Procedure : 2013/2542(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0099/2013

Texts tabled :

B7-0099/2013

Debates :

Votes :

PV 14/03/2013 - 8.8
CRE 14/03/2013 - 8.8

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2013)0095

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 163kWORD 80k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0095/2013
6.3.2013
PE507.369v01-00
 
B7-0099/2013

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on the situation in Egypt (2013/2542(RSP))


Marietje Schaake, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Ivo Vajgl, Jelko Kacin, Hans van Baalen, Alexandra Thein, Graham Watson, Marielle de Sarnez, Edward McMillan-Scott on behalf of the ALDE Group

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Egypt (2013/2542(RSP))  
B7‑0099/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Egypt, especially that of 16 February 2012 on recent developments(1),

–   having regard to its plenary debates on Egypt and the Middle East of 12 June 2012, 4 July 2012 and 12 December 2012,

–   having regard to the statement by (the spokesperson of the) High Representative (HR/VP) Catherine Ashton of 18 March 2012 on the passing away of Pope Shenouda III, of 11 May 2012 on the situation in Egypt ahead of the Presidential elections of 23-24 May, of 25 May on the Presidential elections in Egypt, of 1 June 2012 on the lifting of the state of emergency in Egypt, of 15 June 2012 on the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court’s rulings of 14 June declaring the legislative framework governing the parliamentary elections unconstitutional, of 20 June 2012 on the political situation in Egypt, of 24 June 2012 on the election of Mohammed Morsi as the President of Egypt, of 30 June 2012 on the inauguration of President Morsi of Egypt, of 24 July 2012 on the appointment of the new Prime Minister of Egypt, of 5 December 2012 on the situation in Egypt, of 25 December 2012 on the referendum in Egypt, and of 25 January 2013 on the killings in Port Said,

–   having regard to the Council Conclusions on Egypt of 27 February 2012, 25 June 2012, 19 November 2012, 10 December 2012 and 8 February 2013,

–   having regard to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Package, Country Progress Report – Egypt, of 15 May 2012,

–   having regard to the Commission’s new dialogue on higher education with Southern Mediterranean countries, including Egypt, of 2 July 2012, which aims to assess challenges faced in higher education and strengthening the EU’s support and cooperation in the future,

–   having regard to the visit of the HR/VP to Egypt of 18-19 July 2012, and the meeting with President Morsi in Brussels of 13 September 2012,

–   having regard to the EU-Egypt Task Force meeting on 13-14 November 2012, the EU-Egypt Task Force co-chairs’ conclusions, the package of economic and political assistance for Egyptian transition, particularly support for job creation and vocational training for young people in Egypt and the four signed Letters of Intent on seizing mutual benefits for businesses in the EU and Egypt, as well as the remarks by the HR/VP and the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Füle,

–   having regard to the ‘Cairo Declaration’ of the Second European Union – League of Arab Foreign Affairs Ministerial Meeting of 13 November 2012,

–   having regard to the remarks by the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, after his meeting in Cairo with the President of Egypt Mohammed Morsi on 13 January 2013,

–   having regard to the Council press release of 8 February 2013 on the ‘EU’s response to the ‘Arab Spring: The State-of-play after Two Years’,

–   having regard to the cooperation, particularly in the Mediterranean, between the European Investment Bank and the Islamic Development Bank announced on 9 February 2012,

–   having regard to the Joint Communication of 15 May 2012 from the Commission and the VP/HR to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Region on ‘Delivering on a new European Neighbourhood Policy’,

–   having regard to the EU-Egypt Association Agreement of 2001 (which entered into force on 1 June 2004), strengthened by the Action Plan and the European Neighbourhood Policy agreed in 2007,

–   having regard to the statements by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, of 7 December 2012 on violence in Egypt and major problems with the draft constitution, and of 29 January 2013 on the need for a serious dialogue and an end to the use of excessive force,

–   having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General on Egypt of 24 January 2013,

–   having regard to the statement of 31 January 2013 by the Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, expressing deep concern over escalating violence against women in public places in Egypt,

–   having regard to the ruling of 14 June 2012 by the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, rendering the 2012 parliamentary elections unconstitutional and one third of the winners unlawful, as well as annulling the Political Exclusion Law which excluded former members of the Mubarak regime from participating in the elections,

