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Debates
Thursday, 6 July 2000 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Human rights
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  President. – The next item is the joint debate on the following motions for resolutions:

Child soldiers in Uganda

- B5-0611/2000 by Mrs Ludford, on behalf of the Group of the Europe Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party, on the abduction of children in the north of Uganda;

- B5-0622/2000 by Mr Mauro and others, on behalf of the Group of the Europe People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, on the abduction of children by the LRA;

- B5-0630/2000 by Mr Sylla and Mr Vinci, on behalf of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left, on Uganda;

- B5-0637/2000 by Mrs Maes and Mrs Lambert, on behalf of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, on the abduction of children in Uganda;

- B5-0646/2000 by Mr van den Berg, on behalf of the Group of the Party of European Socialists, on the abduction of children in Uganda;

Situation in the Moluccas

- B5-0609/2000 by Mr Belder, on behalf of the Group of the Europe Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party, on the Moluccas;

- B5-0612/2000 by Mr Maaten, on behalf of the group of the Europe Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party, on the Moluccas;

- B5-0623/2000 by Mrs Maij-Weggen, on behalf of the Group of the Europe People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, on the Moluccas;

- B5-0643/2000 by Mrs McKenna and Mrs Langendijk, on behalf of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, on the Moluccas;

- B5-0647/2000 by Mr van den Berg, on behalf of the Group of the Party of European Socialists, on the Moluccas;

Death penalty in the United States

- B5-0613/2000 by Mrs Malmström, Mr Haarder and Mr Watson, on behalf of the Group of the Europe Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party, on the death penalty in the United States and the case of the Italian-American citizen Derek Rocco Barnabei;

- B5-0619/2000 by Mr Dupuis and others, on behalf of the Technical Group of Independent Members – Mixed Group, on the forthcoming execution of Derek Rocco Barnabei in Virginia;

- B5-0624/2000 by Mr Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra and others, on behalf of the Group of the Europe People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, on the death penalty in the United States;

- B5-0631/2000 by Mr Cossutta and others, on behalf of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left, on the death penalty in the United States and the case of Mr Derek Rocco Barnabei;

- B5-0638/2000 by Mrs Maes and others, on behalf of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, on the death penalty;

- B5-0648/2000 by Mr Veltroni and Mrs Díez González, on behalf of the Group of the Party of European Socialists, on the death penalty in the United States and in particular the case of Rocco Barnabei;

Hooligans

- B5-0625/2000 by Mr Van Hecke and others, on behalf of the Group of the Europe People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, on hooliganism during Euro 2000;

- B5-0632/2000 by Mr Papayannakis, Mr Sylla and Mr Cossutta, on behalf of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, on hooliganism during Euro 2000;

- B5-0649/2000 by Mr Desama and Mr van den Berg, on behalf of the Group of the Party of European Socialists, on hooliganism during Euro 2000;

Iraq

- B5-0614/2000 by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, on behalf of the Group of the Europe Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party, on Iraq;

- B5-0618/2000 by Mrs Muscardini and Mr Andrews, on behalf of the Union for a Europe of Nations Group, on Iraq;

- B5-626/2000 by Mr Khanbhai and others, on behalf of the Group of the Europe People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, on Iraq;

- B5-633/2000 by Mrs Morgantini and others, on behalf of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left, on Iraq;

- B5-0639/2000 by Mrs McKenna and others, on behalf of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, on the United Nations embargo in Iraq;

- B5-0650/2000 by Mr Sakellariou, on behalf of the Group of the Party of European Socialists, on the situation in Iraq;

Child soldiers in Uganda

 
  
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  Thors (ELDR).(SV) Madam President, Commissioner, one could say a lot about this issue. Firstly, I hope, in particular, that the Council and the Commission will be active when it comes to also taking up this issue in the Security Council when the action plan concerning children in armed conflicts will be debated at the end of this month.

Secondly, we have today noted with satisfaction that attempts are being made to reach a common solution to at least one other conflict regarding child soldiers. This solution is the so-called diamond resolution in the Security Council.

Thirdly, we can confirm that we have made a certain amount of general progress with regard to child soldiers. We have the voluntary Supplementary Protocol against Child Soldiers and the Activities in Africa.

I would ask the House to support this resolution. I would also like the EU jointly to take up the issue in the Security Council at the end of this month during the follow-up to the general debate on children in armed conflicts.

 
  
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  Mauro (PPE-DE).(IT) Madam President, the situation in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan is the setting for the drama of the child-soldiers. The aim of my speech and of the resolution which has just been tabled is to prompt Parliament and the institutions to adopt ongoing initiatives which do more than just respond to moments of crisis. There has been continuous armed conflict in this region for the last 30 years; civil society has been completely destroyed and different groups of rebels have been massacring the peoples of Northern Uganda for over 12 years. Their favourite victims are children and adolescents because they are vulnerable and easily influenced. To date, approximately 60% of the soldiers in the Lord's Resistance Army are children under the age of 16. The strategy is precisely to manipulate the children and subject them to brutal force so that they will in turn be able to kill and torture others. Adolescent girls are given to the rebels as wives, but the most noticeable thing is that not even the Nairobi Agreements between Uganda and the Sudan last December have caused the LRA to change its attitude.

During the last few days, I have had the opportunity to talk to one of the girls who has escaped from the fields of Southern Sudan, who confirmed that the LRA has no intention of changing its position. Further evidence of this is the funeral of John Baptista Ochaia, the representative of the Chairman of Kitgum district council, who died the day before yesterday from wounds received during an LRA ambush, which took place today in Uganda.

It is therefore unacceptable that the European authorities and many commercial entities should maintain an attitude almost of tacit approval of this situation, without making any attempt to break the circle which is robbing a generation of its future.

 
  
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  Sylla (GUE/NGL). – (FR) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, war is always cruel, and civil war even more so. However, we have reached another level of barbarism and abjectness when children are used to fight and kill or be killed. In this way, the LRA, the armed resistance, does not hesitate to kidnap seven-year-old boys and subject them to extreme brutality to train them to fight and terrorise villagers. Nor does it hesitate to sexually exploit women and girls. When these children survive, it must be said, they are in any case scarred for life. It takes time, patience and love to restore their hope.

This is why we must increase aid and support for UNICEF, which has set up an action programme enabling children to return to a normal life. Madam President, we must also stop pussyfooting around. Sudan must stop supporting the LRA. In my opinion, this amounts to collusion, which makes Sudan just as guilty. And Parliament must intervene to urge the Ugandan Government to find a peaceful solution to this conflict in the north of Uganda, which, let me remind you, has been the cause of 100 000 deaths in 15 years. The whole population is waiting for this solution and all the children are hoping for it. The Security Council must hear this plea.

