorough investigation into the assault on Ilqar Nasibov, and calls for all those responsible to be brought to justice
- Calls on the authorities in Azerbaijan to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Leyla Yunus, Arif Yunusov and all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, and to ensure the urgent provision of suitable medical care, including medication and
- Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to cease their harassment and intimidation of civil society organisations, opposition politicians and independent journalists and to refrain from interfering in or undermining their valuable work for the development of democracy in Azerbaijan; also calls on them to ensure that all detainees, including journalists and political and civil society activists, enjoy their full rights to due process, in particular access to a lawyer of their choosing, access to their families, and other fair trial norms
Nabeel Rajab is the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). He was convicted to three years in prison in August 2012 on charges of calling for and participating in ‘illegal gatherings’ and ‘disturbing public order’ between February and March 2011. His sentence was reduced to two years in prison on appeal. Before this imprisonment Mr Rajab was repeatedly detained for peacefully expressing criticism of the government during the pro-democracy protests that erupted Bahrain in 2011.
On Friday 29 November 2013 Nabeel Rajab had served three-quarters of his two year sentence and had become legally eligible for release. A third request for early release was submitted on 21 January 2014 to the Court, but was rejected.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has described the detention of Mr Nabeel Rajab as arbitrary.
Abdulhadi-al-Khawaja, who has Danish nationality, is the founder of the BCHR and the regional coordinator of Front Line Defenders and Ibrahim Sharif is the Secretary General of the National Democratic Action Society. On 22 June 2011, they were sentenced to life in prison by a special military court. The legal process came to a conclusion after 3 years of appeals and the sentences were upheld.
Naji Fateel is a Bahraini human rights activist and a member of the Board of Directors of the Bahraini human rights NGO Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR). He has been imprisoned since 2007, tortured and also under death threats during the period of the Bahraini uprising (dated February 2011)
Zainab Al-Khawaja is a human rights defender and leading social media activist in Bahrain. She has been a crucial figure in the pro-democracy uprising that started in Bahrain in February 2011. She has suffered legal harassment, arrest, imprisonment, denial of procedural rights, and undertaken hunger strikes in defence of human rights in Bahrain.
In its Resolution, adopted on 6 February 2014, the European Parliament:
-Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, political activists, journalists, human rights defenders and peaceful protesters, including Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Ibrahim Sharif, Naji Fateel, and Zainab Al-Khawaja
- Expresses its grave concern regarding the Bahraini authorities’ treatment of Nabeel Rajab and other human rights activists, in addition to their refusal to grant him the early release for which he is eligible in accordance with the law
Regarding the situation of Mr Rajab, a letter of concern was also sent on 2 October 2014.
Hana Shams Ahmed
Hana Shams Ahmed is the coordinator of the International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC). On 27 August 2014 she and her friend were brutally attacked by 8 to 10 members of Somo Odhikar Andolon during a private visit to Shoilopropat in Bandarban in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Four members of the police Detective Branch (DB) who were supposedly providing them with security did not intervene, and even disappeared while the assault was taking place.
In its Resolution, adopted on , the European Parliament:
- Urges the Government of Bangladesh to bring the state security forces, including the police and the RAB, back within the bounds of the law; strongly calls on the Bangladeshi authorities to put an end to the RAB’s impunity by ordering investigations and prosecutions in respect of alleged illegal killings by RAB forces.
Pierre Claver Mbonimpa
Pierre Claver Mbonimpa is a leading human rights defender and President of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (Association pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues, APRODH) who was arrested on 15 May 2014 and later charged with ‘threatening the external security of the state’ and ‘threatening the internal security of the state by causing public disorder’ and has been in pre-trial detention since he was taken in for questioning.
Mr Mbonimpa’s work in the defence of democracy and human rights in Burundi over the past two decades and more has earned him several international awards and widespread recognition domestically and beyond. The charges against him relate to comments he made on Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) on 6 May 2014 that the youth wing of the ruling party CNDD-FDD, also known as the Imbonerakure, is being armed and sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for military training.
The arrest of Pierre Mbonimpa is representative of the mounting risks facing human rights defenders, the harassment of activists and journalists and the arbitrary arrest of opposition party members, which according to human rights groups and the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights have largely been carried out by the Imbonerakure.
In its Resolution, adopted on 18 September 2014, the European Parliament:
- Firmly condemns the detention of human rights defender Pierre Claver Mbonimpa and calls for his immediate unconditional release; expresses concern about his deteriorating state of health and demands that he be given urgent medical assistance
A letter of concern was also sent in this regard on 18 December 2014.
