Procedure : 2018/2098(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0373/2018

Texts tabled :

A8-0373/2018

Debates :

PV 11/12/2018 - 17
CRE 11/12/2018 - 17

Votes :

PV 12/12/2018 - 12.17
CRE 12/12/2018 - 12.17

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0515

REPORT     
PDF 1326kWORD 125k
21 November 2018
PE 623.832v02-00 A8-0373/2018

on the Annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2017 and the European Union’s policy on the matter

(2018/2098(INI))

Committee on Foreign Affairs

Rapporteur: Petras Auštrevičius

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 ANNEX I: INDIVIDUAL CASES RAISED BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
 ANNEX II: LIST OF RESOLUTIONS
 OPINION of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
 INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the Annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2017 and the European Union’s policy on the matter

(2018/2098(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other UN human rights treaties and instruments, and notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), both adopted on 16 December 1966 by the United Nations General Assembly in New York,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC),

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3, 8, 21 and 23 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019, adopted by the Council on 20 July 2015, and to its mid-term review of June 2017,

–  having regard to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,

–  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,

–  having regard to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, adopted in 1976 and revised in 2011,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence of 11 May 2011 (the Istanbul Convention), which was signed by the EU on 13 June 2017,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 18 December 1979,

–  having regard to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography,

–  having regard to the joint staff working document of the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy entitled ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020’, adopted in 2015 (SWD(2015)0182),

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD),

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1960 (2010), 2106 (2013), 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015) on women, peace and security,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolutions 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) on youth, peace and security,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolution 1820 (2008) on women, peace and security, which addresses sexual violence in terms of war crimes,

–  having regard to the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy presented by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) Federica Mogherini on 28 June 2016, and to the first report on its implementation entitled ‘From Shared Vision to Common Action: Implementing the EU Global Strategy’, published in 2017,

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions on Indigenous Peoples of 15 May 2017,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2011/168/CFSP of 21 March 2011 on the International Criminal Court and repealing Common Position 2003/444/CFSP(1),

–  having regard to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the outcome document of 25 September 2014 of the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples,

–  having regard to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 19 September 2016,

–  having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 69/167 of 18 December 2014, which reiterates the need to protect and promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants regardless of migration status, and to the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;

–  having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 67/139 of 20 December 2012, creating the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing with a mandate to consider proposals for an international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older persons,

–  having regard to the report of the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons to the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council of 8 July 2016,(2)

–  having regard to the report of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing on its eighth working session of 28 July 2017,(3)

–  having regard to the 2017 Lisbon Ministerial Declaration entitled ‘A Sustainable Society for All Ages: Realizing the potential of living longer’, adopted at the 4th Ministerial Conference on Ageing of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on 22 September 2017,

–  having regard to the European Agenda on Migration of 13 May 2015 (COM(2015)0240) and to the Commission communication of 7 June 2016 on establishing a new Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM(2016)0385),

–  having regard to the set of EU thematic guidelines on human rights, including on human rights defenders,

–  having regard to the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, adopted by the Council in 2014,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Promoting Compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL), adopted in 2005 and revised in 2009(4),

–  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child, adopted in 2007 and reviewed in 2017, as well as the 'EU-UNICEF Child Rights Toolkit: Integrating child rights in development cooperation',

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons, adopted by the Council in 2013,

–  having regard to the Yogyakarta Principles (‘Principles and State Obligations on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics’) adopted in November 2006 and the 10 complementary principles thereto (‘plus 10’) adopted on 10 November 2017,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, adopted by the Council in 2013,

–  having regard to the joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission entitled ‘The new European Consensus on Development: “Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future”’, adopted by the Council, Parliament and the Commission on 7 June 2017,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the death penalty, adopted by the Council in 2013,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, adopted in 2001 and revised in 2012,

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2018 entitled 'Towards an EU external strategy against early and forced marriages - next steps'(5),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 4 December 2017 on the follow-up to the EU Strategy on Trafficking in Human Beings (COM(2017)0728),

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 May 2018 on the protection of migrant children(6),

–  having regard to the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Human Rights Defenders) of December 1998,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas(7),

–  having regard to International Labour Organisation Convention No 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, adopted on 27 June 1989,

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2013 on ‘Arms exports: implementation of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP’(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 October 2013 on caste-based discrimination(9) and to the report of 28 January 2016 on minorities and caste-based discrimination by the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues and the UN Guidance tool on descent-based discrimination,

–  having regard to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2017,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2017 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2016 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(10), and to its previous resolutions on earlier annual reports,

–  having regard to its resolutions on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in 2017,

–  having regard to its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which in 2017 was awarded to the Democratic Opposition in Venezuela: the National Assembly (Julio Borges) and all political prisoners as listed by Foro Penal Venezolano represented by Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos and Andrea González,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)(11),

–  having regard to Directive 2017/541 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA and amending Council Decision 2005/671/JHA(12); having regard to the work of the Special Committee on Terrorism (TERR), which the European Parliament decided to establish on 6 July 2017, and which was appointed on 14 September 2017,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0373/2018),

A.  whereas respect for and the promotion, indivisibility and safeguarding of the universality of human rights, as well as the promotion of democratic principles and values including the rule of law, respect for human dignity and the principle of equality and solidarity, are the cornerstones of the EU’s ethical and legal acquis and its common foreign and security policy (CFSP), as well as of all its external action; whereas the EU should continue to strive to be the leading global actor in the universal promotion and protection of human rights, including on the level of multilateral cooperation, in particular through an active and constructive role in diverse UN bodies and in compliance with the UN Charter, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and international law, as well as the obligations in the area of human rights and of the commitments assumed under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals;

B.  whereas civil society plays a central role in building and strengthening democracy, scrutinising state power and promoting good governance, transparency and accountability; whereas civil society organisations play a crucial role as a vital force in society; whereas there is a link between weakened civil society, restricted political and civic space, increased corruption, social and gender inequality, low levels of human, social and economic development and social conflicts; whereas appropriate resources must be made available and deployed in the most efficient manner in order to enhance the promotion of human rights and democracy in third countries, and civil society should not be hampered by restrictive laws, funding caps, restrictive licensing procedures or prohibitive taxes;

C.  whereas many countries in the world are facing impunity and injustice, and offer insufficient effective treatment, victim support services and financial assistance for victims of terrorism, particularly those countries where a large proportion of citizens have been confronted by terrorism;

D.  whereas in 2017 a very large number of civil society actors, among them lawyers, intellectuals, journalists, religious figures and human rights defenders, including environmental activists, around the world have faced shrinking civil society space and have been subject to increasing attacks, persecution, harassment, arbitrary arrest or detention and even killings; whereas ProtectDefenders.eu, the support mechanism for EU human rights defenders, has provided effective assistance to hundreds of activists but is facing growing needs; whereas the EU and its Member States should devote more resources to greater participation by civil society and step up their efforts in the protection and support of human rights defenders;

E.  whereas policies in support of human rights and democracy should be mainstreamed across all other EU policies with an external dimension, such as development, migration, security, counter-terrorism, women's rights and gender equality, enlargement and trade, in particular through the implementation of human rights conditionality; whereas increased coherence between the EU’s internal and external policies, as well as among the external policies themselves, is a fundamental requirement for a successful and effective EU human rights policy;

F.  whereas illegal occupation of a territory or a part of it is an ongoing violation of international law, which triggers the responsibility of the occupying power towards the civilian population under international humanitarian law;

General considerations

1.  Expresses profound concern at the pushback against democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide in 2017, and urges the EU and its Member States to pursue unconditionally the mainstreaming of the European and international standards regarding human rights, the rule of law, democracy and the rights of minorities to which they are bound, and to ensure increased coherence between the EU’s internal and external human rights policies and greater coordination between the external policies of the Member States, in fields such as migration, counter-terrorism and trade, as the EU’s influence as a credible and legitimate international actor is greatly shaped by its ability to advance respect for human rights and democracy, both internally and externally;

2.  Reaffirms that states have the ultimate responsibility to safeguard all human rights through enacting and implementing international human rights treaties and conventions, monitoring human rights violations and ensuring effective remedy for victims; points out that peace, security and development are mutually reinforcing and depend on the capacity to address abuse, crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide; warns against restrictions on freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression;

3.  Recalls that equality between men and women is a core principle of the EU and the Member States, as referred to in Article 3(3) TEU, and that its promotion via gender mainstreaming, including in other countries around the world through external policies, is one of the EU’s principal objectives;

4.  Emphasises that the EU is committed to promoting gender equality and ensuring gender mainstreaming in all of its actions, which is an obligation laid down in the Treaties, so that gender equality becomes a key priority in all EU guidelines, working relations, policies and actions, including external actions; supports accordingly the related coordinated efforts in the multilateral dialogues and activities of EU delegations such as election observation missions; stresses the need to reinforce the work in third countries of the EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender, aimed at promoting peace, security and fundamental freedoms, by ensuring a specific budget dedicated to her area of competences;

5.  Considers that a truly independent, pluralistic and dynamic civil society contributes to development and stability, ensures democratic consolidation including separation of powers, social justice and respect for human rights, and promotes transparency, accountability and good governance, in particular through measures to combat corruption and extremism; stresses the vital and central role played by human rights defenders and NGOs in promoting and supporting the application of the rights enshrined in the core international human rights treaties, including by carrying out educational programmes and raising awareness of the activities of international organisations; underlines the importance of the implementation of the EU’s Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and its capacity to maintain adequate support, through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), for human rights defenders and NGOs in situations where they are most at risk, notably by ensuring the enhanced capacity of the ProtectDefenders.eu mechanism;

6.  Notes the importance of providing emergency support to human rights defenders and that the treatment of all prisoners must meet international standards; underlines its concerns for the safety of human rights defenders and that perpetrators must be brought to justice; welcomes the European Endowment for Democracy’s consistent efforts to promote democracy and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms in the eastern and southern neighbourhoods of the EU; recognises the risks faced by human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders who face specific risks and threats due to their gender, as well as environmental activists, and calls on the EEAS and the Member States to pay special attention to them in the EU Guidelines for Human Rights Defenders; underlines the need for strong EU coordination on engagement with third- country authorities regarding human rights defenders and civil society, and praises the individual initiatives of the Member States in addition to EU action;

7.  Welcomes the EU’s active participation in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which has seen it sponsor and co-sponsor resolutions, issue statements, intervene in interactive dialogues and debates, and call for special sessions on the situation regarding human rights; recognises the EU’s commitments to addressing country situations in the UNHRC; stresses the importance of the EU’s engagement in dialogues and cooperation on human rights at a multilateral level; fully supports the UNHRC’s activities and engagement when defending human rights worldwide; commends the work of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights under the leadership of Zeid al-Hussein; looks forward to a close dialogue and active cooperation with the newly appointed High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet; calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up their support to the functioning of the OHCHR and the Special Procedures;

8.  Expresses its appreciation for the work done by the human rights services of the Commission and the EEAS at headquarters and in EU delegations, and for that of the EU’s Special Representative for Human Rights (EUSR), Stavros Lambrinidis, in increasing the effectiveness, cohesion and visibility of human rights in EU foreign policy, and recalls its request for this mandate to be made permanent and more accountable; welcomes the recent approach represented by the EU’s ‘Good Human Rights Stories Initiative’, which focuses on the best practices employed by various countries; calls once more for a revision of the mandate so as to grant the EUSR own-initiative powers, adequate resources and the ability to speak publicly in order to report on achievements of visits to third countries and to communicate the EU's positions on human rights topics;

9.  Welcomes the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2017 and notes that it was adopted much earlier this year, in line with Parliament’s requests expressed in its previous reports; asks the Council to continue its efforts to finalise these annual reports earlier in the year; encourages the Council to ensure that the adoption of the next annual report is based on an adequate consultation process; considers the annual report to be an indispensable tool for scrutiny, communication and debate on the EU’s policy on human rights and democracy in the world, and asks for it to be promoted publicly worldwide;

10.  Recognises the progress made in terms of the report’s procedure and format, but expects the Council and the VP/HR to take even greater account of the positions of the relevant resolutions and/or recommendations of Parliament in order to ensure deeper and more effective interaction between the EU institutions on human rights issues;

11.  Reiterates the importance of an overview of key positive and negative trends in order to evaluate the efficiency of the EU’s actions; considers, in this sense, that more thorough public reporting, where appropriate based in particular on the priorities and indicators identified in the EU’s human rights country strategies, inter alia, would encourage greater consistency in implementing human rights conditionality clauses and assessing and adjusting the human rights impact of EU policies; emphasises the need to monitor and fully implement the existing EU Guidelines;