 
  
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  Schörling (Verts/ALE).(SV) Madam President, I am really pleased that this resolution has come about. I hope that this will encourage the Commission and the Member States to act on this issue.

Some weeks ago, a documentary from Southern Sudan was shown on Swedish television. This documentary claimed that foreign investors and oil companies, including an oil company from my home country, Sweden, are being protected by troops which make use of child soldiers. These accusations have also been supported by Amnesty International, which has explained that certain oil revenues are also used to finance the civil war in Southern Sudan. There, they use child soldiers from Uganda, who are forced into armed conflict.

We must put pressure on the international oil companies and on investors. We must, as is stated in point 8 of the resolution, strongly urge these companies to cease their activities in Sudan until a peaceful solution to the conflict has been found.

 
  
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  Van den Berg (PSE).(NL) Madam President, first of all I would like to express my gratitude to Mr Van Hecke and his wife Els De Temmerman for their efforts in ensuring that the child soldiers issue in Northern Uganda, and anything related to this, is published in an unambiguous manner for the benefit of Europe.

What is clear is that despite the 1999 Nairobi Agreement, it has not been possible to apply this agreement in an adequate manner. This brings us to the question of the EU’s authority and the willingness on the part of the Member States to act as a united front in that region.

I would ask Commissioner Verheugen specifically whether he is absolutely clear about the point mentioned in the resolution, that of bringing the investments in both oil and oil pipelines in Sudan to a halt for the time being. If we exert pressure to bring about peace and make sure we gain control in that northern region, this could lead to very concrete steps within a foreign policy which combines the aid component, the foreign component and the trade component. Such action is a matter of great priority. At the moment, we only see these figures and examples increase, and at the same time, we notice that we are exerting too little pressure, although we have more clout there than we have made use of to date.

This brings me to the wider issue of the United Nations. The protocol was accepted in the General Assembly in May. In July, a debate will be held in the Security Council. This would, of course, be a wonderful example of a Europe which does not only hold forth internally, but also takes steps externally. We, all the European Member States together, are very much in favour of the eighteen years, swift conclusion by signature and effective, coordinated action by the different countries where matters such as education and the re-integration of child soldiers are concerned. We do a great deal financially in this respect in different countries. We have a good reputation there. It would be beneficial if we could act under one banner and with one voice. I would be interested to find out from Commissioner Verheugen how he rates our chance of success in July.

 
  
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  Banotti (PPE-DE). – Madam President, I was in Uganda in January when some of the abducted little girls who were put into the army by the LRA were released. Many of these young girls lose sight of their families and are gone for many years from their own homes. As a result of rape and abuse they become mothers themselves, which further alienates them from the communities from which they have been so brutally taken.

However many finely-worded resolutions we have, as long as we in the Community fail to get to grips with the issues relating to children in our own community, we do not have a strong voice to raise our concerns about this. Many of our policies affect children's rights and interests but this week Commissioner Prodi said he did not feel it was necessary to have a dedicated unit looking at children's rights within the Community. This will weaken our voice if we attempt to raise it within the context of the UN Special Summit on Children next year, at which the issue of child soldiers will be a significant point.

 
  
  

Situation in the Moluccas

 
  
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  Belder (EDD).(NL) Madam President, the Moluccas require our attention once again. After a relatively quiet period, the recent arrival of a few thousand Jihad fighters who aim to enforce the Islam religion on the Moluccan islands has led to renewed escalations of violence. The peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians, which lasted for years, seems to be broken for good.

The brave attitude of President Wahid should not go unmentioned. Last week, he even dared criticise the position of the members of parliament. If it were up to the Indonesian President, there would be hope for a peaceful future on the Moluccas. However, the dark forces that still pervade the administrative apparatus, namely within the army, police and government, have a very destabilising effect on the situation. It still requires a great deal of effort to identify the fundamentalist elements of whatever religious grouping.

I would like to make a few specific recommendations to the Indonesian Government. Firstly, there must be an all-out effort to discontinue the supply of fighters and weapons by introducing strict border control. In addition, the deployment of international peacekeeping forces deserves to be reconsidered. The stark differences of opinion within the region’s own army and police seem to sabotage Indonesia’s efforts to end conflict off its own bat.

Finally, I would like to ask your attention for the victims of these conflicts, namely the ordinary citizens. In this conflict, we should not only spend time pointing the finger, we should first and foremost supply adequate aid to the refugees. A humanitarian corridor is essential in this respect. We wholeheartedly back the request to the Commission and Member States to give generously. The lack of political and economic interests in that region should not determine the level of aid. This is about relieving the real suffering that is pervading the Moluccas.

 
  
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  Manders (ELDR).(NL) Madam President, I wonder whether history is repeating itself in Indonesia. The bloody confrontations between Muslims and Christians are jeopardising safety within the Moluccas. Thousands of people have been killed or have taken refuge, and the new fragile democratisation process, which has been initiated so ambitiously by the Wahid government, is under enormous threat. This is reminiscent of East Timor only a few months ago. As an MEP visiting with the observation delegation, I saw for myself how harrowing the effects of this can be. We need to realise that the violence within the Moluccas is threatening stability within the entire region. It is therefore vital that the international community offer immediate financial and moral support in order to solve the problems in Indonesia. The international community also has a duty to monitor the situation closely on a permanent basis and help the government there to end this human tragedy in whatever way it can.

 
  
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  Maij-Weggen (PPE-DE).(NL) Madam President, as rapporteur of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy reporting on Indonesia, I did hesitate for a moment before I tabled this resolution because we will certainly be having a huge debate on the relationship between the European Union and Indonesia in the autumn. However, the situation on the Moluccas is so critical that we need to treat it as an urgent matter.

After a few months of peace and quiet in that area, violence has flared up again over the past few weeks, and once again, dozens of people have been killed and once again, thousand of people have fled. The tragedy of the boat filled with refugees travelling from Duma on Halmahera has probably claimed the lives of up to five hundred people. Only yesterday, the Jihad fighters burnt down two housing estates in Ambon. In that area, more than three thousand have now been killed and more than one hundred thousand people have fled. This is a catastrophe and many Moluccan families in the Netherlands are either worried sick or plunged in deep mourning.