CAMBODIA AND LAOS
Sombath Somphone (Laos)
Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha (Cambodia)
Sombath Somphone is a human rights and environmental rights activist, civil society leader and co-chair of the 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum held in Vientiane in October 2012 ahead of the ASEM 9 Summit. He was allegedly the victim of an enforced disappearance on 15 December 2012 in Vientiane. Sombath Somphone’s family have been unable to locate him since that day, despite repeated appeals to the local authorities and searches in the surrounding area.
During the visit of the Delegation for relations with the countries of South East Asia and the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) to Laos on 28 October 2013 the disappearance of Sombath Somphone was raised with the Lao authorities. Crucial questions linked to the case, including whether or not an investigation has been carried out, remain unsolved more than a year after his disappearance and the Lao authorities declined assistance from abroad for the investigation into the disappearance.
On 15 December 2013 62 NGOs called for a new investigation into his disappearance and on 16 December 2013 the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances urged the Government of Laos to do its utmost to locate Sombath Somphone, to establish his fate and whereabouts, and to hold the perpetrators accountable. There have been several other cases of enforced disappearances where the whereabouts of nine other people – two women, Kingkeo and Somchit, and seven men, Soubinh, Souane, Sinpasong, Khamsone, Nou, Somkhit, and Sourigna – who were arbitrarily detained by the Lao security forces in November 2009 in various locations across the country remain unknown.
Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha are the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leaders who were summoned to appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 14 January 2014 for questioning. Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha may be convicted of incitement to civil unrest. The King amnestied Sam Rainsy on 14 July 2013, making it possible for him to return to Cambodia; however, his right to vote and run in the elections was not restored.
In its Resolution, adopted on 16 January 2014, the European Parliament:
- Calls on the Lao Government to clarify the state of the investigation into the whereabouts of Sombath Somphone, to answer the many outstanding questions around Sombath’s disappearance, and to seek and accept assistance from foreign forensic and law enforcement experts
- Considers that the lack of reaction from the Lao Government raises suspicions that the authorities could be involved in his abduction.
- Reiterates its call on the Vice-President / High Representative to closely monitor the Lao Government’s investigations into the disappearance of Sombath Somphone
- Calls on the Member States to continue raising the case of Sombath Somphone with the Lao Government; stresses that enforced disappearances remain a major impediment to Laos joining the UN Human Rights Council
- Urges the Cambodian Government to recognise the legitimate role played by the political opposition in contributing to Cambodia’s overall economic and political development; calls on the Cambodian authorities to immediately drop the summonses issued to the CNRP leaders, Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, and union leader Rong Chhun of the Cambodia Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA) and the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCFU)
Alaa Abdel Fattah, Mohamed Abdel, Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma.
Alaa Abdul Fattah
Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Douma, Mahienour El-Massry, Ahmed Mahe, Yara Sallam and Sana Seif
Alaa Abdel Fattah, Mohamed Abdel, from the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights and
Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma, leaders of the April 6 movement, are political and civil society activists who were arrested, convicted and held in Tora prison. It has been reported bad conditions of detention and mistreatment in prison.
The Australian Peter Greste, the Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and the Egyptian Baher Mohamed are three Al Jazeera journalists who were, together and, in absentia, with the Netherlands citizen Rena Netjes, on 23 June 2014 handed down jail sentences of between 7 and 10 years under accusations of ‘falsifying news’ and of belonging to or assisting a terrorist cell. Rena Netjes was falsely accused of working for Al Jazeera.
Alaa Abdul Fattah is a prominent activist who played a leading role in the 2011 revolution who was sentenced on 11 June 2014 with others to 15 years’ imprisonment on charges of violating Law 107 on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations of 2013 (Protest Law).
Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Douma, Mahienour El-Massry and Ahmed Maher, Yara Sallam and Sana Seif are prominent human rights activists that continue to be detained.
