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    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Clashes in Soudan and subsequent media censorship

    8.10.2013 - (2013/2873(RSP))

    with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
    pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure

    Marietje Schaake, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Louis Michel, Kristiina Ojuland, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Robert Rochefort, Graham Watson, Angelika Werthmann, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Marielle de Sarnez, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells on behalf of the ALDE Group

    See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0444/2013

    NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.
    Proċedura : 2013/2873(RSP)
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    European Parliament resolution on Clashes in Soudan and subsequent media censorship


    The European Parliament,

    -    Having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan,


    -    Having regard to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,


    -    Having regard to Partnership Agreement 2000/483/EC between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States of the other part, signed in Cotonou (Benin) on 23 June 2000 and revised successively in 2005 and 2010,


    -    Having regard to the Global Peace Agreement of 2005,


    -    Having regard to its resolution on a digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy of 11 December 2012 (A7-0374/2012),


    -    Having regard to its resolution on the freedom of the press and media in the world of 13 June 2013 (A7-0176/2013),


    -    Having regard to the statement of 6 September 2013 by the spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the Summit between the Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan in Khartoum in Sudan,


    -    Having regard to the statement of 30 September 2013 by the spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the current protest in Sudan,




    ·  Whereas Sudan is experiencing increasing waves of popular protests and the political situation is fragile;


    ·  Whereas through general elections held in April 2010, the first multiparty elections since 1986 in Sudan, Omar al-Bashir was re-elected President of the Sudan; whereas the Election Observation Mission of the European Union, which has found many irregularities and deficiencies in the electoral process, said that the elections did not meet international standards;


    ·  Whereas the International Criminal Court indicted Omar al-Bashir in March 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the eastern province of Darfur (western Sudan), which was plagued for seven years by a civil war causing 300,000 deaths, according to UN estimates; whereas the ICC issued a second arrest warrant for genocide in 2010;


    ·  Whereas since the separation with South Sudan in 2011, the Sudanese economy faces numerous challenges, such as inflation, the collapse of its currency and extreme unemployment; whereas Omar al-Bashir took widely criticised measures to stabilise the Sudanese economy;


    ·  Whereas despite the independence of South Sudan in 2011, relations between Sudan and South Sudan deteriorated; whereas the borders with the south are tense, and variety of rebel groups is active in the peripheries, contributing to a climate of instability;


    ·  Whereas according to U.N. estimates 50 percent of the population of 34 million in Sudan is younger than 15, and about 46 percent of the population lives under the poverty line;


    ·  Whereas Sudan has not ratified the 2005 revised Cotonou Agreement and therefore cannot received financial support through the 10th EDF ;


    ·  Whereas Omar al-Bashir's speech to the nation on 22 September 2013 announcing a high increase of fuel prices and the lifting of fuel subsidies resulting in a price increase of 60 %, did increase in scope the protest movement;


    ·  Whereas these severe protests were also triggered by the restricted political participation and critical economic situation that recently caused a sharp depreciation of the Sudanese pound vis-à-vis the dollar with an increase in prices of basic food items and of fuel;


    ·  Whereas previously since January 2012, and following the Arab spring, the opposition is calling for the government to be replaced by means of public demonstration which started in the poor suburbs of the capital city Khartoum and gradually spreading throughout to the whole country;


    K. Whereas to reports, at least 800 activists, including members of opposition parties and journalists have been arrested amid on-going demonstrations, in which up to 100 people were reportedly killed by security forces, a toll that prompted the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to call for “utmost restraint” from law enforcement officials. Whereas to reports the majority of persons killed are between the ages of 15 and 25, but children as young as 10 to 12 have also been shot by security forces 


    L. Whereas students, teachers, activists and members of the political opposition are being detained arbitrarily at NISS headquarters and held incommunicado; whereas number of activists, opposition political parties members and civil society leaders were arrested at their homes and their homes were searched by NISS agents; Whereas there have been summary trials, such as the arrest of Majdi Saleem, a well-known human rights defender


    M. Whereas the protests in Wad Madani, Khartoum and Omdurman which erupted after Al Bashir's speech, have led, according the Sudan Change NowAfrican Center for Justice and Peace Studies movement and other sources to the death of at least one hundred and seventy people; whereas in Omdurman, several sources, such as the Omdurman hospital staff have reported dozens of dead in the city with the fire arms wounds in their chests and heads;


    ·  Whereas the violent crackdown by Sudanese government includes the use of live ammunition against peaceful protesters, large-scale detentions and from end September on, an information blackout through high censorship of the print media and the shutdown of the internet;


    O. Whereas regarding freedom of information, Sudan is ranked among the worst countries in the world; Whereas on 25 September 2013 the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) brought this to a whole new level by prohibiting the editors of the main newspapers to publish any information about the protests that did not come from government sources;


    P. Whereas there have been numerous violations of the freedom of press, such as disconnecting the Internet, seizing newspapers, harassing journalists and censoring news websites; whereas the offices of Al-Arabiya and Sky New Arabic Service television stations have been closed; whereas daily newspapers such as Al-Sudani, Al-Meghar, Al Gareeda, Almash’had Alaan, Al-Siyasi and the pro-government Al-Intibaha have been banned from publication on 19 September 2013, issues of three newspapers, including Al-Intibaha were seized as they came off the press;


