Texts adopted
Thursday, 12 February 2015 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Burundi: the case of Bob Rugurika
 Saudi Arabia: the case of Raif Badawi
 Mass graves of the missing persons of Ashia in Ornithi village in the occupied part of Cyprus
 Setting-up of a special committee on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect
 Humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria, in particular in the IS context

Burundi: the case of Bob Rugurika
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European Parliament resolution of 12 February 2015 on Burundi: the case of Bob Rugurika (2015/2561(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Burundi, especially that of 18 September 2014 on Burundi, in particular the case of Pierre Claver Mbonimpa(1),

–  having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to the UN Security Council statement of 10 April 2014 on the situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 22 July 2014 on the Great Lakes Region,

–  having regard to the reports of the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB),

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and on Freedom of Expression, as well as the June 2014 Council conclusions committing to intensify work on HRDs,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG),

–  having regard to the opinion of 25 April 2013 of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH),

–  having regard to the statement of 10 September 2014 by the EU delegation to Burundi,

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

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas on 20 January 2015 the Burundian authorities arrested and detained the human rights defender Bob Rugurika, director of Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), following his refusal to reveal his sources days after his radio station broadcast a series of investigative reports concerning the killing in September 2014 of three elderly Italian nuns, Lucia Pulici, Olga Raschietti and Bernadetta Boggian, in Kamenge, a town north of Bujumbura;

B.  whereas the broadcasts included allegations of the involvement in the killings of senior intelligence officials, who were offered the right to comment prior to the broadcasts;

C.  whereas the Burundian authorities have produced no evidence to justify detaining Mr Rugurika on grounds of ‘public solidarity breaking, infringement of confidentiality of inquiry, harbouring a criminal and complicity in murder’; whereas this arrest forms part of a pattern of government attacks on freedom of expression, targeting journalists, activists, and members of political parties; whereas such attacks have escalated in the run-up to the elections due to be held in Burundi in May and June 2015;

D.  whereas international human rights law, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both ratified by Burundi, clearly states that pre-trial detention should be based on credible and legally founded charge; whereas the Burundian authorities have not produced any evidence of the need to detain Mr Rugurika;

E.  whereas this is not the first attempt of the Burundian government to stop the media and human rights groups from publishing sensitive information and reporting on alleged government abuses; whereas despite this persistent harassment, journalists have not shied away from documenting and reporting on controversial subjects, among their number being Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, a leading human rights defender who was arrested in May 2014 for remarks made on Radio Publique Africaine, only later to be released, although the charges against him have not been dropped;

F.  whereas in June 2013 Burundi adopted a restrictive press law curbing media freedoms, limiting the subjects on which journalists are allowed to report, and potentially criminalising reporting on subjects such as public order and security; whereas Burundi’s journalists’ union has taken the matter to the East African Court of Justice;

G.  whereas the adoption of a series of restrictive laws ahead of the 2015 elections, including the media law of April 2013, has compounded the harassment and threats suffered since 2010 by journalists and others whose critical voices denounce political assassinations, corruption and poor management of the country;

H.  whereas Burundi is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index;

I.  whereas the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Reine Alapini-Gansou, has condemned this arrest and demanded the immediate release of Bob Rugurika, and has recalled the responsibilities of the Burundian authorities arising from the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa and from the Declarations of Kigali and Grand Bay;

J.  whereas the right of freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Burundian Constitution and by international and regional treaties ratified by Burundi, and is also part of the National Strategy for good governance and the fight against corruption, as well as being an essential condition for the holding of free and fair elections in 2015 and for their results to be accepted by all participants;

K.  whereas a free, fair, transparent and peaceful electoral process in 2015 will enable the country, which is still in a post-conflict situation, to emerge from the political impasse created by the electoral process of 2010;

L.  whereas, following the resolution of Parliament of 18 September 2014, and in particular the reference therein to Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, EU representatives have insisted on the need for inclusive participation in the electoral process by all political forces in the country, in line with the Roadmap and the Code of Conduct;

M.  whereas the Burundian Government has confirmed its commitment to act to ensure that negotiations with all political forces in the country respect the above two documents, and has repeated its request to the EU and its Member States to provide material and financial support for the current electoral process and send observer missions to Burundi before, during and after the elections;

N.  whereas the EU has recently allocated EUR 432 million to Burundi from the European Development Fund 2014-2020, inter alia to assist with improving governance and civil society;

O.  whereas Burundi continues to face its worst political crisis since it emerged from a 12-year civil war in 2005, and whereas this is once again posing threats not only to the country’s internal stability, but also to that of its neighbours in an already volatile region of the African continent;

1.  Condemns the unjustified detention of Bob Rugurika and calls for his immediate and unconditional release; calls on the authorities at the same time to continue their investigations into the tragic killing of the three Italian nuns and to bring those responsible to justice; calls equally for the setting-up of an independent inquiry into the killing of the three nuns;

2.  Denounces all human rights violations in Burundi and the introduction of restrictive laws ahead of the country’s 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections, in particular those having a damaging impact on the opposition, the media and civil society by restricting the freedoms of expression and association and the freedom to hold meetings;

3.  Calls on the Burundian authorities to ensure an appropriate and fair balance between freedom of the media, including the freedom of journalists to investigate and report on crimes, and the need to ensure the integrity of criminal investigations;

4.  Calls on the Burundian Government to allow a genuine and open political debate in the run‑up to the 2015 elections and to respect the Roadmap and Code of Conduct negotiated under UN auspices and signed by all Burundian political leaders; recalls that the Burundian constitution states: ‘The President of the Republic is elected for a five-year term renewable once. No one can serve for more than two terms as president’;

