Go back to the Europarl portal

Choisissez la langue de votre document :

 Index 
 Previous 
 Next 
 Full text 
Texts adopted
PDF 197k
Thursday, 4 September 2003 - Strasbourg Final edition
Human rights 2002
P5_TA(2003)0375A5-0274/2003

European Parliament resolution on human rights in the world in 2002 and European Union's human rights policy (2002/2011(INI))

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the motion for a resolution by Maurizio Turco and others on religious freedom (B5-0445/2002),

–   having regard to the fourth EU annual report on Human Rights (12747/1/02),

–   having regard to Articles 3, 6, 11, 13 and 19 of the Treaty on European Union and Articles 177 and 300 of the Treaty establishing the European Community,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to all relevant International Human Rights instruments(1) ,

–   having regard to the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 1 July 2002,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on human rights in the world, adopted on 25 April 2002, 5 July 2001, 16 March 2000, 17 December 1998, 12 December 1996, 26 April 1995, 12 March 1993, 12 September 1991, 18 January 1989, 12 March 1987, 22 October 1985, 22 May 1984 and 17 May 1983(2) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 30 January 2003 on the European Union's rights, priorities and recommendations for the 59th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights(3) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 April 2002 on the Commission Communication to the Council and the European Parliament on the European Union's role in promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries(4) , and to the Council Conclusions of 25 June 2001,

–   having regard to Council's Conclusions of 10 December 2002 on human rights and democratisation in third countries, together with the practical measures endorsed for the implementation of the Council's conclusions of 25 June 2001,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union(5) ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union, in particular its resolution of 15 January 2003(6) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2002 on the American Service Members' Protection Act (ASPA)(7) and to its resolutions on the International Criminal Court of 26 September 2002 and 24 October 2002(8) , and to the Council conclusions of 30 September 2002,

–   having regard to Council Common Position 2001/443/PESC of 11 June 2001 on the International Criminal Court, as amended by Council Common Position 2002/474/PESC of 20 June 2002(9) and to the related Action Plan adopted on 15 May 2002, as well as to Council Common Position 2003/444/PESC of 16 June 2003(10) ,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 19 November 1998, 18 January 2001 and 28 February 2002 on the International Criminal Court(11) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 September 2001 on female genital mutilation(12) ,

–   having regard to the entry into force on 1 April 2003 of the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000(13) ,

–   having regard to the Action Plan adopted at the 5th Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference in Valencia on 23 April 2002,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Human Rights Discussion Forum of December 2002 in Copenhagen,

–   having regard to Rule 163 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy (A5-0274/2003),

A.   whereas human rights - comprising civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights - are of a universal and indivisible, interdependent and interrelated nature, as confirmed by the 1993 UN Human Rights Conference in Vienna,

B.   whereas developing and consolidating democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are a general objective of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) of the European Union; whereas Community policy in the sphere of development cooperation should contribute to that general objective,

C.   whereas the European Union, through its external relations and common foreign and security policy, has committed itself to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law,

D.   whereas at the second Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies, held in Seoul from 10 to 12 November 2002, 118 countries, including all EU Member States, reaffirmed their commitment and determination to promote and defend democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the world,

E.   whereas for the EU to live up to its responsibility for peace and stability in the world, the common foreign and security policy must be strengthened, and importance is to be attached to an effective use of all provisions available to the Union in its external relations,

F.   whereas the credibility of the EU with respect to its human rights policy in external relations is also dependent upon the conduct of its policy on human rights and fundamental freedoms within its own borders,

G.   whereas the EU, in principle, takes a positive and cooperative approach in the promotion of the respect for human rights in relation to third countries,

H.   whereas efforts to promote respect for human rights and democracy as fundamental objectives of EU external relations policies will fall short if the inherent principles are not given sufficient priority with regard to security-related, economic or political interests,

I.   regrets that some Member States of the EU, contrary to the obligations deriving from the Cotonou Agreement and other association and cooperation agreements with third countries, support undemocratic regimes in various parts of the world insofar as these serve their own national, economic, military and other interests,

J.   whereas in the so-called fight against terrorism, the safeguarding of traditional individual human rights must not take second place to the efforts to achieve collective security,

K.   whereas armed conflicts continue to be a serious threat for human rights and result in grave violations of human rights,

L.   whereas, since the tragic events of 11 September 2001, national security has become a major concern of many governments, at the expense of human rights, in particular by the suppression of political opponents and their branding as ''terrorists'', by the creation of shadow criminal justice systems, and a greater reluctance by governments to criticise the domestic policies of other States; whereas this international climate has threatened human rights protection significantly,

M.   whereas the United States have continued to deny internationally recognised rights to people arrested in the context of the 'war against terrorism'; whereas thousands of prisoners were detained following the war in Afghanistan in defiance of international humanitarian law and US national legislation,

N.   whereas the human rights situation in the Middle East, North Africa and in parts of Asia was further aggravated in the name of "combating terrorism"; whereas clampdowns upon freedom of expression and assembly, and the intimidation of human rights defenders proliferated; whereas the regions continued to suffer from judicial and extra judicial execution, the widespread use of torture and unfair trials,

O.   whereas the human rights clause, introduced as an essential element in association and cooperation agreements with third countries, needs to be applied in a truly operational manner in order to address effectively human rights violations, prevent future abuses and provide for a clear implementing and suspending mechanism in the event of failure to comply with the clause,

P.   whereas violations of the human rights clause by third countries bound to the EU by agreements are not only infringements of the universal rights and freedoms recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but also constitute a violation of international treaties freely entered into by the parties,

Q.   whereas, according to the relevant EU Guidelines, human rights dialogues are an acceptable option only if there is sufficient commitment in the partner country to improve the human rights situation on the field; whereas the EU shall evaluate the results of the dialogues at regular intervals, so as to determine how far its expectations have been met,

R.   whereas the Council and the Commission have a responsibility to enhance the coherence and consistency of EU human rights policy by mainstreaming human rights and democratisation as objectives in all aspects of external relations, and by addressing those issues at all relevant meetings, and at all levels, with third countries,

S.   whereas mainstreaming should be defined as the incorporation of attention for human rights considerations on all levels and in all policies; it will only be effective if it is imposed and supervised by the highest levels in the Council and the Commission,

T.   whereas within the European Parliament further efforts are needed to strengthen the structures and working methods of its human rights policy; whereas, as a matter of priority, improvements are needed to ensure proper follow-up of its statements,

U.   whereas the Presidency should not only consult the EP on the main aspects and basic choices of the CFSP, but should also ensure that the views of the EP are duly taken into consideration; whereas regular information on the development and implementation of the Union's CFSP is the responsibility of the Presidency and the Commission,

V.   whereas ways and means need to be found to strengthen Parliament's position in ensuring proper accountability of the Council and the Commission in the execution of policy, in particular in respect of the implementation of human rights clauses,