12.  Acknowledges that the EU Human Rights Dialogues (HRDs) constitute a valuable mixed diplomacy tool for the promotion of human rights and democracy in bilateral relations with third countries; notes, however, the enduring obstacles to the achievement of concrete results via HRDs, such as the prevalence of double standards, and calls in this regard for a more unified stance among the Member States; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to seek ways to make the HRDs more effective and meaningful and to react swiftly and complement them when they are not constructive, by utilising political dialogue or public diplomacy; encourages the Commission and the EEAS to increase transparency in dialogues, also through the enhanced participation of civil society actors, and to use clear benchmarks for the purposes of evaluating the success of each dialogue; emphasises the importance of the EU raising at the HRDs the cases of individual human rights defenders at risk, pressing for the release of imprisoned defenders and the protection of those under threat; advises the EU institutions, moreover, to provide adequate resources and training on human rights and democracy for EU delegation officials and staff at all levels;

13.  Reiterates that the 2015-2019 Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy and its mid-term review of 2017 must be the guiding instruments for human rights action, and underlines, in this connection, the need to plan for sufficient resources and expertise in order to properly implement the EU’s key priorities; calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to ensure the efficient and coherent implementation of the current Action Plan, including through genuine collaboration with civil society organisations;

14.  Calls on the EU to strengthen its instruments and policies regarding institutional development and the rule of law, and to include benchmarks for ensuring accountability and seek to prevent impunity for human rights violations; calls for the effective deployment of adequate resources to further promote human rights and democracy;

15.  Recalls, in this regard, the crucial support provided by EIDHR in the implementation of the EU’s Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy and its Human Rights Guidelines and country strategies, which has enabled the EU to act more strategically in this area and has ensured accountability, visibility and effectiveness; calls strongly for EIDHR’s inclusion as a separate and independent instrument in the architecture of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, in order not to dilute its clear diversity into a larger external action fund; strongly encourages cooperation between the EU's external funding instruments, to avoid duplication and overlap and help identify possible gaps and funding needs;

16.  Recalls that the experience gained and the lessons learned from transitions to democracy within the framework of the enlargement and neighbourhood policies could contribute positively to the identification of best practices that could be used to support and consolidate other democratisation processes worldwide; expresses its conviction that the revised European neighbourhood policy should support economic, social and political reform, protect human rights, and help establish the rule of law while maintaining the EU’s commitments to its partners; reiterates that the promotion of human rights and democracy are in the interest of both partner countries and the EU; highlights the need to further interparliamentary relations between the EU and its partner countries, in a framework of honest dialogue underpinned by mutual understanding and trust, with the aim of promoting human rights effectively;

17.  Highlights the work of its Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), which maintains close working relations with other EU institutions, the EUSR, the EEAS, civil society including NGOs, and multilateral human rights institutions; notes that in 2017 DROI drafted three reports which were adopted as resolutions by plenary, on statelessness in South and South East Asia(13), on addressing human rights violations in the context of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide(14), and on corruption and human rights in third countries(15);

18.  Proposes to launch, within the first trimester of 2019, an internal task force to carry out a review of the promotion and mainstreaming of human rights by its committees with an external mandate and by its delegations for relations with third countries during the 2014-2019 term; intends to draw recommendations from this review for enhanced parliamentary action in the field of human rights in the next parliamentary term, including in terms of scrutiny of the activity of the EEAS and the Commission, the internal institutional set-up, and mainstreaming of human rights within its bodies;

19.  Believes that the role of the urgency resolutions based on Rule 135 of Rules of Procedure, can be further developed to strengthen human rights and democracy through increased timely reflection, targeting and efficiency;

Specific human rights challenges

20.  Expresses its grave concern at the gradual shrinking of civil society space in 2017, and deplores the fact that human rights defenders, journalists and NGOs are too often the targets of harassment, intimidation and violence, including killings; is concerned at the continued imposition of travel bans on human rights activists who wish to attend sessions of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and other international institutions, and firmly condemns these bans, calling on the governments concerned to lift them; emphasises that it is unacceptable that representatives of civil society and the media are prevented from participating in the work of international bodies, and insists that the fundamental human and political rights of civil society representatives be respected; is concerned that some human rights activists have been detained on returning to their countries after being heard in international institutions;

21.  Deplores the fact that the increasing global phenomenon of shrinking civil society space might also occur in established democracies and middle- and high-income countries; calls on the EU and its Member States to lead by example; condemns legislation that restricts the activities of civil society, e.g. the closing of NGOs or the freezing of their assets; calls for the repeal of legislation imposing arbitrary or intrusive requirements on the operations of NGOs, including provisions on restrictions on foreign funding; condemns the diffusion of public narratives that increasingly undermine the role of civil society organisations; encourages the EU delegations and the Member States’ diplomatic representations to continue to monitor and raise cases of violations of freedom of assembly and association, including the various forms of bans and limitations on civil society organisations and their activities or the promotion of fake NGOs sponsored by some governments; encourages them to continue to actively support human rights defenders by systematically monitoring trials, visiting detained activists and issuing statements regarding individual cases where appropriate;

22.  Denounces the fact that media freedom has been strongly threatened in 2017, with, according to the annual index by Reporters Without Borders, attacks against the press attaining unprecedented levels in 2017; emphasises the need to uphold the principles of freedom of opinion and expression, as laid down in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; reiterates the importance of freedom of expression, both online and offline, as key for the proper functioning of democratic communities, as it fosters a culture of pluralism that empowers civil society and citizens to hold their governments and decision-makers to account and strengthens respect for the rule of law; strongly condemns the threats, intimidation and attacks against journalists, independent media, bloggers and whistle-blowers, as well as hate speech, defamation laws and incitements to violence, as they constitute a threat to the rule of law and the values embodied in human rights; underlines that in 2017 hundreds of peaceful protesters and journalists were arrested, many of whom were mistreated, detained arbitrarily and forced to pay heavy fines in trials where minimum procedural standards were not guaranteed; urges the EU to step up its efforts to protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression in all its relations with third countries; emphasises the importance of ensuring effective and systematic implementation of the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline and of regularly monitoring their impact;

23.  Emphasises the core importance of academic freedom, as a human right protected by international treaties; strongly condemns any attack on academic freedom such as killings, forced disappearances, violence, imprisonment, cessation of employment, attacks on reputation and wrongful prosecution; stresses the gravity of all attacks on academic freedom, since it is essential to the creation of a pluralistic and democratic society;

24.  Strongly condemns the fact that so many human rights defenders faced digital threats in 2017, including compromised data through the confiscation of equipment, remote surveillance and data leakages; condemns the practice of online surveillance and hacking for the purposes of gathering information which can be used for legal cases or defamation campaigns; expresses its deep concern at the ever-increasing use of certain cybersurveillance dual-use technologies against politicians, activists, bloggers and journalists; in this regard, strongly calls on the EU institutions to urgently and effectively update the dual-use export control regulation;

25.  Reaffirms that the independence of the judiciary and the absolute transparency of a system for the administration of justice in which all operators are required to carry out their roles in an upright and independent manner are prerequisites for the development of a democratic state and legal protection for human rights; condemns roundly all attempts to place restrictions on the freedom of judges, public prosecutors and lawyers, and all forms of direct and indirect violence employed against them; calls on the EU to pay the utmost attention to this point in the context of its diplomatic relations with non-EU countries;

26.  Acknowledges that the open internet and technological advances have enabled human rights abuses to be reported more swiftly; criticises the attempts by some governments to control mass communication tools, including the internet; is concerned at the prevalence of fake news and disinformation generated by state and non-state actors in 2017, which have contributed to the spreading of anti-human rights narratives, limited access to free, accurate and impartial information, incited violence, hatred or discrimination against certain groups or individuals, and affected the outcomes of elections, thus undermining democracies; stresses in this regard the need for the EU to develop a stronger positive narrative on human rights, to stand firm in the face of governments sponsoring disinformation or challenging the universality and indivisibility of human rights, and to increase its efforts to support free and independent media worldwide; stresses the centrality of education, culture, knowledge, and critical thinking in fighting fake news and its propagation;

27.  Calls for the VP/HR to appoint an EU cyber envoy who should coordinate the EU’s diplomatic efforts to advance, in its external policies, an open, interoperable, secure and reliable internet, in which human rights are respected and norms for responsible state behaviour online are promoted;

28.  Reaffirms that freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, including the freedom to believe or not to believe, to practise or not to practise the religion of one’s choice, to give up or change religion, and the rights to apostasy and to espouse atheistic views, must be enhanced unconditionally through interreligious and intercultural dialogue; condemns discrimination based on thought, conscience, religion or belief, and the persecution of and attacks against all ethnic and religious groups in 2017; calls for the instrumentalisation of religion for political ends to be avoided; deplores the attempts by state and non-state actors to limit freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression by adopting and implementing blasphemy laws, among other means; requests that further action be taken to protect religious minorities, non-believers and atheists, including the victims of blasphemy laws; calls for the EU and its Member States to increase their engagement in political discussions to repeal such laws, to step up their efforts to enhance respect for freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief and to promote interreligious and inter-convictional dialogue when engaging with third countries; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to play an active role in helping to safely return, on a voluntary basis, people who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of persecution on grounds of religion or belief; requests concrete action towards the effective implementation of the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief; supports the EU practice of taking the lead on thematic resolutions on freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the UN General Assembly (UNGA); supports the work of the EU Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU, Ján Figel;

29.  Considers it deeply regrettable that torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and the death penalty continue to be applied in many countries all over the world, and calls for the EU to intensify its efforts to eradicate these practices; considers that detention conditions, including access to care and medicines, and the state of prisons in a number of countries are a matter of grave concern; welcomes the formal launch of the Alliance for Torture-Free Trade on 18 September 2017 and the establishment of the EU Anti-Torture Coordination Group, which is tasked with following its implementation; welcomes, in this regard, updates to EU legislation on trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other inhuman treatment or punishment; notes that in 2017 the number of executions carried out worldwide fell by 4 % compared with the previous year; calls on countries that have not already done so to establish an immediate moratorium on the death penalty as a step towards its abolition; considers it essential to combat all forms of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including psychological torture, and to step up efforts to ensure compliance with the relevant international law and ensure compensation for victims;

30.  Strongly condemns all heinous crimes and human rights violations committed by state and non-state actors, including against citizens peacefully exercising their human rights; is horrified at the vast range of crimes committed, including murder, torture, rape, enslavement and sexual slavery, the recruitment of child soldiers, forced religious conversions, and systematic killings targeting religious and ethnic minorities; urges the EU and its Member States to fight crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and to ensure that their perpetrators are brought to justice; calls for the EU to provide support for organisations and the UN investigative teams that collect, keep and protect evidence – digital or otherwise – of the crimes committed by any parties to these conflicts, in order to facilitate their prosecution at an international level; notes that internet platforms have deleted video evidence relating to potential war crimes as part of their work of removing terrorist content and propaganda;

31.  Supports the key role played by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in cases where the states concerned are unable or unwilling to exercise their jurisdiction; calls for the EU and its Member States to provide diplomatic and financial support to the ICC; calls for the EU and its Member States to encourage all UN member states to ratify and implement the Rome Statute of the ICC, and is dismayed at the withdrawals from the Statute and the threats to do so; calls also on all the signatories of the Rome Statute to coordinate and cooperate with the ICC; calls on all Member States to ratify the Kampala amendments on the crime of aggression and to add ‘atrocity crimes’ to the list of crimes for which the EU has competence; reiterates the importance of other key mechanisms aimed at ending impunity, including the use of universal jurisdiction, and calls on Member States to adopt the necessary legislation; recalls, in this regard, that victims’ rights must be at the heart of all action; reiterates its call for the VP/HR to appoint an EU Special Representative on International Humanitarian Law and International Justice with a mandate to promote, mainstream and represent the EU’s commitment to the fight against impunity;

32.  Welcomes the EU’s efforts to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) set up by the UN in Syria to assist in the investigation of serious crimes; emphasises the need to set up a similar independent mechanism in other countries; calls for the EU and the Member States that have not already done so to contribute financially to the IIIM;

33.  Reiterates that states can bring other states before the International Court of Justice for violations of international treaties, such as the United Nations Convention against Torture, in order to establish state liability as an indirect means for judicial determination of individual criminal responsibility at a later stage;

34.  Deeply regrets the lack of respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) and expresses its strong condemnation of the deadly attacks that were carried out with such alarming frequency against hospitals, schools and other civilian targets in armed conflicts around the world in 2017; believes that the international condemnation of attacks must be backed up by independent investigations and genuine accountability; commends the work done by aid workers when delivering humanitarian aid; calls for the Member States, the EU institutions and the VP/HR to ensure that EU policies and actions relating to IHL are developed coherently and effectively, and to use all the instruments at their disposal to address this matter; concludes that more detailed reporting by the EU and its Member States on the implementation of the Guidelines on Promoting Compliance with International Humanitarian Law in specific conflict situations should have been made available, including and not least the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy; calls on the international community to set up instruments to minimise the warning/response gap in order to prevent the emergence, re-emergence and escalation of violent conflict, along the same lines as the EU’s early warning system; calls for the EU and its Member States to increase their financial contribution to humanitarian and development aid; notes the 2.4 % cut in official development assistance (ODA) from 2016 to 2017 and that ODA falls short of the target of 0.7 % of GNI;