In its Resolution, adopted on 6 February 2014, the European Parliament:
- Strongly condemns all acts of violence, terrorism, incitement, harassment, hate speech and censorship; urges all political actors and security forces to show the utmost restraint and avoid provocation, with the aim of avoiding further violence in the best interests of the country; extends its sincere condolences to the families of the victims
- Urges the Egyptian interim authorities and security forces to ensure the security of all citizens, irrespective of their political views, affiliation or confession, to uphold the rule of law and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, to protect the freedoms of association, of peaceful assembly, of expression and of the press, to commit to dialogue and non-violence, and to respect and fulfil the country’s international obligations
- Calls for an immediate end to all acts of violence, harassment or intimidation – by state authorities, security forces or other groups – against political opponents, peaceful protesters, trade union representatives, journalists, women’s rights activists, and other civil society actors in Egypt; calls for serious and impartial investigations in such cases and for those responsible to be brought to justice; calls again on the interim government to guarantee that domestic and international civil society organisations, independent trade unions and journalists can operate freely, without government interference, in the country
In its Resolution, adopted on 17 July 2014, the European Parliament:
- Expresses its deepest concern over a series of recent court decisions in Egypt, including the lengthy jail terms handed down on 23 June 2014 to three Al Jazeera journalists and 11 other defendants tried in absentia, as well as the confirmation of death sentences against 183 people
- Calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained, convicted and/or sentenced for peacefully exercising their rights of freedom of expression and association, as well as all human rights defenders; calls on the Egyptian judiciary to ensure that all court proceedings in the country meet the requirements of a free and fair trial and to ensure respect for defendants’ rights; calls on the Egyptian authorities to order independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of ill-treatment and ensure that all detainees have access to any medical attention they may require
Andargachew Tsege is a British national and member of the opposition party Ginbot 7, who has apparently been held incommunicado and in an undisclosed location by the Ethiopian authorities since earlier 2014 after being arrested while in transit in Yemen, and then deported to Ethiopia.
A letter of concern was sent on 7 August 2014 and on 8 October 2014.
Ms Reyhaneh Jabbari
Ms Maryam Naghash Zargaran, Mr Saeed Abedinigalangashi, Ms Farhsid Fathi Malayeri, Mr Alireza Sayyedian, Mr Behnam Irani, Mr Amin Khaki, Mr Seyed Abdolreza Ali Hagh Nejad, and the seven members of the "Church of Iran": Mohammad Roghangir, Suroush Saraie, Massoud Rezai, Mehdi Ameruni, Seyed Bijan Farokhpour Haghigi, Eskandar Rezai
Ms Jabbari was sentenced to death in the Islamic Republic of Iran and she is at risk of imminent execution despite evidence that she has not been granted a fair hearing during the legal procedures that led to her conviction.
The below-mentioned names belong to Iranian citizens of the Christian faith that have been imprisoned, or continue to languish in prison due to their conversion from Islam to Christianity:
Ms Maryam Naghash Zargaran who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2013; Mr Saeed Abedinigalangashi who was sentenced to eight years in prison in early 2013; Ms Farhsid Fathi Malayeri who was arrested at her home in Tehran on 26 December 2010 along with at least 22 other Christians, and sentenced in 2012 to six years in prison; Mr Alireza Sayyedian who was convicted in November 2011 and sentenced to a six year (reduced to 3 ½ years in May 2013) imprisonment, 90 lashes and a fine; Mr Behnam Irani who was arrested and tried on two occasions (December 2006, April 2010). Shortly before he was due to be released on 18 October 2011, he was informed by letter that he was required to serve a five year prison sentence imposed back in 2008; Mr Amin Khaki who was arrested in early 2014 and reportedly transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence Security Detention; Mr Seyed Abdolreza Ali Hagh Nejad who was arrested on 5 July 2014 and finally; the seven members of the "Church of Iran" who were arrested on 12 October 2012 in Shiraz and condemned on 16 July 2013 to sentences ranging from one year to six years in prison.
A letter of concern was sent on 8 October 2014.
A letter of concern was sent on 24 September 2014.
Biram Dah Abeid
Biram Dah Abeid is the son of freed slaves and he is engaged in an advocacy campaign to eradicate slavery. In 2008 he founded the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (Initiative pour la Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste). This organisation is seeking to draw attention to the issue and to help take specific cases before courts of law. In addition, Biram Dah Abeid was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Prize for 2013.
On 11 November 2014, Biram Dah Abeid was arrested following a peaceful anti-slavery march. He has been charged with calling for a demonstration, participating in a demonstration and belonging to an illegal organisation. Some reports suggest that he is at risk of facing the death penalty. The death penalty is still provided for in the Mauritanian Criminal Code, is not restricted to the most serious crimes, and is imposed following convictions based on confessions obtained under torture.
Biram Dah Abeid was voted runner-up in the 2014 Mauritanian presidential elections. His reputation has made him a prime target for the Mauritanian authorities. In fact, his arrest and those of his colleagues represent a crackdown on political opposition as well as civil society.
In its Resolution, adopted on 18 December 2014, the European Parliament:
- Condemns strongly the arrest and ongoing detention of anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid and his fellow campaigners, and calls for their immediate release; expresses concern about reports of violence used against some of the activists, and urges the Mauritanian authorities to prosecute those officials who have been involved in the abuse and torture of prisoners
- Calls upon the Mauritanian Government to stop using violence against civilians who participate in peaceful public protests and media campaigns in support of Biram Dah
Abeid, to cease its crackdown on civil society and political opposition, and to permit anti-slavery activists to pursue their non-violent work without fear of harassment or intimidation; urges the Mauritanian authorities to allow freedom of speech and assembly, in accordance with international conventions and Mauritania’s own domestic law.