5.  Calls on the Burundian Government to respect the electoral calendar, and to include the opposition parties in the monitoring of the elections, including the phase of partial registration of new voters as agreed between the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and the political parties at the voters’ registration evaluation meeting of 29-30 January 2015;

6.  Expresses its deep concern at the interference by the government in the internal management of the opposition parties, the lack of freedom for those parties to campaign, and the increasing tendency for the judiciary to exclude opposition leaders from the electoral process;

7.  Urges the Burundian Government to take measures to control the youth wing of the CNDD-FDD party and prevent it from intimidating and attacking perceived opponents, and to ensure that those responsible for abuses are brought to justice; calls for an independent international investigation into the claims that the CNDD-FDD is supplying its youth wing with arms and training; urges the leaders of the opposition parties to prevent violence against their opponents;

8.  Underlines the importance of respecting the Code of Conduct in Electoral Matters (Code de bonne conduite en matière électorale) and the UN-brokered election roadmap which was signed by political actors in 2013, and fully supports the activities of the UN and the international community aimed at preventing a further increase in political violence in the run-up to the 2015 elections and helping restore long-term security and peace;

9.  Encourages all those involved in the electoral process, including the bodies responsible for organising the elections and the security services, to respect the commitments made in the Arusha Agreement, recalling that this agreement put an end to the civil war and is the foundation on which the Burundian Constitution is based;

10.  Underlines the leading role the EU should play in monitoring the pre-electoral situation so as to avoid any going back on commitments which could have a serious effect not only on the democratisation process but also on peace and security in Burundi and throughout the Great Lakes Region;

11.  Reiterates that Burundi is bound by the human rights clause of the Cotonou Agreement, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and therefore has an obligation to respect universal human rights, including freedom of expression; calls on the Government of Burundi to allow genuine and open political debate to take place ahead of the elections in 2015 without fear of intimidation, by refraining from interfering in the internal management of the opposition parties, by not placing restrictions on campaigning that affect all parties, especially in rural areas, and by refraining from abusing the judiciary to exclude political rivals;

12.  Calls on the Commission, the Vice-President/High Representative and the Member States to continue working towards a clear and principled EU policy vis-à-vis Burundi that addresses the ongoing serious human rights violations, in line with the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights; calls on the Commission to consider launching consultations with Burundi under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement with a view to its possible suspension from the Agreement and to take any appropriate measures while those consultations are being conducted;

13.  Calls on the Vice-President/High Representative to make use of the intensified political dialogue provided for under Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement with the Burundian Government to concretely address the closure of the political space in Burundi and to establish clear and concrete benchmarks to measure developments and a strategy for responding to them;

14.  Call on the Burundian Government, the opposition party leaders and civil society activists to do their utmost to support the Peace and Reconciliation Commission (PRC) in a democratic and transparent way in order to deal with past crimes and move forward to prepare the future;

15.  Calls on the European Union and the Member States to release the funds required to address the humanitarian situation in this part of the world and to work in collaboration with UN bodies in particular on the chronic malnutrition situation;

16.  Asks the Commission to allocate its funds for the 2014-2020 period as a matter of priority to the NGOs and international organisations that work directly with the people and to bring pressure to bear on the Government of Burundi to implement the reforms needed to consolidate the state;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the Government of Burundi, the governments of the countries of the Great Lakes Region, the African Union, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and the Pan-African Parliament.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0023.

Saudi Arabia: the case of Raif Badawi
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European Parliament resolution of 12 February 2015 on the case of Mr Raif Badawi, Saudi Arabia (2015/2550(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Saudi Arabia, notably those concerning human rights and, in particular, that of 11 March 2014 on Saudi Arabia, its relations with the EU and its role in the Middle East and North Africa(1),

–  having regard to the statement of 9 January 2015 by the Spokesperson of the Vice‑President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini,

–  having regard to the statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, appealing to the Saudi authorities to halt the punishment of Raif Badawi,

–  having regard to Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

–  having regard to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, ratified by Saudi Arabia in 2009, of which Article 32(1) guarantees the right to information and freedom of opinion and expression, and Article 8 prohibits physical or psychological torture or cruel, degrading, humiliating or inhuman treatment,

–  having regard to the European Union Guidelines on Torture and Ill-Treatment, and on Human Rights Defenders,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Raif Badawi, a blogger and human rights activist, was charged with apostasy and sentenced by the Criminal Court of Jeddah in May 2014 to 10 years in prison, 1 000 lashes and a fine of SAR 1 million (EUR 228 000) after creating the website ‘Free Saudi Liberals Network’ for social, political and religious debate which was deemed to be an insult to Islam; whereas the sentence also bans Mr Badawi from using any media outlets and from travelling abroad for 10 years after his release from prison;

B.  whereas on 9 January 2015, Mr Badawi received his first set of 50 lashes in front of the al‑Jafali mosque in Jeddah, resulting in wounds so profound that when he was taken to a prison clinic for a medical check-up, it was found by the doctors that he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes;

C.  whereas judicial verdicts imposing corporal punishment, including flogging, are strictly prohibited under international human rights law, including the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Saudi Arabia has ratified;

D.  whereas on 6 July 2014, Raif Badawi’s lawyer, prominent human rights defender Waleed Abu al-Khair, was sentenced by the Specialised Criminal Court to 15 years in prison, to be followed by a 15-year travel ban, after setting up the human rights organisation ‘Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia’;

E.  whereas the case of Mr Badawi is one of many cases in which harsh sentences and harassment have been used against Saudi human rights activists and other reform advocates persecuted for expressing their views, several of whom have been convicted, under procedures which fall short of international fair trial standards, as was confirmed by the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in July 2014;