W.   whereas human rights issues can, by their very nature, require immediate reactions; whereas the mechanisms provided under the current Rules of Procedure do not enable Members of Parliament to put questions to the Council and the Commission for urgent reply; whereas replies by the Council to parliamentary questions for written answer are always extremely delayed and too often vague and superficial,

Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion

X.   whereas religious freedom, as enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, is defined as everyone's "right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" and "includes freedom to change his religion or belief, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance"; whereas the right not to confess any religion is implied and deserves equal protection,

Y.   whereas religions, beliefs and non-beliefs belong to the realm of individual freedom; whereas religions and beliefs form a reference system on the meaning of life and satisfy the spiritual needs of believers, who form more than 90% of the world's population,

Z.   whereas it is incumbent on governments to ensure that the rights of all persons to freedom of religion and belief or non-belief are fully protected,

AA.   whereas freedom of thought, conscience and religion is arbitrarily trampled upon and violated in various parts of the world, occasionally leading to severe and violent forms of persecution, including detention, torture, enslavement and the denial of freedom of speech, assembly and association, the threat of punishment for converting to another faith, and bans on missionaries,

AB.   whereas the State should, by definition, be areligious and whereas, in the absence of separation between State and religion or belief, it is sometimes difficult for believers or non-believers to live together peacefully, and problems for minority groups may arise,

AC.   whereas single-party regimes are responsible for policies of oppression and serious violations of religious freedom, in particular in Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cuba and the People's Republic of China,

AD.   whereas many different types of barriers to freedom of thought, conscience and religion exist in the world today at state level, such as attempts to control or impose a religious belief or practice, hostility towards minority or non-approved beliefs, neglect of violations of freedom of thought, conscience and religion and discriminatory legislation and policies,

AE.   whereas the promotion and protection of the rights of minorities of any type contribute to political and social stability and to peace, and can enrich the cultural heritage of society as a whole,

AF.   whereas serious instances of intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence based on a misinterpretation of religion or belief occur in many parts of the world, including acts of intimidation and coercion motivated by religious extremism,

AG.   whereas religions, either in moderate or radical movements, often step in to fulfil tasks left untended by governments, in such areas as health and education,

AH.   whereas religions are increasingly instrumentalised for political purposes, in particular in the case of struggles for power or in the framework of ethnic disputes, and can be easily misused to inflame conflicts; whereas 12 of the current 30 major conflicts are related to religion,

AI.   whereas traditional peaceful relations between religions have been disturbed by power struggles, for example in the Balkan region, the Moluccas, Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan and India, where clashes which have principally affected the minority group are witnessed between Muslims and Christians, or Hindus and Muslims and other religious minorities,

AJ.   whereas it is vital to distinguish between religion as belief and peaceful worship, and religion as a vehicle to foster hatred and violence against others,

AK.   whereas a rise in the religiously motivated use of violence can be perceived world-wide, causing increased tensions between or within religions or beliefs,

AL.   whereas religious and atheistic extremism undermines the possibility of different communities living together peacefully and calmly; whereas, therefore, by definition, it poses a threat to the right to freedom of religion and belief,

AM.   whereas the rise of religious extremism occasionally manifests itself through violence and protest against the values of modern society such as religious tolerance, freedom of expression, secularism, democracy and pluralism,

AN.   whereas the causes of rising extremism are multiple, with roots lying in elements of an economic, sociological, historical and/or political nature, and there is no single solution to combat the phenomenon,

AO.   whereas the expansion of extremist interpretations of religion is being fuelled by groups that are increasingly well organised and that seem to dispose of major financial resources,

AP.   whereas muslim extremism is particularly strong in the more advanced and apparently more secular Muslim societies, such as Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia, and is expanding notably in parts of Asia and Africa;

AQ.   whereas the repressive and anti-democratic policies too often conducted by the governments of the above-mentioned countries merely serve to bolster the extremist movements they claim to be combating by weakening the representatives of the democratic opposition,

AR.   whereas religious fanaticism may even appear in countries hitherto considered as secular in which there has traditionally been a separation between State and religion or belief, and whereas this new situation is tending to spread to countries which are politically more vulnerable;

AS.   whereas immutable and extreme interpretations of Sharia are prevalent in particular in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as in Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria,

AT.   whereas in several countries with a strong Muslim population, such as (the North of) Nigeria, Sudan and Pakistan, the re-establishment of Sharia and other practices perceived to be contrary to universal human rights can be witnessed,

AU.   whereas, in this connection, the references to Sharia contained in the Afghan draft constitution are of great concern,

AV.   whereas the rights of women and girls, as well as of other vulnerable groups of society, are in particular threatened by unacceptable practices, such as burning, stoning, female genital mutilation, child marriages or forced marriages in the name of culture, traditional practices, customs, or religion, which grant these groups an inferior social position and status,

AW.   whereas religious extremism may nurture other religious extremism, as is the case, for example, in the Asian sub-continent, where in Pakistan, Indonesia and India extremism of one religion provokes extremism of another and vice versa,

AX.   whereas fundamentalism is a growing threat to equal constitutional rights and access to justice for millions of people in India, especially for Muslim and Christian minorities,

AY.   whereas anti-conversion laws, such as those adopted or proposed in India and Sri Lanka, could easily be abused in practice to suppress religious minorities,

AZ.   whereas it is unacceptable to claim to have or to exercise political authority in the name of a religion or of another philosophy of life,

BA.   whereas the potential increase in violence and human rights violations resulting from the upsurge of religious and totalitarian secular extremism worldwide calls for a determined and broadbased reaction from the European Union and European society,

BB.   whereas globalisation has led to intensified interactions between people worldwide, making more urgent the necessity for tolerance with respect to beliefs and freedom of conscience, as well as the need to demand respect for people with religious backgrounds, in order to avoid conflicts between value systems,

BC.   whereas there is a risk of stigmatisation of religions based on a general misconception and ignorance of the culture and religion of the 'other', and which in itself can amount to a threat to religious freedom,

BD.   whereas the media can play an important role in diffusing knowledge and adequate information on beliefs and cultures, and in promoting mutual understanding between people from different religious backgrounds; whereas they should therefore avoid creating stereotyped images of other beliefs, whilst recognising their obligation to report truthfully where religious intolerance exists,

1.  Human rights are the cornerstone of all internal and external policies of the European Union; urges, therefore, the Council and the Commission to speak out clearly against violations of human rights wherever they take place; is strongly concerned by a possible marginalisation of human rights vis-à-vis security-related, economic and political priorities;

2.  Strongly supports the Council's intention to achieve a more effective and visible EU human rights and democratisation policy through increased coherence and consistency between Community action and the CFSP, mainstreaming, greater openness and regular identification and the review of priority action;

