Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 27 October 2011 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Ombudsman's annual report 2010
 Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
  Annex
 Qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
  Annex
 EU-Australia agreement on the processing and transfer of PNR data ***
 Situation in Egypt and Syria, in particular of Christian communities
 Current developments in Ukraine
 Public health threat of antimicrobial resistance
 Tibet, in particular self-immolation by nuns and monks
 Bahrain
 The case of Rafah Nached in Syria

Ombudsman's annual report 2010
PDF 108k   DOC 53k
European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2011 on the Annual Report on the European Ombudsman's activities in 2010 (2011/2106(INI) )
P7_TA(2011)0467 A7-0285/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Annual Report on the European Ombudsman's activities in 2010,

–   having regard to Article 24, third paragraph, Article 228, and Article 298 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–   having regard to Articles 41 and 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 June 2008(1) on the adoption of a decision of the European Parliament amending its Decision 94/262/ECSC, EC, Euratom of 9 March 1994 on the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman's duties,

–   having regard to the framework agreement on cooperation concluded between the European Parliament and the Ombudsman on 15 March 2006, which entered into force on 1 April 2006,

–   having regard to the implementing provisions of the Statute of the Ombudsman of 1 January 2009(2) ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the European Ombudsman's activities,

–   having regard to Rule 205(2), second and third sentences, of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Petitions (A7-0285/2011 ),

A.   whereas the Annual Report on the European Ombudsman's activities in 2010 was formally submitted to the President of Parliament on 10 May 2011 and the Ombudsman, Mr Nikiforos Diamandouros, presented the report to the Committee on Petitions in Brussels on 23 May 2011,

B.   whereas Article 24 of the TFEU lays down that ‘every citizen of the Union may apply to the Ombudsman established in accordance with Article 228’,

C.   whereas Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights states that ‘Every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions and bodies of the Union’,

D.   whereas the common foreign policy, the security policy and the responsibilities of the European Council fall within the Ombudsman's remit,

E.   whereas Article 43 of the Charter states that ‘Any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State has the right to refer to the Ombudsman of the Union cases of maladministration in the activities of the Community institutions or bodies, with the exception of the Court of Justice acting in its judicial role’,

F.   whereas the Charter for Fundamental Rights of the European Union has become legally binding in most Member States following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, conferring additional legitimacy on the decisions of the European Ombudsman,

G.   whereas the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty introduced a legal basis for common rules on administrative procedures within the EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, which pursuant to Article 298 of the TFEU ‘shall have the support of an open, efficient and independent European administration’, as well as having an impact on the work of the European Ombudsman, inter alia as a result of the establishment of the European External Action Service and the fact that the European Council has become an EU institution,

H.   whereas maladministration occurs when a public body fails to act in accordance with a rule or principle which is binding upon it,

I.   whereas Mr Diamandouros was re-elected European Ombudsman by Parliament in its plenary session in Strasbourg on 20 January 2010 and took his oath before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg on 25 October 2010,

J.   whereas on 27 September 2010 the European Ombudsman institution celebrated its fifteenth anniversary; whereas in this decade and a half the Ombudsman has answered more than 36 000 complainants and completed more than 3 800 inquiries into possible maladministration,

K.   whereas the Ombudsman used the fifteenth anniversary of his institution to launch a new strategy for his 2009-2014 mandate; whereas this strategy focuses on listening to stakeholders, delivering results faster, impacting positively on the Union's administrative culture, providing timely and useful information to stakeholders and the public, and rethinking constantly the use of the resources available,

L.   whereas in 2010 the Ombudsman received 2 667 complaints; whereas this represents a decline of more than 400 compared to 2009,

M.   whereas in 2010 the Ombudsman completed 326 inquiries (318 in 2009) of which 323 were based on complaints; whereas the average time required for completing inquiries fell from 13 months in 2008 to 9 months in 2009 and 2010; whereas most of the inquiries were completed within one year (66 %) and over half (52 %) were completed within three months,

N.   whereas the Ombudsman can launch own-initiative inquiries when he intends to investigate a possible case of maladministration based on a complaint by a non-authorised person or when there appears to be a systemic problem in the institutions; whereas the Ombudsman completed three and opened six own-initiative inquiries in 2010,

O.   whereas 65 % of inquiries opened in 2010 concerned the European Commission (56 % in 2009), 10 % concerned the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO), 7 % the European Parliament, 2 % the Council of the European Union, and 1 % the Court of Justice of the European Union,

P.   whereas in over half (55 %) of the cases closed in 2010 the institution concerned accepted a friendly solution or settled the matter,

Q.   whereas the Ombudsman may issue a further remark if, in dealing with a case, an opportunity to enhance the quality of the administration is identified; whereas the Ombudsman issued further remarks in 14 cases in 2010 (down from 28 in 2009) with a view to enhancing the quality of the service provided to citizens,

R.   whereas a critical remark is made in cases where (i) it is no longer possible for the institution concerned to eliminate the maladministration, (ii) where the maladministration has no general implications or (iii) where no follow-up by the Ombudsman is deemed necessary,

S.   whereas a critical remark confirms to the complainant that the complaint was justified and indicates to the institution what it has done wrong, so it can avoid maladministration in the future; whereas over the last few years the number of critical remarks has been showing a continual decrease, falling from 44 in 2008 and 35 in 2009 to 33 in 2010,

T.   whereas a draft recommendation is issued in cases where follow-up action by the Ombudsman is necessary, where the maladministration can be eliminated or where the maladministration is particularly serious or has general implications,

U.   whereas the Ombudsman identified instances of maladministration in 12 % of the cases (40) in 2010; whereas he obtained positive outcomes in seven of these cases by making draft recommendations,

V.   whereas if an institution or body fails to respond satisfactorily to a draft recommendation, the Ombudsman may send a special report to the European Parliament,

W.   whereas a special report constitutes the Ombudsman's ultimate weapon and is the last substantive step he takes in dealing with a case, since the adoption of a resolution and the exercise of Parliament's powers are matters for the political judgment of the Parliament,

X.   whereas the Ombudsman submitted one special report to Parliament in 2010,

1.   Approves the Annual Report for 2010 presented by the European Ombudsman; congratulates the Ombudsman on his re-election in January 2010;

2.   Takes note of the new strategy the Ombudsman has developed for his current mandate and which forms the basis for his initiatives and activities; notes that this strategy includes inter alia the ongoing dialogue with complainants, civil society and other stakeholders, identifying best practices in cooperation and consultation with colleagues in the European Network of Ombudsmen, making EU procedures fairer and more transparent, and promoting a culture of service in the administrations of the EU institutions;

3.   Stresses that transparency, access to information and respect for the rights of European citizens are essential preconditions for maintaining trust between citizens and the institutions;

4.   Considers the role of the Ombudsman in enhancing openness and accountability in the decision-making processes and administration of the European Union as an essential contribution towards a Union in which decisions are taken ‘as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen’, as provided for in Article 1(2) of the Treaty on European Union;

5.   Recalls that the European Ombudsman institution on 27 September 2010 celebrated its fifteenth anniversary; notes that over these fifteen years the Ombudsman has responded to more than 36 000 complaints and played a major role in helping the European institutions to provide redress and to raise the quality of their administration;

6.   Notes that the experience of these fifteen years of activity has provided the Ombudsman institution with a real insight into trends in maladministration, systemic problems and structural weaknesses in administrations, which enables it to provide guidance for administrations with a view to avoiding the repetition of mistakes and improving the quality and transparency of their work;

7.   Welcomes the Ombudsman's initiative to regularly publish studies in which he examines the EU institutions' follow-up to his critical and further remarks; notes that the overall rate of satisfactory follow-up in 2009 was 81 % (94 % in the case of further remarks and 70 % for the critical remarks); considers this to be an encouraging development; considers nevertheless that there is room for improvement, especially with regard to the rate for critical remarks; urges the institutions to work together with the Ombudsman to improve their follow-up rate;

8.   Welcomes the generally constructive cooperation between the Ombudsman and the EU institutions and bodies; endorses the Ombudsman in his role of external control mechanism and as a valuable source of ongoing improvement to European administration;

9.   Commends the Ombudsman on his institution's new logo and visual identity as well as on his new-look Annual Report, commends the Ombudsman also for enhancing his institution's transparency by publishing on his website information about all new inquiries he is opening into complaints;

10.   Stresses the need for citizens to be better informed about the modus operandi of the institution and the information website that validates the transparency of the Ombudsman's role;

11.   Suggests that when the Ombudsman presents his annual report in a meeting of the Committee on Petitions, not only representatives of the European Commission but also of the respective administrations of the European Parliament, the Council and other EU institutions, agencies, services and bodies that have been the subject of an investigation, a special report, critical remarks or other measures taken by the Ombudsman should be present to comment on the report and take part in the discussion; urges the administrations of Parliament, the Council and the other EU institutions, agencies and bodies concerned to be represented in future meetings when the Ombudsman's annual report is presented and discussed; believes that their participation in such discussions and the sharing of their views on good administration and on the problems overcome as a result of the European Ombudsman's recommendations and remarks could help to improve the service provided to EU citizens and interinstitutional dialogue and contribute to the establishment of a genuine service culture;

12.   Calls on the Ombudsman to keep Parliament informed of developments in his relations with the new European External Action Service and the European Council;

13.   Notes that in 2010 the Ombudsman received 2 667 complaints from citizens, companies, associations, NGOs and regional offices; notes that this represents a decline of more than 400 compared to the previous year;