F.  whereas Saudi Arabia has a lively community of online activists and the highest number of Twitter users in the Middle East; whereas, however, the internet is heavily censored, with thousands of websites being blocked and new blogs and websites needing a licence from the Ministry of Information; whereas Saudi Arabia is on the Reporters Without Borders list of ‘Enemies of the Internet’ due to the censorship of the Saudi media and the internet and the punishment of those who criticise the government or religion;

G.  whereas freedom of expression and freedom of the press and media, both online and offline, are crucial preconditions and catalysts for democratisation and reform and are essential checks on power;

H.  whereas in spite of the introduction of some cautious reforms during the rule of the late King Abdullah, the Saudi political and social system remains profoundly undemocratic, makes women and Shia Muslims second-class citizens, seriously discriminates against the country’s large foreign workforce and severely represses all voices of dissent;

I.  whereas the number and pace of executions are a matter of serious concern; whereas over 87 people were executed in 2014, mostly by public beheading; whereas at least 21 people have been executed since the beginning of 2015; whereas 423 executions were reported between 2007 and 2012; whereas the death penalty can be imposed for a wide range of offenses;

J.  whereas the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an influential political, economic, cultural and religious actor in the Middle East and the Islamic world, and a founder and leading member of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the G-20;

K.  whereas in November 2013 Saudi Arabia was elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year period;

L.  whereas the so-called Islamic State and Saudi Arabia prescribe near-identical punishments for a host of crimes, including the death penalty for blasphemy, murder, acts of homosexuality, theft or treason, death by stoning for adultery and the amputation of hands and feet for banditry;

M.  whereas Saudi Arabia plays a leading role in financing, disseminating and promoting worldwide a particularly extremist interpretation of Islam; whereas the most sectarian vision of Islam has inspired terrorist organisations such as the so-called Islamic State and al‑Qaeda;

N.  whereas Saudi Arabian authorities claim to be a partner to Member States, notably in the global fight against terror; whereas a new counter-terrorism law adopted in January 2014 includes provisions which allow for all dissenting expressions or independent associations to be interpreted as terrorist crimes;

1.  Strongly condemns the flogging of Raif Badawi as a cruel and shocking act by the Saudi Arabian authorities; calls on the Saudi authorities to put a stop to any further flogging of Raif Badawi and to release him immediately and unconditionally, as he is considered a prisoner of conscience, detained and sentenced solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression; calls on the Saudi authorities to ensure that his conviction and sentence, including his travel ban, are quashed;

2.  Calls on the Saudi authorities to ensure that Raif Badawi be protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and be given any medical attention he may require, as well as immediate and regular access to his family and lawyers of his choice;

3.  Calls on the Saudi authorities to release unconditionally Raif Badawi’s lawyer, and all human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience detained and sentenced for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression;

4.  Condemns firmly all forms of corporal punishment as unacceptable and degrading treatment contrary to human dignity and voices concern about states’ use of flogging, strongly calling for its strict abolition; calls on the Saudi authorities to respect the prohibition of torture, as is most notably enshrined in the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Saudi Arabia has signed and ratified; calls on Saudi Arabia to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

5.  Highlights the process of judicial reform undertaken by Saudi Arabia with a view to strengthening the possibility for improved protection of individual rights, but remains gravely concerned by the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, which continues to rank among the most repressive countries in the world; considers the case of Raif Badawi a symbol of the assault on freedom of expression and peaceful dissent in the country, and more broadly of the Kingdom’s characteristic policies of intolerance and extremist interpretation of Islamic law;

6.  Urges the Saudi authorities to abolish the Specialised Criminal Court, set up in 2008 to try terrorism cases but increasingly used to prosecute peaceful dissidents on apparently politically motivated charges and in proceedings that violate the fundamental right to a fair trial;

7.  Calls on the Saudi authorities to allow independent press and media and ensure freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for all inhabitants of Saudi Arabia; condemns the repression of activists and protesters when they demonstrate peacefully; stresses that the peaceful advocacy of basic legal rights or making critical remarks using social media are expressions of an indispensable right;

8.  Reminds Saudi Arabia’s leadership of its pledge to ‘uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights’ when it applied successfully for membership to the UN Human Rights Council in 2013;

9.  Believes that Saudi Arabia would be a more credible and effective partner in fighting terrorist organisations such as the so-called Islamic State and al‑Qaeda if it did not engage in anachronistic and extremist practices, such as public beheadings, stoning and other forms of torture, similar to those committed by IS;

10.  Calls on the European External Action Service and the Commission to support, in an active and creative manner, civil society groups and individuals defending human rights in Saudi Arabia, including through the arrangement of prison visits, trial monitoring and public statements;

11.  Instructs its Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula to raise the issue of Raif Badawi and the other prisoners of conscience during the course of its forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and to report back to its Subcommittee on Human Rights;

12.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to reconsider their relationship with Saudi Arabia, in a way that allows it to pursue its economic, energy and security interests, while not undermining the credibility of its core human rights commitments;

13.  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 European External Action Service, the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Secretary-General of the Centre for National Dialogue of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0207.