3.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the Member States to stress the concept of human rights protection and the rule of law as an integral and essential component of conflict resolution and a long-term engagement in post-conflict reconstruction;

4.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the Member States to take the necessary steps to put into practice the measures contained in the COHOM report on the implementation of the follow-up to the general Affairs Council conclusions of 25 June 2001, which the Council endorsed on 10 December 2002, and to report to Parliament on progress achieved by the end of 2003;

Human Rights Clause

5.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to present the human rights clause as a commitment by both parties to the agreement to respect human rights and to use the clause to induce positive change; believes, however, that if this strategy should fail, consequences should be drawn and the clause should come to full application;

6.  Considers that the implementation of the human rights clause in association and cooperation agreements depends primarily on the political will of the EU to exert adequate pressure on the country concerned, and on assigning priority to human rights issues over economic, security and other political interests;

7.  Takes the view that Member States which support, maintain in power or even bring to power undemocratic regimes in pursuit of their national policy to secure their own economic, military and other interests vis-à-vis third countries and which, thereby, place themselves in actual opposition to the objectives of the association and cooperation agreements in the fields of human rights, democracy and good governance, must be accountable at all times in this respect to the other Member States and the European Parliament;

8.  Stresses, however, that the lack of a clear implementation mechanism hinders the effectiveness of the clause; considers the implementation mechanism of the Cotonou Agreement as exemplary for its provisions on consultations, suspension and participation by civil society;

9.  Calls on the Commission to make the necessary proposal for an implementation mechanism of the human rights clause in order to maintain explicit pressure for significant improvements of the human rights situation in the countries concerned and to encourage sections of society that are in favour of promoting democracy and respect for human rights;

10.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to set up and make available to the public benchmarks for incentive and restrictive measures to be applied in order to enhance openness and credibility in the process of implementation of the clause, whilst recognising that certain latitude needs to be given in determining how best to achieve these objectives;

11.  Urges the Council and the Commission to set in motion structured dialogue procedures for the regular assessment of compliance by partner states with their human rights obligations;

12.  Calls on the Council to set up, in its function as part of the Association and Cooperation Councils, specific subcommittees on human rights which are clearly linked to the highest level of political dialogue, with a view to implementing Article 2 of the Agreement;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to establish working groups or human rights round tables as part of a systematic methodology to implement the human rights clause; those working groups should aim at monitoring the country's human rights situation on the basis of existing monitoring instruments, propose specific action for improvement, including timetabling and benchmarking; the working groups should include representatives of civil society, NGOs, human rights institutions from the EU and the partner country; Members of Parliament should be invited to participate;

14.  Calls on the Commission to collect and assess, together with EU Missions, information on specific violations of human rights, with particular attention to women's rights - such as the practice of infibulation and of other forms of female genital mutilation - children's rights and the rights of disabled people in third countries, as an essential part of its monitoring role, above all with regard to those countries which are bound by a human rights clause contained in their agreements with the EU;

15.  Recommends that, in addition to systematic human rights reporting, checklists be developed, as well as training programmes and handbooks to assist officials;

16.  Deplores once again the fact that Parliament is not involved in the decision-making process for initiating consultations or suspending an agreement; strongly insists, therefore, on being fully informed in good time of any such measures being taken; insists, furthermore, that its views on the type of clause to be negotiated in future agreements be taken into due consideration;

Sanctions

17.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to apply the restrictive and suspensive measures on the basis of a less lenient assessment of the seriousness of the situation, which would otherwise be to the detriment of the clause's effectiveness and to the discredit of the legal value which should be attached to the human rights clause;

18.  Calls on the Council and the Commission effectively to implement restrictive measures adopted by the EU, so that they do not remain mere expressions of disapproval;

19.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and Member States effectively to enforce EU sanction policies in furtherance of human rights and to ensure that actions are not taken which deliberately undermine such policies, as in the case of Zimbabwe where the impact of targeted sanctions has been regularly undermined because of loopholes;

20.  Calls for a periodic review of sanction policies in order to assess and enhance their effectiveness;

Human rights dialogue and political dialogue

21.  Expresses its view that human rights dialogues between the EU and third countries must not be turned into mere talking-shops, or be confined to exchanges of views on cultural and historical differences; instead, benchmarks for progress to be achieved and reflected on the field have to be established;

22.  Although fully aware of the sensitivity of the issues and the occasional need for discretion in talks, urges the Council to be consistent with its own commitment to openness in relation to the EU human rights issues being discussed under the political dialogue and the human rights dialogue;

23.  Calls on the Council to initiate, under the political dialogue, specific dialogues on human rights with the associated countries of the Mediterranean region, with countries linked to the EU in partnership and cooperation agreements, such as Russia and Ukraine and the countries of South Caucasus, as well as in the context of stabilisation and association agreements with the countries of the Western Balkans;

24.  Requests that procedures for dialogue between governments and civil society be included in all association and cooperation agreements, through renegotiations or as joint declarations, in order to highlight the role of civil society and to promote mutual trust between the parties; stresses, in this regard, the uniqueness of the Cotonou Agreement, which involves civil society in a dialogue with governments and in development projects;

25.  Encourages the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to make progress with the establishment of a human rights round table, with the aim of facilitating dialogue between the GCC and the EU on human rights issues;

26.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to raise the issue of the detention of men in Egyptian prisons on the basis of their alleged homosexuality and "habitual debauchery" and is concerned at the entrapment of homosexual men via the internet;

27.  Calls on the Council to act in accordance with the EU guidelines on the human rights dialogue, and to assess the EU human rights dialogues with Iran and China on an annual basis;

28.  Regrets that, although the EU is committed to raising its concerns about human rights in meetings with China at all levels, the EU-China Summit of September 2002 did not take up any of the EU concerns on the situation in that country;

29.  Regrets that the US has not acceded to, or does not fully adhere to, major international agreements of international human rights law and humanitarian law, such as those protecting the rights of the child, abolishing the death penalty and safeguarding the treatment of prisoners of war in the wake of the recent conflicts; in particular, urges the US to accede to the Statute of the International Criminal Court; urges, in addition, the Council and the Commission to incorporate these questions into the agenda of the political dialogue with the United States;

30.  Shares the view that it remains fundamental to rebuild the juridical and legal infrastructure, as well as strengthen the independent Human Rights Commission and its capacity to monitor human rights and carry out investigations of human rights violations; calls for the reinforcement of international assistance in these areas; considers it imperative that a swift, objective investigation of all human rights violations and war crimes be carried out; calls on the Member States to assist the United Nations in its efforts to investigate war crimes and human rights violations;

31.  Calls on the Chinese Government to agree on the earliest possible date for the formally issued invitation to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and on Education, and the Chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; calls on the Chinese Government formally to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom;

32.  Considers that Iran's readiness to enter into a human rights dialogue with no preconditions is a positive development with a view to the normalisation of relations between the EU and Iran;