14.   Concurs that this decline in inadmissible complaints can be attributed in part to the interactive guide which was introduced on the Ombudsman's website in 2009 and which effectively helps direct complainants to the body best placed to help them;

15.   Encourages the European Ombudsman to continue to promote the European Network of Ombudsmen with a view to developing a comprehensive data base and better informing EU citizens about the apportionment of responsibilities between the European Ombudsman, national ombudsmen and Parliament's Committee on Petitions;

16.   Emphasises that Parliament itself must release resources to put in place a similar web portal for its Committee on Petitions to enhance the institution's visibility and transparency in order that it may also contribute to a reduction in the number of inadmissible petitions while at the same time providing guidance and advice to petitioners and improving the efficiency and the effectiveness of the petitions process;

17.   Notes with satisfaction the sustained reduction in critical remarks (33 in 2010, 35 in 2009, 44 in 2008 and 55 in 2007) issued by the Ombudsman; concurs that this is evidence that the EU institutions are taking a more pro-active role in resolving complaints and that the Ombudsman's effectiveness has earned him a degree of legitimacy in the eyes of those institutions;

18.   Congratulates the Ombudsman on the fact that the average time required for completing inquiries is becoming shorter and shorter (approximately nine months in 2009 and 2010); requests that the necessary means are used to reduce it still further in order to be more able to better meet the expectations of EU citizens;

19.   Notes that 65 % of the inquiries opened by the Ombudsman in 2010 concerned the European Commission (219 inquiries); expresses its concern about the strong increase from 56 % in 2009 (191 inquiries), and once more asks the Commissioner, especially the Commissioner responsible for interinstitutional relations and administration, to take steps to improve the present situation significantly and as soon as possible;

20.   Takes note of the Ombudsman's concerns about the relatively high number of unsatisfactory replies by the European Commission to his critical remarks (10 out of 32 replies); shares the Ombudsman's view that there is still major work to be done in persuading officials that a defensive approach to the Ombudsman represents a missed opportunity for their institutions and risks damaging the image of the Union as a whole; calls for the radical improvement of the answering process, including reducing the time taken in generating responses (especially in time-sensitive cases), and producing solution-oriented rather than defensive answers; stresses that European citizens have a right to good administration under the Charter of Fundamental Rights;

21.   Points to the fact that in 2010 by far the most common allegation examined by the Ombudsman was lack of transparency in the EU administration; notes that this allegation arose in 33 % of all closed inquiries and included refusal of information and of access to documents; shares the Ombudsman's frustration that the number of transparency cases has remained consistently high over the past years;

22.   Notes that in 2010 the Ombudsman submitted one special report, which concerned the Commission's refusal to disclose documents and to cooperate with the Ombudsman in a spirit of complete transparency; recalls that the Committee on Petitions' report on the special report was adopted by Parliament on 25 November 2010(3) ; recalls that in the resolution adopted the Commission was urged to give an undertaking to Parliament that it would fulfil its duty of sincere cooperation with the European Ombudsman;

23.   Calls for the launch of an information campaign designed to reassure the staff of the EU institutions as to the Ombudsman's willingness to listen and discuss issues, and to highlight the advantages of intervention by the Ombudsman with a view to bringing the administrations of the EU institutions closer to EU citizens;

24.   Recalls that Regulation (EC) 1049/2001(4) on access to documents from EU institutions has been in force for 10 years; recalls that the basic notion underlying this Regulation is that openness is the rule and secrecy the exception; notes that the institutions are still struggling with this concept; takes the view that EU institutions, agencies, services and bodies must keep this principle in mind when drafting documents and make sure they strike the right balance between the necessary and appropriate degree of transparency and the genuine need for confidentiality;

25.   Recalls that the recast of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 is still ongoing; regrets the lack of progress in the recast procedure; urges the Council and the Commission to be more open to giving access to documents and information to citizens and to the European Parliament;

26.   Encourages the Ombudsman to continue to insist on the fundamental right of access to documents, the proper implementation of the principle of transparency in the decision-making process, a citizen-friendly culture of service and a pro-active attitude by the EU's institutions, agencies and bodies with regard to putting documents into the public domain, which constitutes a basic principle for the transparency and responsibility of the EU institutions; proposes that examples of good practices be publicised among EU citizens in order to counter their negative image of the EU administration, as well as to promote dialogue between the different institutions on problems affecting the quality of their administration;

27.   Agrees with the Ombudsman that a concise statement of public service principles would contribute to a culture of service and would promote citizens' trust in the EU civil service and institutions; looks forward to the Ombudsman's statement of public service principles, on which he is currently consulting his national colleagues and other interested parties;

28.   Proposes that this statement of public service principles be disseminated as widely as possible and made easily accessible to EU citizens, so as to reassure them of the EU's commitment to protecting public services, which are a feature of their day-to-day lives;

29.   Considers, nevertheless, that adopting common binding rules and principles on administrative procedure within the EU's own administration, as already called for by the first European Ombudsman, and the introduction of the service principle in this context would be the best way to ensure a lasting shift in the administrative culture of the EU and expects, therefore, the Commission to make the presentation of a draft regulation to this end on the basis of Article 298 of the TFEU a priority;

30.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the report of the Committee on Petitions to the Council, the Commission, the European Ombudsman, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and to their ombudsmen or similar competent bodies.

(1) OJ C 286 E, 27.11.2009, p. 172.
(2) Adopted on 8 July 2002 and amended by decisions of the Ombudsman of 5 April 2004 and 3 December 2008.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0436 .
(4) OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43.


Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography ***I
PDF 87k   DOC 37k
Resolution
Consolidated text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 27 October 2011 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, repealing Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA (COM(2010)0094 – C7-0088/2010 – 2010/0064(COD) )
P7_TA(2011)0468 A7-0294/2011

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0094 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Articles 82(2) and 83(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0088/2010 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 15 September 2010(1) ,

–   after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–   having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 29 June 2011 to approve Parliament's position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

–   having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0294/2011 ),

1.   Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out;

2.   Approves the joint statement by Parliament and the Council annexed to this resolution;

3.   Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

4.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 27 October 2011 with a view to the adoption of Directive 2011/.../EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA

P7_TC1-COD(2010)0064


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive 2011/93/EU.)

ANNEX

Joint statement of the European Parliament and of the Council on solicitation of children for sexual purposes

Having regard to the fact that ‘real-life’ solicitation of children for sexual purposes (off-line grooming) means intentional manipulation of a child under the age of sexual consent by means of speech, writing, audio-visual material or by similar presentations, to meet him or her for the purpose of committing any of the offences referred to in Article 3(4) and Article 5(6) of the Directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography,

having regard to the fact that ‘real-life’ solicitation of children for sexual purposes is already covered by the national law of Member States in different forms, as attempt, a preparatory offence or a particular form of sexual abuse;

the European Parliament and the Council call on the Member States to check carefully their criminal law definitions as regards the criminalisation of ‘real-life’ solicitation of children for sexual purposes, and to improve and correct their criminal law, if necessary, as regards any legal lacunae that might still exists in that regard.

(1) OJ C 48, 15.2.2011, p. 138.


Qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection ***I
PDF 104k   DOC 45k
Resolution
Consolidated text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 27 October 2011 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection and the content of the protection granted (recast) (COM(2009)0551 – C7-0250/2009 – 2009/0164(COD) )
P7_TA(2011)0469 A7-0271/2011

(Ordinary legislative procedure – recast)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2009)0551 ),

–   having regard to Article 251(2) and Article 63(1), points 1(c), 2(a) and 3(a) of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0250/2009 ),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication to Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Consequences of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon for ongoing interinstitutional decision-making procedures’ (COM(2009)0665 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(3) and Article 78(2)(a) and (b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 28 April 2010(1) ,

–   having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 7 July 2011 to approve Parliament's position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 28 November 2001 on a more structured use of the recasting technique for legal acts(2) ,

–   having regard to the letter of 2 February 2010 from the Committee on Legal Affairs to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in accordance with Rule 87(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to Rules 87 and 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A7-0271/2011 ),

A.   whereas, according to the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the proposal in question does not include any substantive amendments other than those identified as such in the proposal and whereas, as regards the codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier acts together with those amendments, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change in their substance,

1.   Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out, taking into account the recommendations of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission;

2.   Endorses the Joint Political Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on explanatory documents annexed to this resolution;

3.   Takes note of the Joint Political Declaration of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents annexed to this resolution;

4.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 27 October 2011 with a view to the adoption of Directive 2011/.../EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted (recast)

P7_TC1-COD(2009)0164


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive 2011/95/EU.)

ANNEX

Joint Political Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on explanatory documents

The institutions acknowledge that the information Member States supply to the Commission as regards the transposition of directives in national law ‘must be clear and precise(3) , in order to facilitate the achievement by the Commission of its task of overseeing the application of Union law.

Against this background, the European Parliament and the Council welcome the Joint Political Declaration of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents.

Consequently, where the need for, and the proportionality of, the transmission of such documents is justified in accordance with the Joint Political Declaration of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents, the Institutions agree to include the following recital in the directive concerned:"

In accordance with the Joint Political Declaration of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents of [date], Member States have undertaken to accompany, in justified cases, the notification of their transposition measures with one or more documents explaining the relationship between the components of a directive and the corresponding parts of national transposition instruments. With regard to this Directive, the legislator considers the transmission of such documents to be justified.

"

By 1 November 2013, the Commission will report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the implementation of the two Joint Political Declarations on explanatory documents.