–   having regard to the constitutional decrees by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) of 17 and 18 June 2012, amending the Provisional Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt of 30 March 2012, granting the military an expanded role in civil law enforcement and expanded decision-making powers on internal and national security issues,

–   having regard to the Egyptian presidential elections which took place on 23-24 May and 16-17 June 2012, and the victory achieved by the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi over former army general Ahmed Shafiq by winning 51.7 % of the votes, as confirmed on 24 June 2012 by the national election commission,

–   having regard to President Morsi’s constitutional declaration of 12 August 2012 granting himself broad legislative and executive powers and a role in the drafting of Egypt’s new constitution,

–   having regard to President Morsi’s constitutional declaration of 22 November 2012 rendering all presidential decrees and laws immune from judicial appeal or cancellation, as well as protecting the Shura Council and the Constituent Assembly from dissolution and judicial control, and ordering the retrial of former President Hosni Mubarak,

–   having regard to the revoking of the constitutional declaration by President Morsi on 8 December 2012,

–   having regard to the constitutional referendum held on 15 and 22 December 2012, in which a majority voted in favour of the constitution, with a voter turnout of 33 %,

–   having regard to the upcoming parliamentary elections from 22 April 2013 to 24 June 2013, and the public announcement of boycotts of the elections by the National Association for Change, the National Salvation Front and Egyptian Islamic Jihad,

–   having regard to the Amnesty International reports of January 2013 entitled ‘Rampant impunity – Still no justice for protestors killed in the ‘25 January Revolution’’, and of February 2013 entitled ‘Egypt: Gender-based violence against women around Tahrir Square’,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 and to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, to which Egypt has agreed to be a party,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

Elections and constitution

A. whereas the Egyptian presidential elections took place between 23 May and 17 June 2012, and whereas 12 candidates officially participated in the elections;

B.  whereas on 14 June 2012 the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court declared the legislative framework governing Egypt’s parliamentary elections unconstitutional; whereas following the ruling the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) announced on 16 June 2012 that the parliament has been dissolved; whereas the Muslim Brotherhood denounced the SCAF’s decision as unlawful; whereas the Shura Council functions as a temporary lawmaking body, is made up of 85 % Islamists and was elected with a 10 % voter turn-out;

C. whereas on 24 June 2012 Mohammed Morsi was officially declared the winner of Egypt’s presidential elections, marking the first free and democratic presidential election in the country and the first election of an Islamist candidate as a head of state in the Arab world;

D. whereas on 12 August 2012 President Morsi reclaimed political power after the SCAF had substantially expanded its role in civil matters since the fall of former President Mubarak;

E.  whereas on 10 April 2012 the Cairo Administrative Court dissolved the Constitutional Assembly, which was entrusted with the drafting of a new constitution, and whereas on 8 June 2012 a new Constitutional Assembly, consisting of 100 members, was established;

F.  whereas on 22 November 2012 President Morsi announced a constitutional decree considerably extending his powers, rendering all presidential decrees and laws free from judicial appeal or cancellation, protecting the Shura Council and the Constituent Assembly from dissolution and judicial authority, extending the mandate of the Constituent Assembly to eight months, and granting immunity to all decisions and decrees issues by the President since taking office on 30 June 2012 until the ratification of the new constitution; whereas the decree also granted the President the exclusive right to take any measures necessary to protect Egypt’s national unity, security and the revolution;

G. whereas on 30 November 2012 the Constituent Assembly adopted the draft Constitution, which according to several human rights groups and international experts contained many uncertainties and ambiguities which could be broadly interpreted, particularly religious references, as curbing civil liberties such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and women’s rights; whereas the draft Constitution does not end the military trials of civilians, whereas the draft Constitution was adopted by a majority (63.8 %) of voters in a referendum that took place on 15 and 22 December 2012, with a voter turnout of 32.9 %, and whereas several opposition leaders have called the Constitution illegitimate, seeking to undermine its implementation;

H. whereas President Morsi repealed his constitutional declaration of 22 November 2012 on 8 December 2012;

I.   whereas, following violent clashes between protestors and security forces, leading to dozens of deaths, on the eve of and in the weeks after the second anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, sparked by either the increased lawlessness in Egypt, the vast decline of the Egyptian economy and the dozens of death sentences handed down against civilians involved in the deadly 2012 football riots in Port Said, leading President Morsi to announce a state of emergency in several Egyptian cities, and prompting warnings by the military of ‘the collapse of the state’, opposition leaders in a sign of unity on 30 January 2013 urged President Morsi to stop the violence against protestors, to form a national unity government and to start a national dialogue; whereas President Morsi dismissed the calls for a unity government;