Disappearance of 43 teaching students
On 26 September 2014, six people, among them three students, were killed when the police opened fire on protesting teaching students from the Escuela Normal (‘Normal School’) of Ayotzinapa in Iguala, Guerrero state. Since then 43 students remain disappeared. According to various sources those students were rounded up and driven away by police officers and handed over to unidentified armed men linked to a drug cartel.
According to the Mexican Government, 51 persons linked to the crimes have been arrested; most of them police agents from the municipalities of Iguala and Cocula. On 14 October 2014 the Mexican Attorney-General declared that according to forensic analyses of the 28 bodies found in clandestine graves near Iguala on 4 October 2014 the bodies do not correspond to those of the missing students. The Mexican authorities have captured the suspected main leader of the criminal gang Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), allegedly involved in the disappearance of the 43 students.
The Mayor of Iguala, his wife, and the police chief of Iguala are fugitives from justice and accused of links to the local Guerreros Unidos drug cartel.
In its Resolution, adopted on 23 October 2014, the European Parliament:
- Strongly condemns the unacceptable forced disappearances and crimes in Iguala and calls on the Mexican authorities to investigate all the crimes, including the finding of 28 bodies in clandestine graves; calls on the relevant authorities to take all necessary steps to act promptly and in a transparent and impartial manner to identify, arrest and bring to justice the perpetrators of the crimes, and calls for those responsible to be identified and prosecuted, using all available information and resources internally and externally and with no margin for impunity; calls for the investigations to be continued until the students have been brought to safety
- Extends its sympathy and support to the families and friends of the victims, and to the Mexican people, whom it encourages to continue to fight by peaceful means to defend democracy and the rule of law
- Takes note of the detentions that have taken place; calls for the search to be continued for the Mayor of Iguala, his wife and the police chief of Iguala; is deeply concerned at the apparent infiltration of local law enforcement and administrative entities by organised crime.
Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar
Shama Bibi and Shahbaz Masih
Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar are a Christian couple who was sentenced to death on 4 April 2014 for allegedly sending a text message insulting the Prophet Mohammed, despite of the fact that the couple denied responsibility and declared that the phone from which the text originated was lost a while before the message was sent.
Sawan Masih is a Pakistani Christian from Lahore who was sentenced to death on 27 March 2014 for blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed. The announcement of allegations against Masih sparked fierce rioting in Joseph Colony, a Christian neighbourhood in the city of Lahore, in which many buildings, including two churches, were burnt down.
Asia Bibi is a Christian woman from Punjab who was arrested in June 2009 and received a death sentence in November 2010 on charges of blasphemy. After several years, her appeal has finally reached the high court in Lahore; however for the two first hearings in January and March 2014 the presiding judges appeared to be on leave.
Rimsha Masih is a 14-year-old Christian girl who was wrongfully accused in 2012 of desecrating the Quran. She was acquitted after being found to have been framed and the person responsible was arrested. However, she and her family had to leave the country.
Mohammad Asghar is a UK citizen with a mental illness living in Pakistan. He was arrested after allegedly sending letters to various officials claiming he was a prophet, and was sentenced to death in January 2014.
Masood Ahmad is a 72-year-old UK citizen and member of the Ahmaddiya religious community, who was only recently released on bail after having been arrested in 2012 on charges of citing from the Quran, which is considered as blasphemy in the case of Ahmaddis who are not recognised as Muslims and are forbidden to ‘behave as Muslims’ under Section 298-C of the criminal code.
Shama Bibi and Shahbaz Masih are Pakistani Christian couple from Punjab province in Pakistan, who have been beaten and then burned to death by a mob under accusations of insulating and desecrating the Muslim holy book.
