Human rights breaches in Russia, Cuba and Serbia 

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  • The Russian state must end its persecution of human rights organisation Memorial 
  • Cuban authorities must urgently release political prisoners 
  • Serbia must investigate alleged forced labour at the Linglong factory 

On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted three resolutions on the respective human rights situations in Russia, Cuba and Serbia.

The case of Russian human rights organisation Memorial

Parliament condemns the repeated persecution and the recent politically motivated attempts by Russian authorities to shut down the two legal entities of the human rights organisation Memorial - International Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Centre. MEPs also call for all charges against Memorial to be dropped immediately and for guarantees that the organisation can continue to safely carry out its important work without interference from the state.

The resolution further calls on EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell to impose sanctions, under the EU global human rights sanctions regime, on Russian officials involved in the unlawful repression of Memorial and in the judicial proceedings against the organisations and its members.

Urging Russia to stop its ongoing crackdown on civil society, human rights defenders and independent media, MEPs also call on the EU Delegation in Moscow and national diplomatic representations in the country to closely monitor the situation and trials linked to Memorial, and offer targeted organisations or individuals any support they may need.

The text was adopted by 569 votes in favour, 46 against and 49 abstentions. For further details, the full version of the report will be available here. (16.12.2021)

The situation in Cuba

MEPs denounce in the strongest terms the ongoing systematic abuses against protestors, political dissidents, religious leaders, human rights activists and independent artists, among others, in Cuba. In particular, the resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of José Daniel Ferrer, “Lady in White” Aymara Nieto, Maykel Castillo, Luis Robles, Félix Navarro, Luis Manuel Otero, Reverend Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo and Andy Dunier García, and all those detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The text notes, however, that these individuals are but a few examples of the hundreds of Cubans facing injustice and repression imposed by the country’s government.

The resolution further condemns the recent abduction and arbitrary detention of Cuban Sakharov Prize laureate Guillermo Fariñas and, in spite of his recent release, calls for an end to the regular and persistent arbitrary arrests and harassment he faces. MEPs also regret that despite the entry into force of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) between the EU and Cuba in 2017, the situation of democracy and human rights in the country has not improved but has instead deteriorated seriously. They restate that, as part of the PDCA, Cuba must respect and consolidate the principles of the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

The text was adopted by 393 votes in favour, 150 against and 119 abstentions. It will be available in full here. (16.12.2021)

Forced labour in the Linglong factory and environmental protests in Serbia

Parliament expresses deep concern over alleged forced labour, human rights violations, and the human trafficking of around 500 Vietnamese people at a Chinese-owned Linglong Tire factory construction site in Zrenjanin, northern Serbia. It urges the Serbian authorities to investigate the case carefully and ensure respect for fundamental human rights in the factory, especially labour rights, to provide the EU with the results of its investigations, and to hold the perpetrators to account.

Noting that Serbia is granting China and Chinese industrialists more and more legal privileges in the country, even when these are contrary to EU law, MEPs express their concern over China’s increasing influence in Serbia and across the Western Balkans in general. They call on Serbia - an EU candidate country - to improve alignment with EU labour law and to comply with the relevant International Labour Organization conventions it has ratified.

In addition, MEPs are very worried over the increasing violence by extremist and hooligan groups against peaceful environmental demonstrations in the country. Widespread protests have recently been reported across Serbia against the backdrop of the rushed adoption of two laws, one of which is seen as opening space for controversial foreign investment projects, with a heavy impact on the environment. The text also regrets the amount of force used by the police against demonstrators.

The resolution was adopted by 586 votes in favour, 53 against and 44 abstentions. For further details, the full version will be available here. (16.12.2021)