35.  Recalls its resolution of 27 February 2014 on the use of armed drones(16); expresses its grave concern over the use of armed drones outside the international legal framework; calls once again for the EU to urgently develop a legally binding framework for the use of armed drones in order to ensure that Member States, in conformity with their legal obligations, do not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states; calls on the Commission to keep Parliament properly informed about the use of EU funds for all research and development projects associated with the construction of drones; calls for human rights impact assessments in respect of further drone development projects;

36.  Calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to expand the EU’s regime of restrictive measures to include an EU human rights sanctions regime under which CFSP sanction decisions could be based on grave human rights violations, in the same vein as the Magnitsky Act;

37.  Urges the VP/HR and the Member States to work towards an international ban on weapon systems that lack human control over the use of force, as requested by Parliament on a number of occasions, and, in preparation for relevant meetings at UN level, to urgently develop and adopt a common position on autonomous weapon systems, speak at relevant forums with one voice and act accordingly;

38.  Stresses that corruption undermines the rule of law, democracy and the competitiveness of economies, and puts human rights at risk; emphasises the need for support for human rights defenders and whistle-blowers fighting corruption; calls for improvements to anti-corruption mechanisms and practices, such as the imposition of sanctions on those individuals and countries that commit serious corruption offences; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to devise joint programming on human rights and the fight against corruption, in particular initiatives for improving transparency, fighting impunity, strengthening anti-corruption agencies and ensuring greater transparency and traceability in the use of EU funds; calls on the Commission to negotiate provisions on combating corruption in future trade agreements; recalls the recommendations on corruption and human rights issued in its resolution of 13 September 2017 on corruption and human rights in third countries(17) and calls for follow-up from the EU institutions and Member States;

39.  Expresses its concern at the destruction, illicit looting and vandalism of cultural heritage sites, and strongly supports fact-finding and heritage protection and rescue initiatives;

40.  Emphasises the significance of free and fair elections for democratic processes and is concerned at the growing number of illegitimate elections around the world; recalls that independent media and diversity of opinion are essential in guaranteeing free and fair elections; calls for the EU not to recognise the results of rigged or falsified elections and to use all the diplomatic, economic and policy tools at its disposal to uphold the credibility of elections around the world and compel countries to meet the free and fair election criteria; considers that the support the EU provides for electoral processes and democracy around the world – its electoral missions and subsequent follow-up, its electoral assistance and, in particular, the active role played by Parliament in this regard – is of the utmost importance; stresses the importance of electoral observation in the context of peaceful democratic transitions, of strengthening the rule of law, of political pluralism and increasing the participation of women in electoral processes, and of transparency and respect for human rights; recalls the importance of involving local civil society organisations in the election observation process and in the implementation of the recommendations issued by election observation missions; considers that interference in other countries’ elections through cyber operations violates the right of people to freely elect their representatives;

41.  Welcomes the EU’s signature of the Istanbul Convention and stresses the need to prevent and combat violence against women, including domestic violence, by all means; calls on the Member States that have not yet done so to ratify and implement this Convention as soon as possible; supports, in this connection, the joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative; urges countries to step up their legislation in order to tackle, at the earliest possible stage, gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and sexual violence; recalls that violence against women is deeply rooted in gender inequality and therefore needs to be addressed comprehensively, and stresses the importance of social services and protection; stresses that reliable statistics on the prevalence, causes and consequences of all types of violence against women are essential to develop effective legislation and strategies to combat gender-based violence; calls, therefore, for the EU to help countries to improve data collection in this area and meet international legal obligations; asks the EU to work with other countries to step up funding and programming to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence worldwide; condemns all forms of physical, sexual and psychological violence and exploitation, mass rape, trafficking and the violation of women’s sexual and reproductive rights; emphasises that proper and affordable healthcare and universal respect for and access to sexual and reproductive rights and education should be guaranteed for all women and that they should be able to make free and responsible decisions about their health, body and sexual and reproductive rights; points out that education is an essential tool for combating discrimination and violence against women and children; condemns the reimposition of the ‘global gag’ rule;

42.  Highlights the need for the EU to remain committed to the full implementation of the obligations and commitments to women’s rights entered into in CEDAW, the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, and to respect the outcomes of their review conferences;

43.  Recalls the publication in August 2017 of the first Annual Implementation Report for 2016 on the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 (GAP II), which highlights a number of positive trends in transforming the lives of girls and women by ensuring their physical and psychological integrity, promoting their economic and social rights and strengthening their voice and participation; believes that the EU should continue mainstreaming support for women in common security and defence policy (CSDP) operations, conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction; reiterates the importance of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security; emphasises that greater public and private sector involvement is essential in upholding the rights of women and their participation in public and private institutions, policymaking, economic life and peace processes; stresses that the business sector has an important role to play in strengthening women’s rights; urges the Commission to take the lead in tackling sexual exploitation and abuse in the humanitarian and development aid sectors, as these sectors should have the highest standards of responsibility and accountability for their work; stresses the importance of reviewing and reinforcing safeguarding procedures and rules of engagement;

44.  Calls on the EEAS to ensure that the outcomes of the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will be included in its policies and will provide a renewed impetus in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls;

45.  Stresses the importance of making education and training in STEM subjects, as well as in the humanities, accessible to women and girls, with particular emphasis on developing their talents and competences and increasing their participation in STEM sectors;

46.  Calls on the Commission to explore ways and means for the EU to accede unilaterally to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), considering that all Member States have ratified it and that primary and secondary EU law contains substantive provisions on the protection of the rights of the child; calls on countries that have not yet ratified the UNCRC to do so as a matter of urgency; welcomes the adoption of the revised EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child, and highlights the need to ensure that all children are reached, including the most marginalised and those in vulnerable situations; underlines the fact that children are often exposed to specific forms of abuse, such as child marriage, child prostitution, use of child soldiers, genital mutilation, child labour and child trafficking, especially in humanitarian crises and armed conflicts, and therefore require enhanced protection; calls for the EU to cooperate with third countries in order to end early, child and forced marriages by making 18 the legal minimum age for marriage, requiring the verification of the age of both spouses and of their full and free consent, introducing compulsory marriage records, and ensuring compliance with those rules; stresses the need to step up the EU’s engagement when it comes to addressing the protection of children, especially unaccompanied minors, and to devote particular attention to education and psycho-social support; calls for proper implementation of the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict; calls for an urgent solution to the issue of stateless children within and outside the EU, in particular those born outside their parents’ country of origin, and migrant children, in accordance with international law; urges the EU and its Member States to develop an action plan to stop children being detained as a result of their migratory status, in line with the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants; recalls the right to special protection in the best interests of the child;

47.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to establish full transparency and monitoring as regards the funds allocated to third countries for cooperation on migration and to ensure that such cooperation is not to the benefit, either directly or indirectly, of the security, police and justice systems involved in human rights violations in this context; emphasises the possibility of separating development cooperation from cooperation on readmission and migration management; is concerned about the possible instrumentalisation of EU foreign policy as ‘migration management’, and emphasises that all attempts to work with third countries, including countries of origin and transit, on migration must go hand in hand with improving human rights conditions within these countries and complying with international human rights and refugee law; expresses its profound concern at and solidarity with the large number of refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons who suffer grave human rights violations as the victims of conflicts, persecution, governance failures, and trafficking and smuggling networks; stresses the urgent need to tackle the root causes of migration flows and therefore to address the external dimension of the phenomenon of migration, including by finding sustainable solutions to conflicts and economic underdevelopment, in our neighbourhood and worldwide, by developing cooperation and partnerships with the third countries concerned that comply with international law, ensure respect for human rights and maintain the EU’s credibility both within and outside the EU; calls for the EU and its Member States to provide humanitarian assistance in the fields of education, housing, health and other areas in which migrants and refugees need support, and for return policies to be properly implemented; points out that the EU needs to encourage the countries concerned to sign the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air; notes that the UN recorded some 258 million people living in a country other than their country of birth in 2017; calls on the Commission to continue to treat the protection and promotion of the rights of migrants and refugees as a priority in its policies; insists on the need to develop and better implement protection frameworks for migrants and refugees, in particular through safe and legal migration routes and by granting humanitarian visas; calls for Parliament to have oversight of migration agreements; regrets any attempt to encumber, tarnish or even criminalise humanitarian assistance, and insists on the need for greater search and rescue capacities for people in distress at sea and on land in order to fulfil the primary obligations of international law; underlines that the number of people residing in a Member State with citizenship of a non-member country on 1 January 2017 was 21.6 million, representing, 4.2 % of the population of the EU-28; calls on Member States to engage in a serious dialogue to establish a common, inclusive understanding, shared responsibilities and a unity of purpose with regard to migration; welcomes the UN initiative on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the UNHCR Global Compact on Refugees and the pivotal role assigned to human rights in these compacts;

48.  Deplores the persistence of trafficking in human beings; underlines the fact that trafficking in human beings commodifies people and constitutes one of the worst forms of human rights violations; emphasises, in this respect, the importance of a consistent approach to the internal and external dimensions of the EU’s policies for combating trafficking in human beings at all levels; calls for the EU and its Member States to increase cooperation with third countries in order to investigate all stages of trafficking in human beings, including all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, such as trafficking in organs, forced labour and sexual exploitation, and to cooperate with the UN and civil society in the field; calls for clear principles and legal instruments addressing human rights abuses related to surrogacy; expresses its profound concern at the extreme vulnerability of migrants and refugees, especially women and children, to exploitation, smuggling and trafficking in human beings, including in migration hotspots; underlines the need to promote victim-centred policies, prevent and reduce this type of crime, and crack down on profits stemming from trafficking in human beings;

49.  Encourages all countries, including the Member States, and the EU to engage in the negotiations to adopt a legally binding international human rights instrument for transnational corporations and other companies, through active participation in the UN-established open-ended intergovernmental working group; insists once again on the need for the swift implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), particularly with regard to the third pillar on access to remedy; recognises the major importance of the UN Global Compact and the National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights; stresses the importance of an EU Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, and urges the Commission to speed up its development with the aim of achieving the full implementation of the UNGPs; encourages all companies, including EU-based companies, to exercise due diligence, and reaffirms the importance of promoting corporate social responsibility and of European enterprises playing a leading role in promoting international standards on business and human rights; calls on all countries to effectively and swiftly implement the UNGPs and guarantee that businesses abide by human rights and social labour standards in their jurisdictions; encourages all countries to tackle companies that use raw materials or other commodities originating from conflict zones; reiterates its call for the inclusion of rules on corporate liability for human rights violations in agreements between the EU and third countries; emphasises that the victims of business-related human rights abuses should be guaranteed appropriate and effective access to remedies; reaffirms the urgent need to address human rights abuses and corruption by corporations when they occur and to ensure that the corporations can be held accountable; regrets that the Commission did not act according to the calls made in Parliament’s resolution of 25 October 2016 on corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries(18); calls for measures to be taken that bind industry to eradicating child labour and preventing human rights violations; calls on the Commission to establish an interinstitutional task force on business and human rights and to explore an EU-level duty of care initiative;

50.  Recalls the EU’s commitment to placing human rights and democracy at the centre of its relations with third countries; stresses, therefore, that the advancement of human rights and democratic principles, including the implementation of human rights conditionality clauses in international agreements, needs to be supported through all EU policies with an external dimension, including trade policy; highlights the role that trade relations can play in fostering growth in developing countries and the preservation of their local markets; notes that support for democratic systems and aspirations for the freedom of peoples should continue to be guiding principles for the EU’s economic interests; recalls that policy coherence is essential for development, and stresses the importance of mainstreaming human rights into trade and development policies in all their phases; calls for the EU to ensure that goods circulated in its territory under ethical certification schemes are free from forced and child labour; calls for the introduction of an instrument specifically designed to monitor and strengthen gender policy in trade agreements; welcomes the EU’s programmes, projects, and funding in third countries, and emphasises the need to assess and prevent any violations by creating a complaints mechanism for individuals and groups;

51.  Considers GSP+ trade schemes to be one of the main EU trade policy instruments for promoting democracy, human rights, sustainable development and environmental standards with third countries; calls on the Commission to review and better monitor GSP+ schemes in order to ensure that human rights standards are upheld by beneficiary countries; stresses that, within the framework of a reviewed GSP+, the Commission should aim to increase the transparency and accountability of this mechanism, establishing clear procedures for the meaningful and enhanced participation of civil society organisations, and carrying out effective human rights impact assessments before granting trade preferences and during implementation; calls for the possible inclusion of the Rome Statute of the ICC in the list of conventions required for GSP+ status; urges the Commission to continue to fund civil society initiatives that monitor the implementation of this scheme; stresses the importance of implementing forms of cooperation to facilitate the economic and social development of third countries, with a special focus on the needs of their people;

