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PV 18/12/2008 - 13.2
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Thursday, 18 December 2008 - Strasbourg

European Parliament resolution of 18 December 2008 on the attacks on human rights defenders, civil liberties and democracy in Nicaragua

The European Parliament,

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

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

–   having regard to the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republics of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, of the other part, of 15 December 2003 and to the Framework Cooperation Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Republics of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama(1),

–   having regard to the EU guidelines on human rights defenders,

–   having regard to the reports of the EU expert team on the municipal elections of 9 November 2008 in Nicaragua,

−   having regard to the statements of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner on the events in Nicaragua following the municipal and regional elections of 9 November 2008,

−   having regard to the negotiations under way for the signature of an Association Agreement between the European Union and the countries of Central America,

−   having regard to the press release of the EU-27 of 22 October 2008 concerning human rights defenders and organisations,

−   having regard to the sixth round of negotiations for the EU-Central America Association Agreement, to be held in Brussels on 26 and 27 January 2009,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas there have been allegations of fraud surrounding the results of the municipal elections of 9 November 2008 raised in the reports of the EU expert team, which highlight the unwillingness of the Nicaraguan authorities to hold a genuinely democratic vote; whereas this has been accompanied by violence, targeted in particular at the media, and has led to polarisation and conflicts,

B.   whereas the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and several Nicaraguan non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have expressed concern over the transparency of the elections,

C.   whereas the resolutions of the Supreme Electoral Council of 11 June 2008 withdrew the legal standing of the Sandinista Renewal Movement and declared that the Conservative Party did not meet the prerequisites for contesting the November 2008 municipal elections, thanks to which those two parties were unable to participate,

D.   whereas there have been repeated attacks and acts of harassment which have been inflicted on the human rights organisations and their members, for some months now as well as on journalists and media representatives, by individuals, political forces and bodies linked to the state authorities,

E.   whereas the Nicaraguan Vice-Minister for Cooperation proposed a 'joint taxation' mechanism in respect of the financial support received by the NGOs and an investigation of diverse NGOs for supposed non-fulfilment of legal requirements, as in the case of the charges of 'triangulation of funds' against 17 human rights organisations,

F.   whereas there have been criminal investigations against those defending sexual and reproductive rights, including those who have supported a girl who had been raped and was given an abortion in order to save her life at a time when therapeutic abortion was not a criminal offence,

G.   whereas the development and consolidation of democracy and the rule of law, as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, must be an integral part of the EU's foreign policy,

H.   whereas the European Union and its partners, when subscribing to agreements with third countries that include a human rights clause, are assuming responsibility for ensuring compliance with international human rights standards, and whereas such clauses are reciprocal by nature,

I.   whereas Nicaragua has fallen into conditions of worsening poverty over the last two decades,

1.  Regrets deeply the way in which the local elections of 9 November 2008 were conducted, and believes that the results lack all democratic legitimacy;

2.  Regrets the fact that the climate of suspected fraud in some municipalities has provoked demonstrations and clashes between supporters of different parties, leaving a number of people injured and aggravating an already profound political crisis;

3.  Calls on the government of Nicaragua to take urgent measures to pacify the existing situation, and asks the Nicaraguan authorities to respect the work of the human rights organisations;

4.  Regrets the numerous attacks and acts of harassment to which human rights organisations and their members, independent journalists and the representatives of the Commission delegation in Nicaragua have been subjected to in the last few months, by individuals, political forces and bodies linked to the state;

5.  Calls on the political parties to condemn their supporters' acts of violence;

6.  Regrets the fact that two political parties were unable to take part in the local elections, and expresses its concern regarding the progress of democratic consolidation and governance in Nicaragua, especially with respect to the processes of inclusion and active participation;

7.  Urges the Nicaraguan government and the state authorities to protect freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary and thus ensure preservation of their country's democratic foundations, and to ensure that Nicaragua ratifies the Rome Statute setting up the International Criminal Court as soon as possible;

8.  Welcomes the press release by the EU-27 of 22 October 2008, condemning the attacks on human rights defenders and organisations;

9.  Recalls that in the negotiations on the Association Agreement between the European Union and the countries of Central America Nicaragua must be reminded of the need to respect the principles of rule of law, democracy and human rights, as defended and promoted by the European Union;

10.  Calls on the EU Member States to ensure that the situation in Nicaragua is placed on the agenda of all meetings with the Nicaraguan authorities, whether bilateral or multilateral;

11.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly, the Central American Parliament, and the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Nicaragua.

(1) OJ L 63, 12.3.1999, p. 39.

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