In its resolution, adopted on 17 April 2014, the European Parliament:
- Expresses its deep concern that the controversial blasphemy laws are open to misuse which can affect people of all faiths in Pakistan; expresses its particular concern that use of the blasphemy laws, which were publicly opposed by the late Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and by the late Governor Salman Taseer, is currently on the rise and targets Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan
- Calls on the Pakistani authorities to release prisoners who are convicted on the grounds of blasphemy, and to overrule the death sentences on appeal; calls on the Pakistani authorities to guarantee the independence of the courts, the rule of law and due process in line with international standards on judicial proceedings; calls furthermore on the Pakistani authorities to provide sufficient protection to all those involved in blasphemy cases, including by shielding judges from outside pressure, by protecting the accused and their families and communities from mob violence, and by providing solutions for those who are acquitted but cannot go back to their places of origin
- Strongly condemns the application of the death penalty under any circumstances; calls on the Government of Pakistan as a matter of urgency to turn the de facto moratorium on the death penalty into the effective abolition of the death penalty
- Calls on the Government of Pakistan to carry out a thorough review of the blasphemy laws and their current application – as contained in Sections 295 and 298 of the Penal Code – for alleged acts of blasphemy, especially in light of the recent death sentences; encourages the government to withstand pressure from religious groups and some opposition political forces to maintain these laws.
A letter of concern was sent on 6 November 2014 and on 16 December 2014 regarding the case of Asia Bibi.
In its resolution, adopted on 27 November 2014, the European Parliament:
- Is deeply concerned and saddened by the Lahore High Court’s decision of 16 October 2014 to confirm the death sentence handed down to Asia Bibi for blasphemy; calls on the Supreme Court to start its proceedings on the case swiftly and without delay and to uphold the rule of law and full respect for human rights in its ruling
- Strongly condemns the murders of Shama Bibi and Shahbaz Masih and offers its condolences to their families, as well as to the families of all the innocent victims murdered as a result of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan; calls for the perpetrators of these acts to be brought to justice; takes note of the decision of the Punjab government to set up a committee to fast-track the investigation into the killings of Shama Bibi and Shahbaz Masih and to order additional police protection for Christian neighbourhoods in the province; underlines, however, the need to end the climate of impunity and for broader reforms in order to address the issue of violence against religious minorities, which remains pervasive in Pakistan
Boris Nemtov and Aleksei Navalny
Ilya Yashin, Gleb Fetisov and Yevgeny Vitishko
Bolotnaya Square demonstration took place on 6 May 2012 in which, as reported by several international and Russian human rights organizations, excessive use of violence and disproportionate measures have been used leading to the arrest and detention of hundreds of "anti-government" protesters.
Mikhail Kosenko is an activist who was sentenced to forced psychiatric treatment by a Russian court due to his involvement at the Bolotnaya Square demonstration. In addition, on 24 February 2014 Russian judicial authorities handed down guilty verdict against eight of those demonstrators, ranging from a suspended sentence to four years’ imprisonment, following three more severe prison sentences in 2013.
Boris Nemtov and Aleksei Navalny are opposition leaders who were sentenced to 10-day jail terms. Moreover, Aleksei Navalny has been placed under house arrest for two months and on 5 March 2014 was fitted with an electronic bracelet to monitor his activities.
Ilya Yashin is the leader of the Solidarity movement, Gleb Fetisov is the co-chair of the Alliance of Greens and Social Democrats, and Yevgeny Vitishko is an ecological activist and pre-eminent member of Yabloko. All of them belong to opposition parties and movements and have been subject to harassment by the Russian authorities and detained under various allegations.
In its Resolution, adopted on 13 March 2014, the European Parliament:
- Calls on the Russian judicial authorities to reconsider the sentences in the appeal process and to release the eight demonstrators, as well as Bolotnaya prisoner Mikhail Kosenko, who was sentenced to forced psychiatric treatment
- Expresses, equally, its deep concern over the detention of a large number of peaceful protesters following the Bolotnaya verdicts and calls for the dropping of all charges against the protesters; calls, furthermore, on the Russian Government to respect the rights of all citizens to exercise their fundamental freedoms and universal human rights
The case of accused war criminal Šešelj
Vojislav Šešelj is the president of the Serbian Radical Party who is indicted before the ICTY for persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, deportation, inhumane acts (forcible transfer) (crimes against humanity), and for murder, torture, cruel treatment, wanton destruction of villages or devastation not justified by military necessity, destruction or wilful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion or education, plunder of public or private property (violations of the laws or customs of war) in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and parts of Vojvodina (Serbia), committed between 1991 and 1993.
On 6 November 2014, after more than eleven years of detention and while his trial is still ongoing, the Trial Chamber of the Tribunal issued an order proprio motu for the provisional release of Šešelj on the grounds of the deterioration of his health, subject to the conditions that he: (i) does not influence witnesses and victims; and (ii) appears before the Chamber as soon as it so orders.
Following his return to Serbia Šešelj made several public speeches in Belgrade in which he emphasised that he will not voluntarily return to the Tribunal when requested to do so, thereby announcing his intention to violate one of the two conditions under which he was released.