52.  Calls on all the Member States to strictly observe the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, and in particular to halt all transfers of weapons, surveillance and intelligence equipment and material that could be used by governments to crack down on human rights and attack civilians; points out that the global trade in weapons and war materials contributes to their use in numerous conflicts in third countries; notes that the EU Member States are among the biggest arms exporters at the global level and considers it essential that international standards governing arms sales be enforced and reinforced at the global level;

53.  Strongly condemns all forms of discrimination, including on grounds of race, religion, caste or similar systems of inherited status, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability or any other status; is alarmed by the many manifestations of racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance and the lack of political representation for the most vulnerable groups, such as ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, people with disabilities, the LGBTI community, women and children; calls for the EU to enhance its efforts to eradicate, without distinction, all forms of discrimination and to promote awareness, a culture of tolerance and inclusion, and special protection for the most vulnerable groups by means of human rights and political dialogues, the work of EU delegations and public diplomacy; calls on all countries to ensure that their respective institutions provide effective legal protection within their jurisdictions; stresses the importance of developing education strategies in schools in order to raise awareness among children and provide them with the tools they need to identify all forms of discrimination;

54.  Stresses the need to mainstream credibly the principle of universal accessibility and the rights of persons with disabilities in all relevant EU policies, including in the area of development cooperation, and underlines the prescriptive and horizontal nature of this issue; calls for the EU to incorporate the fight against discrimination on grounds of disability into its external action and development aid policies; calls on the governments of third countries to review all legislation with a view to harmonisation in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); calls for all countries to ratify the CRPD and reiterates the importance of its efficient implementation;

55.  Welcomes the participation of the EU and its Member States in the eighth session of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing, and in particular their joint submissions and statements on equality, non-discrimination, violence, abuse and neglect of older people; remains concerned about the prevalence of ageism and other barriers to the fulfilment of older people’s human rights; calls for the EU and the Member States to fully support the process of the Working Group, including by allocating and/or supporting the allocation of adequate resources for its functioning, and also to respond to upcoming calls for submissions, consult and involve older people in preparing them, and include older people in their respective delegations;

56.  Welcomes the EU’s active participation in the meeting to review the Regional Implementation Strategy for Europe of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) that took place in Lisbon in 2017; stresses that the MIPAA can contribute significantly to the better realisation of the rights of older people;

57.  Condemns the arbitrary detention, torture, persecution and killings of LGBTI people; acknowledges that sexual orientation and gender identity can increase the risks of discrimination, violence and persecution; notes that in a number of countries around the world, LGBTI people still face persecution and violence on the basis of their sexual orientation; condemns violations against women and minority groups which are in breach of the fundamental right to bodily integrity and identity, such as female genital mutilation and intersex genital mutilations; notes that 72 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships and that in 13 of those countries they are treated as a capital offence; urges these states to immediately change their legislation; welcomes the EU’s efforts to improve the rights of and legal protection for LGBTI people; urges EU delegations and Member State embassies to fully implement the EU’s LGBTI Guidelines; calls on the Commission to carry out annual reporting on the implementation of Council conclusions to this end; notes that, according to the assessment of the first year of the Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 (GAP II), a third of delegations promoted LGBTI rights;

58.  Condemns the continuing human rights violations committed against people suffering from caste hierarchies and caste-based discrimination, segregation and caste-induced barriers, including the denial of access to employment and the legal system and other basic human rights; is deeply concerned by the ensuing institutionalised discrimination and by the alarming frequency of caste-based violent attacks; calls for the EU and its Member States to intensify efforts and support initiatives at UN and delegation level to eliminate caste discrimination;

59.  Stresses the importance of pursuing equality policies that enable all national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, as well as indigenous peoples, to enjoy their fundamental rights; welcomes UN General Assembly resolution 71/178 on the rights of indigenous peoples, which proclaims 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages; recalls that according to the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, recent years have seen a worrying increase in discrimination, attacks and threats against indigenous peoples and the criminalisation and killing of those defending their land, territories and resources, and in particular of women; emphasises the need for the EU to ensure the protection of these defenders, and that any crimes are investigated and the perpetrators held accountable; urges the EU and its Member States to actively seek full recognition, protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples; calls on countries to ratify the provisions of ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples;

60.  Takes note of the manifold benefits the internet provides; is concerned, however, at large commercial operators’ mass collection, for marketing purposes and without users’ full awareness and/or consent, of users’ personal data, which could then be used in potentially harmful ways, for example to repress the activities of human rights defenders, undermine their freedom of expression, and affect electoral outcomes and political decision-making; calls on data companies to undertake human rights assessments; deplores business models that are based on human rights violations, and calls for personal data to be collected in accordance with data protection rules and human rights; calls on the international community, including the EU and its Member States, to enhance and implement effective legislation in this field as a matter of urgency;

61.  Recognises that terrorism and radicalisation pose acute threats to democracy and human rights and in doing so harm society, and regrets the fact that the attacks perpetrated in 2017 often targeted the very individuals or groups that embody these values; strongly condemns the fact that more than 1 000 terrorist attacks took place worldwide in 2017 and resulted in approximately 6 123 deaths; supports the EU’s efforts to prevent and combat terrorism and radicalisation, including EU-wide initiatives and networks such as the Radicalisation Awareness Network, but reiterates that all efforts must comply with international human rights law; points out that education is the best instrument for tackling radicalisation; stresses the need for terrorism victims to be given special attention and support, including psychological support, individual assessments for each victim, legal support, access to justice, translation and interpretation services and effective victim support services in general; stresses the need for counter-terrorism strategies to abide by the rule of law and ensure respect for human rights; recommends that cooperation with third countries on matters of counter-terrorism include the thorough assessment of risks to fundamental liberties and human rights, and safeguards in the case of violations; calls on the Commission to improve the exchange and coordination of information via its channels and agencies with a view to swiftly preventing and identifying terrorist threats and bringing those responsible to justice;

62.  Recalls that sanctions are an essential tool of the CFSP; urges the Council to adopt the sanctions provided for in EU legislation when they are deemed necessary to achieving the objectives of the CFSP, in particular with a view to protecting human rights and consolidating and supporting democracy, while ensuring that they do not have an impact on the civilian population; asks that these sanctions be focused on officials identified as responsible for human rights violations in order to punish them for the crimes and abuse perpetrated by them;

63.  Takes the view that sport can play a positive role in the promotion of human rights; regrets the fact, however, that there is a specific correlation between certain human rights abuses and major sporting events in countries hosting such events or which are candidates for such hosting; recalls that these abuses include evictions, the silencing of civil society and human rights defenders, and the exploitation of workers for the construction of large sporting facilities; calls for the EU to develop a Union-level policy framework on sport and human rights and to engage with national sports federations, corporate actors and civil society organisations on the modalities of their participation in such events; calls on international and domestic sporting bodies and organisations and the host countries of major events to commit to good governance and the protection of human rights, including labour rights, media freedom and environmental protection, to implement anti-corruption measures in the lead-up to and during major sporting events, and to provide remedies for all human rights abuses; welcomes the decision taken in November 2017 by the International Labour Organisation to close a case over the treatment of migrant workers within the framework of the preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup; notes the agreement of reforms that, if effectively implemented, will give workers better protection;

64.  Urges the EU to introduce effective and sustainable policies to counter global climate change; stresses that climate change is one of the main causes of increasing internal displacement and forced migration; calls on the international community to develop measures to combat it and protect those affected; notes that EU foreign policy should develop capacities to monitor climate change-related risks, including crisis prevention and conflict sensitivity; believes that consequential and rapid climate action essentially contributes to the prevention of social and economic, but also security risks, conflicts and instability, and ultimately of major political, social and economic costs; stresses, therefore, the importance of mainstreaming climate diplomacy in EU conflict prevention policies, and broadening and adapting the scope of EU missions and programmes in third countries and conflict areas; stresses the need, therefore, to rapidly implement policies to reduce the impact of climate change in line with the Paris Agreement;

°

°  °

65.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, the President of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Heads of Delegation.

(1)

OJ L 76, 22.3.2011, p. 56.

(2)

A/HRC/33/44.

(3)

A/AC.278/2017/2.

(4)

OJ C 303, 15.12.2009, p. 12.

(5)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0292.

(6)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0201.

(7)

OJ L 130, 19.5.2017, p. 1.

(8)

OJ C 75, 26.2.2016, p. 111.

(9)

OJ C 181, 19.5.2016, p. 69.

(10)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0494.

(11)

OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.

(12)

OJ L 88, 31.3.2017, p. 6.

(13)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0247.

(14)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0288.

(15)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0346.

(16)

OJ C 285, 29.8.2017, p. 110.

(17)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0346.

(18)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0405.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Your rapporteur places the role of Parliament to scrutinise the executive at the centre of this report. Parliamentary scrutiny must be taken seriously and committees are increasingly developing and strengthening their activities in order to allow Parliament to exercise oversight over other institutions, to monitor the proper use of the EU budget and to ensure the correct implementation of EU law. This report has a focus on the mainstreaming of human rights in the EU’s external policy and to what extent this has been achieved in the year 2017 as part of the parliamentary scrutiny of the common foreign and security policy.

The report aims to

–  scrutinise and comment on the human rights policy and actions of the European Union in 2017, based on the Annual Report adopted by the Council on 28 May 2018 and on the documents which underpin it namely, the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy (2012-2022) and the current Action Plan (2015-2019),

–  give an overview of the actions of the European Parliament in the area of human rights including the awarding of the Sakharov Prize for 2017 and the urgency resolutions adopted,

The European Union’s external action and Human Rights

The European Union is founded on a strong engagement to promote and protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law worldwide. Sustainable peace, development and prosperity cannot exist without respect for human rights. This commitment underpins all internal and external policies of the European Union. The European Union actively promotes and defends universal human rights within its borders and when engaging in relations with non-EU countries. Over the years, the EU has adopted important reference documents on the promotion and protection of human rights and developed a range of diplomatic and cooperation tools to support the worldwide advancement of human rights.

The Lisbon Treaty places human rights and democracy at the heart of the external relations of the European Union by stating that

“The Union’s action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. The Union shall seek to develop relations and build partnerships with third countries, and international, regional or global organisations which share the principles referred to in the first subparagraph. It shall promote multilateral solutions to common problems, in particular in the framework of the United Nations”. (Art 21(1) TEU)

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the external relations of the EU are mainly formulated and implemented by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who simultaneously serves as the Vice-President of the Commission. She is assisted by the European External Action Service (EEAS).

In June 2012, the Council adopted a Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy. The framework sets out the general human rights objectives of the EU. The framework defines the principles, objectives and priorities for improving the effectiveness and consistency of EU policy over ten years, 2012 - 2021. These principles include mainstreaming human rights into all EU policies.

The framework is operationalised by the periodic action plan, which accompanies the framework. This Action Plan sets concrete goals associated with timeframes and assigns relevant stakeholders. A first Action Plan for 2012-2014 was adopted which was then followed by a second action plan for 2015-2019. It builds upon the existing body of EU human rights and democracy support policies in the external action area, notably EU Guidelines, toolkits and other agreed positions, and the various external financing instruments. The current Action Plan contains 34 types of actions, which correspond to the following broader objectives: boosting ownership of local actors, addressing human rights challenges, ensuring a comprehensive human rights approach to conflict and crises, fostering better coherence and consistency and a more effective EU human rights and democracy support policy. A midterm review of the Action Plan was adopted in 2017.


ANNEX I: INDIVIDUAL CASES RAISED BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

(JANUARY - DECEMBER 2017)

COUNTRY

Individual

BACKGROUND

ACTION TAKEN BY THE PARLIAMENT

AZERBAIJAN

Afgan Mukhtarli

On May 29, 2017, Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani exiled journalist, was abducted in Tbilisi.

He fled to Georgia from Azerbaijan in 2014. Prior to his departure, Mukhtarli had received threats in relation to his investigative reporting on alleged corruption in the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry and was investigating the assets of the first family of Azerbaijan in Georgia.

On 12 January 2017 he was sentenced to 6 year imprisonment for illegally crossing the border with 10,000 of undeclared euros and assaulting a border guard. He denies all the charges.