Madam President, despite this tragedy, I believe we ought to pledge our support to President Wahid and Vice-President Sukarnoputri. It is not they, but the opposition powers working against this government that seem to aggravate the situation within the Moluccas. It seems that the Jihad militiamen are being financed and armed by these groups, and sometimes backed by regional military forces, which are, in fact, supposed to protect the population. In our opinion, however, the Indonesian government should intervene more powerfully in order to protect the Moluccan population. We also believe that international observers, journalists and aid workers should be granted access to the area in order to help the Moluccan citizens. But more than anything, the EU should adopt a clear stance, just as the United States has done, and the EU should step up its aid efforts for the victims.

Madam President, our green colleagues have tabled a number of amendments which may have been compiled with the best of intentions but are to my mind counterproductive, because they might be playing into the hands of the powers working against the government, i.e. those who are helping to stage the violent attacks on the Moluccas. I therefore reject the amendment to Article 7 (a) and would ask the MEPs of the other groups to do the same. More than anything, however, the Union should be more pro-active. This is also the thrust of the resolution and I would like a sound response from the European Commission.

 
  
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  Lagendijk (Verts/ALE).(NL) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, it is becoming increasingly clear that the violence on the Moluccas is not a chaotic, spontaneous fight between the local population, between local Muslims and Christians. It is a brutal power struggle and well-directed fight between sections of the army, between the government and government opponents, at the expense of the local population.

On the one hand there is Laskar Jihad, a group of fanatical Muslims backed by sections of the army. On the other hand there are special police troops, which back the Christians. In other words, the security apparatus which should guarantee stability, is divided over two camps.

In my opinion, the message which the European Parliament should give President Wahid – and in this sense I hope I can reassure Mrs Maij-Weggen – is that we will remain critical of the progress and speed of reforms, the status of human rights and the way in which the government protects the citizens on the Moluccas. However, we must also let him know that we support him in his fight against those sections of the army which are of course trying to undermine democratic reform, in his battle against people like Amien Rais, the chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly who, for example, referred to young people devoted to the Laskar Jihad as the heart of the nation. In that sense, he deserves our support, but I also want us to remain critical about issues which are not going so well yet in Indonesia.

 
  
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  Van den Berg (PSE).(NL) Madam President, on behalf of the Socialist Group, I would like to endorse what Mrs Maij-Weggen stated. It is vital to support the Wahid government at present. In plain terms – and I think the European Commission and the Council are taking a sensible stance here– this support entails tracking down specific resources in order to support that government in its attempt to pacify and to actively intervene. This is our urgent request.

We are also very critical of the situation in that region and very concerned for the Moluccan community in the Netherlands. We particularly empathise with the emotional turmoil and anxiety they are experiencing. We are in favour of granting Wahid support, because the moment we involve international observers or commit other forms of aid without Wahid’s knowledge, we will be intervening and undermining his actions. In this sense, I clearly endorse the PPE’s stance and would strongly urge this House to show great concern, and great willingness to provide support, but via Wahid, and also prescribe requirements to be met, again via him, because we need to play the game through him for the time being.

 
  
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  Coelho (PPE-DE).(PT) Madam President, I think that Mrs Maij-Weggen is quite right to call the situation catastrophic. It is, in fact, a complex situation, in which many people have died. The question that arises is why communities that had been co-existing relatively peacefully should suddenly shift to this level of tension and threats. I think that certain forces are at work behind these actions, and there is a significant similarity between a certain type of behaviour that we are now seeing in the Moluccas and the events we recently witnessed in East Timor.

Behind these actions are forces that wish to sabotage President Wahid’s efforts at democratisation. We need to understand these forces and to combat them. From this point of view, I think that the references in the compromise motion for a resolution, which deserves our total support, are most timely.

 
  
  

Death penalty in the United States

 
  
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  Manisco (GUE/NGL).(IT) Madam President, in our resolution on the death penalty which we agreed with the other groups, we appealed to the Governor of Virginia to spare the life of a person sentenced to death.

The name of the Governor of Virginia has been missed off the list of recipients of the resolution. Please would you ensure that the Governor of Virginia's name is inserted at the end of the text of our resolution, for our appeal is addressed precisely to him.

 
  
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  President. – (FR) Yes, Mr Manisco, you are absolutely right. In the text of the resolution, reference was made to this State. Technically speaking, it would therefore be appropriate to communicate it to the Governor of Virginia and it will therefore be put to the vote with this amendment.

 
  
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  Thors (ELDR).(SV) Madam President, we can all put our signatures to what is written in the resolution. We know that the United Nations’ Commission for Human Rights requested a moratorium in April last year. This year, this demand was repeated. They also requested all the States which still had the death penalty progressively to reduce the number of crimes for which the death penalty is imposed. We have many shocking figures relating to the number of people that are still awaiting the death penalty in the United States. According to the information that I have, this involves 3 670 people.

In the resolution, we point to the prevailing legal uncertainty in the present cases. There is therefore reason to require that all cases be investigated, that is to say that the cases of those who are awaiting punishment should be gone through and, for example, investigations made into whether they have received fair trials. Therefore, a moratorium is necessary in all cases, even those that are not mentioned in the resolution.

We are also given hope by the fact that the issue of the death penalty in the United States has been given a completely new political importance. I also value the work that the human rights organisations have done to bring this issue to the fore.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR COLOM I NAVAL
Vice-President

 
  
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  Dupuis (TDI). – (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, Mrs Thors has already said this, there is unanimity in this House in support of this resolution. We must also question the actions of the European Union and its ability to pursue this initiative in favour of the international moratorium alongside the United Nations and the international community. We know the difficulties encountered by our institutions, mainly due to their odd nature, in particular with regard to foreign policy, an area under the responsibility of a Commissioner, a High Representative and fifteen Foreign Ministers.

To avoid repeating last year’s failure at the United Nations, we must urgently coordinate the actions of the European Union. To this end, I have presented an amendment asking that this policy within the United Nations in favour of the establishment of a universal moratorium be coordinated by the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy. I therefore urge my fellow Members to support these amendments.

 
  
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  Manisco (GUE/NGL).(IT) Mr President, this House is appealing to the Governor of Virginia to spare the life of a man, Derek Rocco Barnabei, sentenced to death, who is in all probability innocent. As we debate our resolution, in a death cell in the same State, they are sterilising the needles which will be used to administer the lethal injection which, in a few hours' time, will kill Michael Clagget, probably guilty of multiple murders committed many years ago.

We have adopted countless resolutions during these last two parliamentary terms in a vain attempt to put an end to the death penalty in the United States and elsewhere. What is certain is that many other executions will be performed at an increasingly high rate before August in Virginia and other States, in particular Texas, whose governor – who will almost certainly be the next President of the United States of America – holds the world record of having put 132 human beings to death in the last five years.