In his public statements Šešelj repeatedly called for the creation of ‘Greater Serbia’, publicly stating claims on neighbouring countries, including EU Member State Croatia, and inciting hatred against non-Serb people. In a press release he congratulated the Serbian Chetniks on the ‘liberation’ of Vukovar, on the 23rd anniversary of the fall of that Croatian city to Serbian paramilitary forces and the Yugoslav army in 1991 and the associated atrocities, thereby violating the requirement not to influence the victims.
In its Resolution, adopted on 27 November 2014, the European Parliament:
- Strongly condemns Šešelj’s warmongering, incitement to hatred and encouragement of territorial claims and his attempts to derail Serbia from its European path; deplores his provocative public activities and wartime rhetoric since his provisional release, which have reopened the victims’ psychological wounds from the war and the atrocities of the early 1990s; stresses that Šešelj’s recent statements could have the effect of undermining the progress made in regional cooperation and reconciliation and subverting the efforts of recent years
- Reminds the Serbian authorities of their obligations under the framework for cooperation with the ICTY and of Serbia’s obligations as an EU candidate country; notes with concern that the absence of an adequate political reaction and legal response by the Serbian authorities regarding Šešelj’s behaviour undermines the trust of the victims in the judicial process; encourages the Serbian authorities and the democratic parties to condemn any public manifestation of hate speech or wartime rhetoric and to promote the protection of minority and cultural rights; asks the Serbian authorities to investigate whether Šešelj has violated Serbian law and to strengthen and fully apply the legislation outlawing hate speech, discrimination and incitement to violence; supports all political parties, NGOs and individuals in Serbia that fight against hate speech.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim
Dr Amin Mekki Medani
Farouk Abu Issa
Farah Ibrahim Mohamed Alagar
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim is the daughter of an Ethiopian Christian mother and a Sudanese Muslim father, who was raised as a Christian. In 2013 she was accused of adultery by her father’s side of the family after they reported her to the authorities for her marriage to a Christian man. In addition, an accusation of apostasy was added in December 2013. The verdict of the court of first instance was delivered on 12 May 2014, sentencing Meriam Ibrahim, then eight months pregnant, to a hundred lashes on charges of adultery and to death by hanging on charges of apostasy, but giving her three days to renounce Christianity.
Meriam Ibrahim was convicted under Islamic sharia law, in force in Sudan since 1983, which outlaws conversions on pain of death. On 15 May 2014 the verdict was reconfirmed, as Meriam Ibrahim chose not to convert to Islam. On 27 May 2014 Meriam Ibrahim gave birth to a baby girl, Maya, in prison. It is alleged that Meriam Ibrahim’s legs were kept in shackles and chains while she was in labour, seriously endangering the health of both mother and child. On 5 May 2014 her case was successfully transferred to the Appeal Court.
Meriam Ibrahim was released from Omdurman Women’s Prison on 23 June 2014 after the Appeal Court found her not guilty of both charges, but she was arrested again at Khartoum airport as the family was about to depart for the USA, for allegedly attempting to leave the country with forged travel documents issued by the South Sudan Embassy in Khartoum. Meriam Ibrahim was freed again on 26 June 2014 and took refuge in the United States embassy with her family, and negotiations are ongoing to enable her to leave Sudan, where she faces death threats from extremist Muslims.
Dr Amin Mekki Medani is a 76 year-old renowned human rights activist and former President of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM) who was arrested by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on 6 December 2014 at his house in Khartoum. The NISS allegedly refused to allow him to take his medication with him when he was arrested despite his poor health.
Dr Medani symbolises a strong commitment to human rights, humanitarianism and the rule of law, having held high-level positions within a range of different national and international institutions, including the Sudan judiciary, the democratic transitional government of Sudan (as Cabinet Minister for Peace), and the UN. He has represented victims of violations and has persistently spoken out against abuse of power, and was awarded the ‘Heroes for Human Rights Award 2013’ by the EU Delegation in Sudan for his local and international efforts in promoting human rights.
Dr Medani was arrested shortly after his return from Addis Ababa, having signed the ‘Sudan Call’ on behalf of civil society organisations – a commitment to work towards the end of the conflicts raging in different regions of Sudan and towards legal, institutional and economic reforms.
Farouk Abu Issa, the leader of the opposition National Consensus Forum, and Dr Farah Ibrahim Mohamed Alagar were arrested in a similar manner, on 6 and 7 December 2014 respectively, following their involvement with the ‘Sudan Call’.