J.   whereas fresh Egyptian parliamentary elections have been announced for 27 April 2013 and which will end in late June; whereas the newly elected Parliament will convene on 6 July 2013; whereas the new Parliament has to approve the appointment of the new Egyptian prime minister; whereas the Supreme Committee for Elections in Egypt has accepted four non-governmental organisations to ‘witness’ the elections, as well as the European Union, the League of Arab States and the African Union; whereas the electoral law is currently still subject to changes by the Shura Council and faces heavy criticism from political groups and the Constitutional Council;

K. whereas in the run-up to the next parliamentary elections the democratic transition in Egypt is facing ongoing challenge and remains troubled by exclusionary politics, the continuing use of violence by police and security forces against protestors, the excessive use of tear gas, arbitrary arrests – including of young children –, widespread sexual harassment of women, the kidnapping of secular and liberal activists and a marked regression to repressive policies comparable to those of the Mubarak regime;

L.  whereas the ongoing violence and clashes in the streets of Egypt pose a major threat to the safe, smooth running of the elections; whereas kidnappings and intimidation without genuine police investigation enable a climate of impunity which could lead to intimidation of, or assaults on, supporters of parliamentary candidates; whereas human rights groups have documented and reported several cases of torture, which in at least two reported cases have led to deaths; whereas security and public order should be maintained, with restraint and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

EU-Egypt relations

M. whereas the EU has repeatedly expressed its commitment to freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and women’s rights and has stressed that governments have a duty to guarantee these freedoms all over the world; whereas the EU’s external actions are legally required to comply with its founding principles, particularly respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

N. whereas the HR/VP visited President Morsi in Cairo on 19 July 2012; whereas President Morsi visited the European Commission in Brussels on 12 September 2012 to discuss the political and economic situation and the next steps in the transition towards democracy;

O. whereas on 13-14 November 2012 the EU-Egypt Task Force co-chaired by the HR/VP and Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr met in Cairo and agreed a major package of economic and political assistance to help Egypt with its ongoing transition, with a total of nearly EUR 5 billion in the form of loans and grants for 2012-2013; whereas the financial assistance is (partly) conditional upon Egypt’s success in finalising a deal with the International Monetary Fund, as well on human rights, democracy and economic governance;

P.  whereas the EU and Egypt have agreed to jointly explore how to deepen trade and investment relations, including via technical assistance, which could lead to a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement;

Q. whereas President Morsi issued his constitutional declaration, granting him unprecedented powers without judicial or parliamentary oversight, only eight days after the conclusion of the EU-Egypt Task Force meeting; whereas both the timing and effects of the declaration have damaged the EU’s trust and confidence in the President’s commitment to pursuing a constructive and stable political and trade relationship with the EU;

R.  whereas the Egyptian economic situation is in a desperate state, with foreign currency reserves at a low level and the Egyptian pound at its lowest rate since 2004; whereas the country’s economic improvement will depend on long-term political and social stability in the country; whereas Egypt is going through a critical period of transition and faces considerable challenges and difficulties in the process towards democracy;

S.  whereas the EU has consistently offered its assistance and knowledge-sharing to the Egyptian authorities in Egypt’s transition to a just, rules-based, free and democratic society;

Civil liberties and rights violations

T.  whereas the lack of political stability and basic day-to-day governance, without constitutional checks and balances, including most importantly the separation of powers, in the absence of a clear constitutional framework and the deterioration of socio-economic conditions in Egypt, have created a climate in which human rights violations have continued to take place with impunity;

U. whereas several drafts of a new law governing the activities of non-governmental organisations have raised concerns among civil society activists and organisations, whereas according to a letter by the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs any Egyptian NGO (or ‘local entity’) is prohibited from having contact with foreign partners (or ‘international entities’) without prior permission from public security bodies yet to be established , with the de facto effect of monitoring and limiting all forms of social activity or organisation, as many civil society organisations rely on foreign funding, including by the EU; whereas the new NGO law is also expected to limit fact-finding visits and other essential activities throughout Egypt, in practice preventing civil society organisations from doing their work;