 

In its resolution of 15 June 2017, the European Parliament:

- Strongly condemns the abduction of Afgan Mukhtarli in Tbilisi and his subsequent arbitrary detention in Baku;

- Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against and release Afgan Mukhtarli, as well as all those incarcerated as a result of the exercise of their fundamental rights, including freedom of expression;

- Reiterates its urgent call on the Azerbaijani authorities to end the practices of selective criminal prosecution and imprisonment of journalists, human rights defenders and others who criticise the government, and to ensure that all persons detained, including journalists and political and civil society activists, enjoy full due process rights and are covered by fair trial norms;

BAHRAIN

Mohamed Ramadan

Ali Moosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nabeel Rajab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khalil Al Halwachi

Mohammed Ramadan, a 32-year-old airport security guard, was arrested by the Bahraini authorities for allegedly taking part in a bombing in Al Dair on 14 February 2014, together with Ali Moosa, that killed a security officer and wounded several others.

A Bahraini court sentenced Ramadan and Moosa to death. However, both retracted their confession, claiming that they confessed after being tortured in the custody of the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). This sentence was upheld by the Court of Cassation, Bahrain’s highest court of appeal, in late 2015. A final date for the execution is still to be cleared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nabeel Rajab is a prominent Bahraini human rights defender who was sentenced to two years in prison for discussing Bahrain’s restrictions on freedom of expression and for addressing Bahrain’s poor human rights record in TV interviews. On 21st February 2018 he has been sentenced to additional 5 years in prison on charges of “spreading false rumors in time of war” “insulting public authorities”, and “insulting a foreign country”. Poor prison conditions have brought him to hospital in numerous occasions.

 

 

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is a Bahraini/Danish human rights activist who was heavily involved in the 2011 pro-democratic uprisings. He was arrested by the authorities along with other 13 activists (known as the Bahrain 13). In June 2011 he was sentenced to life in prison for politically motivated charges, notably his peaceful role in the protests.

 

Khalil al-Halwachi is a 57-year-old Bahraini scholar, former political activist held in the kingdom’s Jau Prison. He was convicted to 10 years in prison in an unfair, politically motivated trial. He has been subjected to ill treatment, including denial of medical care, by detaining authorities.

In its resolution of 16 February 2017, the European Parliament:

- Deeply deplores the decision of Kuwait and Bahrain to return to the practice of capital punishment; reiterates its condemnation of the use of the death penalty, and strongly supports the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty as a step towards its abolition;

- Calls on His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain to halt the executions of Mohamed Ramadan and Hussein Moosa, and on the Bahraini authorities to ensure a re-trial in compliance with international standards; recalls that all allegations of human rights violations committed during the proceedings must be duly investigated;

- Recalls that the EU opposes capital punishment and considers it to be a cruel and inhuman punishment which fails to act as a deterrent to criminal behaviour and is irreversible in the event of error;

 

- Urges the EEAS and the Member States to intervene with the Bahraini Government in order to appeal for the release of Nabeel Rajab and of all those held solely on the basis of their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and assembly, and to urge the Bahraini Government to stop the excessive use of force against demonstrators or the practice of arbitrary revocation of citizenship;

 

 

 

 

 

- Calls for the release of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Khalil Al Halwachi;

BELARUS

Mikalay Statkevich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sergei Kulinich

Sergei Kuntsevich

Uladzimir Nyaklyayev

Pavel Seviarynets

Vitali Rymashevski

Anatol Liabedzka

Yuri Hubarevich

March Ales Lahvinets

 

 

 

 

 

Oleg Volchek

Anatoli Poplavni

Leonid Sudalenka

Mikalay Statkevich, prominent Belarusian opposition leader and former presidential candidate, was expected to lead the demonstration in Minsk on 15 November 2017 against a so-called “social parasites tax” on the under-employed. He was arrested and kept in a KGB detention centre for three days, with no information as to his whereabouts. He has been detained several times since January 2017, and has spent about 35 days in jail in the same year.

On 5th November, 2017, he has been released from jail after serving a five-day term following a court ruling that he took part in an unsanctioned rally.

After his release Statkevich told journalists that police warned him of unspecified consequences if he continues “violating the law on public gatherings.”

 

On 25 March 2017, police in Belarus have arrested hundreds of people during the above-mentioned protests. Thousands defied a ban to protest, taking to the streets of Minsk and other cities. Demonstrators tried to march down one of the major streets in Minsk, but were blocked by police who began arresting them, along with journalists covering the protest. The authorities had already jailed more than 100 opposition supporters for terms of between three and 15 days in the lead-up to the demonstration, reports said.

 

On the same day, police raided the offices of human rights group Vesna preventatively arresting at least 57 persons involved in the monitoring of ongoing peaceful protests. Prior to this, other human rights defenders, such as Oleg Volchek, Anatoli Poplavn and Leonid Sudalenka were detained and sentenced to short terms of imprisonment.

In its resolution, adopted on 6 April 2017, the European Parliament:

- Condemns the undue restrictions on the right of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association, including on those expressing opinions about social and other public issues, and, most particularly, the harassment and detention of independent journalists, opposition members, human rights activists and other protesters;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Condemns the crackdown on peaceful protesters and the repressions in the run-up to and during the demonstrations of 25 March 2017; stresses that despite the international community’s calls for restraint, the response by the security services was indiscriminate and inappropriate; expresses its concern over the latest developments in Belarus and highlights a clear need for a broader democratisation process in the country;

 

 

- Calls on the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release and drop all judicial charges against all peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights defenders, civil society activists and opposition members who have been detained in connection with the current wave of demonstrations; considers the practice of preventive arrests totally unacceptable; urges the authorities to immediately disclose information about all those arrested to their families and the wider public;

 

CAMBODIA

Khem Sokha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Rainsy

Um Sam An

Hong Sok Hour

Tep Vanny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CNRP

Khem Sokha is a Cambodian former politician and activist who most recently served as the President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). In September 2017, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged Sokha with “treason and espionage”, and for allegedly orchestrating the 2014 Veng Sreng street protests. He was arrested at his home on September 3, 2017. Hun Sen and other Cambodian government officials alleged that Sokha was conspiring with unnamed foreigners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy remains in self-imposed exile and faces trial in absentia after 2 arrest warrant were issued against him. Other activist and opposition leaders, including Um Sam An, Hong Sok Hour and Tep Vanny were convicted and imprisoned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 17 November 2017, the Supreme Court ruled to dissolve the Cambodia National Rescue Party, removing the only existing electoral threat to Prime Minister Hun Sen. The case relied on the narrative that the CNRP was attempting to overthrow the government through a so-called “colour revolution” aided by the United States.

In its resolution of 14 September 2017, the European Parliament:

- Strongly condemns the arrest of CNRP President Kem Sokha on a number of charges that appear to be politically motivated; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Kem Sokha, for all charges against him to be dropped, and for an end to threats of arrest against other opposition lawmakers;

- Expresses its deep concerns about the worsening climate for opposition politicians and human rights activists in Cambodia, and condemns all acts of violence, politically motivated charges, arbitrary detention, questioning, sentences and convictions in respect of these individuals;

 

 

- Urges the Cambodian authorities to revoke the arrest warrant for, and drop all charges against, opposition leader and lawmaker Sam Rainsy, and to release and drop charges against other opposition officials and human rights defenders who have been convicted, charged, and imprisoned, notably National Assembly Member Um Sam An, Senator Hong Sok Hour and land rights activist Tep Vanny;

- Urges the Cambodian Government to ensure due process in all measures taken, including the right to appeal, and to respect the rights to freedom of association and expression;

 

 

 

In its resolution of 14 December 2017, the European Parliament:

- Expresses its serious concerns at the dissolution of the CNRP; deeply regrets the prohibition of the party, which is evidence of further autocratic action by Prime Minister Hun Sen; urges the government to reverse the decision to dissolve the CNRP, to restore the elected members of the national parliament and commune council to their positions, to allow the full participation of opposition parties in public life and to ensure free space for action for media and civil society organisations and to put an end to the climate of fear and intimidation, as these are all preconditions for free, inclusive and transparent elections;

- Expresses grave concerns about the conduct of credible and transparent elections in Cambodia in 2018 following the decision by the Supreme Court to dissolve the CNRP; stresses that an electoral process from which the main opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded is not legitimate, and that a transparent and competitive election is a key instrument in guaranteeing peace and stability in the country and the entire region;

CHINA

Liu Xiaobo

Lee Ming-che

Liu Xiaobo, the prominent Chinese writer and human rights activist has been formally detained in prison four times over the course of the last 30 years; whereas Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ after he helped to write a manifesto known as ‘Charter 08’; whereas the formal procedures followed in Liu Xiaobo’s prosecution have not allowed for him to be represented or be present himself at formal proceedings, and diplomats from over a dozen states, including several Member States, were denied access to the court for the duration of the trial;

Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, although never charged with any offence, has been under house arrest since he was awarded the Peace Prize in 2010, and has, since then, been denied almost all human contact, except with close family and a few friends;

In its resolution of 6 July 2017, the European Parliament:

- Calls on the Chinese Government to release, immediately and unconditionally, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia from house arrest and allow him to obtain medical treatment wherever they wish;

- Urges the Chinese authorities to allow Lui Xiaobo unrestricted access to family, friends, and legal counsel;

- Calls on the Chinese authorities to release Lee Ming-che immediately, as no credible evidence related to his case has been provided, to disclose information about his exact whereabouts, and to ensure, in the meantime, that Lee Ming-che is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and that he is allowed access to his family, a lawyer of his choice and adequate medical care;

ERITREA

Abune Antonios

Dawit Isaak

 

Abune Antonios, the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the nation’s largest religious community, has been in detention since 2007, having refused to excommunicate 3 000 parishioners who opposed the government; whereas since then, he has been held in an unknown location where he has been denied medical care;

Dawit Isaak, a dual citizen of Eritrea and Sweden, was arrested on 23 September 2001, after the Eritrean Government outlawed privately owned media; whereas he was last heard from in 2005; whereas Dawit Isaak’s incarceration has become an international symbol for the struggle for freedom of the press in Eritrea, most recently acknowledged by an independent international jury of media professionals awarding him the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017 in recognition of his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression;

In the September 2001 crackdown, 11 politicians – all former members of the Central Council of the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), including former Foreign Minister Petros Solomon – were arrested after they published an open letter to the government and President Isaias Afwerki calling for reform and ‘democratic dialogue’; whereas 10 journalists, including Isaak, were arrested over the following week;

In its resolution of 9 July 2017, the European Parliament:

- Condemns in the strongest terms Eritrea’s systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations; calls on the Eritrean Government to put an end to detention of the opposition, journalists, religious leaders and innocent civilians; demands that all prisoners of conscience in Eritrea be immediately and unconditionally released, notably Dawit Isaak and the other journalists detained since September 2001, and Abune Antonios; demands that the Eritrean Government provide detailed information on the fate and whereabouts of all those deprived of physical liberty;

- Recalls the decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of May 2017, and demands that Eritrea immediately confirm the well-being of Dawit Isaak, release him, let him meet family and legal representatives and award him the necessary compensation for his years of imprisonment; further calls on Eritrea to lift the ban on independent media, as also ruled by the African Commission;

- Calls on the Eritrean Government to release Abune Antonios, allow him to return to his position as Patriarch, and cease its interference in peaceful religious practices in the country; recalls that freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and strongly condemns any violence or discrimination on grounds of religion;

ETHIOPIA

Dr Merera Gudina

Dr Fikru Maru

Berhanu Nega

Jawar Mohammed

On 30 November 2016, Ethiopian security forces arrested Dr Merera Gudina, the Chairman of the Ethiopian Oromo Federalist Congress opposition party in Addis Ababa, following his visit to the European Parliament on 9 November 2016, where he shared a panel with other opposition leaders and allegedly violated the law implementing the state of emergency by ‘creating pressure against the government’, ‘threatening society through the means of violence’ and attempting to ‘disrupt constitutional order’; whereas his bail request has been denied and he is still being held in custody awaiting the verdict; whereas on 24 February 2017, Dr Gudina and two co-defendants, Berhanu Nega and Jawar Mohammed were charged with four separate counts of non-compliance with the Ethiopian criminal code;

In its resolution of 18 May 2017, the European Parliament:

- Calls on the Ethiopian Government to immediately release on bail and drop all charges against Dr Merera Gudina, Dr Fikru Maru and all other political prisoners, and drop the cases against Berhanu Nega and Jawar Mohammed, who were charged in absentia and are currently in exile; stresses that for any dialogue with the opposition to be seen as credible, leading opposition politicians, such as Dr Merera Gudina, have to be released; calls on the EU High Representative to mobilise EU Member States to urgently pursue the establishment of a UN-led international inquiry for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the killings of protesters and to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to grant its consent;

GUATEMALA

Laura Leonor Vásquez Pineda

Sebastián Alonzo Juan

Victor Valdés Cardona

Diego Esteban Gaspar

Roberto Salazar Barahona

Winston Leonardo Túnchez Cano

Fourteen murders and seven attempted murders of human rights defenders in Guatemala were registered between January and November 2016 by the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders of Guatemala (UDEFEGUA); whereas, according to the same sources, in 2016 there were 223 aggressions overall against human rights defenders, including 68 new legal cases launched against human rights defenders; whereas environmental and land rights defenders and those working on justice and impunity were the most frequently targeted categories of human rights defenders;