    Q. Whereas uncensored access to the open internet, mobile phones and ICTs have a positive impact on human rights and fundamental freedoms, by expanding the scope of freedom of expression, access to information and freedom of assembly across the world;


    R.   Whereas an open internet has a vast enabling, creating and catalysing potential for community-building, civil society, and global economic, social, scientific, cultural and political development, contributing as such to the progress of humankind as a whole;


    S.   Whereas the digital collection and dissemination of evidence of human rights violations can contribute to the global fight against impunity;


    T.   Whereas access to the internet is a fundamental right equal to other basic human rights, recognised by the UN, and should be defended and maintained accordingly,


    U.   Whereas the state's regulatory authority has established a special unit to monitor and implement filtration and Sudanese authorities openly acknowledge filtering content that transgresses public morality and ethics, or threatens order;


    V.   Whereas EU based companies develop, export and operate mass surveillance systems and technologies to regimes that use them to violate digital freedoms;


    W.  Whereas on 25 September 2013, the authorities disconnected the Internet throughout the country for more than 24 hours in a blackout on a scale that has not been seen since the uprisings in Egypt in 2011; 


    X.   Whereas this is not the first time the government has disconnected the internet, which they also did in June this year during an opposition party gathering and the internet was slowed down drastically in June 2012 during a series of protests,


    Y.   Whereas in the Freedom House report '2013 Freedom on the Net' released on 3 October 2013, Sudan is rated as 'not free' and comes in as 63rd out of one hundred countries,


    Z.   Whereas most activists rely on the use of internet to communicate with each other, get information out of the country and to voice their opinions and concerns,


    AA. Whereas citizens reported that even SMS service was interrupted during the black-out



    1.  Is concerned about the instability in Sudan; calls on Sudanese authorities to take into account the complaints expressed by its population; Is deeply concerned about reports that a significant number of people have been killed during the late September demonstrations over fuel subsidy cuts across Sudan, including the capital, Khartoum.


    2.  Voices deep concern at the large number of Sudanese citizens detained since these mass protests erupted, whereby detainees are being held incommunicado with no access to lawyers or their families and urges the Government of Sudan to allow the detainees access to their families, legal representation and medical care.


    3.  Calls for an immediate end to the harassment and unlawful arrest of human rights activists and members of the opposition for the lawful and peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly;


    4.  Calls on all parties to refrain from resorting to violence; Urges the authorities to respect the civil liberties of those protesting and, in particular, their right to assemble peacefully and express their views.


    5.  Reminds the authorities that under international law, intentional lethal use of firearms can only be justified when strictly unavoidable and only in order to protect life. Calls therefore on law enforcement officials to show utmost restraint and make sure that they comply at all times with international human rights obligations and international standards on policing;


    6.  Calls on the authorities to enable basic freedoms, including the freedom to demonstrate peacefully to exercise the right to assembly and peaceful demonstrations which the Government of the Sudan has an obligation to respect under its constitution and under international law


    7.  Urges the Sudanese government to establish an investigation into the use of disproportionate force and allegations of the intentional killing of protestors, and the use of live ammunition by security forces; Urges the Sudanese government to immediately stop the crackdown and put an end to the impunity of NISS members;


    8.  Emphasizes the role played by the media in providing citizens with information and a platform to voice their legitimate concerns; stresses the need to guarantee the citizen's right to information and therefore strongly condemns the blackout of 22 September 2013; strongly condemns the disconnection of the Internet in the country and the intimidation operation led by the NISS.


    9.  Urges the Sudanese government to protect journalists and to guarantee access to independent sources of information, to stop the seizure of newspapers and to reopen all the websites that were closed and to lift censoring;


    10.  Urges the Sudanese government to allow its population free access to the internet at all times; stressing that access to the internet is a fundamental right, recognised by the UN, which should be maintained and defended as all other human rights,


    11.  Urges the Sudanese government to cease all forms of repression against those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, both online and offline;


    12.  Calls on Sudanese authorities to work with all regional and international partners in order to stabilize its economy; Hence stresses the need to ratify the 2005 revised Cotonou Agreement;;


    13.  Calls on Sudanese authorities to take into account complaints expressed by Sudan's young population; recommends that the Sudanese authorities and all regional and international partners implement programmes for young people to promote education, training and employment;


    14.  Calls on Sudanese authorities to engage in a genuine process for comprehensive national dialogue with the opposition and with South Sudan in order to definitively fix the common borders and stabilize the whole country;


    15.  Urges Omar al-Bashir to comply with international law and to appear before the ICC;


    16.  Calls on the African Union, in close coordination with the special procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, to send an urgent commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of the excessive and intentional use of lethal force by the Sudanese authorities and the circumstances leading to the deaths of protestors, including human rights defenders.

    17.  Calls on the Commission to rapidly legally restrict the export of mass surveillance technologies from the EU to repressive regimes and/or countries where they are likely to be used to violate digital freedoms and other human rights;



    18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the government of The Sudan, the African Union, the United Nations Secretary-General, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the PAN-African Parliament (PAP).