The Institutions undertake to apply these principles as from 1 November 2011 to new and pending directive proposals, with the exception of those on which the European Parliament and the Council have already reached an agreement.

Joint Political Declaration of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents

Pursuant to Article 288 TFEU, 'A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods‘ .

Member States and the Commission recognise that the effective implementation of Union law is a prerequisite for achieving the policy objectives of the Union and that, whilst the responsibility for such implementation lies primarily with Member States, it is a matter of common interest since it aims, inter alia , to create a level playing field in all Member States.

Member States and the Commission acknowledge that the correct and timely transposition of Union directives is a legal obligation. They note that the Treaties entrust the Commission with the task of overseeing the application of Union law under the supervision of the Court of Justice and share the common understanding that the notification of transposition measures should facilitate the achievement by the Commission of this task.

In this context, Member States acknowledge that the information they supply to the Commission as regards the transposition of directives in national law ‘must be clear and precise ’ and ‘must indicate unequivocally the laws, regulations and administrative provisions ’, or any other provisions of national law, as well as, where relevant, the jurisprudence of national courts, by means of which the Member States consider that they have satisfied the various requirements imposed on them by the directive(4) .

In order to improve the quality of information on the transposition of Union directives, where the Commission considers that documents explaining the relationship between the components of a directive and the corresponding parts of national transposition instruments are required, it shall justify on a case by case basis, when submitting the relevant proposals, the need for, and the proportionality of, providing such documents, taking into account, in particular and respectively, the complexity of the directive and of its transposition, as well as the possible additional administrative burden.

In justified cases, Member States undertake to accompany the notification of transposition measures with one or more explanatory documents, which can take the form of correlation tables or other documents serving the same purpose.

(1) OJ C 18, 19.1.2011, p. 80.
(2) OJ C 77, 28.3.2002, p. 1.
(3) See Judgment of the Court of Justice of 16 July 2009 in case C–427/07, point 107 and the case-law cited therein.
(4) See Judgment of the Court of Justice of 16 July 2009 in case C–427/07, point 107 and the case-law cited therein.


EU-Australia agreement on the processing and transfer of PNR data ***
PDF 77k   DOC 35k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 27 October 2011 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (09825/2011 – C7-0304/2011 – 2011/0126(NLE))
P7_TA(2011)0470 A7-0364/2011

(Consent)

The European Parliament ,

   having regard to the draft Council decision (09825/2011),

–   having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service annexed to the above-mentioned draft Council decision (10093/2011),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission on the global approach to transfers of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries (COM(2010)0492 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2007 on SWIFT, the PNR agreement and the transatlantic dialogue on these issues(1) , its recommendation of 22 October 2008 on the evaluation of the Australia-EU PNR agreement(2) , its resolution of 5 May 2010 on the launch of negotiations for Passenger Name Record (PNR) agreements with the United States, Australia and Canada(3) , and its resolution of 11 November 2010 on the global approach to transfers of PNR data to third countries(4) ,

–   having regard to the opinions of the European Data Protection Supervisor of 19 October 2010 on the Communication from the Commission on the global approach to transfers of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries(5) and of 15 July 2011 on the proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service(6) ,

–   having regard to Opinion 7/2010 of 12 November 2010 on the European Commission's Communication on the global approach to transfers of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries adopted by the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party,

–   having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), in conjunction with Article 82(1), second subparagraph, point (d), and Article 87(2), point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0304/2011 ),

–   having regard to Article 16 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–   having regard to Rules 81 and 90(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinion of the Committee of Foreign Affairs (A7-0364/2011 ),

1.   Consents to the conclusion of the Agreement;

2.   Considers that procedure 2009/0186(NLE) has lapsed as a result of the 2008 PNR Agreement between the European Union and Australia having been replaced by the new PNR Agreement;

3.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the government of Australia.

(1) OJ C 287 E, 29.11.2007, p. 349.
(2) OJ C 15 E, 21.1.2010, p. 46.
(3) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 70.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0397 .
(5) OJ C 357, 30.12.2010, p. 7.
(6) Not yet published in the Official Journal.


Situation in Egypt and Syria, in particular of Christian communities
PDF 108k   DOC 55k
European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2011 on the situation in Egypt and Syria, in particular of Christian communities
P7_TA(2011)0471 B7-0542 , 0545 , 0548 , 0549 , 0551 and 0555/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Egypt and Syria, in particular of 15 September 2011 on the situation in Syria(1) , of 7 July 2011 on the situation in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain in the context of the situation in the Arab world and North Africa(2) , and of 17 February 2011 on the situation in Egypt(3) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 January 2011 on the situation of Christians in the context of freedom of religion(4) ,

–   having regard to the statements of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on Syria of 8 October 2011 and on Egypt of 10 October 2011,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council of 20 February 2011,

–   having regard to the conclusions on Syria of the Foreign Affairs Council of 10 October 2011 and the European Council conclusions of 23 October 2011,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, to which Egypt and Syria are parties,

–   having regard to Council Decision 2011/522/CFSP of 2 September 2011 amending Decision 2011/273/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria(5) , Council Decision 2011/523/EU of 2 September 2011 partially suspending the application of the Cooperation Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Syrian Arab Republic(6) , Council Regulation (EU) No 878/2011 of 2 September 2011 amending Regulation (EU) No 442/2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria(7) , and Council Regulation (EU) No 1011/2011 of 13 October 2011 amending Regulation (EU) No 442/2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria(8) ,

–   having regard to Rule 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the freedoms of religion, belief, conscience and thought are fundamental and universal values and are essential elements of democracy; whereas the European Union has repeatedly expressed its commitment to the freedoms of religion, belief, conscience and thought, and has stressed that governments have a duty to guarantee these freedoms all over the world;

Egypt

B.   whereas Egypt is going through a critical period of democratic transition and faces considerable challenges and difficulties in this process; whereas economic development and a higher standard of living of the population are essential for long-term political and social stability in the country;

C.   whereas at least 25 Egyptian citizens were killed and more than 300 wounded on 9 October 2011 in Cairo during a peaceful march organised by Coptic Christians, starting in the Shubra district of Northern Cairo and heading towards the Maspero state television building, to protest against an attack on a Coptic church in Aswan, to effectively fight against religious discrimination, and to call for the adoption of a unified law on the building of houses of worship, for religious discrimination to be effectively criminalised and for the church that was attacked to be rebuilt;

D.   whereas the Egyptian authorities have responded to this tragic event by initiating an inspection of the Maspero area by the Prosecutor-General's office, conducting an investigation under the military judicial authority and setting up a fact-finding commission composed of members of the judiciary to investigate these incidents with the aim of holding accountable those responsible for inciting violence and for violent actions; initiated the immediate consideration of a draft decree aimed at legalising the status of places of worship built without proper authorisation; initiated, on the basis of a request made by leaders of various religious groups, a social debate on the draft unified code for building places of worship with the aim of its adoption; and decided to introduce amendments to the Penal Code to fight discrimination both in the public and private domains;

E.   whereas since March 2011 tens of thousands of Copts have reportedly left Egypt;

F.   whereas civilians arrested under the emergency law are tried before military courts which violate the right to a fair trial and deny defendants the right to appeal; whereas human rights organisations have reported that more than 12 000 civilians have been tried before these special courts since March 2011;

G.   whereas Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested by the military police on 28 March 2011 at his home in Cairo for voicing his opinion online, including criticism of the role the Egyptian military played during and after the popular revolution; whereas he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on 10 April 2011 on charges of ‘insulting the military’ after an unfair fast-track trial in a military court in the absence of his lawyer, family and friends;

H.   whereas the threats levelled at NGOs, especially those involved in the defence of human rights, in an intensive defamatory campaign launched by the state-owned press, served to de-legitimise and stigmatise them in the eyes of the public as acting against the interests of Egypt;

I.   whereas more violence was incited by Egyptian state television when people were called upon to ‘protect the army’;

J.   whereas the transitional period after the revolution of 25 January 2011 in Egypt has been characterised by a tendency towards marginalisation of women, who were excluded from the Constitutional Committee, and whereas, as part of the review of the law on political rights, the women's quota has been abolished;

K.   concerned about the kidnapping of Coptic girls who have been forced to convert to Islam;

Syria

L.   whereas, since the start of the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Syria in March 2011, the systematic killings, violence and torture have been dramatically escalating and the Syrian army and security forces continue to respond with targeted killings, torture and mass arrests; whereas, according to UN estimates, over 3 000 people have lost their lives, many more have been injured and thousands detained; whereas many Syrians are facing a deteriorating humanitarian situation as a result of the violence and displacements;

M.   whereas it is still the case that no international journalists and observers are being allowed access to the country; whereas reports from Syrian human rights activists and images from mobile telephones are the only means of documenting the widespread human rights violations and systematic attacks, both targeted and random, against the peaceful protesters and citizens in general in Syria;

N.   whereas ongoing events in Syria are accompanied by actions aimed at inciting inter-ethnic and inter-confessional conflict and increasing sectarian tensions; whereas there are reports that estimate that the Christian population in Syria may have dropped from 10 to 8 percent; whereas thousands of Iraqi Christians came to Syria to escape targeted violence in Iraq; whereas many Christians in Syria fear that they will become victims of sectarian violence in the country; whereas Christian communities have an important role to play in the democratisation of the country;

O.   whereas, in its conclusions of 10 October 2011, the Council welcomed the efforts of the Syrian political opposition to establish a united platform, called on the international community also to welcome these efforts, and noted the creation of the Syrian National Council (SNC) as a positive step forward; whereas the National Committee for Democratic Change has also been created in Syria;