33.  Expresses its view that a failure of the human rights dialogue with Iran would have a direct impact on the negotiations on the trade and cooperation agreement, since the guidelines on human rights dialogues establish that progress on the field is decisive and the Council's conclusions of 17 June 2002 clearly link progress in the negotiation of the agreement to progress made under the political dialogue, human rights being an integral part of it;

34.  Calls on the Iranian Government to receive the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and on Violence against Women at the earliest possible date; considers that the visits of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in February 2003, and of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, in June 2003, are a positive development, provided that their recommendations are implemented;

35.  Condemns the use of stoning and all forms of degrading and cruel punishment, notably in Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia; urges the Council and the Commission to insist in their political dialogue with governments on the abolition of these practices;

36.  Takes note of the de facto moratorium on the imposition of sentences to death by stoning in Iran; urges the Iranian Government definitively to abolish this practice;

37.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the Iranian authorities to ensure that all relevant international and Iranian NGOs, as well as MEPs and Iranian parliamentarians, are included in the Round Table of the EU-Iran human rights dialogue, in order to benefit from human rights expertise;

38.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to cooperate closely with human rights organisations in Iran and China and the relevant UN human rights bodies, so as to ensure that the list of political prisoners submitted to the Iranian and Chinese authorities at the human rights dialogue is updated and that information received by the EU through the dialogue is shared with those bodies;

39.  Calls on the Council to deepen the discussions, in the context of the Round Table of the human rights dialogue with Iran, on the rights of minorities, the death penalty, corporal punishments, and freedom of association;

40.  Condemns the approval by the Knesset of a draft law prohibiting Palestinians from obtaining Israeli citizenship by marriage; calls on the Israeli government not to ratify or apply this discriminatory and racist law;

41.  Calls on the Commission to ensure continuity of networking, funding for coordination and follow-up of the human rights dialogues' round tables, and to support the establishment of a permanent pool of human rights experts in the countries concerned, as a contribution to building up valuable human rights expertise;

42.  Deplores the fact that, contrary to its request that Council take a strong political initiative to ensure rigorous scrutiny of the Russian Government's conduct in Chechnya, the issue was not dealt with as a key topic in the framework of the EU political dialogue at the EU-Russia Summits in 2002, nor at the EU-Russia Cooperation Council meeting in March 2003;

43.  Calls on the Council to urge the Russian Government effectively to combat impunity in relation to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including possible war crimes; insists on an international inquiry commission on human rights abuses committed by the Russian security forces and by the Chechen fighters, if Russia does not prove to be engaged in national inquiries;

44.  Reiterates its call on Russia to grant international humanitarian organisations, independent media and human rights monitors unhindered access to Chechnya, and to ensure that repatriation of internally displaced persons and refugees to Chechnya take place on the basis of full respect for the principles of humanitarian international law and exclusively on a voluntary basis;

45.  Condemns the continuing abduction of civilians and foreign nationals in Chechnya and calls upon all parties concerned to secure the immediate release of all hostages;

46.  Calls on the Council to urge the Russian Government to ensure the renewal of the full mandate of the OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnya as soon as possible, in order to contribute to the coordination of humanitarian assistance, conflict solution, prevent human rights violations, and support mechanisms for maintaining law and order in Chechnya;

47.  Calls on the European Union and the Member States to be vigilant and active on behalf of citizens persecuted or imprisoned for their scientific, environmental or humanitarian commitments or positions, and to acknowledge their existence in legislation, in the same way as political prisoners; recalls in this connection the case of the Belarusian scientist Yuri Bandzhevsky, sentenced to 8 years' hard labour for denouncing the health situation in Belarus after the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant;

UN Commission on Human Rights

48.  Stresses that the human rights dialogue should not be considered as a replacement for the mechanisms of the UN Commission on Human Rights or UN General Assembly resolutions, but should go hand-in-hand with independent monitoring and regular reporting by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the country concerned;

49.  Expresses its concern that the value of the UN Commission on Human Rights, as the world's primary body dealing with human rights, risks being substantially diminished by the regrettable tendency to become highly politicised; regrets that debates and resolutions do not reflect the human rights situation but rather the mobilisation of support for countries that are accused of human rights violations; no-action motions against resolutions often succeed, following high profile campaigns by the countries concerned; urges for all necessary reform to reverse the politicising process and thereby maintain the creditibility of this important forum;

50.  Regrets the UN Member States' election of Libya, a country hardly conspicuous for its respect for human freedoms and rights, to chair the UN Commission on Human Rights;

51.  Takes the view that conditions should be laid down to govern membership of the UN Commission on Human Rights, such as the signing, ratification and implementation of international human rights conventions and the admission to the country concerned of a special UN rapporteur; takes the view, further, that there should be a shift in the rule governing decision-making in the UN Commission from unanimity to that of a two-thirds majority;

52.  Regrets that the EU action taken at the 59th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights only partly reflects Parliament's position, and insists that the EU Presidency give full consideration to Parliament's priorities at future sessions; expresses, in particular, its disappointment that the EU, contrary to Parliament's request, did not sponsor any resolution on China or Iran;

53.  Welcomes EU initiatives tabled at the 59th session of the UNCHR, including 11 country resolutions and 2 thematic resolutions, and the numerous resolutions it co-sponsored, making the EU one of the most active players at the UNCHR;

54.  Regrets that in 2002 and in 2003 the UN Commission on Human Rights rejected the EU-sponsored resolution on Chechnya by a majority of one; regrets that a resolution on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe was blocked at both UN sessions through a no-action motion;

55.  Regrets the UNCHR's rejection of the resolution on Cuba which condemned the long prison sentences given in April 2003 to 78 peaceful pro-democracy activists and criticised the summary trials to which they were subjected; expects a fresh and impartial trial in a court of law and calls on the Cuban Government to enable a UN human rights envoy to visit the island as soon as possible in order to report on the situation concerning fundamental freedoms and rights in Cuba;

56.  Reaffirms its call on the Council and the Commission to be fully committed, in the EU's political and human rights dialogues with the countries concerned, to the implementation of resolutions initiated by the EU at the UN Commission on Human Rights, and to taking into due consideration the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteurs and the resolutions of Parliament;

57.  Decides to hold an annual debate with the Council and the Commission in order to evaluate the outcome of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the role played by the EU in the Commission;

58.  Recommends seeking, in close cooperation with the Council, arrangements to allow the President of the European Parliament to make a policy statement on behalf of the EP at the annual sessions of the UN Commission on Human Rights;

59.  Asks its Conference of Presidents to consider a permanent presentation on administrative level resident in Geneva during the sessions of the UN Commission on Human Rights;

60.  Calls on the Member States to undertake with the UN Member States that the financial resources provided for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights from the regular budget of the UN will be increased, not least in the light of the new responsibilities in Iraq;