In its Resolution, adopted on 17 July 2014, the European Parliament:
- Condemns the unjustified detention of Meriam Ibrahim; calls on the Government of Sudan to repeal all legislation that discriminates on grounds of gender or religion and to protect the religious identity of minority groups
- Stresses that it is degrading and inhumane for a pregnant woman to give birth while chained and physically detained; calls on the Sudanese authorities to ensure that all pregnant women and labouring women in detention receive appropriate and safe maternal and newborn health care
- Reaffirms that freedom of religion, conscience or belief is a universal human right that needs to be protected everywhere and for everyone; strongly condemns all forms of violence and intimidation that impair the right to have or not to have, or to adopt, a religion of one’s choice, including the use of threats, physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to renounce their religion or to convert; highlights the fact that adultery and apostasy are acts which should not be considered to be crimes at all.
In its Resolution, adopted on 18 December 2014, the European Parliament:
- Strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest and detention of Dr Medani and other peaceful activists as an unlawful breach of their peaceful and legitimate political and human rights activities; calls for their immediate and unconditional release.
SYRIA AND IRAQ
James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines
James Foley and Steven Sotloff were American journalists, and David Haines was a British aid worker. They were abducted in 2013 and in 2012 in the case of Mr Foley in Syria and held hostage by the Islamic State until 2014 when they were murdered.
In its Resolution, adopted on 18 September 2014, the European Parliament:
- Strongly condemns the murders of the journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and the aid worker David Haines by IS, and expresses grave concern for the safety of others still being held captive by the extremists; expresses its deep sympathy and condolences to the families of these victims and to the families of all victims of the conflict.
Ioan Ibrahim and Bulos Jazigi
Yazigi and John Ibrahim)
Frans van der Lugt
Bassel Safadi Khartabil
Razan Zeitouneh is a Syrian human rights defender, writer and winner of the Sakharov Prize in 2011, who was abducted alongside her husband and other human rights defenders in Damascus in December 2013 and their fate remains unknown.
Ioan Ibrahim and Bulos Jazigi are bishops from Assyrian Orthodox and the Greek Orthodox respectively, who have been kidnapped in the context of harassment, arrest, torture or disappearance against peaceful civil society activists, human rights defenders, religious figures by the Syrian regime and increasingly also of the several rebel groups. Paolo Dall’Oglio is another religious figure who has been missing since July 2013.
Dutch Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt had been living in Syria for many decades and was well known for refusing to leave the besieged city of Homs. He was beaten and shot dead by gunmen on 7 April 2014.
Bassel Safadi Khartabil is a 34 year-old fervent defender of a free Internet and promoter of open source culture. He has been held prisoner since 15 March 2012 by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
In its Resolution, adopted on 6 February 2014, the European Parliament:
- Calls for the immediate, unconditional and safe release of all political prisoners, medical personnel, humanitarian workers, journalists, religious figures and human rights activists, including 2011 Sakharov Prize winner Razan Zeitouneh, and for coordinated EU action to secure her release; calls on all parties to ensure their safety; urges the Syrian Government to grant immediate and unfettered access to all its detention facilities for international documentation bodies, including the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria.
In its Resolution, adopted on 17 April 2014, the European Parliament:
- Condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing of Father Frans Van der Lugt, an inhumane act of violence against a man who stood by the people of Syria amid sieges and growing difficulties; pays tribute to his work, which extended beyond the besieged city of Homs and continues to help hundreds of civilians with their everyday survival needs
- Recalls the pressing need to release all political detainees, civil society activists, humanitarian aid workers, religious figures (including Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yazigi and Assyrian Orthodox Bishop John Ibrahim), journalists and photographers held by the regime or by rebel fighters, and to grant independent monitors access to all places of detention; urges once again the EU and its Member States to make all possible efforts to achieve the release of 2011 Sakharov Prize winner Razan Zaitouneh and of all other human rights activists in Syria, including internet activist Bassel Safadi Khartabil.
Yulia Tymoshenko is one of Ukraine's most high-profile political figures. In 2011 she was convicted due to a gas deal arranged and agreed with Russia and given a seven-year sentence on charges of abuse of power; charges that apparently were politically motivated.
In its resolution, adopted on 6 February 2014, the European Parliament:
- Calls on President Yanukovych to order a stop to these practices and demands the immediate and unconditional release and political rehabilitation of all the demonstrators and political prisoners illegally detained, including Yulya Tymoshenko; calls for the setting-up of an independent investigative committee under the auspices of a recognised international body, such as the Council of Europe, in order to investigate all the human rights violations that have taken place since the demonstrations began.