Mass graves of the missing persons of Ashia in Ornithi village in the occupied part of Cyprus
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European Parliament resolution of 12 February 2015 on mass graves of the missing persons of Ashia in Ornithi village in the occupied part of Cyprus (2015/2551(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 March 2007 on missing persons in Cyprus(1),

–  having regard to the relevant reports of the United Nations Secretary-General(2), resolutions of the United Nations Security Council(3) and international initiatives taken to investigate the fate of missing persons in Cyprus(4),

–  having regard to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of 10 May 2001(5) and 10 January 2008(6) concerning missing persons in Cyprus, and the 12 May 2014 Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Cyprus v. Turkey,

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 June 2008 on missing persons in Cyprus(7),

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A6-0139/2008),

–  having regard to its declaration of 9 June 2011 on the work of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus,

–  having regard to the international humanitarian law, both conventional and customary, on missing persons,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Turkey,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas on 14 August 1974 the village of Ashia was bombarded by Turkish air forces; whereas on 21 August 1974 enforced mass evacuations were conducted by the Turkish army; whereas final expulsion of all the inhabitants of the village took place on 28 August 1974;

B.  whereas, in total, 106 individuals from the village of Ashia, aged between 11 and 84, went missing in 1974;

C.  whereas in the spring of 2009, the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) conducted a search in the Ornithi area, a village situated 4 km west of the village of Ashia; whereas four burial sites were disinterred, two of which were water wells and the sites of mass graves; whereas it has been confirmed that the remains, identified by DNA testing, belong to the list of 71 civilians who went missing in Ashia on 21 August 1974, as stated above;

D.  whereas evidence suggests that that the two mass graves had been previously exhumed; whereas the remains were intentionally removed and transferred to unknown locations;

E.  whereas the great agony and suffering of the families of the missing persons, who have remained ignorant of the fate of their beloved relatives for decades, still continues, and whereas all efforts must therefore be made to expedite the investigations by the CMP;

F.  whereas the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been, with regard to Greek‑Cypriot missing persons and their relatives: a continuing violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the Convention concerning the failure of the Turkish authorities to conduct an effective investigation into the whereabouts and fate of Greek‑Cypriot missing persons who disappeared in life-threatening circumstances; a continuing violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) concerning the failure of Turkey to conduct an effective investigation into the whereabouts and fate of the Greek-Cypriot missing persons in respect of whom there was an arguable claim that they were in Turkish custody at the time of their disappearance; and a continuing violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) in that the silence of the Turkish authorities in the face of the real concerns of the relatives attained a level of severity which could only be categorised as inhuman treatment;

G.  whereas the cases, where only partial skeletal remains of persons can be handed over for burial, cannot be considered as closed until all the identifiable remains of all the missing persons have been discovered;

H.  whereas the European Court of Human Rights has ruled on the responsibility of Turkey, as the de facto occupying force in the northern part of Cyprus, to investigate the whereabouts and fates of those missing and facilitate the work of the CMP;

I.  whereas the problem of missing persons is a humanitarian one deriving from the right of the relatives of missing persons to know their fate;

J.  whereas the ordeal of missing persons in Cyprus began in 1964, with a limited number of missing persons from both communities, and reached its peak with nearly 2 000 missing persons following the military invasion by Turkey in 1974, which still keeps the island divided;

K.  whereas a total of 2 001 Cypriots have remained missing for several decades now, of whom 1 508 are Greek Cypriots and 493 Turkish Cypriots;

1.  Condemns the relocation that took place in Ornithi, and similar actions, as a great disrespect to the missing persons and a gross violation of the rights of their families to finally know the real conditions of the deaths of their loved ones; expresses its sympathy with the families of all missing people who are still living in uncertainty;

2.  Underlines that relocation of remains and similar acts could represent a major disruption and complication for the challenging and difficult process of investigating the fate of all missing persons in Cyprus;

3.  Highlights the urgency of the matter as regards the families of the missing persons, 41 years after their disappearances, and stresses that time is running out to find them as witnesses and relatives are passing away; calls for the immediate and complete verification of the fate of the missing persons;

4.  Commends the work of the CMP and highlights the importance of intensifying its activities, as half of all the missing persons have yet to be located and more than two-thirds have yet to be identified;

5.  Stresses that the work of the CMP depends on the full support and cooperation of all the parties involved and welcomes, in this regard, the funds provided by the EU and calls for their continued provision;

6.  Notes that the CMP has made an urgent call for anyone with information on possible burial sites to contact CMP investigators; calls on Turkey and its government to immediately cease removal of the remains from the mass graves and to comply with international law, international humanitarian law and the ECHR judgments, and facilitate to that effect the efforts of the three-part Committee on Missing Persons by giving full access to military archives and military zones for exhumation; calls on Turkey to fully implement its obligation following the decision of the ECHR to compensate the families of the missing persons;

7.  Calls on Turkey to allow without deliberate delay access to zones that have been defined as military and there is information that burial sites of missing persons are located within them; underlines that the Turkish military should supply and share old military maps and give full access to its archives in order to facilitate the search for still undisclosed burial grounds;

8.  Urges all EU Member States to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, as a matter of priority, and calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to support the work of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, established under this Convention;

9.  Reminds all parties concerned and all those who have, or are in a position to have, any information or evidence emanating from personal knowledge, archives, battlefield reports or records of detention places, to pass it on to the CMP without further delay;

10.  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 and the Government and Parliament of Turkey, and recalls the unconditional obligation of every state, under the European Convention on Human Rights, to abide by final judgments in cases to which it has been a party.

(1) OJ C 301 E, 13.12.2007, p. 243.
(2) Notably the latest one on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus (S/2008/353), Chapter IV.
(3) Notably resolution 1818 (2008) of 13 June 2008.
(4) Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus:
(5) Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus:
(6) Varnava and Others v. Turkey, Nos 16064/90, 16065/90, 16066/90, 16068/90, 16069/90, 16070/90, 16071/90, 16072/90 and 16073/90; pending appeal.
(7) OJ C 286 E, 27.11.2009, p. 13.