I do not know whether George W. Bush boasts of this record, but I do know – because he told me in a letter he sent me dated 22 March – that he is confident that he will be able to fulfil the highest obligations of a fair and errorless justice.

The resolution before Parliament notes the fresh debate which is currently in progress in the United States, not on the abolition of the death penalty at all but on a moratorium intended to ensure a more reliable but no less merciless system. We may well have done the right thing, but I fear, as the American Herald Tribune said recently, that these endeavours of ours are destined to remain unheeded, a dead letter, and so, the time may well have come – not for boycotts and sanctions, which are abhorrent to us – but, for example, to promote European tourism only in the dozen States of America which do not inflict the death penalty. There would be a serious, extremely serious risk of retaliation from the United States: if we stay away from Donald Duck or Disneyworld in Florida the Americans would boycott the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. The time has come for us to take this risk in a last attempt to put an end to this barbaric practice which is such an insult to the human family.

 
  
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  MacCormick (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, the United States, we recall, is the country of the world which has had, for the longest time, an entrenched and justiciable bill of rights. It is therefore a horrible irony that the United States is one of the few countries in the developed world which still retains and practises the use of the death penalty. We face today a particular case, that of Derek Rockwell Barnabei: each human being is an individual in her or his own right and must be stood up for as such.

We appeal for his life today, but he is also a symbol of a practice which we find appalling and which we know to be going on in many parts of the United States.

I am myself a great lover of the United States and many aspects of its way of life. I have been a frequent visitor to the law school of the University of Texas and to other law schools in the United States. I admire them very much, but I am really sad to see that state and its governor practising this so frequently and boasting of it in presidential campaigns.

 
  
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  Vattimo (PSE).(IT) Mr President, the case of Derek Rocco Barnabei makes our resolution all the more urgent. In this specific case, there are reasons to suspect that there has been a miscarriage of justice. Clearly, where the death penalty is involved a miscarriage of justice is particularly serious; let us not forget that miscarriages of justice in similar cases have subsequently been acknowledged, and it was no coincidence that the defendants in these cases were people who could not afford an expensive attorney. I believe that the high quality of the law faculties in the United States is due to the fact that the attorneys are very highly paid, but they are only highly paid by those can afford to employ their services.

Therefore, we call for a repeal of this sentence and, in consideration of the petition signed by an extremely large number of Members over the last few days, we call upon the Presidency of Parliament to write to the authorities responsible immediately, insisting that they attend to the matter and, of course, insisting too that the death penalty is abolished in the United States, so admirable a country in so many other respects. And it is precisely these merits that make the continuation of this barbaric ritual so very shocking.

 
  
  

Hooliganism

 
  
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  Van Hecke (PPE-DE).(NL) Mr President, football is a festival. This is the motto under which Belgium and the Netherlands staged Euro 2000 over the past three weeks. In sporting terms, it was indeed a festival, except perhaps for our Italian friends. However, the festival was, once again, overshadowed by the behaviour of some alleged supporters. Serious riots broke out, especially before and after the Germany-England match. In total, 173 people ended up in hospital, 1400 arrests were made and 500 English supporters were repatriated by C 130 aircraft.

Some people, including certain delegates in this House, are trying to trivialise the issue. As far as I am concerned, Mr President, there are limits to the high social cost tied in with hooliganism. Surely a country cannot take on the appearance of a police state for days on end because of a football championship? In Belgium, an average of 1500 state police troops were deployed for each match, plus hundreds of local police troops. It is high time the national governments took preventive measures in order to keep the hooligan hard-core at home. Germany set a good example in this respect.

In concrete terms, so-called football supporters who have been arrested previously on account of involvement in football violence should be issued with a travel ban. It is therefore not primarily a case of more or less border control, but of efficient and coherent police cooperation. Let us draw the right conclusions from the events in Brussels and Charleroi. There has never been a greater need for hard measures and sound cooperation in order to harness this mindless violence. Hooliganism has transcended all borders, both literally and figuratively speaking.

 
  
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  Morgantini (GUE/NGL).(IT) Mr President, too many tragedies have taken place, both inside and outside stadiums: incidents which are evidence of the imbalance and social unease of individuals, a culture where strength is what matters and violence prevails over reason.

The resolution reiterates Parliament's concern over the spread of hooliganism, and calls for preventive measures which I support. However, it is crucial that in this, of all situations, the difficulty of their task does not make the forces of the law lose their heads as well. At this point, I would like to protest at the behaviour of the Dutch police towards some Italian journalists who were filming the humiliating treatment of a group of disabled people who were being carried up the steps because there were not enough free seats for them. The journalists were prevented from doing their job and were beaten up, thrown to the ground and arrested.

The film shown this morning here in Parliament contained pictures which leave no doubt as to the express intention of the police to suppress the freedom of the press. Different interpretations have been given of the event, and so we call upon the Dutch authorities to hold an inquiry in order to find out who was responsible, and we demand that this sort of incident is never repeated.

 
  
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  Van den Berg (PSE).(NL) Mr President, this debate is not entitled hooligans but Euro 2000, and this is great. The whole of Europe managed to stage a huge festival of football where the Belgian and Dutch authorities were the first to back this idea and which attracted huge numbers of football supporters from Europe. Everyone was terribly concerned about violence and trouble and such like. In practice, the festival turned out to be a huge success all-round, and this resolution rightly mentions that we should congratulate the Dutch and Belgian authorities on this achievement.

There is also a small group of hooligans which has been operating for a while and which clearly aims to spoil this kind of festival. They managed to do this to a very limited extent. And they still manage to do this at some level. This costs a great deal of money, is a real nuisance and we therefore endorse this resolution. We also back the initiative from the Belgian and Dutch Home Affairs Ministers, which attempts to introduce travel bans for this kind of hooligan when high-risk events are due to take place.

Thirdly, I should like to mention the Italian incident. What is clear is that MEPs have received information from a variety of sources about the incident at De Kuip Stadium in Rotterdam and as a result, some have the impression that the situation got out of hand in a big way and that the incident was terrible, and they formed their opinions based on this information. Others, who gained their information from other sources, have the impression that the situation got out hand there but not to such a reprehensible extent.

