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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Eritrea, notably the cases of Abune Antonios and Dawit Isaak

4.7.2017 - (2017/2755(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

Charles Tannock, Karol Karski, Ruža Tomašić, Valdemar Tomaševski, Urszula Krupa, Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, Raffaele Fitto, Geoffrey Van Orden, Angel Dzhambazki, Notis Marias, Branislav Škripek, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Tomasz Piotr Poręba, Ryszard Czarnecki, Monica Macovei on behalf of the ECR Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0464/2017

Procedura : 2017/2755(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on Eritrea, notably the cases of Abune Antonios and Dawit Isaak


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Eritrea,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolution 2317 of 15 November 2016, which extended the arms embargo on Eritrea until 15 November 2017, and to the report of 19 October 2015 of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea,

–  having regard to the UN Human Rights Council Resolution on the situation in Eritrea on 1 July 2016,

– having regard to the UN Human Rights Council Resolution on the technical support and capacity-building in Eritrea on 23 June 2016

–  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 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 statement of the spokesperson for the European External Action Service on the political prisoners in Eritrea on 18 September 2014,

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

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 1981, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

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

A. Whereas crimes of rape, murder, enslavement, enforced disappearances, imprisonment, torture, persecution, and other inhumane acts have been committed as part of a widespread motive to control Eritrean population in constant fear since Eritrean authorities took control of Eritrean territory in 1991;

B. whereas Dawit Isaak, a journalist and writer, moved to Sweden in 1987 and became a Swedish citizen; whereas after the independence of Eritrea, he returned to his homeland to establish Setit, the first independent newspaper in the country; whereas Dawit Isaak has been in jail almost 15 years without a charge or trial for his critical and insightful reporting; whereas Dawit Isaak was last seen in 2005 and his fate remains unclear ever since; whereas Dawit Isaak has been chosen to receive the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, a prestigious award for journalists around the world;

C. whereas Patriarch Abune Antonios, a 89 years old third Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church who in 2006 called for the release of political prisoners, was notified by the Eritrean Government that he no longer would lead the country’s largest religious denomination; whereas in 2007, the Eritrean government forcefully removed the Patriarch from his home and placed him under house arrest at an undisclosed location; whereas Patriarch Antonios continues to be held incommunicado and reportedly is being denied medical care despite suffering from severe diabetes;


D. whereas there is no independent judiciary and no national assembly in Eritrea; whereas the lack of democratic institutions in the country has resulted in a vacuum in good governance and rule of law, that has created an environment of impunity for crimes against humanity;


E. whereas new cases of arbitrary arrests, detention and torture were registered in official and unofficial detention centres for attempting to evade military service or trying to assist a family member in doing so;


F. whereas the Eritrean Government tries to conceal the scales of the humanitarian crisis in the country and continues its non-cooperative behaviour by blocking access to the country for the UN Commission of inquiry and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, despite the official requests of the Commission;

G. 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;

H. 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;

I. Whereas, Eritrea is ranked 179th out of 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, whereas there is no room for freely reported news and information;

J. Whereas the EU is an important partner for Eritrea in terms of development aid and assistance; whereas the EU has a vested interest in seeing Eritrea stabilised;

1. Remains very concerned about the human rights situation in the country; reiterates its call to the Eritrean authorities to release Swedish citizen Dawit Isaak and Patriarch Abune Antonios, alongside other parliamentarians, journalists, religious leaders, clerics and political prisoners without delay;

2. Calls on the Eritrean Government to stop the practice of illegal arrests and detentions, ill-treatment, torture and rape of its citizens and reminds the Government that it is the primary responsibility of the government to protect its population from human rights violations and inhumane treatment;


3. Demands that the Eritrean Government provides detailed information on the fate and whereabouts of all those deprived of physical liberty;

4. Demands that the Eritrean Government to allow independent experts and UN designated authorities to monitor the prisons and other centres of detention in the country;

5. Encourages the Eritrean Government to establish an independent, impartial and transparent judiciary and ensure access to justice for all its citizens;


6. Reminds the Eritrean Government that many of its activities constitute crimes against humanity and that although Eritrea is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, many provisions of the Rome Statute reflect international customary law binding on Eritrea,


7. Calls on the Eritrean Government to allow the creation of other political parties as a primary tool of promoting democracy in the country and calls for human rights organisations to freely operate within the country;


8.Calls the Eritrean Government to discontinue indefinite military service by limiting it as per established international standards for all current and future conscripts, as stipulated by the 1995 Proclamation on National Service;

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.