Setting-up of a special committee on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect
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European Parliament decision of 12 February 2015 on setting up a special committee on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect, its powers, numerical strength and term of office (2015/2566(RSO))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the proposal by the Conference of Presidents,

–  having regard to the decision of the Commission to investigate tax ruling practice under EU state aid rules in all Member States,

–  having regard to the obligation of all Member States under EU taxation rules to communicate to other Member States, by spontaneous exchange, information on tax rulings, in particular if there may be a loss of tax in another Member State or a saving of tax may result from artificial transfers of profits within groups of enterprises,

–  having regard to Rule 197 of its Rules of Procedure,

1.  Decides to set up a special committee on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect to examine practice in the application of EU state aid and taxation law in relation to tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect issued by Member States, if such practice appears to be the act of a Member State or the Commission;

2.  Decides that the special committee shall be vested with the following powers:

   (a) to analyse and examine practice in the application of Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) regarding tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect issued by Member States since 1 January 1991;
   (b) to analyse and assess the Commission's practice of keeping under constant review, pursuant to Article 108 TFEU, all systems of aid existing in Member States, proposing to the Member States appropriate measures required by the progressive development or by the functioning of the internal market, checking whether aid granted by a State or through State resources is compatible with the internal market and not misused, deciding that the State concerned is to abolish or alter such aid within a certain period of time, and referring the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union if the State concerned does not comply, which has allegedly resulted in a high number of tax rulings incompatible with EU state aid rules;
   (c) to analyse and examine compliance by Member States since 1 January 1991 with obligations set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 659/1999 of 22 March 1999 laying down detailed rules for the application of Article 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union(1) , regarding the obligation to cooperate and provide all necessary documents;
   (d) to analyse and examine compliance with the obligations set out in Council Directive 77/799/EEC of 19 December 1977 concerning mutual assistance by the competent authorities of the Member States in the field of direct taxation and taxation of insurance premiums(2) and Council Directive 2011/16/EU of 15 February 2011 on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and repealing Directive 77/799/EEC(3), regarding communication by Member States to other Member States since 1 January 1991, by spontaneous exchange, of information on tax rulings;
   (e) to analyse and assess the Commission's practice as regards the proper application of Directives 77/799/EEC and 2011/16/EU regarding communication by Member States to other Member States, by spontaneous exchange, of information on tax rulings;
   (f) to analyse and assess compliance by the Member States with the principle of sincere cooperation enshrined in Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union, such as fulfilment of the obligations to facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and to refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives, given the alleged large scale of aggressive tax planning facilitated by Member States, and the likely significant consequences this has had on public finances of and in the EU;
   (g) to analyse and assess the third‑country dimension of aggressive tax planning carried out by companies established or incorporated in the Member States, as well as the exchange of information with third countries in this respect;
   (h) to make any recommendations that it deems necessary in this matter;

3.  Decides that the special committee shall have 45 members;

4.  Decides that the term of office of the special committee shall be 6 months, beginning on the date of adoption of this decision.

5.  Considers it appropriate that the special committee present a report drafted by two co‑rapporteurs.

(1) OJ L 83, 27.3.1999, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 336, 27.12.1977, p. 15.
(3) OJ L 64, 11.3.2011, p. 1.

Humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria, in particular in the IS context
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European Parliament resolution of 12 February 2015 on the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria, in particular in the IS context (2015/2559(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Iraq and Syria,

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Iraq and Syria, in particular those of 15 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Iraq and Syria of 30 August 2014,

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on Iraq and Syria,

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of 6 February 2015 by the VP/HR and the Commission entitled ‘Elements for an EU regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Da’esh threat’,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2170 (2014) and UN Human Rights Council resolution S-22/1,

–  having regard to the UN Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic entitled ‘Rule of Terror: Living under ISIS in Syria’, of 14 November 2014,

–  having regard to the Concluding observations on the combined second to fourth periodic reports of Iraq, published by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 4 February 2015,

–  having regard to the statements by the Secretary-General of the UN on Iraq and Syria,

–  having regard to the recent statements by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, on the situation of Syrian and Iraqi refugees,

–  having regard to the NATO Summit Declaration of 5 September 2014,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on international humanitarian law, on human rights defenders, and on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the International Conference on Peace and Security in Iraq, held in Paris on 15 September 2014,

–  having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Iraq, of the other, and to its position of 17 January 2013 on that agreement(1),

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the ongoing violent crisis in Syria as a result of the Assad regime and terrorist violence has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe of an unprecedented scale in history, with more than 200 000 people killed, most of them civilians, more than 7.6 million people internally displaced, and more than 12.2 million Syrians in desperate need of assistance inside Syria; whereas 211 500 people are still besieged – 185 000 by government forces and 26 500 by opposition forces; whereas more than 3.8 million Syrians have fled their country, mainly to Lebanon (1 160 468 refugees), Turkey (1 623 839), Jordan (621 773) and Egypt / North Africa (160 772);

B.  whereas the humanitarian situation in Iraq caused by the ongoing conflict and the violence and repression by the terrorist organisation ISIL/Daesh continues to deteriorate, and whereas more than 5.2 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and more than 2.1 million Iraqis are internally displaced; whereas there are 3.6 million people living in areas controlled by ISIL/Daesh, 2.2 million of whom are in urgent need of aid, and whereas these people are particularly difficult to access; whereas Iraq is also hosting more than 233 000 Syrian refugees;

C.  whereas many refugees and internally displaced people are not registered, which disenfranchises unregistered populations from much-needed humanitarian aid and basic protection measures;