Egypt

1.   Expresses again its solidarity with the Egyptian people in this critical and difficult period of democratic transition in the country and continues to support their democratic aspirations; encourages the EU and its Member States to continue to support the efforts aimed at accelerating democratic, economic and social reforms in Egypt;

2.   Strongly condemns the killing of protestors in Egypt; expresses its sincere condolences to the families of all victims; calls on the authorities to ensure that security forces do not use disproportionate force; emphasises the right of all citizens to demonstrate freely and peacefully, under due protection from law enforcement authorities; calls on the Egyptian authorities to release the 28 arrested Christians in Maspero as well all others arrested;

3.   Welcomes the efforts made by the Egyptian authorities to identify the authors and perpetrators of the attacks on Christian communities; stresses that it is important that an independent, thorough and transparent investigation into the events in Maspero should be conducted by an independent civil judiciary, in order to hold all those responsible to account; stresses that the role of the media has to be fully addressed; notes the government's announcements about the immediate consideration of a draft decree aiming to legalise the status of places of worship built without proper authorisation as well as about strengthening legal instruments aimed at fighting discrimination both in the public and private domains; stresses, however, the responsibility of the Egyptian Government and authorities to ensure the safety of all citizens in the country and that those responsible for the violence be brought to justice;

4.   Calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure full respect for all fundamental rights, including freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, conscience and thought for all citizens in Egypt, including the Coptic Christians, and that Coptic Christian communities do not fall victim to violent attacks and can live in peace and freely express their beliefs throughout the country; calls for the adequate protection of the churches in order to put an end to the continuous aggression and destruction of churches by Islamic extremists; welcomes continued efforts to adopt a ‘Common Code for building places of worship’; stresses that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is a fundamental right guaranteed by legal instruments; urges the Egyptian authorities to end discrimination against Coptic Christians, for example by deleting references to religion from all official documents, and to ensure equal dignity and equal opportunities for all citizens in Egypt to have access to all public and political posts, including representation in the armed forces, in Parliament and in Government;

5.   Calls on the EU Member States to strictly abide by the EU Common Position on arms exports; urges the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, to urge Member States to fully implement and comply with the requirements of the Common Position;

6.   Takes the view that a new Constitution should explicitly provide for the protection of all fundamental rights, including freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, conscience and thought, and the protection of minorities; calls on the Egyptian authorities to make sure that any constitutional provision is inclusive and leaves no possibility for discrimination against anyone in Egyptian society;

7.   Stresses the importance of holding free, fair and transparent elections to the People's Assembly and to the Shoura Council in late 2011 and early 2012, and presidential elections in 2012, in Egypt; encourages the EU and its Member States to continue to support and assist the Egyptian authorities, political parties and civil society in the efforts aimed at achieving this goal; encourages the Egyptian authorities to facilitate the work of foreign organisations that intend to follow the electoral process on the ground; calls for the interim government of Egypt to be replaced as soon as possible by a government established in accordance with the results of free elections;

8.   Calls on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to put an end to the emergency law immediately, as it violates the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly, in order to prevent the parliamentary elections scheduled by the end of the year from being conducted under the state of emergency;

9.   Welcomes in this regard the amendment to the Penal Code criminalising acts of discrimination on grounds of sex, race, language, religion or creed;

10.   Considers that measures should be adopted by the EU in the event of serious violations of the human rights of any citizens in Egypt; underlines the necessity for the EU to stand ready to adopt further measures in order to assist the Egyptian people who are striving for a democratic future through peaceful means;

11.   Calls on the Egyptian authorities to adopt a new association law in accordance with international human rights standards and in close consultation with NGOs and human rights groups; underlines that respect for women's rights, gender equality and women's political participation is crucial for real democratic development in Egypt;

12.   Expresses its deep concerns about the health condition of imprisoned blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad and calls for his immediate release; urges the Egyptian Government and authorities to put an end without delay to military trials of civilians; urges the Egyptian authorities to ensure that no civil society organisation is subject to direct or indirect intimidation in the country and to facilitate the participation of these organisations in the process of democratic transition, including the electoral process;

Syria

13.   Firmly condemns the disproportionate and brutal use of force against peaceful protesters and the systematic persecution of pro-democracy activists, human rights defenders, journalists, doctors and medical personnel; expresses its deepest concern at the gravity of the human rights violations perpetrated by the Syrian authorities, including mass arrests, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, disappearances and torture, including of children, which may amount to crimes against humanity; reiterates its call on President Bashar al-Assad and his regime to relinquish power immediately to allow a democratic transition to take place in Syria with a view to launching a process of deep democratic reforms;

14.   Expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims; commends the courage and determination of the Syrian people and strongly supports their aspirations to achieve full respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and the guarantee of better economic and social conditions;

15.   Reiterates its call for an independent, transparent and effective investigation into the killings, arrests, arbitrary detention and alleged forced disappearances and instances of torture by the Syrian security forces in order to ensure that the perpetrators of such acts are held to account by the international community; takes the view that the UNSC should refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the aim of seeing justice done for the Syrian people and preventing more people from falling victim to these practices; calls for full access of international humanitarian and human rights organisations as well as of the international media to the country and underlines the call made by Syrian opposition forces and demonstrators for the sending of international observers;

16.   Is deeply concerned about the situation of Christians in Syria, in particular their safety; condemns actions aimed at inciting inter-confessional conflict; urges the current and future Syrian authorities to provide reliable and efficient protection for the Christian communities;

17.   Stresses the importance of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Syria, and notably freedom of religion, belief, conscience and thought; expresses, in this context, its support for the Christian community in the country and, at the same time, encourages this community to play a positive and constructive role in the ongoing events in Syria; encourages also Syrian opposition forces to declare or reconfirm their commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms, and notably freedom of religion, belief, conscience and thought;

18.   Welcomes the positive statement made by the Council on the efforts of the Syrian political opposition to establish a united platform; reiterates its call on VP/HR Ashton, the Council and the Commission to further encourage and support the emergence of organised Syrian democratic opposition forces both within and outside the country;

19.   Welcomes the commitment of the EU to continue to press for strong UN action to increase international pressure; reiterates its call on the members of the UNSC, and in particular Russia and China, not to block a resolution condemning the use of lethal force by the Syrian regime and urging that this use of force be ended, and to put in place sanctions for failure to do so; strongly supports the EU decision of 23 September 2011 to adopt additional sanctions against the Syrian regime; underlines the necessity for the EU to stand ready to adopt further measures in order to assist the Syrian people who are striving for a democratic future through peaceful means;

20.   Welcomes the condemnation of the Syrian regime by Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Turkey's role in accepting refugees;

21.   Strongly condemns the acts of violence, harassment or intimidation of some Syrian citizens taking place on EU territory and recalls that the right to protest freely and peacefully in safety is fully guaranteed in the EU Member States, including for those protesting against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad;

o
o   o

22.   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 governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, the Government and Parliament of the People's Republic of China, the US Administration and the US Congress, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Government and Parliament of the Syrian Arab Republic.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0387 .
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0333 .
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0064 .
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0021 .
(5) OJ L 228, 3.9.2011, p. 16.
(6) OJ L 228, 3.9.2011, p. 19.
(7) OJ L 228, 3.9.2011, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 269, 14.10.2011, p. 18.


Current developments in Ukraine
PDF 79k   DOC 39k
European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2011 on the current developments in Ukraine
P7_TA(2011)0472 B7-0543 , 0550 , 0552 , 0553 and 0554/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Ukraine,

–   having regard to the 2010 Country Progress Report on Ukraine and to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Review of 25 May 2011,

–   having regard to the statement by its President on the sentencing of former Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, on 11 October 2011,

–   having regard to the statements issued on 5 August and 11 October 2011 by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the European Union on the verdict in the case of Yulia Tymoshenko,

–   having regard to the Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership summit held in Warsaw on 29/30 September 2011,

–   having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and Ukraine, which entered into force on 1 March 1998, and to the ongoing negotiations on the Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which is intended to replace the PCA,

–   having regard to the National Indicative Programme 2011-2013 for Ukraine,

–   having regard to Rule 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the EU favours a stable and democratic Ukraine which respects the principles of the social market economy, the rule of law and human rights, protects minorities and guarantees fundamental rights; whereas Ukraine's domestic political stability, including a focus on internal reform and respect for the rule of law involving the establishment of fair, impartial and independent legal processes, is a prerequisite for the further development of relations between the EU and Ukraine;

B.   whereas one of the European Parliament's main foreign policy objectives is to enhance and foster relations with Ukraine and strengthen the ENP, which seeks to encourage political, economic and cultural relations between the countries concerned and the EU and its Member States;

C.   whereas the decision taken by the Pechersk District Court in Ukraine on 11 October 2011 to sentence former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years' imprisonment, three years' prohibition of political activity, a fine of USD200 million and the confiscation of all her property is widely seen as either an act of revenge or as part of an attempt to convict and imprison opposition members in order to prevent them from standing and campaigning in next year's parliamentary election and the 2015 presidential election;

D.   whereas on 12 October 2011 the Ukraine Security Service launched a new criminal case against Yulia Tymoshenko and former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who are accused of conspiring, while being the president and real owner of United Energy Systems of Ukraine, to misuse Ukrainian public funds on a massive scale;

E.   whereas a growing number of officials are being held criminally accountable for their actions, including former government ministers, but mostly (deputy) heads of state departments and inspectorates, heads of sub-units of law-enforcement agencies, district court judges and heads of local authorities;

