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Thursday, 7 September 2000 - Strasbourg
Human rights: British soldiers held hostage in Sierra Leone

European Parliament resolution on the kidnapping of British soldiers in Sierra Leone

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to its previous resolutions on the political situation in Sierra Leone,

A.  whereas 11 British soldiers were captured on 25 August 2000 in Sierra Leone by the West Side Boys militia,

B.  whereas, after the release of five hostages, six others are still being held,

C.  whereas the kidnappers are asking for their leader Brigadier Bombblast to be released in exchange for the release of the kidnapped soldiers,

D.  whereas there are precedents for the kidnapping of United Nations UNAMSIL soldiers or staff, notably the kidnapping of 400 UN employees last May,

E.  having regard to the Lomé agreements of July 1999, which have unfortunately not been respected, providing for the disarming of all non-governmental forces,

F.  whereas the British presence has prevented a fresh murderous attack by the rebels on the capital, Freetown,

G.  whereas the government in Sierra Leone has rejected the demands of the militiamen and refuses to enter into negotiations,

H.  whereas a peaceful solution for Sierra Leone can be found only through genuine regional cooperation and fighting the diamond smuggling, mostly controlled by the RUF in eastern provinces with connections in neighbouring countries,

I.  welcoming the statements made after this most recent kidnapping by the former leader of the AFRC and close associate of the West Side Boys, Johnny Paul Koroma, who called for the release of the British soldiers as soon as possible and distanced himself from the militiamen's demands,

1.  Demands the immediate, unconditional release of the kidnapped British soldiers by the West Side Boys militiamen, voices its solidarity with the remaining kidnapped British soldiers and their families, and fervently hopes that they will be released in the near future;

2.  Calls on the government of Sierra Leone to stand by its decision not to release Brigadier Bombblast, and to push ahead with the process designed to restore peace and bring reconciliation to the people of Sierra Leone;

3.  Urges the Council to continue its efforts to strengthen the peace process in Sierra Leone, despite the many difficulties being encountered, by supporting the action by British forces in the area and taking measures to supplement their activities;

4.  Calls on the UN, the OAU, the Council and the Commission to take appropriate measures against diamond trafficking, which fuels the war, and to protect the civilian population who bear the brunt of the civil war;

5.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and Council, the Prime Minister of the UK, the President of Sierra Leone and the Secretaries-General of the UN and the OAU.

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