D.  whereas the terrorist organisation ISIL/Daesh has conquered parts of north-western Iraq using brutal and indiscriminate violence, including Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and whereas this was followed by summary executions of Iraqi citizens, the imposition of a harsh interpretation of sharia law, the destruction of Shiite, Sufi, Sunni, Yazidi, Kurdish and Christian places of worship and shrines, and barbaric atrocities against the civilian population, which have had a particular impact on women and children;

E.  whereas former Ba’athist military personnel of the Iraqi army have joined ISIL/Daesh, and whereas the army itself is plagued by rampant corruption and political interference, which are hampering an effective response to ISIL/Daesh on its part;

F.  whereas ISIL/Daesh has established so-called ‘sharia courts’ in the territory under its control, which have been carrying out barbaric, cruel and inhuman punishments against men, women and children; whereas ISIL/Daesh has published a penal code listing crimes punishable by amputation, stoning and crucifixion; whereas those who are punished are accused of violating the group’s extremist interpretations of Islamic sharia law, or of suspected disloyalty;

G.  whereas ISIL/Daesh has launched systematic campaigns of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq and Syria, carrying out war crimes and gross violations of international humanitarian law, including mass summary killings and abductions, against ethnic and religious minorities; whereas the UN has already reported on targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, the rape, smuggling and kidnapping of women, the slavery of women and children, the recruitment of children for suicide bombings, and sexual and physical abuse and torture; whereas ethnic and religious minorities, including Christian, Kurdish, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shabak, Kaka’i, Sabean and Shia communities, as well as many Arabs and Sunni Muslims, have been targeted by ISIL/Daesh;

H.  whereas a report released by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 4 February 2015 claims that ISIL/Daesh militants are selling abducted children as sex slaves and killing others, including by means of crucifixion and burying alive; whereas most child refugees and displaced children do not have access to education;

I.  whereas large numbers of women have been killed or abducted by ISIL/Daesh in Syria and Iraq; whereas those abducted women and girls have reportedly been subjected to rape or sexual abuse, forced to marry fighters, or sold into sexual slavery; whereas some women have been sold as slaves for as little as USD 25; whereas Yazidi women in Iraq are particularly targeted; whereas integrated sexual and reproductive health / sexual and gender‑based violence (SGBV) services are clearly lacking;

J.  whereas educated, professional women, and particularly women having run as candidates in elections for public office, seem to be at risk; whereas reports indicate that at least three women lawyers have been executed and four doctors recently killed in central Mosul; whereas the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is expected to present a report documenting human rights violations by ISIL/Daesh in Iraq to the Human Rights Council in March 2015; whereas apostates have been targeted and subjected to inhumane violence;

K.  whereas LGBT people are suffering from violence and murders carried out by ISIL/Daesh, which have been taking place with total impunity; whereas the situation of LGBT people in the region is particularly vulnerable, given the limited family and community support and government protection, and whereas their safety remains at risk in refugee communities or in certain host societies;

L.  whereas much-needed specific psychological help for victims of the conflict, including rape victims, is not available;

M.  whereas the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has stated that almost 50 % of all Syrians have lost their homes and 40 % of the refugees are forced to endure sub-standard living conditions; whereas, according to the UN, three out of four Syrians live in poverty and the unemployment rate is over 50 %; whereas, in spite of strong efforts by the governments concerned, two thirds of the Syrian refugees in Jordan are living below the poverty line and 55 % of the refugees in Lebanon live in sub-standard shelters; whereas violence and discrimination against refugees have risen in the host countries;

N.  whereas a severe winter is sweeping across the Middle East and the UNHCR has stepped up its winter assistance, launching a USD 206 million winter plan to help millions of vulnerable people in the region; whereas, despite the efforts made, many refugees are forced to live in unfinished buildings and inadequate shelters that expose them to sub-zero temperatures, heavy snow and strong winds; whereas approximately 740 000 internally displaced Iraqis are sheltering in sub-standard housing, and the UNHCR is taking steps to provide 600 000 of the displaced persons with winter support in Iraq;

O.  whereas when temperatures rise, the risk of epidemics associated with dire sanitation conditions and limited access to safe drinking water, particularly in communal and informal settlements, increases;

P.  whereas UNICEF is delivering winter assistance in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey to 916 000 of the 1.3 million children targeted; whereas UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) launched a winter cash assistance campaign in January 2015 to provide 41 000 vulnerable refugee children in the Za’atari and Azraq camps with 14 Jordanian dinars to allow their family to buy them winter clothes;

Q.  whereas on 1 December 2014 the WFP was temporarily forced to suspend a critical food aid scheme for more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees because of an international funding crisis; whereas the WFP raised USD 88 million after an urgent appeal and could provide food assistance to the refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey; whereas the WFP estimates that 2.8 million people in Iraq currently need food assistance; whereas the WFP alone required USD 214.5 million as a matter of urgency for its operations in Syria and the region, of which USD 112.6 million was needed to meet food assistance needs for the next four months;

R.  whereas the parties to the conflict have used collective punishment as a weapon of war and have stolen and illicitly traded aid products, thereby violating the Geneva Conventions;

S.  whereas, according to the Commission, approximately 276 000 refugees have tried to enter the EU illegally, the majority of whom undertook the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean; whereas, according to international organisations, nearly 2 % of the refugees drowned during the journey; whereas criminal organisations are transporting refugees in ‘ghost boats’ hurtling on autopilot towards the EU; whereas on 9 December 2014 a Resettlement Conference was held in Geneva, at which governments pledged to take in 100 000 Syrian refugees; whereas according to the UNHCR the contributions will still be insufficient with regard to the resettlement needs in the region;