F.   whereas the Ukraine Government has committed itself to a range of legal reforms that would bring the country's private and public law into line with European and international standards;

G.   whereas the EU continues to emphasise the need to respect the rule of law, including by establishing fair, impartial and independent legal processes, thereby avoiding any danger of creating the perception that judicial measures are being used selectively; whereas the EU regards these principles as especially important in a country which aspires to enter into deeper contractual relationships and build on its political association with the Union;

1.   Takes the view that a deepening of relations between the EU and Ukraine and the fact of offering Ukraine a European perspective are of great significance and in the interests of both parties; recognises Ukraine's aspirations pursuant to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, provided that all criteria, including respect for the principles of democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, are met;

2.   Deplores the sentencing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as a violation of human rights and an abuse of the judiciary for the purpose of the political suppression of Ukraine's leading opposition politician; emphasises that the law selectively applied against Tymoshenko dates back to Soviet times and makes provision for criminal prosecution for political decisions; whereas Articles 364 and 365 of that law, which are currently under review by the Verhovna Rada, do not conform to European and UN standards;

3.   Urges the Ukrainian authorities to ensure a fair, transparent and impartial legal process should Yulia Tymoshenko appeal against her conviction, and in the other trials against members of the former government; insists that Yulia Tymoshenko should be allowed to exercise her right to participate fully in the political process both as of now and in the forthcoming elections in Ukraine;

4.   Is concerned that the Tymoshenko trial is at odds with the Ukraine Government's proclaimed commitment to democracy and European values;

5.   Expresses genuine concern at the continued detention of the former Minister of the Interior, Yuri Lutsenko, against whom no sentence has yet been pronounced in his trial, and at other similar cases;

6.   Insists that all judicial proceedings against former and current senior government officials should be conducted in accordance with European standards of fairness, impartiality, transparency and independence;

7.   Takes the view that a failure to review Yulia Tymoshenko's conviction will jeopardise the conclusion of the Association Agreement and its ratification, while pushing the country further away from the realisation of its European perspective; expresses concern at some signs of decline in democratic freedoms and at the possible instrumentalisation of state institutions for partisan purposes and to exact political revenge;

8.   Stresses that the strengthening of the rule of law and internal reform, including a credible fight against corruption, are essential not only for the conclusion and ratification of the Association Agreement and the deepening of EU-Ukraine relations, but also for the consolidation of democracy in Ukraine;

9.   Welcomes the agreement that has been reached on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area ; regards this agreement as a solid basis for the possible finalisation of the negotiations on an Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine;

10.   Expresses alarm at reports concerning the deterioration of media freedom and pluralism in Ukraine; calls on the authorities to take all necessary measures to protect these essential aspects of a democratic society and to refrain from any attempt to control, directly or indirectly, the content of national media reporting;

11.   Strongly supports the recommendations put forward in the joint opinion of the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR on the draft parliamentary election law; considers it essential that these recommendations should be adopted and implemented in an expedient, inclusive and comprehensive fashion, involving both the opposition and civil society;

12.   Urges all political forces in Ukraine to conduct a fair and transparent debate about the political decision-making process; insists that investigations into possible failures in that process should be carried out by a parliamentary committee of inquiry;

13.   Considers that the recently postponed meeting with President Yanukovych would have offered an excellent opportunity to tackle serious concerns which have been addressed to the Ukraine Government and re-establish a constructive dialogue that could lead to the initialling of the Association Agreement, provided that significant progress is made on the remaining technical and key political obstacles; calls on the Council and Commission to reschedule the meeting with President Yanukovych so that it takes place ahead of the planned EU-Ukraine Summit in December 2011;

14.   Calls on the Commission to support judicial reform in Ukraine by making better use of the EU's capacity-building programme and to consider setting up a High-Level EU Advisory Group to assist Ukraine in its efforts to fall into line with EU legislation, including in the judicial sphere;

15.   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 governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of Ukraine and the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and the OSCE.


Public health threat of antimicrobial resistance
PDF 110k   DOC 56k
European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2011 on the public health threat of antimicrobial resistance
P7_TA(2011)0473 B7-0538/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on antibiotic resistance, focusing on animal health,

–   having regard to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Scientific Opinion ‘on the public health risks of bacterial strains producing extended-spectrum β-lactamases and/or AmpC β-lactamases in food and food-producing animals’ of August 2011,

–   having regard to the Staff working paper of the services of the Commission on antimicrobial resistance of 18 November 2009 (SANCO/6876/2009r6),

–   having regard to the Joint Technical Report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) of September 2009 on ‘The bacterial challenge: time to react - A call to narrow the gap between multidrug-resistant bacteria in the EU and the development of new antibacterial agents’,

–   having regard to Council Recommendation 2002/77/EC of 15 November 2001 on the prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine(1) and the European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2001 on the proposal for this Council Recommendation(2) ,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 20 June 2001 on a Community Strategy against antimicrobial resistance (COM(2001)0333 ),

–   having regard to Rules 115(5) and 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas antimicrobial agents are able to destroy or prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms (antibiotics are microbial agents which only react against bacteria) and thereby have played a significant role in improving public health by helping to reduce the number of deaths from diseases and infections which were previously incurable or fatal;

B.   whereas their use has resulted in certain micro-organisms previously sensitive to these antimicrobial agents developing so-called ‘antimicrobial resistance’;

C.   whereas this natural process is accelerated by the excessive and uncontrolled use of these antimicrobial agents, thereby jeopardizing the medical successes achieved;

D.   whereas the launch of every new antibiotic has been, and will be, followed by resistance in the targeted bacteria; whereas the maintenance of an effective capacity to combat infectious disease requires both the development of new antimicrobial agents and improved conservation of existing antibiotic resources, thus underlining the priority of ensuring that the use of antibiotics is effectively controlled and limited to necessary treatment only;

E.   whereas for approximately four decades (from the 1940s to the 1970s) the pharmaceutical industry provided a steady flow of new antibiotics, including several with new mechanisms of action that circumvented the problems caused by resistance to earlier agents; whereas only a few new antimicrobials have been developed and authorised since then;

F.   whereas antimicrobial resistance is an important, largely unresolved, issue which has become a threat to public health in Europe and globally, resulting in longer, more complicated treatments, a diminution of quality of life, a greater risk of deaths (25 000 patients die each year in the EU from an infection caused by resistant micro-organisms), extra healthcare costs and productivity losses of at least EUR 1,5 billion per year;

G.   whereas a high percentage of hospital-acquired infections are caused by highly resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and C. difficile, constituting a serious risk to patient safety;

H.   whereas antimicrobial resistance has become such a critical issue that the World Health Organization made it the theme of this year's World Health Day on 7 April 2011 and that the European Union has since 2008 organised an annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November;

I.   whereas inappropriate and irrational use of antimicrobial medicines provides favourable conditions for resistant microorganisms to emerge, spread and persist;

J.   whereas antimicrobial resistance in humans is often caused by inadequate doses of antibiotic medicines, by incorrect treatments and through the constant exposure of pathogens to antimicrobial agents in hospitals;

K.   whereas good hygiene in the form of effective hand washing and hand drying can help reduce the need for antibiotics and antimicrobial agents;

L.   whereas, despite the ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters and the will to decrease veterinary consumption of antibiotics for inappropriate ‘prophylactic’ purposes, antimicrobial resistance affects both humans and animals and may potentially be transmitted both ways, making this a truly cross-cutting matter which calls for a coordinated approach at Union level; whereas additional efforts are therefore required to improve agricultural practices so as to help minimise the risk associated with the use of antibiotics for veterinary purposes and the development of resistance in humans;

M.   whereas good husbandry minimises the need for antibiotics;

N.   whereas action against resistance to antimicrobial agents in human medicines cannot therefore be taken in isolation from measures to combat resistance to antimicrobial agents in veterinary medicines, animal feeding stuffs and crop-growing;

O.   whereas EPRUMA(3) is an existing European multi-stakeholder initiative promoting the responsible use of veterinary medicines; whereas the One-Health concept covers both human and veterinary medicines and EPRUMA recognises antimicrobials as a One Health issue;

P.   whereas antimicrobial resistance is a phenomenon which clearly has cross-border implications and the occurrence of an outlier effect, which would most probably not be manageable with the current resources and knowledge, cannot be excluded and can have unpredictable medical, social and economic setbacks;

1.   Notes with concern that antimicrobial resistance is an ever increasing threat to public health in Europe and worldwide, despite the actions taken at European and international level;

2.  Calls for a further intensification of the fight against resistance to antimicrobial agents in human medicines, focusing on, in the following order of priority:

   the prudent use of antimicrobial agents both for humans and for animals, ensuring that they are only used when effectively needed for actual treatment of disease, with the correct dosage, dose intervals and duration,
   the monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance,
   the need for research into, and the development of, new antimicrobial agents and alternatives,
   links with measures to combat resistance to antimicrobial agents in veterinary medicines, animal feeding stuffs and crop-growing;

3.   Calls on the Commission to propose without delay a legislative framework for action against antimicrobial resistance, by promoting ‘responsible use’ initiatives and supporting dissemination of, and information about, such initiatives;

The prudent use of antimicrobial agents

4.   Reconfirms that urgent action is necessary to avoid, or even reverse, further increases in resistant micro-organisms by reducing unnecessary and inappropriate use of antimicrobial agents;

5.   Emphasises that the ultimate objective is to maintain antimicrobials as an effective tool to combat disease, both in animals and in humans, while keeping the use of antimicrobials to the strict necessary;