2017 has already seen the killing of human rights defenders Laura Leonor Vásquez Pineda and Sebastián Alonzo Juan, in addition to the journalists reported to have been killed in 2016 – Victor Valdés Cardona, Diego Esteban Gaspar, Roberto Salazar Barahona and Winston Leonardo Túnchez Cano;

In its resolution of 16 February 2017, the European Parliament:

- Condemns in the strongest terms the recent murders of Laura Leonor Vásquez Pineda, Sebastian Alonzo Juan and the journalists Victor Valdés Cardona, Diego Esteban Gaspar, Roberto Salazar Barahona and Winston Leonardo Túnchez Cano, as well as each of the 14 assassinations of other human rights defenders in Guatemala carried out in 2016; extends its sincere condolences to the families and friends of all of those human rights defenders;

- Calls for the urgent and mandatory implementation of the precautionary measures recommended by the IACHR and calls on the authorities to reverse the decision that unilaterally removes national precautionary measures benefitting human rights defenders;

 

INDONESIA

Hosea Yeimo

Ismael Alua

On 19 December 2016 Hosea Yeimo and Ismael Alua, two Papuan political activists, were detained and charged with ‘rebellion’ under the Indonesian Criminal Code, following peaceful political activities; whereas Hosea Yeimo and Ismael Alua were released on bail on 11 January 2017; whereas legal proceedings of the case continue; whereas, if convicted, they can face up to life imprisonment;

In its resolution of 19 January 2017, the European Parliament:

- Welcomes the release on bail of Hosea Yeimo and Ismael Alua on 11 January 2017; notes that the legal proceedings of the case will continue; calls on the Delegation of the EU to Indonesia to follow these legal proceedings;

- Asks the Indonesian authorities to consider dropping the charges against Hosea Yeimo, Ismael Alua and other prisoners of conscience against whom charges have been brought for peacefully exercising their right of freedom of expression;

LAOS

Somphone Phimmasone

Soukane Chaithad

Lod Thammavong,

March 2017 three Lao workers, Mr Somphone Phimmasone, Mr Soukane Chaithad and Ms Lod Thammavong, were sentenced to prison terms of between 12 and 20 years and the equivalent of tens of thousands of euros in fines for criticising the government on social media in relation to alleged corruption, deforestation, and human rights violations, while working in Thailand; whereas the three also stood accused of participating in an anti-government demonstration outside the Lao Embassy in Thailand in December 2015;

In its resolution of 14 September 2017, the European Parliament:

- Strongly condemns the prison sentences against Somphone Phimmasone, Soukane Chaithad and Lod Thammavong, and calls for their immediate release;

- Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to urgently raise the case of Somphone Phimmasone, Lod Thammavong and Soukane Chaithad with the Government of Laos; calls on the EU Delegation to Laos to closely monitor the human rights situation in the country and, specifically, to be present at any proceedings held against Phimmasone, Thammavong and Chaithad, and to continue to raise the cases of jailed and missing individuals with the Lao authorities;

NICARAGUA

Francisca Ramirez

Francisca Ramirez, Coordinator of the National Council for the Defence of Land, Lake and Sovereignty, presented a formal complaint in December 2016 regarding acts of repression and aggressions experienced in Nueva Guinea; whereas Francisca Ramirez has been intimidated and arbitrarily detained and her family members have been violently attacked in retaliation to her activism;

Journalists in Nicaragua face harassment, intimidation and detention, and have received death threats;

In its resolution of 16 February 2017, the European Parliament:

- Urges the government to refrain from harassing and using acts of reprisal against Francisca Ramirez and other human rights defenders for carrying out their legitimate work; calls on the Nicaraguan authorities to end the impunity of perpetrators of crimes against human rights defenders; supports the right of environmental and human rights defenders to express their protest without retaliation; calls on Nicaragua to effectively launch an independent environmental impact assessment before engaging in further steps and to make the whole process public;

PAKISTAN

Asia Bibi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shahbaz Bhatti

Salmaan Taseer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taimoor Raza

The case of Aasiya Noreen, better known as Asia Bibi, continues to be a matter of grave importance for human rights concerns in Pakistan; whereas Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman, was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court and sentenced to death by hanging in 2010; whereas should the sentence be carried out Asia Bibi would be the first woman to be lawfully executed in Pakistan for blasphemy; whereas various international petitions have called for her release on the grounds that she was being persecuted for her religion;

Christian minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Muslim politician Salmaan Taseer were murdered by vigilantes for advocating on her behalf and speaking out against the ‘blasphemy laws’; whereas, despite the temporary suspension of Asia Bibi’s death sentence, she remains incarcerated to the present day and her family remains in hiding;

On 10 June 2017 a Pakistani counter-terrorism court sentenced Taimoor Raza to death for allegedly committing ‘blasphemy’ on Facebook; whereas the activist Baba Jan and 12 other demonstrators have been sentenced to life imprisonment, the most severe sentence ever to have been handed down for demonstrating;

In its resolution of 15 June 2017, the European Parliament:

- Calls on the Pakistani Government to take urgent action to protect the lives and rights of journalists and bloggers; expresses its concern at the request made by the Pakistani authorities to Twitter and Facebook to disclose information about their users in order to identify individuals suspected of ‘blasphemy’; calls on the Government and Parliament of Pakistan to amend the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and to remove the overly wide-ranging provisions for monitoring and retaining data and shutting down websites on the basis of vague criteria; calls also for all death sentences handed down on charges of ‘blasphemy’ or political dissent to be commuted, including the sentence against Taimoor Raza; calls in this context on the President of Pakistan to make use of his power of clemency;

- Urges the Government of Pakistan to resolve, in as positive and swift a manner as possible, the ongoing case of Asia Bibi; recommends that steps be taken to ensure the safety of Ms Bibi and her family in the light of the historic treatment of victims of blasphemy allegations by vigilantes and non-judicial actors;

PHILIPPINES

Leila M. De Lima

Senator De Lima is a human rights advocate and the highest profile critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign;

On 23 February 2017, an arrest warrant was issued against Senator Leila M. De Lima of the Philippines from the opposition Liberal Party on charges of alleged drug-related offences; she was arrested and detained; if convicted, she could face a sentence from 12 years up to life in prison and be expelled from the Senate; there are numerous claims of torture in places of detention that are not giving rise to inquiries;

Senator De Lima led the investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings of an estimated 1 000 or more drug suspects in Davao, while President Duterte was mayor of the city; whereas following the hearings, Senator De Lima was exposed to a torrent of harassment and intimidation from the authorities, and these attacks have intensified over the last eight months;

Human rights defenders face regular threats, harassment, intimidation and cyber bullying; whereas those violating the rights of these groups are not being held to account owing to the fact that proper investigations are not being conducted;

In its resolution of 15 March 2017, the European Parliament:

- Calls for the immediate release of Senator Leila M. De Lima and for her to be provided with adequate security whilst in detention; calls on the authorities of the Philippines to ensure a fair trial, recalling the right to the presumption of innocence, to drop all politically motivated charges against her and to end any further acts of harassment against her;

- Strongly condemns the high number of extrajudicial killings by the armed forces and vigilante groups related to the anti-drug campaign; expresses its condolences to the families of the victims; expresses grave concern over credible reports to the effect that the Philippine police force is falsifying evidence to justify extrajudicial killings, and that overwhelmingly the urban poor are those being targeted; calls on the authorities of the Philippines to immediately carry out impartial and meaningful investigations into these extrajudicial killings and to prosecute and bring all perpetrators to justice; calls on the EU to support such investigations; calls on the authorities of the Philippines to adopt all necessary measures to prevent further killings;

- Calls for the EU to closely monitor the case against Senator De Lima;

RUSSIA

Alexei Navalny and other protestors

Following the protests across Russia 26 March 2017, opposition politician Alexei Navalny was detained and fined USD 350 for organising banned protests and sentenced to 15 days in jail;

The verdict of the Leninsky Court in Kirov (8 February 2017) against Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny on charges of embezzlement attempts served to silence yet another independent political voice in the Russian Federation; whereas the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Navalny was denied the right to a fair trial in his prosecution in 2013 on the same charges;

whereas the Russian Government has opened a criminal investigation against unidentified people who called on internet for a demonstration in Moscow on 2 April 2017 demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, an end to Russian military operations in Ukraine and Syria, the release of Navalny and payment of compensation to activists detained during a Moscow protest on 26 March; whereas on 2 April at least 31 people were arrested during opposition protests in Moscow and thereafter detained for ‘breaches of public order’;

In its resolution of 6 April 2017, the European Parliament:

- Condemns the police operations in the Russian Federation attempting to prevent and disperse peaceful anti-corruption demonstrations, and detaining hundreds of citizens, including Alexei Navalny, whose organisation initiated the demonstrations;

- Expresses strong concern that the detaining of Alexei Navalny demonstrates a case of the Russian authorities using the law on public assemblies to fast-track peaceful protesters to prison and commit subsequent systemic abuse;

- Condemns the constant efforts to silence Alexey Navalny, and expresses support for his organisation’s efforts to raise awareness of, and combat, corruption in public institutions and among political representatives and public office holders; regards with deep concern the Court decision of February 2017, which effectively excludes Alexey Navalny from the political arena, further constrains political pluralism in Russia and raises serious questions as to the fairness of democratic processes in Russia;

UKRAINE

The cases of Crimean Tatars

Ilmi Umerov, Crimean Tatar Leader and Deputy Chair of the Mejlis, was sentenced to a period of two years in prison for voicing dissent against the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula under Article 280.1 of the Russian criminal code on ‘public calls to action aimed at violating Russia’s territorial integrity’;

Akhtem Chiygoz, Deputy Chair of the Mejlis, was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment for ‘organising mass disturbances’ on 26 February 2014;

Journalist Mykola Semena received a suspended prison sentence for a period of two-and-a-half years and a three-year ban on conducting journalistic work on the basis of Article 280.1 of the Russian criminal code on ‘public calls to action aimed at violating Russia’s territorial integrity’;

In its resolution of 5 October 2017, the European Parliament:

- Condemns the sentencing of Ilmi Umerov, Crimean Tatar Leader and Deputy Chair of the Mejlis, Akhtem Chiygoz, Deputy Chair of the Mejlis, and journalist Mykola Semena; demands that these convictions be reversed and that Mr Umerov and Mr Chiygoz are immediately and unconditionally released and all charges against Mr Semena are immediately and unconditionally dropped;

- Condemns the discriminatory policies imposed by the so-called authorities against, in particular, the indigenous Crimean Tatar community, the infringement of their property rights, the increasing intimidation in political, social and economic life of this community and of all those who oppose the Russian annexation;

SUDAN

Mohamed Zine al-Abidine

The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) filed charges against Mohamed Zine al-Abidine and his editor-in-chief, Osman Mirgani;

23 October 2017 a Sudanese court sentenced Mohamed Zine al-Abidine to a suspended jail term with a five-year probation period on charges of having violated the journalism code of ethics;

The editor-in-chief of Al-Tayar, Osman Mirgani, was sentenced to pay a fine of 10 000 Sudanese pounds or serve a six-month prison sentence on the same charges, and was released after the fine was paid by the Sudanese Journalists Union;

The lawyer representing both Mohamed Zine al-Abidine and Osman Mirgani has stated his intention to appeal the verdict against them;

It has been reported that the NISS questions and detains journalists and has filed multiple lawsuits against Sudanese journalists and arbitrarily confiscated entire issues of newspapers.

In 2016 there were at least 44 cases of confiscated publications affecting 12 newspapers, including five issues of Al-Jareeda in a single week;

In its resolution of 16 November 2017, the European Parliament:

- Expresses its deep concern at the sentencing of Mohamed Zine al-Abidine by the Press Court in Khartoum on 23 October 2017 to a suspended jail term with a five-year probation period, and calls on the Sudanese authorities to immediately review all charges against him;

- Urges the Sudanese authorities to put an immediate end to all forms of harassment, intimidation and attacks against journalists and defenders of freedom of online and offline expression, and to undertake democratic reforms as a means to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights in the country, including freedom of expression, in accordance with its obligations under the Interim National Constitution of Sudan and its international commitments, including the Cotonou Agreement;

Calls for the EU and its Member States to provide support to civil society organisations by means of technical assistance and capacity-building programmes, so as to improve their human rights advocacy and rule-of-law capabilities and enable them to contribute more effectively to the improvement of human rights in Sudan;

VIETNAM

Nguyen Van Hoa

22-year-old videographer and blogger Nguyen Van Hoa was initially arrested under Article 258 of the Vietnamese Penal Code and charged with ‘abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state’;

April 2017, these charges were upgraded to a violation of Article 88; whereas Article 88 of the Penal Code has been widely used against human rights defenders (HRDs) who have highlighted abuses in Vietnam.