As a Dutchman, I would have liked to see the Netherlands become the European champions, of course, and I congratulate the French warmly on their victory. What I would say though is that if some delegates here got the impression, based on footage they saw, that certain incidents got out of hand, then I do not think – and the same goes for the Netherlands – that we should (a) tar the whole of Euro 2000 with the same brush, and (b) act as if the whole festival was ruined as a result. What we should do is recognise that something is wrong and ask for all the facts to be made known. I am therefore very much in favour of the Dutch authorities launching a thorough inquiry. Fortunately, Prime Minister Kok has assented to this and I would like to pass my final verdict on the basis of these facts. I should right away like to express my sympathy and concern for our Italian fellow MEPs at this stage. This goes without saying, but I do want to wait until I have all these facts at my fingertips before I pass judgement.

 
  
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  Heaton-Harris (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I will start by declaring an interest, because I have been a Class 1 football referee for 18 years now and I am attached to the English FA, and also by congratulating both France for winning the Euro 2000 championship in such a fantastic way, and alas, begrudgingly Germany for winning the World Cup bid for 2006.

I also want to make sure that we actually condemn hooligans in a very strong way in this House; all hooligans whatever country they come from and whatever their background. I note what Mr Van Hecke said about the repatriation of a number of English football fans on C130 planes. It was a great shame in fact that the Belgian police overreacted in such a way by clearing bars of decent ordinary football-loving supporters, taking them with the dross that are the football hooligans.

The question is: what message was sent out by the football authorities going back a number of months before the Euro 2000 championship? We had a problem with two Leeds fans being murdered in a UEFA Cup game in Istanbul against Galatasaray, yet no action was taken against Galatasaray – they were not thrown out of the UEFA Cup.

In Denmark when Galatasaray played Arsenal, a number of Arsenal fans were arrested yet not charged with hooliganism. Then we have the inaction by the British government, which chose not to impose any extra sanctions on stopping people from travelling, even though they knew they might cause trouble. So all these factors actually led to a number of people thinking: "Well this Euro 2000 championship is a soft touch. We should be allowed to go there, and we are going to go and have a good fight", instead of watching the wonderful festival of football that it should have been.

This Parliament and others on the outside should step back, because we have a breathing space now where we can take a reasoned view of what actions we should realistically take against football hooligans, and compare that with the rights of people to freely move about our continent.

 
  
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  Napoletano (PSE).(IT) Mr President, I would like to point out that this resolution is entitled 'Euro 2000', not 'Hooliganism' as it might seem. And I would add that we have a great responsibility as politicians and Members of Parliament towards the sporting world, in particular the world of football: the responsibility never to lose sight of the fact that it is a merely a game. We must therefore be concerned when the game is unduly weighed down by either economic interests or excessively emotive behaviour, neither of which must be encouraged in any way by the political world. In my opinion, we must continually remind our young people, including those who are the most fervent fans, those who are most emotionally involved in these events, that football is a game. I would argue that whenever there is a good match, such as those we have seen during Euro 2000, we have all contributed to its success.

I also understand why these are particularly difficult events for the authorities to organise – I remember the Heysel stadium tragedy – and we can therefore congratulate ourselves on the organisation of Euro 2000. However, against this positive backcloth let us consider the Rotterdam incident, for it took place in the extremely serious context of the provision of access to these events for disabled people. This should be carried out calmly and the disabled people made to feel welcome. Moreover, we were astonished by the brutality of the police in beating up journalists who were drawing attention to an extremely serious issue regarding the provision of access and assistance for disabled people.

I would stress that we are confident that the authorities had in no way encouraged such incidents and that it was the result of seriously inappropriate behaviour on the part of the forces of the law. I therefore urge all the Members not to turn this into a national issue, for I consider that the content of the joint resolution is acceptable to all and can be adopted unanimously.

 
  
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  President. – Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Since several of you have made repeated references to the title of the item on the agenda, so that you do not waste any more time on an error, I will waste some time with a clarification.

The item on the agenda as approved by the House is ‘Hooligans’.

The title of the resolution may be the one which you have mentioned, of course, but on the agenda it appears as ‘Hooligans’, within the section on human rights.

I will take this opportunity to insist, for the record, that, in Castilian, ‘hooligans’ is an anglicism for a type of specialised, usually British, troublemaker.

 
  
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  Procacci (ELDR).(IT) Mr President, the joint resolution which we are about to put to the vote is, in my opinion, particularly well-balanced. Notably, the Rotterdam incident does not alter our view of the human rights record or the quality of democracy in Holland, which I consider to be among the most liberal countries in the world, although it was treated as serious, both in terms of the shameful treatment of the disabled people and because of the violence against the journalists who were merely doing their duty. Their nationality is of little importance. The European Union, through its highest expression of democracy, the European Parliament, condemns the occurrence of such an incident within its borders. This is the best approach to take on the matter.

Any national aspects will, where necessary, be dealt with by the governments concerned and are nothing to do with us. On the other hand, particularly in its urgent resolutions, the European Union does not hold back in expressing stringent positions on the conduct of other countries or events taking place in other parts of the world where human rights are violated. Would it not lose all credibility if it did not also criticise similar events within its borders?

 
  
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  Lagendijk (Verts/ALE).(NL) Mr President, I can be brief about the championship itself: France is a fine European champion and the fear that the situation was going to get out of hand on a massive scale has at any rate been exaggerated despite a number of very regrettable incidents referred to by Mr Van Hecke, involving mainly English supporters

After the final – and the entire debate seems to focus on this part of the championship now, but I suppose, unfortunately, this is how it is – a number of incidents occurred which, in my view, are just not on, and I am mainly referring to the rough treatment of the journalists, which at times was too rough. As I see it, stressed out police and stewards clearly went beyond their remits. But there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to what happened before this and what caused it. What exactly happened to the disabled Italian supporters? Were people informed that so many would turn up? I am saying this as a regular visitor to De Kuip Stadium and I know that there is space for disabled supporters at De Kuip, but not for an unlimited number. Did these handicapped supporters not want to be filmed or were they not allowed to be filmed? These kinds of questions need to be investigated and the Dutch Government has assented to such an investigation. Until such time, until the outcome of the investigation, I will refrain from passing judgement. Accordingly, my group will vote against any part of the resolution in which such a judgement has been passed.

I would strongly urge the Italian delegates, and also the Italian press, but mainly the Italian MEPs to refrain from drawing any comparison with the Heysel tragedy. It is absolutely not worth it. In this way, serious matters which need to be investigated would be called into question. My view is: something happened, which is now being investigated, but I would urge you to keep a sense of perspective.

 
  
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  Sylla (GUE/NGL). – (FR), Mr President, thank you for reminding us that in fact the title of the item on the agenda that we are examining is hooliganism.

Two months ago, I addressed Parliament regarding the need to take action against the crimes that hooligans would undoubtedly commit during Euro 2000. The measures taken by the Belgian authorities served to limit the clearly racist, xenophobic and homophobic violence of the hooligans.