61.  Calls for strengthened consultation, cooperation and coordination between the EU and the UN, in particular the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, with respect to policy formulation, programmes and projects;

62.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to strongly support initiatives to promote and enhance the fight against caste discrimination in all relevant United Nations fora, particularly UN human rights bodies, the ILO and the World Bank, and to promote the call for a Special Rapporteur on caste discrimination;

Effectiveness of EU human rights policy

63.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to review and better coordinate all ongoing mainstreaming activities within the EU, by agreeing to a clear definition and methodology of mainstreaming as well as being attentive to lessons learnt in other sectors, international organisations and countries; calls on the EU Member States to mainstream human rights in relations with third countries and to share experiences and coordinate with other Member States and EU institutions;

64.  Notes that the new annual programming strategy of the Council and the Commission aim at achieving a greater degree of cohesion, mainly through strengthened coordination at interinstitutional level and between successive Presidencies,

65.  Reaffirms its view that the Institutions should define annual priorities and political action in a constructive dialogue in order to further strengthen the integrated political programming process of the Union; calls, therefore, on the Council to include Parliament in the dialogue on its Operational Programme for 2004;

66.  Decides to hold an annual debate, with the Council and the Commission, on 'Human Rights Guidelines for External Action by the EU', in order to feed into the Council's orientation debate on external policy priorities and into discussions on how to improve the effectiveness of EU action on the field;

67.  Deplores the fact that neither the Operational Programme of the Council for 2003, nor the EU Presidencies' programmes, outline any specific human rights agenda for a particular country or region;

68.  Stresses that the inconsistency of diverging political agendas under successive presidencies can only be avoided and continuity of action guaranteed if programming of EU human rights and democratisation policy is based on a long-term agenda with clearly identified objectives and measures for their implementation;

69.  Recommends that human rights and democracy issues should be reserved as a permanent item on the agenda of the Council for External Relations meetings;

70.  Calls on the Commission to further develop the integration of human rights and democratisation aspects in the country strategy papers, with the aim of ensuring that all external cooperation programmes take into account human rights priorities for third countries, so as to complement effectively the funds for human rights projects under the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights;

71.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to introduce a systematic human rights impact assessment at the level of policy formulation and with regard to the implementation of the external assistance programmes; underlines, in this regard, that a 'sustainable development impact assessment' is already undertaken in relation to EU trade policy; stresses that the impact assessment must be fully consistent with the EU guidelines on the death penalty and torture;

72.  Calls on the Presidency and the Commission to promote the setting up of a 'European Network on Human Rights and Democracy in External Relations', to be established with the human rights policy directorates of foreign ministries and national human rights institutes of Member States and candidate countries, the EU Missions in third countries, the European Commission's External Service, with the relevant bodies of the Council and the European Parliament, with regional and international organisations such as the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE/ODIHR, as well as with international NGOs;

73.  Considers that the Network's main objectives should be to increase human rights expertise at national and interinstitutional level, to contribute to EU human rights policy-making and implementation, to strengthen openness and exchange of information in the field, and to improve links between interrelated services; recommends that the Network interact through the exchange of information online, through a specific website to be set up and through seminars being organised on related subjects;

74.  Stresses the necessity of providing specific human rights training for diplomats serving in the Commission's External Service and in EU Missions;

Interaction of the European Parliament with the Council

75.  Reiterates its firm belief that the Council's interaction with Parliament on human rights issues is far from satisfactory; urges the Council to substantially improve the flow of information to Parliament on action taken on human rights policy and to respond more positively to Parliament's positions and statements, in particular as expressed in Urgent Resolutions, so that Parliament can contribute more effectively to the implementation of EU human rights policy;

76.  Expects major progress in dialogue with the Council following its conclusions of December 2002; calls on the Council to respect its intention to work more closely with its Foreign Affairs Committee, to consider elaborating more developed reactions to Parliament's annual report on human rights as well as to its resolutions on human rights issues in general;

77.  Reiterates its call on the Council to react comprehensively on the EP annual report on human rights, in the context of the EU annual report and, as an early reaction after the adoption of the EP Report, in the form of a written follow-up paper; expects that the Council's reaction will give a clear indication of whether or not, and if so for what reason, it plans to implement Parliament's requests;

78.  Reiterates its call on the Council and the Commission to improve the EU annual report's structure; insists that the report should provide an analysis of the impact of the EU actions and an assessment of compliance with human rights clauses in agreements with third countries;

79.  Calls on the Council to report, at ministerial level and at least once during each Presidency, to its committee responsible on the follow-up of EP resolutions, in particular on resolutions on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

80.  Insists that Council's reporting should also include an assessment of the human rights dialogues and issues being discussed under the political dialogue, with the emphasis on human rights in the framework of Association/Cooperation Council meetings and EU Summits with third countries, the EU position taken at the UN Commission on Human Rights and at the UN General Assembly;

81.  Calls on the Council to arrange for the participation of the chair of the Council's working group on human rights (COHOM) in meetings of its committee responsible; expects the Council's representative to be prepared to answer ad hoc questions on urgent matters put forward by Members;

82.  Calls on the Council to arrange for ad hoc meetings between COHOM and the rapporteur of the EP annual report on human rights, as was already the case in June 2003, as well as with MEPs on a regular basis, in particular with a view to the preparation of the annual session of the UN Commission on human rights, on the occasion of the submission of the Presidency's programme related to external relations and human rights action, and as debriefings on the outcome of COHOM meetings;

83.  Stresses the need to establish strengthened working relations in respect of human rights between the General Secretariat of the Council, the Commission and the secretariats of its own committees responsible, in order to enhance information and to improve pro-active initiatives by its members in this field;

84.  Insists that the Council review its procedures in order to ensure that the deadlines for answering parliamentary questions for written answer be respected;

85.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to regularly provide the relevant committees of the European Parliament with the agendas of the Commissioners and representatives of the Presidency, as well as a calendar of the upcoming political dialogues, in order to enable Parliament to present Council and Commission with its recommendations;

European Parliament action in the field of human rights and democracy

86.  Stresses, as a matter of priority, that its own structure and working methods should be improved in order to ensure the necessary systematic follow-up of its human rights action, in particular in relation to individual cases raised, and to provide increased support for Members' initiatives;

87.  Underlines, in this regard, the obvious need to strengthen its administrative capacities in the human rights field which, at present, are clearly understaffed;

88.  Recommends strongly improving the mainstreaming of human rights in its external relations activities, and increasing awareness of its human rights activities;

89.  Considers that all parliamentary provisions available should be used more extensively, not only for debating EU human rights policy issues, but also for providing systematic information on the follow-up of EP recommendations, in particular Oral Questions during Question Time, to be held also in committee;

90.  Recommends that its committees responsible should apply more frequently the new Rules of Procedure (104a) providing additional opportunities for debating violations of human rights at committee level;