On 27 November 2017, Nguyen Van Hoa was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for having disseminated online information, including videos, on the environmental disaster in Ha Tinh Province that took place in April 2016, when Formosa Ha Tinh, a Taiwanese steel company, caused an illegal discharge of toxic industrial waste into the ocean, which had devastating environmental effects along 200 km of coastline, killing marine life and making people ill;

In its resolution of 14 December 2017, the European Parliament:

- Condemns the sentencing of Nguyen Van Hoa to seven years in prison; underlines that Nguyen Van Hoa has exercised his right to freedom of expression; urges the Vietnamese authorities to release Nguyen Van Hoa immediately and unconditionally;

- Calls on the Vietnamese authorities to release all citizens detained for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression;

- Calls on the Vietnamese authorities to address the environmental disaster in the Ha Tinh Province, which caused mass fish deaths in the region and affected the lives of thousands of people, through legislative measures aimed at restoring and rehabilitating the local economy;

 

ZAMBIA

Hakainde Hichilema

11 May 2017 marked one month since the incarceration of the UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, who was arrested together with five of his employees by heavily armed police officers in a raid on his house on 11 April;

Hichilema was accused of endangering the President’s life by allegedly obstructing the presidential motorcade in Mongu on 9 April 2017, and was immediately charged with treason, a non-bailable offence in Zambia, as well as with disobeying statutory duty, disobeying lawful orders and using insulting language; whereas he rejected all these allegations;

Hichilema’s lawyers called the case baseless and requested that the Lusaka Magistrate Court drop the charges; whereas the Court upheld the charges on the ground that only the High Court was competent for treason cases;

Hichilema is currently held at the Lusaka Central Correctional Facility, where access to private media, lawyers, supporters and friends is limited; whereas acts of degrading treatment under detention have been reported by Hichilema and his lawyers;

In its resolution of 18 May 2017, the European Parliament:

- Expresses its concern at the arrest and incarceration of Hakainde Hichilema and insists on the need to ensure fairness, diligence and transparency at all times in the application of the law and all along the justice process; notes with concern reports of political motivation in relation to the charges, and therefore reminds the Zambian Government of its obligation to guarantee fundamental rights and the rule of law, including access to justice and the right to a fair trial, as provided for in the African Charter and in other international and regional human rights instruments;

- Calls on the Zambian authorities to conduct a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation into the alleged ill-treatment suffered by Hichilema during his detention and to hold those responsible to account;

ZIMBABWE

Pastor Evan Mawarire and other cases of restriction of freedom of expression

On 1 February 2017 Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested at Harare airport on his return to Zimbabwe; whereas he was initially charged with ‘subverting a constitutional government’ under Section 22 of the Criminal Procedure Act, an offence which is punishable with imprisonment for up to 20 years; whereas on 2 February 2017 another charge was added, that of insulting the flag under Section 6 of the Flag of Zimbabwe Act; whereas Pastor Mawarire was only released on bail after having spent nine days in custody;

In a public statement, the Zimbabwean Human Rights Commission expressed deep concern about the brutality and violent conduct of the police, stating that the fundamental rights of demonstrators were violated, and called on the Zimbabwean authorities to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice;

Itai Dzamara, a journalist and political activist, was abducted on 9 March 2015 by five unidentified men at a barbershop in Harare; whereas the High Court ordered the government to search for Dzamara and report on progress to the Court every fortnight until his whereabouts had been determined; whereas the fate of Mr Dzamara remains unknown;

In its resolution of 18 March 2017, the European Parliament:

- Deplores the arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire; stresses that his release on bail is not sufficient and that the politically motivated charges against him must be completely withdrawn;

- Calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure that the criminal justice system is not misused to target, harass or intimidate human rights defenders such as Pastor Evan Mawarire;

- Calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to ascertain Mr Dzamara’s whereabouts and to ensure that those who are responsible for his abduction face justice; notes that expressing opinion in a non-violent way is a constitutional right for all Zimbabwean citizens and it is the obligation of the authorities to protect the rights of all citizens;


ANNEX II: LIST OF RESOLUTIONS

List of resolutions adopted by the European Parliament during the year 2017 and relating directly or indirectly to human rights violations in the world

Country

Date of adoption in plenary

Title

Africa

Central African Republic +

19.01.2017

Central African Republic

Burundi +

19.01.2017

Situation in Burundi

DCR and Gabon *

02.02.2017

Rule of law crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Gabon

Zimbabwe +

16.03.2017

Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire

South Sudan +

18.05.2017

South Sudan

Zambia +

18.05.2017

Zambia, particularly the case of Hakainde Hichilema

Ethiopia +

18.05.2017

Ethiopia, notably the case of Dr Merera Gudina

Kenya *

18.05 2017

Dadaab refugee camp

DRC *

14.06.2017

Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Eritrea +

06.07.2017

Eritrea, notably the cases of Abune Antonios and Dawit Isaak

Burundi +

06.07.2017

Burundi

Gabon +

14.09.2017

Gabon, repression of the opposition

Malawi +

5.10.2017

Situation of people with albinism in Malawi and other African countries

Madagascar +

16.11.2017

Madagascar

Sudan +

16.11.2017

Freedom of expression in Sudan, notably the case of Mohamed Zine al -Abidine

Somalia +

16.11.2017

Terrorist attacks in Somalia

Americas

Nicaragua +

16.02.2017

Situation of human rights and democracy in Nicaragua, the case of Francisca Ramirez

Guatemala +

16.02.2017

Guatemala, notably the situation of human rights defenders

Venezuela *

27.04.2017

Situation in Venezuela

El Salvador +

14.12.2017

The cases of women prosecuted for miscarriage

Asia

Indonesia +

19.01.2017

Indonesia, notably the cases of Hosea Yeimo, Ismael Alua and the Governor of Jakarta

Philippines +

16.03.2017

Philippines – the case of Senator Leila M. De Lima

Bangladesh +

06.04.2017

Bangladesh, including child marriages

South and South East Asia *

13.06.2017

Statelessness in South and South East Asia

Azerbaijan +

15.06.2017

The case of Afgan Mukhtarli and situation of media in Azerbaijan

Pakistan +

15.06.2017

Pakistan, notably the situation of human rights defenders and the death penalty

Indonesia +

15.06.2017

Human rights situation in Indonesia

China / Taiwan +

06.07.2017

The cases of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and Lee Ming-che

Cambodia +

14.09.2017

Cambodia, notably the case of Kem Sokha

Laos +

14.09.2017

Laos, notably the cases of Somphone Phimmasone, Lod Thammavong and Soukane Chaithad

Myanmar +

14.09.2017

Myanmar, in particular the situation of Rohingyas

Maldives +

5.10.2017

Situation in Maldives

Vietnam +

14.12.2017

Freedom of expression in Vietnam, notably the case of Nguyen Van Hoa

Cambodia +

14.12.2017

Cambodia: notably the dissolution of CNRP Party

Afghanistan *

14.12.2017

Situation in Afghanistan

Myanmar *

14.12.2017

Situation of the Rohingya people

Europe

Ukraine +

16.03.2017

Ukrainian prisoners in Russia and the situation in Crimea

Russia +

06.04.2017

Russia, the arrest of Alexei Navalny and other protestors

Belarus +

06.04.2017

Belarus

Ukraine +

5.10.2017

The cases of Crimean Tatar leaders Akhtem Chiygoz, Ilmi Umerov and the journalist Mykola Semena

Middle East

Kuwait and Bahrain +

16.02.2017

Executions in Kuwait and Bahrain

Middle East *

18.05.2017

Achieving the two-state solution in the Middle East

Syria *

18.05.2017

EU Strategy on Syria

Yemen *

15.06.2017

Humanitarian situation in Yemen

Yemen *

30.11.2017

Situation in Yemen

Cross-cutting issues

UNHRC sessions *

16.03.2017

EU priorities for the UN Human Rights Council sessions in 2017

Gender equality *

14.03.2017

Equality between women and men in the EU in 2014-2015

Gender equality *

14.03.2017

Equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services

Gender equality *

14.03.2017

EU funds for gender equality

Women *

04.04.2017

Women and their roles in rural areas

Migration *

05.04.2017

Addressing refugee and migrant movements: the role of EU external action

Business and human rights *

27.04.2017

EU flagship initiative on the garment sector

Vulnerable adults *

01.06.2017

Protection of vulnerable adults

Anti-Semitism *

01.06.2017

Combating anti-semitism

War crimes *

04.07.2017

Addressing human rights violations in the context of war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including genocide

Women *

12.09.2017

EU accession to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

Corruption and human rights *

13.09.2017

Corruption and human rights in third countries

Women *

3.10.2017

Women’s economic empowerment in the private and public sectors in the EU

Civil society *

3.10.2017

Addressing shrinking civil society space in developing countries

Child marriage

4.10.2017

Ending child marriage

Prison systems and conditions *

5.10.2017

Prison systems and conditions

Roma *

25.10.2017

Fundamental rights aspects in Roma integration in the EU: fighting anti-Gypsyism

Women

26.10.2017

Combating sexual harassment and abuse in the EU

Children *

14.12.2017

Implementation of the directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography

___________________________

+ - urgency resolution according to rule 135, EP RoP

* - resolutions with human rights-related issues


OPINION of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (5.11.2018)

for the Committee on Foreign Affairs

on the Annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2017 and the European Union’s policy on the matter

(2018/2098(INI))

Rapporteur: José Inácio Faria

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality calls on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

A.  whereas under Article 8 TFEU the EU is committed to promoting gender equality and ensuring gender mainstreaming in all of its actions and policies; whereas the EU strategy on equality between women and men provides for the integration of gender equality into the EU’s trade policy and foreign relations policy;

B.  whereas violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world affecting all levels of society, regardless of age, education, income, social position or country of origin or residence, and representing a major barrier to reaching gender equality; whereas, in cases of armed conflicts, women and children, including women and child refugees, are among the most vulnerable groups in society;

C.  whereas sexual and reproductive health and rights are grounded on basic human rights and are essential elements of human dignity; whereas furthermore, these rights have not yet been secured in all parts of the world, including parts of the EU;

1.  Underlines the need for the EU, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the 2030 Agenda, the European Consensus on Development and the Gender Equality Action Plan 2016-2020 (GAP II), to continue to pursue its commitment to developing societies free from all forms of discrimination and violence and contributing to a gender equal, secure, prosperous and sustainable world;

2.  Recalls that equality between men and women is a core principle of the EU and the Member States, as referred to in Article 3(3) TEU, and its promotion via gender mainstreaming, including in other countries around the world through external policies, is one of the EU’s principle objectives;

3.  Recalls that the GAP II is one of the fundamental tools of the EU to improve gender equality in third countries; calls on the Commission to take into account Parliament’s resolution of 8 October 2015 on the renewal of the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development(1) and its resolution of 31 May 2018 on the implementation of the Joint Staff Working Document (SWD(2015)0182) – Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020(2);

4.  Highlights the need for the EU to remain committed to the full implementation of obligations and commitments to women’s rights made in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, and to respect the outcomes of their review conferences;

5.  Highlights the need to guarantee freedom of thought, belief and religion, especially for women in faith, who are particularly vulnerable;

6.  Observes that the neo-liberal framework is actually damaging to sustainable development and human rights, including women’s rights, which are part of human rights themselves;

7.  Stresses the fact that gender equality is a fundamental human right and highlights the affirmation of UN Secretary-General António Guterres that ‘there is overwhelming evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies and countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous’;

8.  Expresses concerns, at the same time, over the ongoing backlash against women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), as well as over fundamental legislation in many parts of the world that restricts rights thereto;

9.  Highlights the need to guarantee universal access to the full range of quality and affordable sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and sexuality and relationships education, family planning and modern contraceptive methods, safe and legal abortion, and the recommended antenatal and post-natal care to prevent child and maternal mortality; stresses that the focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment is explicit across all the SDGs and that greater efforts should be pursued to seek the full realisation of women’s rights and the effective implementation of policies promoting women’s empowerment and participation in decision-making;

10.  Stresses the importance of viewing access to health as a human right; highlights the need to guarantee access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including measures to ensure that women freely control their bodies and lives, have access to family planning, to adequate feminine hygiene products and receive the recommended natal care and to prevent child and maternal mortality; highlights the fact that safe abortion services are important elements in saving women’s lives and that they contribute to avoiding high-risks births and reducing infant and child mortality; stresses the importance of access to adequate gender-sensitive mental health services, particularly in conflict and post-conflict situations;

11.  Strongly condemns the reinstatement and expansion of the Global Gag Rule and its impact on women’s and girls’ health and rights globally; reiterates its call for the EU and the Member States to fill the financing gap left by the US in that area using both national and EU development funding;

