Human rights breaches in Algeria, Belarus and Myanmar 

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  • The Algerian authorities must bring laws limiting freedom of expression in line with international human rights standards 
  • Release Viktar Babaryka and all political prisoners in Belarus and end cruel detention conditions 
  • The Myanmar military junta’s violent and illegitimate rule must end and the civilian government must be restored 

On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted three resolutions on the respect for human rights in Algeria, Belarus and Myanmar.

Media freedom and freedom of expression in Algeria, the case of journalist Ihsane El-Kadi

Parliament urges the Algerian authorities to immediately release all those arbitrarily detained and charged for exercising their right to freedom of expression, including prominent journalist Ihsane El-Kadi, who was convicted in April to a five-year sentence and hefty fines on unfounded charges related to him allegedly having received funds for “political propaganda” and “harming the security of the state”. Mr El-Kadi was also ordered to dissolve his media company.

The resolution calls on the Algerian authorities to amend security-related charges in the country’s Penal Code used to criminalise the right to freedom of expression. It notes that, ever since the so-called Hirak protests in 2019, the situation of media freedom has taken a substantial turn for the worse in Algeria, with the authorities blocking more news sites and publications critical of the government.

Parliament urges all EU institutions and member states to openly condemn the crackdown on media freedom in Algeria, while calling on the EU delegation and EU countries’ embassies on site to request access to imprisoned journalists and observe their trials. Finally, MEPs want the Algerian authorities to guarantee visa and accreditation authorisation to foreign journalists and their freedom to operate.

The resolution was adopted by 536 votes in favour, 4 against and 18 abstentions. For more details, the full text will be available here. (11.05.2023)

Belarus: the inhumane treatment and hospitalisation of prominent opposition leader Viktar Babaryka

Parliament urges authorities in Belarus to cease the mistreatment of former presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka and other political prisoners and release them immediately and unconditionally. MEPs strongly condemn the “inhumane treatment of political prisoners and their family members” in the country and call on Belarus to ensure that those detained have access to proper medical assistance, lawyers, family, diplomats and international organisations to assess their condition and provide aid.

Mr Babaryka was sentenced in July 2021 to 14 years in prison on politically motivated charges, and was hospitalised in April this year with traces of beatings leaving him in need of surgery. As part of the repression of the political opposition and civil society, the Belarusian regime is keeping around 1500 political prisoners in detention conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and torture, with some of them dying in detention, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

MEPs reiterate their solidarity with the people of Belarus in their struggle for a free, sovereign and democratic government and against Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. They reiterate their call from a resolution adopted on 15 March for the EU and member states to broaden the sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for the repression in Belarus, and to hold all perpetrators of the systematic human rights violations under the regime of dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka accountable.

The text was adopted by 533 votes in favour, 9 against and 27 abstentions. For more details, it will be available in full here. (11.05.2023)

Myanmar, notably the dissolution of democratic political parties

MEPs strongly condemn the Myanmar military junta’s continued violent and illegitimate rule, which has plunged the country into a human rights and humanitarian crisis. They condemn the military-appointed Union Election Commission’s recent decision to dissolve forty political parties, the arrests and imprisonment of politicians, the use of rape as a weapon and the regular airstrikes on civilian targets by the military.

As a result of the latest developments, Parliament calls for the dissolved parties in Myanmar to be reinstated and urges the junta to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners. MEPs call for the unlawful state of emergency in the country to end immediately, for the military’s indiscriminate use of force to stop, for the civilian government and parliament to be restored, and for a path towards democracy to be re-established.

In addition, the resolution calls on the EU and member states to substantially increase humanitarian aid to the people and refugees of Myanmar, including the Rohingya. MEPs also want the EU to introduce additional targeted sanctions against the Burmese military and its business interests. Any engagement with Myanmar, including by private companies, must be subject to strengthened human rights due diligence processes to protect and guarantee workers’ rights.

The resolution was adopted by 454 votes in favour, 5 against and 39 abstentions. For more details, the full text will be available here. (11.05.2023)