91.  Stresses that meetings with parliamentarians and civil society from third countries having signed the human rights clause should contribute in a more efficient way to Parliament's monitoring of the concrete implementation of the clause;

92.  Stresses that public hearings with representatives of civil society from third countries, and in particular with human rights defenders, should be systematically organised within the context of the EP assent procedure on agreements;

93.  Recommends that its Conference of Delegation Chairmen agree on guidelines aimed at mainstreaming human rights issues at the level of meetings with parliamentarians from third countries; recommends, in particular, that human rights be systematically discussed, individual cases be raised, and regular exchanges of views with local NGOs be held;

94.  Recommends the setting up of a committee on human rights and democracy under the forthcoming Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly in order to allow for a more structured dialogue on human rights and democracy issues contributing to strengthened cultural sensitivity and increased effectiveness of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in this area;

95.  Decides to strengthen and systematise contacts with former Sakarov Prize laureates with a view to guaranteeing the protective effect of the prize for laureates and monitoring the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the respective countries; encourages continued support to those former Sakharov Prize laureates who suffer from oppression in their country, particularly Leyla Zana and Aung San Suu Kyi;

96.  Demands therefore that the Burmese authorities immediately release from detention Aung San Suu Kyi, Leader of the National League for Democracy;

97.  Expresses its commitment to become more closely involved in the democratisation process in third countries; recommends, therefore, participation by Members of Parliament, possibly in cooperation with the Council of Europe, in EU-funded projects for the training of parliamentarians from third countries in support of democracy, to enable them to contribute their expertise and exchange best practices;

98.  Decides to improve, at the level of its committee secretariats, the scrutiny of questions for written answer; considers that answers relating to human rights and democracy issues should be made available to the public by placing them online;

99.  Reconsiders the re-establishment of a committee for human rights;

Openness towards civil society

100.  Considers that human rights defenders, in particular those active in third countries, are more encouraged in their engagement when the EU explicitly and openly advocates improvement of the human rights situation in third countries in the context of the political dialogue;

101.  Urges the EU to offer support to human rights activists who have testified before the Institutions once they return to their countries, and to ensure that no further measures of retortion or intimidation are taken against them;

102.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to underline, in their political dialogues with third countries, the important role of human rights defenders and their need for protection as they increasingly become targets of human rights violations, also due to counter-terrorism measures by governments, which often limit the freedom of expression and movement of human rights defenders to a disproportionate extent in comparison with their legitimate work;

103.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to make every effort to guarantee the physical integrity and total independence of journalists in their work;

104.  Calls on the Presidency to regularly consult and inform non-governmental organisations active in the human rights field on its activities so as to ensure that the openness achieved under the Danish Presidency will continue;

105.  Calls, in particular, on the Council to make comprehensive and timely information available online, including agendas and results of COHOM meetings, human rights dialogues and political dialogues, and actions taken in human rights policy-making and implementation in relation to third countries;

106.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to improve the structure of their relevant websites to better reflect the respective competencies in the field of CFSP and of Community action; calls on the Commission to better structure its websites in order to facilitate access to actors in particular in the field of project funding;

107.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue to brief local non-governmental organisations in third countries on EU human rights policy, consistent with the Commission's recent Communication to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee on the Participation of non-state Actors in EC development policy (COM(2002) 598), and to invite them to regular reporting to EC Delegations and EU Missions on the situation in the country concerned in order to strengthen human rights impact assessment;

108.  Underlines the necessity to invite representatives of third countries for participation in the EU Human Rights Forum and to widen the field of experts to trade and development;

109.  Stresses, once again, that information on the role of the EU in the world, which has been selected as a priority topic of the new information and communication strategy for the European Union, should emphasise EU human rights policy with the aim of raising awareness;

European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)

110.  Calls on the Commission to consult Parliament on the updating of the programming document for EIDHR funding in 2004 at the earliest possible stage; calls on the Commission to engage in a prompt dialogue with the European Parliament in the light of the upcoming review of the human rights regulations which expire in 2004;

111.  Takes note of the fact that the adoption of the Commission's updated priorities for EIDHR funding (in November) and the adoption of the EU budget (in December) for the budgetary year to come, creates a time gap which prevents the Commission from fully taking account of the EP budgetary remarks; decides to discuss this problem with the Commission in order to find arrangements leading to a solution;

112.  Regrets successive attempts by the European Commission to reduce allocations under Article 190403 (Budget line "Development and consolidation of democracy and the rule of law - Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms", previously B7-7010) in its Preliminary Draft Budget and reiterates support for the important activity financed under this heading;

113.  Notes that the last report on the implementation of EIDHR projects dates back to 2000; calls on the Commission to publish these reports annually, as they constitute a useful instrument for evaluation;

114.  Calls on the Council, the Commission, and the Member States to treat respect for religious freedom as a priority for action in the EU's relations with third countries and calls on them, should violations occur, to enforce sanctions similar to those provided for since 1998 in the US International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-292/105th Congress);

115.  Encourages the Commission to take the reform process of the management of the EIDHR further and to make available sufficient and qualified human resources to guarantee the efficient implementation of the EIDHR programmes and to put an end to the delays in implementing the 2001 and 2002 EIDHR micro-projects schemes;

116.  Advocates its participation in the regional workshops organised by the Commission on EIDHR-funded projects and the assessment of their impact;

117.  Calls on the Commission, in the process of establishing a National Indicative Programme, to intensify consultation of the civil society in the relevant country on the measures proposed for promoting respect for human rights and democracy; calls on the Commission to support the participation of independent associations in implementing projects and to extend legal provisions on civil society participation already contained in the Cotonou Agreement to other countries and regions in the world;

118.  Calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to women, children, ethnic and religious minorities and disabled people in the EIDHR programme and to effectively monitor the participation of civil society organisations representing the interests of these vulnerable groups in EIDHR funded projects;

119.  Calls on the Commission to include Iran in the focus countries for EIDHR funding for 2004 in order to help civil society, independent media and non-governmental organisations enhance their profile and play a decisive role in the process of democratisation of Iranian society, as well as to follow through issues discussed under the human rights dialogue; calls on the Commission and the Council to improve their co-ordination in this regard;

120.  Urges the Commission to assist Russia with EIDHR-funded projects to develop the Kaliningrad region, in order to promote the quality of democracy, the rule of law and public administration;

121.  Calls on the Commission to urge the Russian Government to reduce the high tax levied at more than 30% on subsidies to human rights programmes funded by foreign foundations or organisations which, for obvious reasons, hampers implementation of these kinds of projects;

122.  Deplores that the Commission's increased financial support for the prevention of torture has been to the detriment of funding for organisations offering concrete assistance and rehabilitation to victims of torture; urges the Commission to allocate balanced funding to both: the prevention and continuous support and rehabilitation of victims of torture;