12.  Finds it unacceptable that women’s and girls’ bodies, specifically with respect to their sexual and reproductive health and rights, still remain an ideological battleground; calls for the EU and the Member States to recognise the inalienable rights of women and girls to bodily integrity and autonomous decision-making and condemns the frequent violation of women’s SRHR, including the denial of access to family planning services, affordable contraception and safe and legal abortion services;

13.  Calls on the Member States to reinforce the implementation of policies that empower girls and women, combat poverty and social exclusion and within the framework of SDG 5 and the ILO’s 2018 ‘Women at Work’ initiative, focus on providing women and girls with equal access to primary and higher education and training, life-long learning, decent work and equal pay, equal access to financial services and representation in economic and political decision-making processes;

14.  Notes that women’s rights organisations and defenders are specifically targeted and suffer particularly from the shrinking civic space; stresses the need for the EU to politically support, increasingly protect and raise financial allocations for independent civil society organisations that promote the rights of women and girls in all areas; highlights the need to ensure the protection of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) who face an increase in threats and violence and have even been murdered as a direct result of their activism; urges the EU to take into account the specific protection needs that women human rights defenders have, and all Member States to respect the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;

15.  Calls on the EEAS to ensure that the outcomes of the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will be included in its policies and will provide a renewed impetus in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls;

16.  Stresses the importance of making education and training in the STEM subjects, as well as in the humanities, accessible to women and girls, with particular emphasis on increasing their talents and competences and increasing their participation in STEM sectors;

17.  Recalls that appropriate measures should be developed in the framework of education in order to support educational programmes free from stereotypes, to include civic participation, human rights, gender equality, promotion of intercultural awareness and understanding, so as to better prepare students for citizenship;

18.  Condemns all forms of violence, such as domestic violence, psychological harassment, sexual exploitation, trafficking in human beings and child and forced marriages, that are imposed upon women and girls within Europe and worldwide, as serious human rights violations;

19.  Welcomes the joint efforts and investments of the EU, together with the UN, in launching the ‘Spotlight Initiative’, aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, while reiterating that violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations; whereas women and girls around the globe remain the most vulnerable to gender-based and sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and exploitation which abuses also include political and economic discrimination, domestic violence, mobbing, sexual exploitation, honour crimes, human trafficking, child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and rape as a weapon of war; condemns therefore all forms of violence against women and girls; calls furthermore, considering that the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in 2017 estimated that at least 500 000 women living in the EU have been subjected to FGM and that a further 180 000 girls and women are still at risk, for the EU and Member States to intensify their fight against female genital mutilation worldwide and inside the EU;

20.  Strongly regrets the fact that, according to Parliament’s study on the implementation of the GAP II, current programming appears to side-line the gender dimension in situations of crisis or difficult conflicts; regrets that, among other outcomes, this has meant that girls and women victims of rape as a weapon of war do not have access to non-discriminatory care, specifically comprehensive medical care, including abortion, despite the aim of the GAP II to empower women to have control over their sexual and reproductive life;

21.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to tackle trafficking in human beings effectively and efficiently; points out that, as demonstrated by a number of studies, the majority of trafficked persons are women and girls who, once they have reached Europe’s coasts, are forced to become prostitutes in the Member States;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to pay special attention to respect for women’s and girls’ human rights in all trade and partnership agreements with third countries;

23.  Underlines the fact that mobbing and sexual harassment in the workplace are also violations of human rights;

24.  Urges the Member States that have not yet done so, and the EU, to speed up the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention, the first legally binding international instrument seeking to prevent and combat violence against women, in all its parts, in order to ensure coherence between EU internal and external action in this field; calls for full respect of the Istanbul Convention; underlines the fact that religious, cultural or traditional differences, or any other circumstances, cannot justify discrimination or any form of violence;

25.  Recognises the need to address the particular situation of women who face multiple forms of discrimination such as those based on gender identity, race, class, (dis)ability or migration status; calls on the EEAS and the Member States to design and evaluate foreign policies from both a gender-sensitive and an intersectional perspective;

26.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to redouble their efforts to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence, including child, early and forced marriage, gendercide, forced sterilisation and marital rape;

27.  Emphasises that the EU is committed to promoting gender equality and ensuring gender mainstreaming in all of its actions, which is an obligation laid down in the Treaties, so that gender equality becomes a key priority in all EU guidelines, working relations, policies and actions, including external actions; supports accordingly the related coordinated efforts in the multilateral dialogues and activities of EU delegations such as election observation missions; stresses the need to reinforce the work of the EEAS Principle Advisor on Gender in third countries, aimed at promoting peace, security and fundamental freedoms, by ensuring a specific budget dedicated to her area of competences;

28.  Calls on the Commission to include a gender chapter in free-trade agreements with third countries and clauses calling on those countries to ratify and implement the 27 international conventions – on human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance – listed in the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) and GSP+; underlines that it is crucial to monitor their implementation, to take action when needed and to pay particular attention to gender equality; highlights that CEDAW is one of the relevant conventions under GSP+;

29.  Regrets that according to 2016 statistics only 21.9 % of heads of EU delegations are women(3); regrets that only one out of the eight EU Special Representatives is a women; regrets that women constitute only about 25 % of staff in CSDP civilian missions; regrets the fact that there are no comprehensive statistics available regarding the participation of women in CSDP military missions and operations;

30.  Notes that adequate funding on gender equality in external relations will be necessary in order to sustain political commitment to this goal; stresses that current funding for gender equality and women’s empowerment actions remains inadequate and demands that this situation be reversed in the next MFF;

31.  Welcomes the approach of integrating the gender perspective in EU Common Security and Defence Policy activities and underlines the importance of providing adequate gender sensitive training to healthcare professionals and humanitarian aid workers, including those working in emergency assistance;

32.  Emphasises the importance of including women, young people and LGBTQI people in peace and reconciliation processes, and the important role that the arts and intercultural dialogue can play in this respect as indicated in the Joint Communication of the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy entitled ‘Towards and EU strategy for international cultural relations’ (JOIN(2016)0029);

33.  Stresses the importance of addressing the specific needs of widows of all ages in conflict and post-conflict areas, in particular their need for financial and psychological support, and recognises the prominent role they should play in peace and reconciliation processes;

34.  Underlines that religious, cultural and traditional differences can on no account justify discrimination or any form of violence; supports the EU’s initiative on ‘Preventing Violent Extremism: A Gender Sensitive Approach’ and pushes for the promotion of gender sensitive projects that strengthen the roles of women and girls in peacebuilding, conflict and terrorism prevention and humanitarian response;

35.  Urges the EEAS to promote the role of women in the prevention of terrorism; notes that, as demonstrated by a number of studies, women, as mothers, have the potential, through ongoing dialogue and the fundamental emotional bond they have with their children, to distance them from forms of radicalisation to which they may be subjected and protect them from the risk of mental subjugation by various extremist groups; emphasises that women, precisely because they are a point of contact between the community and their family, can play the role of ‘gatekeepers’ by providing crucial information that can promote non-violent intervention to prevent possible acts of terrorism;

36.  Urges the EU to combat gender-based violence in its activities with third countries and within its Member States, to the best of its abilities and using all instruments available;

37.  Condemns the atrocities practised on displaced people such as refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, especially women and girls; condemns the fact that in some third countries homosexuality is still a crime; condemns all forms of discrimination and violence against LGBTQI people; condemns the ongoing situation where in order to seek asylum in the EU, women and LGBTQI people put themselves at serious risk of sexual and gender-based violence along routes and in reception centres; underlines that women, girls, and LGBTQI people who claim a well-founded fear of gender-based persecution need to be able to safely request visas on humanitarian grounds; calls on the Member States to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of women migrants, refugees and asylum seekers such as providing legal counselling, access to health, safe spaces for women and children and access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including safe abortions;

38.  Highlights the fact that gendered forms of violence and discrimination, including but not limited to rape and sexual violence, FGM, forced marriage, domestic violence, so-called honour crimes and gender discrimination condoned by the state, constitute persecution and should be valid reasons for seeking asylum or humanitarian protection and should therefore be reflected in the new instrument; calls on the Commission therefore to recognise gender-based persecution as valid grounds for seeking international protection as well as to ensure the inclusion of the gender perspective in all phases of the asylum procedure by complying with the 2002 UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection: Gender-Related Persecution;

39.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen the use of gender-sensitive approaches to meet the special needs of women and girls who are in need of international protection, with a particular focus on providing assistance to girls and women victims of gender-based violence in their countries of origins and along migration routes;

40.  Condemns all forms of discrimination and violence against LGBTQI people; calls on the EEAS to raise and promote global awareness on LGBTQI rights through EU external actions in order to end the discrimination they face on a daily basis in line with its Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by LGBTI persons;

41.  Condemns the fact that women in some countries have still limited access to decision-making processes and so are deprived of their basic citizens’ rights.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

22.10.2018

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

18

5

1

Members present for the final vote

Daniela Aiuto, Maria Arena, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Heinz K. Becker, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Arne Gericke, Anna Hedh, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Florent Marcellesi, Barbara Matera, Angelika Mlinar, Maria Noichl, Marijana Petir, Pina Picierno, João Pimenta Lopes, Liliana Rodrigues, Ernest Urtasun, Ángela Vallina, Anna Záborská, Jana Žitňanská

Substitutes present for the final vote

José Inácio Faria, Eleonora Forenza, Jordi Solé, Julie Ward

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

18

+

ALDE

Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Angelika Mlinar

EFDD

Daniela Aiuto

GUE/NGL

Eleonora Forenza, Ángela Vallina

PPE

José Inácio Faria, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Barbara Matera

S&D

Maria Arena, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Anna Hedh, Maria Noichl, Pina Picierno, Liliana Rodrigues, Julie Ward

VERTS/ALE

Florent Marcellesi, Jordi Solé, Ernest Urtasun

5

-

ECR

Arne Gericke, Jana Žitňanská

PPE

Heinz K. Becker, Marijana Petir, Anna Záborská

1

0

GUE/NGL

João Pimenta Lopes

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

(1)

OJ C 349, 17.10.2017, p. 50.

(2)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0239.

(3)

‘EEAS Human Resources Report 2017’, published 16 May 2018.


INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

12.11.2018

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

41

6

8

Members present for the final vote

Michèle Alliot-Marie, Petras Auštrevičius, Bas Belder, James Carver, Lorenzo Cesa, Aymeric Chauprade, Javier Couso Permuy, Arnaud Danjean, Georgios Epitideios, Knut Fleckenstein, Eugen Freund, Michael Gahler, Tunne Kelam, Wajid Khan, Eduard Kukan, Arne Lietz, Barbara Lochbihler, Sabine Lösing, Andrejs Mamikins, Ramona Nicole Mănescu, David McAllister, Francisco José Millán Mon, Clare Moody, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Alojz Peterle, Tonino Picula, Julia Pitera, Cristian Dan Preda, Jozo Radoš, Michel Reimon, Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, Anders Sellström, Alyn Smith, Jordi Solé, Dobromir Sośnierz, Jaromír Štětina, Charles Tannock, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Ivo Vajgl

Substitutes present for the final vote

Andrea Bocskor, Neena Gill, Rebecca Harms, Marek Jurek, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Antonio López-Istúriz White, Urmas Paet, Bodil Valero, Mirja Vehkaperä, Marie-Christine Vergiat

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Eleonora Evi, Rupert Matthews, Miroslav Mikolášik, Liliana Rodrigues, Flavio Zanonato


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

41

+

ALDE

Petras Auštrevičius, Urmas Paet, Jozo Radoš, Ivo Vajgl, Mirja Vehkaperä

EFDD

Aymeric Chauprade, Eleonora Evi

PPE

Michèle Alliot-Marie, Lorenzo Cesa, Arnaud Danjean, Michael Gahler, Tunne Kelam, Eduard Kukan, Antonio López-Istúriz White, David McAllister, Ramona Nicole Mănescu, Francisco José Millán Mon, Alojz Peterle, Julia Pitera, Cristian Dan Preda, Anders Sellström, Jaromír Štětina

S&D

Knut Fleckenstein, Eugen Freund, Neena Gill, Wajid Khan, Arne Lietz, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Andrejs Mamikins, Clare Moody, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Tonino Picula, Liliana Rodrigues, Flavio Zanonato

VERTS/ALE

Rebecca Harms, Barbara Lochbihler, Michel Reimon, Alyn Smith, Jordi Solé, Bodil Valero

6

-

ECR

Bas Belder, Marek Jurek

ENF

Jean-Luc Schaffhauser

NI

James Carver, Georgios Epitideios, Dobromir Sośnierz

8

0

ECR

Rupert Matthews, Charles Tannock

GUE/NGL

Javier Couso Permuy, Sabine Lösing, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Marie-Christine Vergiat

PPE

Andrea Bocskor, Miroslav Mikolášik

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

Last updated: 28 November 2018Legal notice