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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on EU citizens under detention in India, notably Italian, Estonian and UK citizens

19.1.2016 - (2016/2522(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 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Mario Borghezio, Mara Bizzotto, Gianluca Buonanno, Lorenzo Fontana, Matteo Salvini, Gerolf Annemans on behalf of the ENF Group

Proċedura : 2016/2522(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on EU citizens under detention in India, notably Italian, Estonian and UK citizens


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),


–  having regard to the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA),


–  having regard to the Montreux Document,


–  having regard to its resolution of 10 May 2012 on maritime piracy[1],


–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2015 on the case of the two Italian ‘marò’[2],


–  having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,


A.whereas Police in India's State of Tamil Nadu on 18 October 2013 arrested thirty-five crew members and security personnel on board the anti-piracy vessel MV Seaman Guard Ohio, a ship owned by a US-based security company, but registered in Sierra Leone; whereas they were charged in December of the same year with illegal refueling, illegal handling of firearms and illegal entry into territorial waters, and released on bail on April 2014, but unable to leave India;


B.whereas the High Court of Tamil Nadu cleared all members of the crew and ship guards except for the captain of the charges on July 2014 at first instance, but on appeal the Tuticorin District Principal Sessions Court overturned the verdict on 11 January 2016, sentencing all the thirty-five crew members to five years’ “rigorous imprisonment”; whereas the convicted crew members can approach the High Court of Tamil Nadu within 30 days to appeal against this verdict, and seek bail;


C.whereas among the convicted crew members there are fourteen Estonian and six British citizens;


D.whereas this case comes after the one of the two Italian marines engaged in similar counter-piracy security guard, but on UN’s mandate, and arrested in 2012 by the State of Kerala authorities on suspicion of murder of two Indian fishermen;


1.  Acknowledges that India has been highly sensitive about armed vessels near its shores following the 2008 seaborne attack on Mumbai by Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba;


2.  Stresses that these cases involving foreign citizens should nevertheless be treated strictly within the rule of law, fully respecting the human and legal rights of those allegedly involved; hopes, in this regard, that Indian authorities enable those people to return to their respective home countries pending the final verdict;


3.  supports the Italian, Estonian and British Governments’ diplomatic action; takes the view, however, that in the case of the two Italian marines – for whom an international arbitration proceedings is in place from 26 June 2015 –, the Italian Government’s action proved to be not appropriate since the beginning, contributing to so negatively determine the affair; encourages the Indian Government to find a quick and satisfactory solution in conformity with international law; notes, in this respect, that India is not a Participating State of the Montreux Document;


4.  asks the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for urging the Commission to re-evaluate, within the scope of its attributions, the framework of relations with India and hence to consider measures such as suspending any ongoing negotiation with such a country, in particular the free trade agreement, pending final verdict on both these cases involving Member States’ citizens;


5.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Member States, the United Nations Secretary-General, and the President and Government of India and of the States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.