123.  Calls on the Commission to focus on the social reintegration of prisoners through EIDHR-funded projects; calls on the Commission to pay special attention to the situation of the most vulnerable groups of detainees, such as juveniles, women, foreigners, people from ethnic and religious minorities, homosexuals and victims of torture;

Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion

124.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to respond effectively in the event of serious and persistent violations of freedom of thought, conscience and religion in third countries, by taking clear positions towards the governments concerned and by avoiding double standards;

125.  Calls on the Council and the Commission systematically to emphasise in discussions under the political dialogue the importance of protecting the fundamental freedom of religion and belief or non-belief, not only by way of writing those freedoms into the constitution or penal code, but by putting them into practice;

126.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to set up guidelines for EU policy towards third countries on freedom of religion and freedom of expression;

127.  Calls upon the Council, the Commission and the Member States to insist, if necessary, on freedom of conscience in their contacts with third countries and to call upon their governments to respect conscientious objections of those working in the public services, be it the administration, health care, or military, as well as in other relevant sectors;

128.  Condemns all forms of violations by the State of the right to religious freedom, which is manifest under totalitarian regimes that suppress and attempt to control religious belief and simple worship, as well as when discriminatory legislation or policies are used against minorities and non-approved religions, and in the case of the state neglecting the problem of discrimination against, or persecution of, minorities or non-approved religions; urges those governments to respect international human rights law and guarantee freedom of thought, conscience and religion;

129.  Reiterates its call upon the Chinese government to immediately stop the prosecution and large-scale defamation campaigns of Falun Gong and its practitioners; urges the Chinese government to end all arrests, torture, killings, brainwashing and restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly of members of this movement;

130.  Expresses its solidarity with the Montagnard Christian populations who have suffered violent repression for decades at the hands of the Hanoï authorities, and calls on the Vietnamese Government to put an end to its policies of oppression and extermination;

131.  Notes the first positive steps taken by the Vietnamese Prime Minister vis-à-vis the Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church, banned by the regime for more than 20 years, but emphasises that the Vietnamese Government must take practical measures without delay to guarantee religious freedom and respect for fundamental rights, starting by ensuring full freedom of movement, expression and religion for the Venerable Thich Quang Do, who was released in June 2003 but is still subject to strict police controls, and by re-establishing the legitimate status of the banned United Buddhist Church;

132.  Condemns also the constant violations of fundamental rights in the Lao PDR and the policies of brutal and constant oppression to which the Hmong populations and christian populations are subjected;

133.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to discuss, under the political dialogues with the Indian Government, the threat posed to human rights, and in particular to religious freedom, by the current 'anti-conversion laws', an abuse of Hinduism for nationalistic purposes, and the situation in Gujarat;

134.  Deplores the violence directed against members of minority communities in Pakistan and, in particular, those from the Christian and Ahmadi communities and the government's failure to protect those individuals; deplores also the arbitrary application of the law of blasphemy;

135.  Considers that the European Union, on the basis of the separation of church and state, should encourage representatives of different religions to develop a policy designed to improve tolerance, mutual understanding and respect for different cultural and religious communities, inside as well as outside the European Union;

136.  Strongly disapproves the recent rejection of the proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Vatican;

137.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to enter into regular dialogues with local religious communities in order to establish a deeper understanding of religion's potential role in an open society, and to discuss how Member States deal with secularism and religious freedom; guiding principles should be provided to organise these consultations and to outline relevant criteria for participating partners;

138.  Calls on the EU, in its discussions on freedom of thought, conscience and religion with third countries, to use the international human rights standards as the ultimate yardstick; urges it, at the same time, to seek points of reference in the convictions, values and norms of the counterpart, with a view to abolishing horrific punishments or practices that occur in the name of religion and which violate human freedoms and rights, in particular in the case of the application of the Sharia; also, calls on the European Union to encourage the development of alternative punishments and of laws compatible with international human rights standards;

139.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to address the issue of religious freedom and freedom of conscience in the referential framework of general human values, and to encourage religious leaders to interpret their texts in such a way as to uphold those values;

140.  Considers that the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (1991) and the Arab Charter on Human Rights (1994) are partly in blatant contradiction with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; calls, therefore, on the Council and the Commission to invite leaders of the Islamic world to compare their vision of Islamic laws with that Declaration, in order to lift bans and threats against changing religion and avoid excesses such as inhumane punishments or practices and give priority to alternative punishments;

141.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to enter into dialogue with leading Islamic scholars to identify and highlight punishments which are described as 'Sharia' but which are in reality nothing more than tribal customs;

142.  Expresses deep concern at the growth of religious extremism in Pakistan and the imposition of Sharia law in the North West Frontier Province by an alliance of religious fundamentalist parties;

143.  Calls on the Commission to fund external aid projects in support of victims of violations of religious freedom, in particular those persecuted because of their faith, as well as victims of culturally or religiously motivated barbaric practices, such as stoning, female genital mutilation, amputation and arranged marriages involving coercion;

144.  Reiterates that measures aimed at combating female genital mutilation must involve the communities concerned and tally with their situation, so as to ensure that they become convinced of the need to eradicate such practices;

145.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to make the early identification of abuses of religion for political purposes a priority in the EU human rights policy, and, on the basis of dialogue with the relevant leaders, to seek to prevent violent religious extremism;

146.  Calls on the Commission to encourage and assist, where possible, third countries in taking all necessary action to combat violence, hatred, intimidation and coercion motivated by intolerance based on religion, belief or non-belief, with particular regard to religious and philosophical minorities and to practices which discriminate against women and violate their human rights;

147.  Underlines the key role of education in deepening mutual understanding and respect for different religions; calls, therefore, on the Commission, by means of a constructive but impartial attitude towards religions, to foster mutual acceptance among citizens of differing faiths; takes the view that incitement to hatred should be a criminal offence, including when it occurs in the sphere of education; calls on the Commission, Council and Member States to ensure that they do not fund school books and other material which promotes religious or other hatred; considers that access to modern communications technologies and language courses can facilitate inter-cultural exchanges, tolerance and understanding for other religions within and outside the European Union;

148.  Considers that the media should be discouraged from creating stereotyped images of other religions as enemies, through, for instance, raising cultural awareness amongst them;

149.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the Member States to place the emphasis, in the training modules for their staff dealing with external relations, on acquiring a thorough knowledge of the values and practices of different cultures and religions in order to deepen their cultural sensitivity;

150.  Calls on the Commission to promote structures for inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue and to provide the necessary funding;

151.  Recommends deepening the inter-cultural dialogue between the EU and third countries around specific themes, such as the right to change or renounce one's faith, women's rights and the rule of law compatible with international human rights standards, and intensifying the dialogue with the participation of Members of the European Parliament, government representatives, parliamentarians, academics and representatives of civil society from both the EU Member States and third countries;