6.   Notes that a Commission Report on the implementation of the 2001 Council Recommendation(4) and the 2010 Eurobarometer survey identified a series of shortfalls and gaps in the promotion of the prudent use of antimicrobial resistance;

7.   Notes that the level of access to information on antimicrobial resistance and the impact on the consumption behaviour of citizens remain uneven across the Union, in particular with regard to the enforcement of the legislation on prescription-only use for antibiotics, as the percentage of antibiotics sold without prescription in 2008 showed considerable differences between Member States;

8.   Notes in this respect that Europe is as weak as the weakest link, therefore particular attention should be paid in countries with high levels of antimicrobial resistance;

9.   Calls on the Commission to come forward with proposals to significantly reduce the use of antibiotics and to identify and define general principles and best practices on the prudent use of antimicrobial agents, further elaborating on the Council Recommendation of 15 November 2001, and to ensure that these principles and methods are properly implemented in the European Union;

10.   Recognises that many misconceptions exist about antibiotics and their effects, and that according to a survey commissioned by the Commission 53% of Europeans still believe that antibiotics kill viruses and 47% believe that they are effective against colds and flu (Special Eurobarometer 338 on Antimicrobial Resistance, April 2010);

11.   Recognises that patients' lack of adherence to and compliance with prescriptions, such as failing to complete the course of treatment or not following the dosage recommendations, contributes heavily to antimicrobial resistance;

12.   Calls on the Commission to study the issue of inappropriate use and sales of antimicrobial agents with or without prescription throughout the chain – from the doctor and the pharmacist to the patient – in terms of the behaviour of all actors involved, and to implement a comprehensive long-term strategy on the awareness of all these actors;

13.   Emphasises the fact that in ensuring the prudent use of antimicrobial agents, attention needs to be paid by the relevant actors to the better use of antibiotics currently available by means of a close examination of the dosage, treatment duration and drug combination;

14.   Calls on the Commission and Member States to promote good hand washing and hand drying - especially in hospitals - in order to prevent the spread of infections and reduce the need for antibiotics;

15.   Welcomes therefore the annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November which aims to raise awareness of the public health threat of antimicrobial resistance and call for more responsible use of antibiotics by multiple actions in Member States;

The monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance

16.   Emphasises the importance of a well-functioning monitoring and surveillance system in order to gather reliable and comparable data on the susceptibility of pathogens to antimicrobial agents and the infections caused by them, allowing for trend analysis, early warnings and monitoring of the spread of resistance at national, regional, and Community level, and to collect data on the prescription and use of antimicrobial agents so that overall use can be monitored;

17.   Welcomes therefore the work begun by the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (EARSS) and European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC), and now continued by ECDC, on the gathering of high quality, comparable, EU-wide data on antimicrobial resistance, while recognising that there are still many difficulties with respect to data access and the quality of data in some countries; welcomes also the work begun by the European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption Project, and now continued by ECDC, on gathering high quality, comparable EU-wide data on antimicrobial consumption;

18.   Emphasises the importance of diagnostics in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, and calls for more investment in this field and for more efficient and better use of current diagnostic tools;

19.   Calls on the Commission, the ECDC and other relevant EU agencies to work together without delay to develop a harmonised and integrated monitoring system for antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use in Europe, including an early warning response for new resistance mechanisms and strains;

The need for research into, and the development of, new antimicrobial agents and alternatives

20.   Recognises that the growing gap between the frequency of infections caused by resistant micro-organisms and the decline in research into, and development of, new antimicrobial agents is now threatening to take the public health sector back to the pre-antibiotic era;

21.   Considers the decline in research and development to be the result of a market failure and calls on the Commission to make proposals, via regulatory pathways and other types of measures, to create or improve incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to intensify investment in research into, and development of, new antimicrobial agents and possible alternatives;

22.   Reiterates the need for more research on new antimicrobials and possible alternatives under the EU's Research Framework Programmes, and encourages collaborative research at EU level which can lead to efficiency gains;

23.   Notes that the lack of rapid diagnostics has contributed to both antibiotic overuse and the rising costs of development;

24.   Recognises the need to promote complementary measures such as the use of effective vaccines to prevent infections, as included in the Council Conclusions on innovative incentives for effective antibiotics of 1 December 2009;

Holistic approach

25.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that measures on antimicrobial resistance and public health are part of a holistic approach to antimicrobial resistance, recognising the links with measures to combat resistance to antimicrobial agents in veterinary medicines, animal feeding stuffs and crop-growing, specifically as regards the risk of cross-transmission;

26.   Calls on the Commission to address the lack of information on EU-wide antibiotic use in veterinary medicines by gathering high quality, comparable, species-specific data for each Member State;

27.   Welcomes efforts to align and improve the regulatory assessment of new antibiotics;

28.   Calls on the Commission to continue to support EARRS and ESVAC in gathering data on the use of antibiotics as a basis for future measures to ensure responsible use;

29.   Calls on the Commission to make legislative proposals to phase out the prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock farming;

30.   Stresses that the livestock and intensive fish-farming sectors should focus on preventing disease through good hygiene, housing and animal husbandry, as well as strict bio-security measures, rather than the prophylactic use of antibiotics;

31.   Calls, in particular, for the establishment of good practices for animal husbandry which minimise the risk of antimicrobial resistance; emphasises that these practices should in particular apply to young animals brought together from different breeders thus increasing the risk of communicable diseases;

32.   Notes that when pharmaceutical residues are not disposed of properly, they end up in our waterways thus increasing unintentional exposure to a variety of substances linked to antibiotic resistance; calls on the Commission to promote further research into the impact of long-term exposure to pharmaceutical residues through water and soil;

33.   Calls for a separation between the active ingredients and effect mechanisms used in human medicine and veterinary medicine, to the extent possible, to reduce the risk of resistance against antibiotics being transferred from livestock to humans, but points out that this must not result in the imposition of restrictions on existing treatment options that are effective;

34.   Considers that the use of so called ‘last resort’ antibiotics targeting problematic human pathogens should be permitted for agricultural use only under licensed conditions combined with resistance monitoring, preferably on an individual basis;

International cooperation

35.   Calls on the Commission to strengthen its close operation with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and other relevant parties and organisations at international level in order to deal more effectively at a global level with antimicrobial resistance; welcomes in this context the establishment of the EU-US Transatlantic task force on urgent antimicrobial resistance (TATFAR);

36.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that sufficient financial and human resources are available to implement the relevant strategies;

o
o   o

37.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ L 34, 5.2.2002, p. 13.
(2) OJ C 112 E, 9.5.2002, p. 106.
(3) European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals.
(4) Commission Staff Working Document , Accompanying document to the second report from the Commission to the Council on the basis of Member States' reports on the implementation of the Council Recommendation (2002/77/EC) on the prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine.


Tibet, in particular self-immolation by nuns and monks
PDF 85k   DOC 44k
European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2011 on Tibet, in particular self-immolation by nuns and monks
P7_TA(2011)0474 B7-0540 , 0546 , 0561 , 0563 and 0564/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on China and Tibet, in particular its resolution of 25 November 2010(1) ,

–   having regard to Article 36 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, which guarantees all citizens the right to freedom of religious belief,

–   having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas respect for human rights, freedom of religion and freedom of association are founding principles of the EU and a priority of its foreign policy;

B.   whereas the Chinese Government has imposed drastic restrictions on Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the Aba/Ngaba county prefecture in Sichuan province, and in other parts of the Tibetan plateau, including brutal security raids, arbitrary detention of monks, increased surveillance within monasteries and a permanent police presence inside the monasteries in order to monitor religious activities;

C.   whereas these security measures are designed to curtail the right to free expression, freedom of association and freedom of religious belief in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries;

D.   whereas Phuntsog (aged 20) and Tsewang Norbu (aged 29) died after setting fire to themselves, on 16 March and 15 August 2011 respectively, as a protest against restrictive Chinese policies in Tibet;

E.   whereas Phuntsog's younger brothers, Lobsang Kelsang and Lobsang Kunchok (both aged 18), set fire to themselves at the Aba/Ngaba county market on 26 September 2011, and whereas, although they survived, their present condition remains unclear;

F.   whereas Dawa Tsering, a 38-year-old monk at Kardze Monastery, set fire to himself on 25 October 2011, whereas Chinese security personnel doused the flames and tried to take him away, whereas the monk is currently being protected by fellow monks at the monastery and whereas his condition is critical;

G.   whereas Kelsang Wangchuk, a 17-year-old monk at Kirti Monastery, immolated himself on 3 October 2011 and was immediately carried away by Chinese soldiers, who extinguished the fire and beat him strenuously before taking him away, and whereas his current state of well-being and whereabouts are unknown;

H.   whereas two former monks from Kirti, Choephel (aged 19) and Kayang (aged 18), clasped their hands together and set fire to themselves while calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and the right to religious freedom, and whereas they died following this protest;

I.   whereas former Kirti monk Norbu Damdrul (aged 19), who set fire to himself on 15 October 2011, was the eighth Tibetan to self-immolate, and whereas his current whereabouts and state of well-being are unknown;

J.   whereas on 17 October 2011 a nun from Ngaba Mamae Dechen Choekorling Nunnery, Tenzin Wangmo (aged 20), died, and whereas she was the first female to commit self-immolation;

K.   whereas self-immolation can be seen as a form of protest and an expression of the increasing desperation felt by young Tibetans, especially within the community of Kirti Monastery;

