Motion for a resolution - B8-0177/2019Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on a European human rights violations sanctions regime

11.3.2019 - (2019/2580(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

Heidi Hautala, Barbara Lochbihler, Judith Sargentini, Margrete Auken, Jordi Solé, Martin Häusling, Molly Scott Cato, Klaus Buchner, Florent Marcellesi, Reinhard Bütikofer, Bodil Valero, Tilly Metzon behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0177/2019

Procedure : 2019/2580(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on a European human rights violations sanctions regime


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions calling for an EU-wide mechanism for imposing targeted sanctions against individuals involved in grave human rights violations, including that of 11 March 2014 on the eradication of torture in the world[1],

–  having regard to Declaration 25 of the Lisbon Treaty on the need to ensure due process rights of individuals or entities concerned by EU restrictive measures or EU measures in combating terrorism,

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019),

–  having regard to the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) following the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in December 2018,

–  having regard to the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 22 January 2019 on Sergei Magnitsky and beyond – fighting impunity by targeted sanctions,

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘Targeted sanctions against individuals on grounds of grave human rights violations – impact, trends and prospects at EU level’ published by its Directorate-General for External Policies on 26 April 2018[2],

–  having regard to the Dutch Government’s initiative of November 2018 in support of an EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime,

–  having regard to the proposal by various civil society groups of 14 November 2018 for a European Human Rights Entry Ban Commission,

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

A.  whereas EU restrictive measures – more commonly known as sanctions – have become an integral part of the EU’s external relations toolbox over the past two decades, with over 40 different restrictive measures currently in place against 34 countries and many of them directly implementing UN Security Council resolutions;

B.  whereas in addition to country-specific sanctions, the EU has recently introduced horizontal restrictive measures against the proliferation and use of chemical weapons, as well as specific measures to combat terrorism;

C.  whereas the existing EU sanctions target both state actors and non-state actors such as Da’esh and al-Qaeda;

D.  whereas an estimated two thirds of EU country-specific sanctions have been imposed in support of human rights and democracy objectives;

E.  whereas the European Parliament has repeatedly called for the establishment of an EU global human rights sanctions regime (also referred to initially as an EU Global Magnitsky List);

F.  whereas human rights-specific sanctions regimes have been adopted in a few countries, including the USA, Canada, Estonia, Lithuania and the UK; whereas the US legislation does not provide for any kind of judicial review process;

G.  whereas the Dutch Government initiated a discussion among EU Member States in November 2018 on the political opportunity of a targeted human rights sanctions regime at EU level; whereas preliminary discussions are continuing at the level of a Council working group;

1.  Calls for the swift establishment of an autonomous, flexible and reactive EU-wide sanctions regime that would enable those individuals responsible for or involved in grave human rights violations and abuses worldwide to be targeted;

2.  Firmly believes that such a regime would be a valuable addition to the EU’s existing human rights and foreign policy toolbox, and would strengthen the EU’s role as a global human rights actor, notably in its support to victims and human rights defenders worldwide;

3.  Is convinced of the potential effectiveness of such a regime and of its capacity to influence the behaviour of the individuals and entities concerned, as well as of its potential deterrent effect and symbolic value by increasing attention on those situations in which democratic opposition activists and human rights defenders are in danger;

4.  Observes with cautious optimism the preliminary discussions undertaken at Council level on this matter; urges the VP/HR and her services to take a constructive and proactive approach to this process and expects her to report back regularly on the progress of these discussions;

5.  Stresses that the regime should enable restrictive measures, notably asset freezes and EU entry bans, to be taken against individuals or entities that are responsible for or involved in, or that assist, finance, or contribute to the planning, directing or commission of, grave human rights violations or abuses; calls on the Council to include cross-border violations within the scope of the regime;

6.  Insists on the importance of the regime being consistent with and complementary to existing EU policies and existing country-specific and horizontal restrictive measures; insists, in this regard, that the new regime should not replace the human rights scope of current country-specific measures; considers, furthermore, that any future regime needs to be fully complementary to and consistent with the existing international framework on sanctions, notably in relation to the United Nations Security Council;

7.  Underscores the need for the regime to be legally sound and in full compliance with the highest possible standards in terms of the protection and observance of due process rights of the individuals or entities concerned; insists, in this regard, that decisions to list and delist individuals should be based on clear and distinct criteria in order to guarantee a thorough judicial review;

8.  Stresses that the criminal prosecution of the perpetrators of gross human rights violations through domestic or international jurisdictions should remain the primary objective of all efforts to combat impunity undertaken by the EU and its Member States; recalls, in this connection, the fundamental responsibility of states in holding perpetrators accountable for human rights violations;

9.  Warns that the political legitimacy of the regime will largely depend on the Council's ability to adopt listings strictly on the basis of human rights considerations, as opposed to geostrategic or other considerations; encourages the Council, in this regard, to consider applying qualified majority voting for the purposes of drawing up such listings;

10.  Considers that the regime should enable individuals from both state and non-state actors or entities to be targeted;

11.  Expects future listings under the regime to be based on hard evidence and exclusively open-source information, including that provided by civil society organisations; expects there to be a clear and direct link between the listing of an individual and their crime;

12.  Considers that the new regime should focus on perpetrators with a direct and immediate link to the crime, such as individuals from the security forces or the judiciary, but also enable individuals from the highest level of the command chain to be listed, where relevant;

13.  Believes that a narrow range of violations should be prioritised, such as direct involvement in acts of torture, enforced disappearance, trafficking in human beings and political imprisonment; calls for individuals involved in business operations that directly contribute to serious human rights violations such as those resulting from conflict-fuelling arms deals, widespread land-grabbing or ecocide to also be considered within this sanctions regime;

14.  Calls on the Member States to ensure proper implementation and enforcement of the sanctions regime, once it has been established; calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Commission, for their part, to dedicate adequate resources and expertise to monitoring the implementation of the newly established regime, and to devote particular attention to public communication about the listings, both in the EU and in the countries concerned;

15.  Calls for the mandate of the European Ombudsman to be extended to EU sanctions regimes, including on human rights, or – alternatively – for the establishment of a dedicated EU sanctions ombudsperson;

16.  Insists that Parliament exercise close scrutiny of the actions of the Council under this future regime, particularly with regard to the definition and modifications of the listing criteria and the modification of these listings;

17.  Pays tribute to the tireless efforts of civil society activists in support of the introduction of sanctions targeting individual perpetrators; recommends the setting up of an EU-level advisory committee, comprising experts and civil society representatives, that would contribute to the ongoing Council discussions on a future human rights sanctions regime; insists that close cooperation with this committee be built into any future regime;

18.  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 governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.


Last updated: 11 March 2019
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