V. whereas NGOs in Egypt already face heavy administrative burdens in order to be granted permission to operate in the country; whereas since 2011 three international NGOs and 43 of their staff members have faced prosecution for obtaining funding without prior approval by the Egyptian authorities;

W. whereas 42 people, including two police officers, died in clashes after a court recommended on 26 January 2013 sentencing 21 Port Said residents to death for killings after a soccer match a year earlier; whereas confirmation of this sentence and verdict against the remaining 52 defendants is scheduled for 9 March;

X. whereas the Egyptian police in Port Said, as well as throughout the country, resorts to the use of (lethal) violence too quickly, and can do so without proper investigation into its use or any form of accountability;

Y. whereas public opinion in Egypt is very critical of restrictions on freedom of expression; whereas the penal code and the newly adopted constitution could seriously curb freedom of expression by prohibiting insulting another human being, the Prophet and the Presidency; whereas criminal prosecutions of journalists and comedians such as Gamal Fahmy, Bassem Youssef and Okasha Tawfiq are continuing; whereas 24 reported cases have been brought for insulting the President; whereas the number of blasphemy cases has increased since President Morsi took office;

Z.  whereas on 9 February 2013 a Cairo Administrative Court ordered a 30-day ban on YouTube and several other websites because of the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video; whereas the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications and the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority decided after a meeting that to block YouTube would technically affect the use of Google searching in Egypt, with economic consequences for the country, and therefore resisted the court order; whereas digital freedoms are enablers of universal human rights and should be upheld at all times, and not only because of economic interests;

AA.whereas a new law on the ‘Protection of the Right to Peacefully Demonstrate in Public Place’ may limit freedom of expression and freedom of assembly by using ambiguous language, most problematically ‘citizens’ interest’ as grounds for prohibiting demonstrations or forcibly dispersing protests, and fails to refer to the Egyptian constitution and to international treaties to which Egypt is a party;

BA.whereas violence against women, particularly during public demonstrations, is rampant; whereas Egyptian National Council for Women (NCW) chief Mervat al-Tallawi called on all women who have been sexually assaulted to file reports and to join in a mass lawsuit against the state;

CA.whereas criticism has come from the NCW and civil society regarding the silence of the authorities, which have not condemned the violence suffered by women, giving a wrong signal as to Egypt’s respect for women rights;

1.  Expresses its solidarity with the Egyptian people in this crucial period of transition towards democracy in the country; calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and association, press and media freedom, women’s rights, freedom of religion, conscience and thought, the protection of minorities and the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and to ensure the rule of law, separation of powers, independence of the judiciary and due process, as these are essential components of a free and democratic society;

2.  Acknowledges the difficulties the Egyptian authorities are facing in guiding the country through times of transition, yet considers respect for fundamental rights and freedoms the minimum standard by which all its actions and policies should abide;

3.  Profoundly regrets the considerable loss of life and the high number of injuries during the recent clashes, and extends its condolences to the families of the victims; calls for an independent inquiry into the events leading to death and injuries and for effective and concrete measures to be taken to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice;

4.  Calls on the Egyptian security forces, police and authorities to stop violence, repression and detention of peaceful demonstrators and to show the utmost restraint when attempting to control protests; urges the authorities to act in strict accordance with their laws and international obligations; calls on protesters, activists and the opposition forces to ensure protests are peaceful;

5.  Deplores the death sentences for civilians involved in the Port Said football violence, condemns the use of the death penalty in every circumstance and calls on the Egyptian legislature to impose a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty;

6.  Express alarm over the rise in sexual violence against women, in particular female protesters, and the failure of the authorities to prevent and condemn this violence or to hold perpetrators to account; calls on President Morsi, as well as the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties, to exercise strong political leadership to tackle gender-based violence, and to ensure that all incidents of sexual assault and harassment of women are effectively investigated, bringing perpetrators to justice and ensuring that victims receive adequate reparations; urges President Morsi to address this chronic violence and discrimination against women by adopting the anti-harassment legislation proposed by women’s rights activist; calls on the Egyptian authorities to condemn all forms of violence and aggression against women;

7.  Calls on the Egyptian authorities to reform the police and security forces, to abolish all laws that allow for the unrestricted use of violence by police and security forces against civilians, and to duly investigate all reports of torture or excessive use of violence against civilians, in particular children and women, and to ensure full accountability for those responsible, in conformity with basic human right and freedoms, as well as with the international treaties to which Egypt is a signatory;