L.   whereas, whatever personal motivations may underlie these acts, they must be considered in the wider context of religious and political repression in Aba/Ngaba county, which can be traced back many years;

M.   whereas the tightening of state control over religious practice via a series of regulations passed by the Chinese Government in 2007 has contributed to the desperation of Tibetans across the Tibetan plateau;

N.   whereas current regulations have dramatically expanded state control over religious life, with many expressions of religious identity being subject to state approval and control, including the recognition of reincarnate lamas;

O.   whereas a Chinese court sentenced three Tibetan monks to imprisonment over the death of their fellow monk Phuntsog, who set himself on fire on 16 March 2011, on the grounds that they had hidden him and deprived him of medical attention, and whereas it accused them of ‘intentional homicide’;

P.   whereas in March 2011, following the first immolation incident, armed personnel surrounded Kirti Monastery and cut off its access to food and water for several days; whereas the new security officials dispatched to the monastery imposed a compulsory new ‘patriotic education’ programme, and whereas more than 300 monks were taken away in military trucks and detained at unspecified locations to undergo several weeks of political indoctrination;

Q.   whereas the Chinese Government has accused the monks at Kirti Monastery of being involved in acts ‘aimed at disturbing social order’, including vandalism and self-immolation;

R.   whereas in recent months the Chinese authorities have tightened security in Tibet, especially in the area surrounding Kirti Monastery, whereas journalists and foreigners are banned from visiting the region, and whereas the monastery is patrolled by police in full riot gear; whereas foreign media have been banned from entering restless parts of Tibet, whereas Chinese state television has failed to report on the protests, and whereas monks are forbidden from speaking out about the protests;

1.   Condemns the Chinese authorities' continued crackdown on Tibetan monasteries and calls on them to lift the restrictions and security measures imposed on monasteries and lay communities, and to restore the lines of communication to the monks of Kirti Monastery;

2.   Is deeply concerned by reports, since last April, of eight Tibetan Buddhist monks and one nun self-immolating near the Ngaba Kirti Monastery in China's Sichuan province;

3.   Urges the Chinese Government to lift the restrictions and heavy-handed security measures imposed on the Kirti Monastery, and to provide information as to the whereabouts of monks forcibly taken from the monastery; urges the Chinese authorities to allow independent international media and human rights monitors to visit the area;

4.   Calls on the Chinese Government to guarantee freedom of religion to all its citizens in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to abolish criminal and administrative penalties which target religion and have been used to punish citizens for exercising their right to freedom of religion;

5.   Calls on the Chinese authorities to respect the rights of Tibetans in all Chinese provinces and to take proactive steps to resolve the underlying grievances of China's Tibetan population;

6.   Calls on the Chinese authorities to cease promoting policies which threaten the Tibetan language, culture, religion, heritage and environment, in contravention of the Chinese Constitution and the Chinese law granting autonomy to ethnic minorities;

7.   Urges the Government of the People's Republic of China to provide full details as to the status of the 300 monks who were taken away from Kirti Monastery in April 2011, in relation to which several Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, including the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, have intervened;

8.   Urges the Government of the People's Republic of China to be accountable for the status of those Tibetans who have been ‘hospitalised’ after self-immolating, including as regards their access to medical treatment;

9.   Condemns the sentencing of the Kirti monks and insists on their right to a fair trial and to the provision of adequate legal assistance for the length of that trial; calls for independent observers to be allowed access to the Kirti monks held in detention;

10.   Calls on the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to release a public statement expressing the EU's concern as regards the escalating situation in Aba/Ngaba county and urging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, along with restraint on the part of security police;

11.   Calls on the Chinese authorities to refrain from implementing counterproductive policies and aggressive ‘patriotic education’ programmes in Tibetan-populated areas such as Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai, places where human rights violations have created tensions;

12.   Calls on the Chinese authorities to respect traditional Tibetan death rites and to return remains in accordance with Buddhist rituals and without delay or hindrance;

13.   Asks the EU and its Member States to call on the Chinese Government to resume its dialogue with the Dalai Lama and his representatives with a view to bringing about genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the People's Republic of China, and to stop its campaign to discredit the Dalai Lama as a religious leader;

14.   Calls on the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission to raise human rights issues at the next EU-China Summit, and calls on the President of the Commission and the President of the European Council clearly to uphold Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity in the course of their official speeches during the opening or closing of the summit, in the event that it is not on the agenda for discussion;

15.   Calls on the EEAS and the EU delegation to China constantly to monitor the human rights situation in China and to continue to raise – in meetings and correspondence with Chinese officials – the specific cases of individual Tibetans imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of religious freedom, and to present a report to Parliament within the next 12 months, suggesting actions to be taken or policies to be implemented;

16.   Reiterates its call to the Council to appoint an EU Special Representative for Tibet with a view to facilitating the resumption of dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama's envoys in relation to the determination of genuine autonomous status for Tibet within the People's Republic of China;

17.   Calls on those Member States which are members of the G-20, and on the President of the Commission and the President of the European Council, to raise the human rights situation in Tibet with the President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, at the upcoming G-20 Summit in Cannes on 3 and 4 November 2011;

18.   Urges the People's Republic of China to respect the religious freedoms and basic human rights of the monastic and lay communities in Ngaba, and to suspend the implementation of religious control regulations in order to allow Tibetan Buddhists to identify and educate religious teachers in a manner consistent with Tibetan traditions, to review the religious and security policies implemented in Ngaba since 2008, and to open a transparent dialogue with the leaders of Tibetan Buddhist schools;

19.   Urges the Government of the People's Republic of China to respect internationally agreed human rights standards and to abide by its obligations under international human rights conventions with respect to freedom of religion or belief;

20.   Expresses the need for the rights of China's minority communities to be put on the agenda for future rounds of the EU-China human rights dialogue;

21.   Urges the Chinese Government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

22.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union / Vice-President of the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and Parliament of the People's Republic of China.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0449 .


Bahrain
PDF 90k   DOC 47k
European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2011 on Bahrain
P7_TA(2011)0475 B7-0541 , 0556 , 0558 , 0559 , 0560 and 0562/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, in particular that of 7 April 2011(1) on the situation in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen and that of 7 July 2011(2) on the situation in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain in the context of the situation in the Arab World and North Africa,

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 March 2011(3) on European Union relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council,

–   having regard to the statements by its President of 12 April 2011 on the death of two Bahraini civic activists and of 28 April 2011 condemning the death sentences handed down to four Bahrainis for participating in peaceful protests,

–   having regard to the Hearing on Bahrain in the European Parliament Human Rights Subcommittee on 3 October 2011,

–   having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative (VP/HR) on Bahrain of 10, 12 and 18 March 2011; 3 May and 1 July 2011; 31 August 2011 and 8 and 30 September 2011, and the statements by the VP/HR on the situation in Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain at the European Parliament on 12 October 2011,

–   having regard to the Council conclusions on Bahrain of 23 May, 12 April and 21 March 2011,

–   having regard to the statements of 23 June and 30 September 2011 by the UN Secretary-General on the sentences imposed on 21 Bahraini political activists, human rights defenders and opposition leaders,

–   having regard to the statement on Bahrain issued by the 66th UN General Assembly on 29 September 2011,

–   having regard to the press statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain on 5 October 2011 and the statement issued by the Bahrain Ministry of Health on the Sentencing of Doctors, Nurses and Medics on 30 September 2011,

–   having regard to the statement by the Bahraini Public Prosecutor regarding the retrial of doctors previously prosecuted in military trials issued on 23 October 2011,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Arab Charter on Human Rights, to all of which Bahrain is a party,

–   having regard to Article 19(d) of Bahrain's Constitution,

–   having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders of 2004, as updated in 2008,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–   having regard to the 1949 Geneva Convention,

–   having regard to the Human Rights Watch report issued in February 2010,

–   having regard to the public briefing paper by doctors, ‘Health Services paralyzed: Bahrain's military crackdown on patients on April 2011’,

–   having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas, inspired by popular movements in North Africa and the Middle East, peaceful pro-democracy protests have occurred regularly in Bahrain since February calling for institutional, political, economic and social reforms, aimed at achieving genuine democracy, fighting corruption and nepotism, ensuring respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, reducing social inequalities and creating better economic and social conditions; whereas these peaceful demonstrations were crushed with excessive use of force by the Bahraini authorities, killing dozens of protestors, and whereas the international community's reaction was too slow and weak;

B.   whereas, following a request from the Bahraini Government, thousands of foreign forces from Saudi Arabia and the UAE under the banner of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been deployed in Bahrain;

C.   whereas at least 20 doctors and paramedics, who had been sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison for alleged antigovernment activities while performing their professional duties and acting in accordance with their ethical code in treating injured protesters equally and without discrimination earlier this year, had their sentences reconfirmed by a military tribunal on 29 September 2011; whereas due to international pressure Bahrain's Attorney-General, Ali Alboainain, announced on Wednesday 5 October 2011 that the 20 should be retried before civil courts, which trials resumed on 23 October 2011;

D.   whereas a number of the doctors sentenced were trained in EU Member States, belong to EU-based professional medical organisations and enjoy a good reputation among international colleagues;

E.   whereas the targeted crackdown on doctors and paramedics has serious implications for the work of international humanitarian organisations; whereas the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the takeover by security forces of medical facilities and arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of medical personnel as shocking and illegal;