It is therefore becoming imperative to consider measures to deal with the instigators of such violent crimes, who are often manipulated by extremist right-wing movements. It is still too easy for hooligans to move around with complete impunity within the countries of the European Union. Instant sanctions must be taken in the countries where they commit crimes. Those who are identified and on file as having committed assault must be banned from entering stadiums during major sporting events. Supporters’ clubs and football clubs must be made to take greater responsibility, as it must be said that they sometimes fan the flames. The campaign by the French Minister for Youth Affairs and Sport, Mrs Marie-Georges Buffet made them take greater responsibility and this action has borne fruit.

I therefore believe that Parliament can provide a real impetus for the Member States and the UEFA to implement such measures immediately, as the red card, Mr President, must admittedly be applied on the pitch, but must also be applied with regard to hooligans, both in and outside the stadium.

 
  
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  Beysen (ELDR).(NL) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, needless to say, all forms of violence should be denounced, including the outrageous expressions of hooliganism during Euro 2000. Despite this, I am still convinced that the reprehensible incidents were blown out of all proportion, partly by the press and partly by politicians. Because of this, we have been unable to emphasise sufficiently how extraordinarily well-organised Euro 2000 was, indeed the standard of organisation will turn Euro 2000 into an unforgettable experience for millions of people.

As representative of one of the host nations, I would like to congratulate everyone who was involved on the organisational side and in the enforcement of law and order. The success of Euro 2000 has shown that small nations are capable of great things and this should not be overshadowed by the wanton behaviour of a minority. All Member States should, in consultation with each other, take appropriate measures. Not only was Euro 2000 a superb festival of football, it was also a festival of solidarity among the citizens of the European Union, whom it brought closer together.

 
  
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  Maaten (ELDR).(NL) Mr President, on Monday, the Liberal Group voted against including this item on the agenda and if I now consider the resolution, I believe we were right to do so. Extending congratulations in a resolution is very civilised, of course, but hardly the task of this Parliament. The issue of hooligans cannot be termed urgent because this phenomenon has been around for years. I believe that, nevertheless, Parliament should look into this, but not as a matter of urgency.

I would now like to say a few words on the events which unfolded in Rotterdam. Naturally, an investigation is necessary because the accusations are very serious. If a television team was locked up all night, then this needs to be investigated thoroughly and there had better be a very good reason as to why this was done. This inquiry is under way. The Dutch Public Prosecutor is involved in this matter and so it is completely premature on the part of this Parliament to pass a verdict on the incident at this stage. In my opinion, this is a long way off, and it is inappropriate to pass political judgement at a time when a Public Prosecutor is looking into a matter. Consequently, I believe that the amendments pertaining to this matter should be rejected. We could, of course, come back to them once it has become clear that human rights were violated, but I do think that passing such a verdict would be overstepping the mark at this stage.

 
  
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  Ducarme (ELDR). – (FR) Mr President, first of all, I would like to turn to Mr Heaton-Harris who, about a month ago now, thought that the sporting event at Charleroi would have to be cancelled: there would, he claimed, be terrible trouble. I would say to him, very sportingly, as he was once a referee, that I was right to blow the whistle on him then.

Secondly, I believe that we should look at this matter in depth and that if, as the resolution indicates, we could achieve greater cooperation between the various Member States during an event such as Euro 2000, progress would be made.

If, in future, we could manage to prevent repeat offenders from attending other events, and if, finally, as Mr Fodé Sylla indicated earlier, we were able to monitor a subject such as that in order to develop new teaching on behaviour in stadiums, then sport, and not political concern, would win through.

I will end, Mr President, by hoping that the content and pace of my speech have been as you requested, that is, on a human scale.

 
  
  

Iraq

 
  
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  Andrews (UEN). – Mr President, the United Nations has been emasculated by two members of the Security Council on the issue of sanctions on Iraq. Kofi Annan is a good and honourable man. However, he should resign in the knowledge that the world is utterly opposed to the disproportionate severity of these sanctions. The EU must speak out against sanctions which amount to virtual genocide. The alleged purpose of the sanctions is to get rid of Saddam Hussein. He is still there ten years later. In fact, the real purpose of the sanctions is to control oil and provide a training ground for US and British pilots so they can ensure the survival of the military-industrial complexes in both the US and Britain. On my recent visit to Iraq I saw children die of respiratory infections, diarrhoea, leukaemia, gastro-enteritis and malnutrition. We must remember that this is a country that has the second largest oil reserve in the world. Operating theatres have raw sewage dripping in, and out-of-date equipment. We are witnessing the slow strangulation of a wonderful nation and a wonderful people. I am a friend of Islam and I think we should stop, in this European Union and the European Parliament, demonising the Arabs and demonising Islam.

 
  
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  Maes (Verts/ALE).(NL) Mr President, we had originally submitted a text on the same subject and with the same purport, but this text gives a far more balanced view than the text of the so-called joint resolution. I would have far preferred discussing a text which strikes more of a balance. Why is it then that this text has not been published? We have withdrawn our signatures after all. In our opinion, the text we submitted originally would have formed a much better base for a discussion.

 
  
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  President. – Mrs Maes, perhaps we do not understand each other very well, but if you have withdrawn your signature from the joint resolution, or have not signed it, the text remains alive and will be put to the vote in accordance with the rules in force.

 
  
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  Maes (Verts/ALE).(NL) Is this also being distributed? Is it available, because I have noticed that many MEPs have not seen this text?

 
  
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  President. – Yes, of course.

We were not aware that there was the least problem with distribution, but if you say so, we will check and we will have the text distributed.

 
  
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  Khanbhai (PPE-DE). – Mr President, Iraq was at war with Iran from 1980 to 1989. During this time the USA and EU supported Iraq since we perceived Iran as the real threat to the Middle East. Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990. This was wrong and unacceptable. The UN responded by passing Resolution 661 to impose sanctions on Iraq. The UN action was justified. The USA and Britain imposed a no-fly zone in April 1991. In 1994, Iraq recognised the territorial integrity of Kuwait. From 1991 to 1997, UN inspectors – UNSCOM – systematically and comprehensively inspected, destroyed and verified Iraq's capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction. The UN representative reported to the UN in 1997 that UNSCOM's work had covered virtually everything about Iraq. In 1998 the International Atomic Energy Agency declared that Iraq no longer had a nuclear capacity.

The oil for food programme started in 1996 has been excessively bureaucratic and incompetent, resulting in long delays in procuring essential medicines and food supplies. Of the USD 28 billion worth of oil revenue over three years, only USD 7 billion has been utilised for imports and USD 12 billion remains frozen in a bank in New York.

If the sanctions were intended to destroy Iraq's military capacity, then they have done the job. If the sanctions were intended to dislodge Saddam Hussein, this has not still been achieved after ten years.

However, ten years of sanctions have caused enormous suffering and hardship for the 22 million people of Iraq. High infant mortality, decreasing life expectancy, increased incidence of cancer and treatable diseases, continue to devastate the social fabric of a country that once enjoyed a high standard of living. The intellectual embargo has deprived doctors, teachers and other professionals of the advances in science and technology.

I believe the European Union must reassess its position in helping those suffering acute hardship. There are six EU States – Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece – represented diplomatically in Iraq today. These diplomats share the view of the UN Office in Iraq, WHO, Red Cross, and other NGOs that the EU can, through its diplomacy, achieve a breakthrough. Our parliamentarians and Commission officials should go on fact-finding missions to Iraq to meet members of the Iraqi Parliament, EU diplomats, international agencies and NGOs. Such dialogue will help to establish the facts as they are today and help identify how this deadlock can be broken so that sanctions can be lifted for non-military suppliers. I hope that this House will vote in favour of this resolution.

 
  
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  Morgantini (GUE/NGL).(IT) Mr President, I am convinced that any type of embargo apart from an arms embargo is a violation of human rights and ineffective in combating authoritarian regimes. My visit to Iraq made me even more intolerant of the fact that, in the name of the defence of democracy and the rights of the Iraqi people, oppressed by Saddam Hussein, we are killing a people and destroying a country. This is intellectual genocide. The head of the World Aid Program has said so. We have seen the victims in the hospitals: children with their mothers who look at you with staring eyes and haunt your sleep; doctors who watch the agony, powerless to do anything.

The Oil for Food programme stipulates that any imported goods must be screened by the exemption committee; million dollar contracts are delayed for years for fear that the goods may have a dual use: medicines, spare parts, medical equipment and graphite-tipped pencils are all prevented from entering the country. There are no airlines offering flights to Baghdad, although there are no UN resolutions banning such flights either, because the USA and the United Kingdom have declared a no-fly zone.

I call upon Europe to stop vacillating and suspend the embargo, with the exception of the arms embargo, unilaterally, reinstating civilian aircraft flights. We must trust the Iraqi people to bring about democracy in Iraq! One young girl from the Iraqi opposition, Rabye, said to me, while the bombs were falling on her village, 'You are even destroying our dream of building our own democracy ourselves'.

 
  
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  McKenna (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, if anyone needs any kind of proof that there is something seriously wrong with the continuing sanctions against Iraq, we just have to look at the number of resignations of high-profile people within the United Nations. We can also note the words of Mary Robinson who has strongly condemned what is going on in relation to the sanctions.

What is happening is that victims, innocent people, women and children, people without any power, without any kind of control whatsoever, are being persecuted. There is a war against the Iraqi people on which little concern has been focused, and I am glad that some people from Parliament have actually visited Iraq to see for themselves. It is extremely important.

The illegal bombing by the US and Britain, which is not covered by any UN Security Council resolution, has no mandate whatsoever and is absolutely outrageous: it should not be allowed to continue. How we can allow illegal bombing like this to continue is just beyond credibility.

The infrastructure in Iraq has been completely decimated. Again, the victims here are innocent people who have no power whatsoever. I also have to congratulate here some organisations in our communities who are doing something or are trying to raise awareness, and here I would mention those voices in the wilderness who are the sanction breakers – I think they are playing a major role and I would like to voice my support here for them.

We also have to look at the fact that in any kind of future measures against Iraq we should focus on the enhancement of human rights and democracy, and we should also look at the protection of the Kurds and in the north and the Shi'ites in the south in terms of guaranteeing them some sort of autonomy. We cannot lose sight of them either.

 
  
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  Sakellariou (PSE).(DE) Mr President, on 15 April this year, following a full debate with the Council and the Commission, we adopted a resolution that was endorsed by an overwhelming majority of this House. In that resolution we called on the Council and the Commission to do their utmost to protect the life and health of the Iraqi people and to put an end to its suffering.

We called for the embargo on food and medicines to be lifted, because it hits the Iraqi people and not Saddam Hussein. We called for an immediate stop to the bombing the USA and the United Kingdom is engaged on without a mandate from the UN Security Council, because again this hits and punishes not the culprits but the victims in Iraq. At the beginning of that resolution we of course confirmed and underlined the Iraqi Government’s obligation to accept and encourage the United Nations’ controls with a view to the destruction of ABC weapons and to trace the disappeared Kuwaiti citizens.

With today’s debate and this new resolution we are seeking to achieve three further objectives. First, we want to address not just the Council and the Commission but also the United Nations Security Council. Secondly, we propose that our Parliament should take the initiative in sending a fact-finding mission on the ground. Thirdly, we reiterate the need for the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and the Red Cross to ensure that the most deprived and vulnerable people in Iraq can benefit from the oil for food programme.

 
  
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  Perry (PPE-DE). – Mr President, like Mr Andrews I speak this afternoon as one who regards himself as a friend of the Arab and Islamic world. This resolution can only be supported if recital A and paragraph 1 are regarded as being at its absolute core. We are saying that any relaxation of sanctions must depend upon Iraq respecting United Nations resolutions. In particular we must ask Iraq to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross on tracing the 604 Kuwaiti citizens who disappeared as a result of the illegal Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.

If there is to be any EU visit to Iraq it must include a visit to those families in Kuwait who are still waiting to know ten years later what happened to their loved ones. Any weaker position on the part of the EU will not help the people of Iraq, but will condemn them to perpetual tyranny.

 
  
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  Coûteaux (UEN). – (FR) Mr President, one minute is a very short time for such a serious topic. I say serious, because we are talking about nothing less than the survival of a nation, and what must be called an international attack on immigrants, as it was once termed by Mr Chevènement, a French Defence Minister, against a nation which was trying to escape the new world order. This attack does not bode well for the future.

This new world order, an expression coined by Mr Bush to conceal the interests of the multinationals and in this case the large American oil companies, is becoming increasingly intolerable for us. In this respect, the silence of humanitarian organisations in the face of the situation of the Iraqis who are suffering and over a million of whom have already died by our doing is astonishing. What a contrast and what hypocrisy between so-called humanitarianism and this holocaust that we are collectively carrying out due to simple cowardice in the face of American power, that great empire that this House in particular and Europe in general are incapable of opposing on any subject, as yesterday’s vote on Echelon showed once again.