T.  whereas more than EUR 3.3 billion has been mobilised by the EU and its Member States for relief and recovery assistance to Syrians in their country and to the refugees and their host countries; whereas in 2014 alone the EU and its Member States were the second-largest humanitarian donor to Iraq, providing EUR 163 million; whereas the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism was activated at the request of the Iraqi Government; whereas the EU has spent more than it envisaged to address humanitarian needs, and whereas funds pledged by several non-EU countries have not always actually been transferred;

U.  whereas, despite the various appeals, the international community is failing to meet the needs of Syrians and Iraqis and of the countries harbouring refugees; whereas, according to Kyung‑wha Kang, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, UN operations are suffering from a lack of funding, with just 39 % of the required USD 2.3 billion having been received; whereas the UNHCR has stated that the delivery of relief aid continues to be a critical priority, but that it remains very difficult to operate within the areas to provide civilians and refugees with the proper aid they need; whereas UN agencies operating humanitarian programmes are to ensure a more integrated and cost-efficient response to the needs of all populations of concern;

V.  whereas the international community is to provide a proportional response to military efforts, aimed at mitigating the suffering of civilians trapped by the conflict; whereas justice and reconciliation will be needed as an element of post-conflict measures and as a step towards building inclusive, representative and democratic governance;

W.  whereas some Member States are offering equipment and training assistance to the legitimate Iraqi force and the Kurdish Peshmergas; whereas some Member States are directly participating in the military actions of the coalition against ISIL/Daesh;

1.  Strongly condemns the gruesome, systematic and widespread human rights abuses and violations committed by the Assad regime, the terrorists of ISIL/Daesh and other jihadi groups in Iraq and Syria, including the killing of hostages, all forms of violence against people on the basis of their religious or ethnic affiliation, and violence against women and LGBTI people; stresses once again that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is a fundamental human right; deplores the establishment of unlawful so-called ‘sharia courts’ in the territory under ISIL/Daesh control; recalls its absolute condemnation of torture; expresses its deep sympathy to the victims of the atrocities committed by the Assad regime, the terrorists of ISIL/Daesh and other jihadi groups, and calls for the immediate release of all hostages; strongly condemns ISIL/Daesh abuses against children;

2.  Expresses growing concern about the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in Syria and Iraq and the violations of international humanitarian law, not least in the context of the ISIL/Daesh insurgency;

3.  Stresses that the ongoing war in Syria and the recent threat posed by ISIL/Daesh constitute a serious danger to the people of Iraq and Syria, and to the broader Middle East; calls for the EU to adopt and implement a comprehensive regional strategy for defeating ISIL/Daesh and to contribute to joint efforts to mitigate the humanitarian crisis and end the conflict in Syria and Iraq; recalls that a cohesive response is needed in order to coordinate all aspects of engagement and to support host countries, including with security, humanitarian, development and macro-economic assistance; commends the role of neighbouring countries in accepting refugees; emphasises that the EU needs a strategy that complements UN and counter-ISIL/Daesh coalition activities and is aimed at engaging with regional partners in order to address terrorism financing, the supply of weapons and the flow of transnational foreign fighters;

4.  Emphasises that various ethnic and religious minority groups have lived in peace for decades in the Middle East;

5.  Supports the global campaign against ISIL/Daesh, and welcomes the commitment of the coalition partners to working together under a common, multifaceted and long-term strategy to defeat ISIL/Daesh; supports the King of Jordan’s strong determination to fight ISIL/Daesh; welcomes the defeat of ISIL/Daesh in the Syrian town of Kobani; stresses that assistance to enable the countries of the region to fight violent extremism, together with instruments to counter terrorism financing, should be part of this strategy; emphasises, in this connection, that any military campaign to liberate the territories under ISIL/Daesh control should adhere strictly to international humanitarian law and international human rights law, so as to avoid causing more loss of lives and feeding the extremist agenda, and to prevent new waves of refugees and internally displaced persons;

6.  Condemns the use and exploitation of oilfields and related infrastructure by ISIL/Daesh and associated groups, which enables ISIL/Daesh to generate substantial income, and urges all states to uphold UN Security Council Resolutions 2161 (2014) and 2170 (2014), which condemn all trade, direct or indirect, with ISIL/Daesh and associated groups;

7.  Stresses the centrality of protection of civilians within its comprehensive regional strategy, and the need to keep separate humanitarian and military / counter-terrorism efforts; emphasises the interlinkage between conflict and humanitarian suffering and radicalisation;

8.  Takes the view that defeating the extremist terrorist threat that is gaining ground across the Middle East and North Africa region and beyond is crucial to combating terrorism inside the EU, since its advance actually feeds home-grown radicalisation;

9.  Reiterates its concern at the fact that thousands of transnational foreign fighters, including citizens of the Member States, have joined the ISIL/Daesh insurgency; calls on the Member States to take appropriate measures to prevent fighters from travelling from their soil, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2170 (2014), and to develop a common strategy for security services and EU agencies with regard to monitoring and controlling jihadists; calls for cooperation in the EU and at international level with a view to appropriate legal action against any individual suspected of being involved in acts of terrorism; calls on the Member States to intensify cooperation and the exchange of information among themselves and with EU bodies;

10.  Welcomes the EU’s new strategy ‘Elements for an EU regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Daesh threat’, notably its EUR 1 billion package to ‘help restore peace and security that have been devastated by terrorism and violence for too long’ according to the VP/HR;