F.   whereas on 6 September 2011 the military-run National Safety Appeal Court confirmed the sentences against at least 21 prominent Bahraini human rights activists and opponents of the regime, including bloggers and human rights activists Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, all civilians, reportedly for plotting to overthrow the government; whereas approximately 60 civilians have been tried in Courts of National Safety this year;

G.   whereas many other political activists, human rights defenders and journalists were detained during the recent pro-reform protests; whereas according to human rights organisations they have been tortured, ill-treated and harassed by security forces;

H.   whereas the Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was prevented from leaving the country and remains under threat and harassment by the security forces;

I.   whereas the former Vice-President of the Bahrain Teachers' Association, Jalila al-Salman, was arrested for the second time at her home on 18 October 2011; whereas on 23 September 2011,16 women and four girls were detained and accused of ‘illegal public gathering’, rioting and ‘incitement to hatred of the regime’;

J.   whereas on 22 May 2011, the death sentences imposed on Ali ‘Abdullah Hassan al-Sankis and ’Abdulaziz ‘Abdulridha Ibrahim Hussain, accused of killing two policemen during anti-government protests in Bahrain, were upheld by the National Safety Court of Appeal; whereas the case of the two men was referred on appeal to Bahrain's Court of Cassation, whose verdict is scheduled for 28 November 2011;

K.   whereas hundreds of people, including teachers and medical professionals, were fired, arrested or charged with false offences in mass trials before military courts following the protests and many of them have not been reinstated after being sacked for supporting the protests, despite the King's pledge that most of them would be;

L.   whereas more than 40 people have now been killed since anti-government protests began, including Ahmed al-Jaber al-Qatan, allegedly shot while participating in an anti-government protest on 6 October 2011 near the capital Manama, an investigation into which has now been initiated;

M.   whereas the state of national safety in Bahrain was lifted on 1 June 2011 and on 2 July 2011 King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa launched a National Dialogue to address the concerns of Bahraini citizens in the wake of recent events; whereas recommendations resulting from the Dialogue have been handed over to the King;

N.   whereas on 29 June 2011 the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), including an international independent component, was set up by King Hamad in order to investigate the grave human rights violations during recent government crackdowns on pro-reform protesters, which will deliver its findings on 23 November 2011;

O.   whereas on 24 September 2011, elections to the lower house of the parliament took place in order to fill 18 seats vacated by Al-Wefaq, an opposition party, which pulled out of the Middle Eastern nation's legislature to protest against the treatment of demonstrators during unrest earlier this year;

1.   Condemns the repression of citizens in Bahrain which led to dozens of deaths and injuries and urges the immediate and unconditional release of all peaceful demonstrators, political activists, human rights defenders, doctors and paramedics, bloggers and journalists and expresses its solidarity with the families of all the victims;

2.   Calls on the Bahraini security forces and authorities to stop violence, repression and detention of peaceful demonstrators and to show the utmost restraint when attempting to control protests; urges the authorities to act in strict accordance with their legislation and international obligations;

3.   Reiterates its view that demonstrators have expressed their legitimate democratic aspirations and calls on the Bahraini Government to engage in a genuine, meaningful and constructive dialogue with the opposition, without further delay or additional preconditions, in order to bring about the necessary reforms, encourage national reconciliation and restore social consensus in the country;

4.   Expresses its grave concern at the presence of foreign troops under the GCC banner in Bahrain and calls for their immediate withdrawal; reiterates its call on the GCC to contribute constructively and mediate in the interest of peaceful reforms in Bahrain;

5.   Condemns the use of special military courts to try civilians, as it is a violation of international fair trial standards, and stresses that civilians must be tried in civilian courts and that every detained person deserves a fair trial, with adequate access to a lawyer and sufficient time to prepare a defence; calls for an immediate cessation of mass trials of civilians in the military court, the Court of National Safety;

6.   Welcomes the decision to retry doctors and nurses in civil courts but considers that all charges against them should be dropped, and calls on the civil courts to release the doctors and medical staff unconditionally and immediately, as they were acting in accordance with their professional duty and have been accused of tending to the medical needs of those who oppose the regime, as well as of serious criminal offences which seem to be of a political nature and for which credible evidence has not been put forward, as well as to release all other political activists, journalists, teachers, bloggers and human rights defenders due to the arbitrary nature of the charges and of the entire proceedings; expresses its strong concern about the life sentences handed down to at least eight opposition activists and at least 13 people who were sentenced to up to 15 years in prison;

7.   Underlines that providing impartial treatment for the wounded is a basic legal obligation under humanitarian law, and urges Bahrain, as a party to the Geneva Conventions, to respect its obligations regarding the provision of health care to the sick and injured;

8.   Calls on the Kingdom of Bahrain to allow all medics to resume their jobs and allow all medics and their defence teams access to the medical examination reports from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry's examination of the detained doctors;

9.   Cautions against the abuse of national security laws;

10.   Calls on the authorities to restore and respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including pluralism in the media, both online and offline, freedom of expression and assembly, freedom of religion, women's rights and gender equality, and measures against discrimination, and to put an end to the censorship; calls on the Bahraini authorities to accept the requested visit by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;

11.   Notes that thousands of employees have lost their jobs for their participation in the peaceful anti-government protests; calls on the national authorities as well as the European enterprises involved to order the immediate reinstatement of these individuals and to ensure that they are compensated for their lost income;

12.   Takes positive note of King Hamad's decision to set up an independent commission to investigate the human rights violations by the security forces during the government crackdown on peaceful pro-reform protesters; urges full impartiality and transparency for the commission and calls on the Bahraini Government not to interfere in its work and to ensure that perpetrators of crimes and all persons responsible for the violent crackdown are brought to justice and tried by due process;

13.   Welcomes the setting-up of a Ministry for Human Rights and Social Development in Bahrain, and calls on that ministry to act in accordance with international human rights standards and obligations;

14.   Calls for the admission of international observers to the trials of political prisoners as well as for them to be allowed to monitor the work of the independent commission investigating human rights violations to ensure objectivity according to international standards;

15.   Calls on the Bahraini authorities and the King of Bahrain to commute the death sentences of Ali ‘Abdullah Hassan al-Sankis and ’Abdulaziz ‘Abdulridha Ibrahim Hussain; reiterates its strong opposition to the use of the death penalty and urges the Bahraini authorities to declare an immediate moratorium;

16.   Considers that the investigation which has been launched into the death of a 16-year-old boy, Ahmed al-Jaber al-Qatan, during an anti-government protest must be independent, that the findings must be made public and that those responsible must be brought to justice;

17.   Underlines the importance of reconciliation as an essential part of reform and stability in Bahrain's diverse society in which the rights of each citizen should be equally guaranteed in both the letter and the practice of the law;

18.   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 governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and Parliament of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0148 .
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0333 .
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0109 .


The case of Rafah Nached in Syria
PDF 72k   DOC 34k
European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2011 on the case of Rafah Nashed in Syria
P7_TA(2011)0476 B7-0565 , 0566 , 0567 , 0568 , 0569 and 0570/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and to Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, to which Syria is a party,

–   having regard to the statements issued by the spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative, on 30 August 2011 on the worsening of the human rights situation in Syria and on 23 September 2011 on the situation of Rafah Nashed in Syria,

–   having regard to the statements calling for the release of Rafah Nashed that were made by Isabelle Durant and Libor Rouček, Vice-Presidents of Parliament, and Veronique de Keyser, Vice-Chair of the S&D Group, at the plenary sittings of 14, 15 and 29 September 2011,

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 10 and 23 October 2011 and to the sanctions adopted on 13 October 2011,

–   having regard to Parliament's resolutions of 7 April 2011(1) and 7 July 2011(2) on the situation in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen,

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 September 2011(3) on the situation in Syria,

–   having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas Rafah Nashed, Syria's first practising psychoanalyst and the founder of the Damascus School of Psychoanalysis, was arbitrarily arrested and detained on 10 September 2011 at Damascus airport by officers of the General Intelligence Services; whereas she is known for treating victims of psychological trauma as well as for her active engagement in favour of dialogue between all Syrians;

B.   whereas Ms Nashed is 66 years old and in a precarious state of health, as she has heart disease, is recovering from cancer, has high blood pressure and has to take medication regularly; whereas her health is deteriorating in prison, and this is aggravating her heart disease;

C.   whereas Ms Nashed was travelling to Paris to be with her daughter, who was expecting a child, when she was taken to prison without charge and initially held in secret detention;

D.   whereas on 14 September 2011 she was accused of ‘activities likely to destabilise the State’ and the judge refused to release her on bail; whereas the nature of the accusation and the paranoia that has gripped the regime for the last six months raise fears of a lengthy period of detention intended to intimidate the whole of Syria's intellectual community;

E.   whereas in the space of a very few hours a huge international campaign was mounted, including a petition calling for her immediate and unconditional release;

1.   Strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest and detention of Rafah Nashed by the Syrian authorities;

2.   Expresses the gravest concern about the situation of Ms Nashed, in view of her precarious state of health;

3.   Calls on the Syrian authorities immediately and unconditionally to release Ms Nashed on medical and humanitarian grounds and to guarantee her physical safety and return her to her family without further delay;

4.   Demands that the Syrian authorities allow humanitarian organisations and doctors to treat the victims of violence, and that they give them access to all parts of the country and enable them to carry out their legitimate and peaceful work without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment; calls on the Syrian authorities to abide by international human rights standards and international commitments guaranteeing freedom of opinion and expression;

5.   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 governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the Arab League and the Government and Parliament of the Syrian Arab Republic.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0148 .
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0333 .
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0387 .

Last updated: 8 April 2013Legal notice