Human rights activists: Azam Farmonov, Mehriniso Hamdamova, Zulhumor Hamdamova, Isroiljon Kholdorov,
SolijonAbdurakhmanov, Muhammad Bekjanov, Gayrat Mikhliboev, Yusuf Ruzimuradov, and Dilmurod Saidov
Peaceful political opposition activists: Murod Juraev, Samandar Kukanov, Kudratbek Rasulov and Rustam Usmanov
Three independents religious figures: Ruhiddin Fahriddinov, Hayrullo Hamidov and Akram Yuldashev
The exercise of the right to freedom of expression has been deteriorated in the country. The mentioned group of people, fifteen well-known human rights activists, five journalists, four peaceful political opposition activists and three independent religious figures have been imprisoned for no reason other than exercising peacefully their right to freedom of expression.
In addition, peaceful protesters including, Dilorom Abdukodirova, Botirbek Eshkuziev, Bahrom Ibragimov, Davron Kabilov, Erkin Musaev, Davron Tojiey and Ravshanbek Vafoev were shot and killed by governmental forces.
In its Resolution, adopted on 23 October 2014, the European Parliament:
- Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons imprisoned on politically motivated charges, held for peaceful expression of their political views, civil society activism, journalistic activity or religious views.
Daniel Ceballos, Vicencio Scarano and Salvatore Lucchese
Juan Carlos Caldera, Ismael García and Richard Mardo
Sairam Rivas, Cristian Gil and Manuel Cotiz
María Corina Machado
Leopoldo López is the opposition leader who was arbitrarily detained on 18 February 2014 on charges of conspiracy, instigating violent demonstrations, arson and damage to property. Since his detention he has suffered physical and psychological torture and undergone solitary confinement.
Daniel Ceballos and Vicencio Scarano are opposition mayors and Salvatore Lucchese is a police office. They have been arrested for failing to end protests and civil rebellion in their cities, and have been sentenced to several years in prison. In addition, Juan Carlos Caldera, Ismael García and Richard Mardo who are opposition congressmen are facing investigations and trial proceedings aimed at their suspension and disqualification from Congress.
Sairam Rivas is the president of the Students’ Centre of the School of Social Work at the Central University of Venezuela. She has been unjustly held on premises belonging to the Bolivarian Intelligence Service for more than 120 days together with Cristian Gil and Manuel Cotiz. They have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment in connection with the protests that took place between February and May 2014, having been accused of the offences of instigating crimes and using minors to commit crimes.
María Corina Machado is a Member of the National Assembly who had obtained the largest popular vote in Venezuela. In March 2014 she was unlawfully and arbitrarily removed from office, deprived of her mandate and expelled from Parliament by the President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, who accused her of treason because she had spoken out against the massive and systematic violation of human rights in Venezuela before the Permanent Council of the OAS. In the course of her political and parliamentary activity María Corina Machado was subjected to a series of criminal proceedings, political persecution, threats, intimidation, harassment and even physical violence from government supporters inside the Chamber of the National Assembly. In addition, she was recently charged with attempting to assassinate President Maduro and may face up to 16 years in prison.
In its Resolution, adopted on 18 December 2014, the European Parliament:
- Urges the immediate release of those arbitrarily detained prisoners, in line with the demands made by several UN bodies and international organisations
- Strongly condemns the political persecution and repression of the democratic opposition, the violations of freedom of expression and of demonstration, and the existence of media and web censorship
- Strongly condemns the use of violence against protesters; expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims; calls on the Venezuelan authorities to investigate these crimes and to hold those responsible fully accountable with no margin of impunity.
LIST OF RESOLUTIONS
List of resolutions adopted by the European Parliament during the year 2014 and relating directly or indirectly to human rights violations in the world
Lars Adaktusson, Michèle Alliot-Marie, Francisco Assis, James Carver, Javier Couso Permuy, Andi Cristea, Mark Demesmaeker, Georgios Epitideios, Knut Fleckenstein, Eugen Freund, Sandra Kalniete, Manolis Kefalogiannis, Afzal Khan, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, Eduard Kukan, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Barbara Lochbihler, Sabine Lösing, Ulrike Lunacek, Andrejs Mamikins, Tamás Meszerics, Francisco José Millán Mon, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Demetris Papadakis, Vincent Peillon, Tonino Picula, Kati Piri, Andrej Plenković, Cristian Dan Preda, Jozo Radoš, Sofia Sakorafa, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Alyn Smith, László Tőkés, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen
Substitutes present for the final vote
Ignazio Corrao, Luis de Grandes Pascual, Angel Dzhambazki, Tanja Fajon, Mariya Gabriel, Liisa Jaakonsaari, Javi López, Norica Nicolai, Soraya Post, Marietje Schaake, Helmut Scholz, Igor Šoltes, Traian Ungureanu, Marie-Christine Vergiat
Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote