Motion for a resolution - B8-0322/2016Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation in Eritrea

2.3.2016 - (2016/2568(RSP))

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 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Dita Charanzová, Fredrick Federley, Charles Goerens, Filiz Hyusmenova, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Valentinas Mazuronis, Louis Michel, Javier Nart, Urmas Paet, Marietje Schaake, Pavel Telička, Hilde Vautmans on behalf of the ALDE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0318/2016

Procedure : 2016/2568(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the situation in Eritrea


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Eritrea, in particular those of 7 February 2002[1], 18 November 2004[2] and 15 September 2011[3] on the human rights situation in the country,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolution 2244 of 23 October 2015, which extended the arms embargo on Eritrea until 15 November 2016, and to the report of 19 October 2015 of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea,

–  having regard to the report submitted to the Human Rights Council on 19 June 2015 by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth,

–  having regard to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (the Cotonou Agreement), as revised in 2005 and 2010, to which Eritrea is a signatory,

–  having regard to the declarations of 23 November 2011 and 25 June 2013 by the Co‑Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly on the situation of human rights in Eritrea,

–  having regard to the debate in Parliament of 27 May 2015 on EU development aid to Eritrea in the light of documented human rights abuses,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Eritrea adopted in 1997, which guarantees civil liberties, including freedom of religion,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 1981,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

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

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the EU has been supporting Eritrea since its independence from Ethiopia in 1993; whereas the initial promise of democracy and the rule of law following the country’s independence has been inhibited by the Government of Eritrea on the pretext of national defence and national service; whereas presidential elections planned for 1997 never took place, and whereas the constitution ratified in the same year has never been implemented;

B.  whereas Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia in 1993 created expectations within the international community and among the people of Eritrea that this would help the latter to build a country that respects human rights and is free of repression; whereas this has not happened, but instead there has been even greater repression and even more violations of human rights;

C.  whereas the report by the UN Special Rapporteur noted that Eritrea has one of the worst human rights records in the world, with routine human rights violations taking place every day and no improvement recorded in recent years; whereas many young people have fled the country to escape the repressive government and mandatory military conscription, which includes forced labour and rampant rights abuses; whereas freedom of worship, freedom of the media and freedom of expression are not guaranteed;

D.  whereas detainees, including children, are held in harsh conditions which in some cases amount to torture;

E.  whereas the statement issued in Brussels on 18 September 2014 by the spokesperson for the European External Action Service expressed concern about the detention of a group of 11 members of parliament and eminent members of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice since 18 September 2001 without charge, judgment or the possibility of seeing a lawyer, and about the detention since 23 September 2001 of 10 independent journalists, including Dawit Isaak, a citizen of Sweden and the only European prisoner of conscience; whereas Patriarch Abune Antonios remains incommunicado and under house arrest since January 2006;

F.  whereas Eritrea is ranked 182nd out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index for 2014, according to the UN Development Programme Human Development Report of 2014; whereas, according to the last poverty assessment by the World Bank, dating from 2003, 65 % of the population was living below the poverty line;

G.  whereas in November 2015 the UN warned of a severe drought in the Horn of Africa as a result of the current El Nino pattern; whereas the UN stated in December 2015 that this drought is the strongest ever recorded in the region, reducing crops by 50 % to 90 %; whereas, as a result, Eritrea is among the countries which will face the considerable challenge of ensuring food security for its population;

H.  whereas the EU is an important partner for Eritrea in terms of development aid and assistance;

I.  whereas, in total contradiction with the reality of the drought, the Eritrean President has dismissed fears of a food crisis, saying that ‘the country will not face any crisis in spite of reduced agricultural output’;

J.  whereas Eritrea is supportive of the Khartoum Process (an EU and African Union initiative launched on 28 November 2014 with the aim of addressing the issue of migration and human trafficking), which encompasses the implementation of concrete projects, including capacity-building for the judiciary and awareness-raising;

K.  whereas on 22 February 2016 the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Security Sector Program (SSP) officially launched, in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), a study report entitled ‘Human Smuggling and Trafficking on the Horn of Africa-Central Mediterranean Route’;

L.  whereas Eritrea is one of the top refugee-producing countries in the world, accounting for the third-largest number of people risking the perilous journey to Europe (after Syrians and Afghans), who run the gauntlet of pitiless people-smugglers to make the dangerous Mediterranean crossing; whereas, therefore, the situation in Eritrea directly affects Europe, since if human rights were respected and upheld in the country and people could live there without fear, Eritreans would be able to return to their homeland;

M.  whereas particular attention should be paid to unaccompanied child victims of trafficking in human beings, as they need specific assistance and support owing to their situation of particular vulnerability;

N.  whereas the EU has a vested interest in seeing Eritrea stabilised, as the current situation is forcing a sizeable part of the population to flee, and thousands of people are losing their lives as a result of criminal activities, including smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings;

1.  Notes with great concern the continuing deplorable human rights situation in Eritrea;

2.  Agrees to the allocation of EUR 200 million over the next six years for the National Indicative Program under the 11th European Development Fund, in order to promote poverty reduction and socio-economic development, to tackle the root economic and political causes of migration, and to finance projects relating to renewable energy, energy efficiency and economic governance; recalls that this envelope is complementary to other areas of cooperation such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR);

3.  Urges Eritrea to show transparency and good governance in respect of public finances; calls on the EU Delegation to monitor closely the political situation in the country in order to make sure that the continuation of EU development cooperation is dependent on substantial progress being achieved in the areas of human rights and democratisation, in particular freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly; emphasises that a lack of broad-based economic development encourages emigration; underlines the notable role played by women, including during the struggle for independence, and calls for women’s empowerment and gender equality;

4.  Recalls that an unaccompanied minor is above all a child who is potentially in danger, and that child protection, rather than immigration policies, must be the leading principle for Member States and the EU when dealing with unaccompanied minors, so as to respect the core principle of the child’s best interests; recalls that, without exception, anyone below the age of 18 years is to be regarded as a child and thus as a minor; points out that unaccompanied minors, particularly girls, are twice as susceptible to problems and difficulties as other minors;

5.  Appeals to the international community and Eritrea’s development partners to intervene in the situation and to put pressure on the Eritrean Government to allow foreign aid to support vulnerable communities before the crisis worsens, in particular in the aftermath of the drought;

6.  Remains very concerned about the human rights situation in the country; reiterates its call to the Eritrean authorities to release immediately and unconditionally parliamentarians, journalists (including Swedish citizen Dawit Isaak, who has not been heard from since 2005), clerics and all political prisoners;

7.  Requires clear guarantees from the Eritrean Government that it will implement democratic reforms and ensure respect for human rights, including by implementing the recommendations made by the 18th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, which it accepted on 7 February 2014;

8.  Calls on the Council to ensure that the funding allocated does not benefit the Eritrean Government but is strictly assigned to meeting the needs of the Eritrean people for development, democracy, human rights, good governance and security;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of the African Union, the Secretary‑General of the United Nations, and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.