The most serious thing, and I will end here, as there is undoubtedly far too much to be said here, is that for once, a Southern country was managing to develop, and the Northern countries, lined up behind Washington, have been unremitting in destroying it. This is immensely dangerous and worrying for the new century.

 
  
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  Belder (EDD).(NL) Mr President, who could not feel sorry for the sorely tried population of Iraq? I would therefore like to think that it was this sympathy that was the driving force behind those submitting the joint resolution. The political ramifications of their intention are, however, a missed opportunity. What is more, they are a complete disaster for the liberated Kurdish part of ancient Mesopotamia. Allow me to be more specific. Contrary to what is assumed in recitals B and C, Saddam Hussein, a latter-day Nebuchadnesar, took it upon himself to raze this old civilisation he admired so much to the ground. This is evident from the first and second Gulf War and another five years, the 1991-1996 period, during which Baghdad categorically refused to cooperate in the oil-for-food programme, which led to a completely unnecessary lengthening of human suffering.

At present, the Iraqi Government is even allowed to export unlimited quantities of oil in order to procure humanitarian aid. In other words, what is stopping Saddam from alleviating the suffering of his people? In fact, what will happen with the reserved 13% for the Kurds in the unlikely event that the sanctions are lifted? In my view, the use of the strange term “intellectual embargo” in recital D is bizarre. After all, the Iraqi intelligentsia has for decades strained under the intellectual embargo of Saddam’s Baath party. The tyrant of the Tigris is only interested in one type of scientist: the developer of weapons of mass destruction. It is precisely this obsession of Saddam Hussein’s which reveals the very risky naivety of Paragraph 3 of the joint resolution, because the lifting of the no-fly zone in the North of Iraq – remember this is the international guarantee for the Kurds against their arch enemy Saddam – will probably drive millions of Kurds to take flight once again. They know all too well what Saddam’s pledges are really worth. Those tabling this resolution cannot possibly have it in mind to raise this awful spectre. Hence my explicit vote against.

 
  
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  Verheugen, Commission. – (DE) Mr President, I have to reply on five issues, on the Commission’s behalf. On the question of human rights let me therefore sum up by saying that the Commission’s foreign policy remains, as ever, directed at helping to prevent conflicts, prevent infringements of human rights and promote democracy and human rights.

Wherever we encounter violent conflicts and infringements of human rights, we resolutely apply the means at our disposal, be it through dialogue, be it through diplomatic measures or be it in the form of economic cooperation and aid to these countries, in order to play a positive part in resolving the conflicts and promoting democracy and human rights. That is particularly true with regard to the conflicts addressed here – Uganda, Sudan and Indonesia.

On the death penalty in the USA let me just say that regrettably nothing has changed. The European Union’s position is and will remain quite unchanged. Under our European system of values, imposing the death penalty is an act of barbarism that can never be justified. That is why we will not relax our efforts to have the death penalty outlawed throughout the world.

The discussions that have now begun in the USA are welcome. They show very clearly that one major argument against the death penalty is now having a certain effect in America too, namely that to impose the death penalty is not worthy of a constitutional state, if only because a miscarriage of justice cannot be rectified. We have now seen that many verdicts led to the execution of innocent people.

On Iraq let me say that the Commission takes the view that responsibility for the dreadful conditions in that country lies solely and entirely with Saddam Hussein and his regime. These conditions could change overnight if the regime was prepared to satisfy the conditions and demands of the international community in full, as in fact he has promised in part. Unfortunately, nothing has changed in the sense that the Iraqi regime must still be regarded as a regime that can undermine peace and stability not just in the region but worldwide, and for that reason the embargo can only be lifted if the Iraqi regime complies with the Security Council resolutions in full, as it is well aware.

The European Union is endeavouring to use the means at its disposal to take account of the humanitarian consequences of that policy and to help where help is possible. But everyone in this House also knows that the oil for food programme has certain weaknesses, which once again the Iraqi regime has to answer for, and that is also why we are still using ECHO as an instrument in Iraq.

I would like to say a little more on an issue that is being discussed here for the first time today, namely hooligans and football. The Commission welcomes the importance Parliament attaches to combating football hooliganism, as reflected in the various motions for resolution. For several years now, the Member States and the Commission have been seeking to cooperate more closely in this field. That has led to many measures being agreed between them. For instance, common safety standards have been agreed for football stadiums, common standards for tracking down fans, police officials are sent abroad to cooperate with the host country’s police and information is exchanged.

One important instrument is the handbook the Council adopted in June 1999 on cooperation between police authorities and measures to prevent violence at international football matches. The handbook sets out practical rules of conduct for the police, which were applied for the first time at the Euro 2000 championship in the Netherlands and Belgium. The evaluation of the Euro 2000 championship will provide a great deal of useful information on improving the measures to combat hooliganism.

A Dutch-Belgian project co-financed by the European Union under the programme of cooperation between police and customs authorities is carrying out the expert evaluation. Its findings on the police action during the Euro 2000 championship will be useful for similar future events. That is particularly important for Germany, which today won the bid for the 2006 World Cup.

The Commission will await the findings of this project before putting forward practical proposals to improve the existing measures. However, it is becoming clear even now that we will have to agree at EU level to ban convicted hooligans from travelling to matches with a high risk potential and that we must find means of effectively combating riots at sporting events so that – as one Member of the House said – football really remains a game.

In this connection, let me remind you that the Netherlands and Belgium intend to propose further measures to combat football hooliganism in the framework of cooperation in justice and home affairs. However, these activities are still at a very early stage. Once the Euro 2000 championship has been evaluated, the Commission and these two countries will establish more concrete contacts.

 
  
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  Andrews (UEN). – Mr President, let me say that I am shocked and horrified at the Commission reply on the issue of Iraq and the dismissive way in which they dealt with it. Just let me quote to the Commissioner, and to the Commission, the saying of Oscar Wilde that in our dealings with life, destiny never closes her book. Iraq deserves better than the Commission reply. I am absolutely horrified.

 
  
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  Manisco (GUE/NGL). – I wish to express total dissatisfaction with the reply of the Commission. That is all.

 
  
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  Perry (PPE-DE). – If you are going to be fair Mr President, let me say I express total satisfaction with the reply of the Commission.

 
  
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  President. – Perfect, that is one in favour and one against. We thank the Commissioner who does not want to speak. Let us be brief and we will all move on.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place at 5.30 p.m.

 
Last updated: 6 August 2004Legal notice