11.  Calls on the international community to provide more humanitarian aid and assistance to the people affected by the crisis in Iraq and Syria; calls for the EU to consider initiating the convening of a donor conference; welcomes the commitments made by Member States of the EU, as the biggest donor of financial aid, and their pledges for the future; calls for the EU to put pressure on all donors to fulfil their promises and to deliver on their pledges swiftly; calls for an increase in the EU’s contributions to the UN’s humanitarian programmes and for the EU to strengthen its cooperation with international organisations;

12.  Stresses that, in view of the unprecedented scale of the crisis, alleviating the suffering of millions of Syrians and Iraqis in need of basic goods and services must be a priority for the EU and the international community at large; condemns the consistent thwarting of attempts to deliver humanitarian aid and calls on all parties involved in the conflict to respect universal human rights, to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid and assistance through all possible channels, including across borders and conflict lines, and to ensure the safety of all medical personnel and humanitarian workers, in line with the various UN Security Council resolutions on the subject;

13.  Calls on all the parties to the conflict to comply with international humanitarian law and to ensure that civilians are protected, have unhindered access to medical facilities and humanitarian assistance, and are able to leave areas affected by violence safely and with dignity;

14.  Is convinced that immediate humanitarian assistance and protection need to be an integral part of long-term strategies to mitigate the human suffering caused by the conflict and to support the socio-economic rights and livelihood opportunities of returnees, internally displaced persons and refugees, including women, so as to ensure enhanced leadership and participation, with a view to empowering them to choose durable solutions that suit their needs; considers that there is a need to address the specific risks faced by and the particular needs of different groups of women and children who are subjected to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination;

15.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt immediately specific actions to address the situation of women and girls in Iraq and Syria and to guarantee their freedom and respect for their most fundamental rights, and to adopt measures to prevent exploitation, abuse and violence against women and children, in particular the forced marriage of girls; is particularly concerned about the increase in all forms of violence against women, who are being imprisoned, raped, sexually abused and sold by members of ISIL/Daesh;

16.  Urges a renewed focus on access to education, tailored to the specific needs generated by the ongoing conflict;

17.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to make full use of the EU Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons, in relation to Iraq and Syria;

18.  Calls on the international humanitarian agencies working in Iraq and Syria, including UN agencies, to increase the provision of medical and counselling services, including psychological treatment and support, for displaced people who have fled the ISIL/Daesh advances, paying special attention to the needs of the most vulnerable populations, i.e. survivors of sexual violence and children; calls for financial assistance to be made available, and for the creation of programmes to comprehensively address the medical/psychological and social needs of SGBV survivors in the ongoing conflict;

19.  Calls on all the Member States to expedite the processing of asylum applications from the increasing number of refugees fleeing the conflict zones; calls for the EU to address the issue of the often fatal journeys across the Mediterranean, to implement a coordinated strategy aimed at saving lives, and to provide support to the Member States most affected by the mass arrival of irregular migrants and asylum seekers on their shores;

20.  Reiterates its condemnation, in the harshest terms, of the crimes perpetrated by the Syrian regime against its population, including the use of chemical and incendiary weapons against civilians, mass arbitrary detention and its siege strategy to starve the population into submission;

21.  Points out that the inadequate response to the instability in Syria has allowed ISIL/Daesh to flourish; expresses its concern at the increasing involvement of extremist Islamist groups and transnational foreign fighters in the conflict in Syria; stresses that a lasting solution requires a political transition through a Syrian-led, inclusive political process based on the Geneva communiqué of June 2012, with the support of the international community; calls for the EU to take the initiative for diplomatic efforts to that end; welcomes and supports the work of UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, and his efforts to achieve a freeze on heavy fighting in urban centres, including Aleppo;

22.  Calls on all regional actors to contribute to the de-escalation efforts in Iraq and Syria;

23.  Calls on the new Iraqi leadership to act on its commitment to an inclusive government – one that represents the legitimate interests and addresses the dire humanitarian needs of all Iraqis; calls on the Iraqi authorities and the international community to prevent the taking of revenge against the Sunni civilian population of the areas currently under the control of ISIL/Daesh after these areas are liberated from ISIL/Daesh; underlines the fact that Iraq’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity are essential for stability and economic development in the country and the region;

24.  Welcomes the efforts of the Commission’s Humanitarian and Civil Protection department (ECHO) office in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, to address the humanitarian situation in the region; stresses that more and better coordination is needed between ECHO and the Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), in order to serve the populations in need in the best possible and most effective way;

25.  Welcomes the announcement by VP/HR Federica Mogherini concerning the opening of the EU office in Erbil, and calls for the opening of this office to improve the effectiveness and visibility of EU action on the ground, including better coordination of humanitarian and development assistance; calls for the reinforcement of the EU office in Gaziantep, Turkey;

26.  Supports the UN Human Rights Council’s request to the OHCHR for a mission to be dispatched to Iraq as a matter of urgency to investigate violations and abuses of international human rights law committed by ISIL/Daesh and associated terrorist groups, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such abuses and violations, with a view to preventing impunity and ensuring full accountability;

27.  Remains convinced that there can be no sustainable peace in Syria and Iraq without accountability for the crimes committed by all sides during the conflict, in particular those based on religious or ethnic grounds; reiterates its call for the referral of those suspected of committing crimes against humanity in Syria and Iraq to the International Criminal Court, and supports all initiatives in this direction, for instance through the UN Security Council;

28.  Requests equal accountability measures for all parties to the conflict, and access to legal support for all victims of the ubiquitous violations; takes the view that it is of paramount importance to ensure the protection of civilians who are trapped by violence and unable to access places of safety or who cannot access life-saving humanitarian assistance;

29.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Council of Representatives of Iraq, the Regional Government of Kurdistan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the United Nations Human Rights Council and all the parties involved in the conflict in Syria.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0023.

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