8.  Calls on the Egyptian authorities to sign and ratify the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague and to refrain from inviting heads of state for which the ICC has issued arrest warrants;

9.  Urges the Egyptian authorities to refrain from proposing laws and regulations that hamper and, de facto, silence any criticism of the authorities, by monitoring all non-governmental organisations and their funding; urges the Egyptian authorities to recognise the important work of civil society organisations and to ensure that new laws and regulations comply with international legal standards;

10. Expresses its strong support for reforms leading towards democracy, the rule of law and social justice in Egypt as expressed by the Egyptian people; reiterates its call for the total lifting of the state of emergency throughout the country; calls for an immediate end to prosecution of civilians in military courts;

11. Urges the Egyptian authorities to ensure that the parliamentary elections that have been announced can take place freely and smoothly, by investigating recent kidnappings of opposition activists and journalists, to respect fully freedom of expression – both offline and online – in order to allow for a public political debate to take place, and to ensure that the security forces dot no dispel peaceful demonstrations and refrain from using excessive violence;

12. Welcomes the invitation issued by the Egyptian authorities to several international non-governmental organisations and international organisations, including the EU, to witness the upcoming Parliamentary elections; reiterates its offer to send a fully fledged electoral observation mission, in close cooperation and coordination with the Egyptian authorities, in order to ensure that the elections proceed freely and fairly;

13. Calls on the Egyptian authorities and opposition forces to reach a compromise solution in order to decrease the escalation of violence and division, and stresses the importance of holding free, fair and transparent elections with the participation of all forces in order to continue the transition to a genuine democracy in Egypt; encourages the EU and its Member States to continue supporting and assisting the Egyptian authorities, political parties and civil society in the efforts aimed at achieving this goal;

14. Reiterates that the Egyptian constitution should be as inclusive as possible and should enjoy public-wide support, not leaving room for discrimination against anyone in Egyptian society;

15. Urges the Egyptian authorities to engage in a true national dialogue which aims to address and solve the problems currently troubling Egypt’s transition and the promise of the 25 January revolution, particularly the use of violence, sexual violence against women, excessive use of force, all of them with impunity, and the curbing of fundamental freedoms and civil liberties, as well as the instability of the Egyptian economy; in this context calls on the HR/VP, the Commission and the Member States to assume their responsibility vis-à-vis one of the most important neighbouring countries and the future of its young and ambitious population;

16. Considers that political instability is closely linked to economic instability, and calls on the Egyptian authorities and opposition forces to move forward in a peaceful and consensual atmosphere in order to overcome differences; encourages the development of economic cooperation between the EU and Egypt, with enhanced bilateral dialogue on economic reform, as an important step towards building confidence among investors, as well as the International Monetary Fund, a loan from which is crucial to the survival of the Egyptian economy;

17. Regrets the fact that the HR/VP did not condemn, or respond in any other public way to, the grabbing of power by President Morsi just days after the EU-Egypt Task Force meeting, undermining the EU’s credibility as a strong defender of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

18. Regrets the fact that four days after President Morsi’s declaration granting himself unprecedented and unchecked powers, the Council announced a renewed commitment to asset recovery and redistribution to the Egyptian authorities;

19. Urges the HR/VP, the Commission and the Member States to support the Egyptian people unequivocally in their struggle for freedom, dignity and self-determination;

20. Urges the HR/VP and the Commission to develop the ‘more for more’ principle in a more coherent and practical way beyond being a concept that merely exists on paper, including clear conditions and benchmarks should the Egyptian Government steer away from democratic reforms and respect for human rights and freedoms;

21. Urges the HR/VP to hold the Egyptian authorities and President Morsi to their commitments to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; calls on the EU not to grant any budgetary support to the Egyptian authorities if basic conditions such as respect for human rights and freedoms, democratic governance and the rule of law are not met;

22. Expresses its full support for increased EU-Egypt cooperation, whether in the context of the Association Agreement and its action plans, the successful continuation of the EU-Egypt Task Force, regular human rights dialogues, increased business cooperation, improved mobility for Egyptians, particularly students, to the EU, the negotiation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement or future market integration;

23. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, and the Egyptian authorities.

(1)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0064.

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