152.  Welcomes the initiative of the President of the Commission in setting up a 'High-Level Advisory Group on Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures' with a view to stepping up an inter-cultural dialogue with and between the countries and societies on the Mediterranean's southern shore, based on the key principles of equality, co-ownership and cross-fertilisation, and aimed at strengthening internal cohesion within EU societies;

153.  Expects that the findings of the Advisory Group's report, scheduled for late September 2003, will identify practical approaches and specific measures for fostering inter-cultural dialogue, and will be given operational follow-up not only by the Commission but also by Member States and the Mediterranean partners at national and local level;

154.  Stresses the importance of a permanent structure for inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, and calls on Member States and the Mediterranean partner countries for the prompt creation of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation, decided upon at the Ministerial Conference in Valencia in April 2002; underlines that the Foundation should act as a catalyst for inter-cultural dialogue involving the general public, particularly in the education system, and encourage more positive media involvement;

155.  Calls on the Commission to work in close cooperation with "inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue" initiatives undertaken in the framework of the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the UNHCHR, and other national and international fora, in order to avoid duplication and to enhance experience and knowledge of the subject;

156.  Is deeply concerned at the repeated infringements of the freedom of the press, particularly in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia;

Thematic issues

157.  Reaffirms that States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law; reiterates its call for a UN mechanism to be established in order to monitor and analyse the human rights impact of counter-terrorism measures;

158.  Calls upon Member States, the accession countries and all third countries to consider as a matter of urgency the need to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture, and to provide sufficient funding to ensure that the treaty serves its intended purpose;

159.  Calls on the Presidency and Member States to ensure the early adoption of the Commission's proposal of 30 December 2002 relating to restrictions on trade in equipment used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;

160.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to prioritise the issue of trafficking in women and children in their political dialogue with the countries concerned; urges Member States and candidate countries to transpose swiftly Council's framework decision 2002/629/JHA of 19 July 2002 on combating trafficking in human beings(14) ; calls for the early ratification of the UN Protocol on trafficking, which supplements the UN Convention against transnational organised crime;

161.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to support the fight against slavery in affected countries, including, in particular, the situation of bonded child labour; urges the governments of these countries to investigate the full extent of the problem and institute measures for the eradication of this gross violation, such as mechanisms for release and rehabilitation;

162.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to address and take concrete measures on the issue of caste discrimination in political dialogues and in EU development and trade cooperation with the countries concerned; calls for the establishment of bilateral consultative mechanisms on the issue and support for the emancipation of the Dalits through external assistance programmes; urges the EU to avail of every opportunity to ensure that the General Recommendation XXIX on Descent-based Discrimination, adopted by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in August 2002 be given the widest recognition in terms of implementation;

163.  Calls on the Council to include in its human rights report an analysis on caste-based discrimination, as well as factual reports and a critical assessment of the effectiveness of the EU's Human Rights Policy in terms of addressing caste discrimination;

164.  Calls on the Commission to propose a legal framework for combating the illegal economic exploitation of third countries by private companies from the EU, and for independent monitoring of compliance of Council Regulation (EC) No 254/2003 of 11 February 2003 amending Regulation (EC) No 2368/2002 implementing the Kimberley Process certification scheme for the international trade in rough diamonds(15) ;

165.  Supports the efforts undertaken by the ILO to bring about a permanent elimination of forced labour in all countries concerned; reiterates its call to the Council to strengthen its common position so as to include a foreign investment ban in order to stop international business from profiting from the widespread and systematic use of forced labour;

166.  Calls upon the Council and the Commission to address and take concrete measures in respect of countries which have laws that discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation;

167.  Calls upon the Council to take every possible step to stop the exploitation of workers and to end the repression of trade-unions and the killings of trade-unionists; urges the European Union to investigate thoroughly on the situation of trade unions and trade unionists in all countries which have cooperation agreements with Europe;

Death penalty

168.  Reaffirms its view that the EU must continue to work towards the universal abolition of the death penalty; calls upon all States which still retain the death penalty in their penal legislation to establish a moratorium on all pending executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty completely;

169.  Urges all States which still maintain the death penalty to act in accordance with resolution 2003/67 adopted at the 59th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, which calls for the death penalty not to be imposed for non-violent acts, crimes committed by under-18s or those suffering from a mental disorder, on pregnant women or on mothers with dependent infants; strongly opposes the use of the death penalty on the basis of gender-discrimination legislation, public executions, and cruel punishments such as stoning, which should be stopped immediately;

170.  Calls on the Italian Presidency to honour its commitment to ensure that a universal moratorium on executions is adopted at the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly;

171.  Welcomes the abolition of the death penalty for ordinary crimes in Turkey, but calls for an abolition of the death penalty in all cases;

172.  Reiterates its concern about the increasing number of death sentences in other countries with which the European Union has close relations, such as the United States, Saudi Arabia and the People's Republic of China; points out that in Saudi Arabia, in particular, foreign migrant women are denied a fair trial and access to justice, as in the well-known cases before the Islamic Court;

173.  Calls on the newly elected state authorities of Nigeria to ensure that existing legislation in their various States complies with the Nigerian Constitution and with international human rights law, ratified by the Nigerian government; urges, in particular, the northern States who have introduced the Sharia Penal Legislation to discontinue the practice of the mandatory use of the death penalty and other inhuman punishments such as amputations and stoning, and to cease the endorsement of 'vigilante' groups;

International Tribunals

174.  Calls on the EU to ensure the establishment of an international commission of inquiry into allegations of grave abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo; deplores the failure of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2003 in this regard, despite the request by the UN High Commissioner;

175.  Underlines the great importance it attaches to the full cooperation of all countries and parties in the Western Balkans with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY);

176.  Calls on the Government of Indonesia to address the deficiencies of the ad hoc tribunal on East Timor in order to secure a substantiated account of the human rights violations that occurred in 1999 so as to bring all perpetrators of human rights violations to justice; calls for continued attention to assisting the safe return of refugees to East Timor from camps in Indonesia;

International Criminal Court

177.  Welcomes the entry into force of the Statute of the International Criminal Court on 1 July 2002 and the inauguration of the Court on 11 March 2003; invites all States which have not already done so, to accede to the ICC Statute, and calls on all signatory States to ensure its early ratification;

178.  Calls on all State Parties to proceed urgently with the harmonisation of their national legislation with the provisions of the Statute, in order to cooperate with the ICC and to fully exercise the principle of complementarity between the ICC and the national courts;

179.  Welcomes the adoption of a new Council Common Position on the International Criminal Court, strengthening the EU support to the Court and calls on the Italian Presidency to adapt and update the Action Plan in accordance with the new mandate and goals stemming from the Common Position;

180.  Calls on the United States to give up its policy of discouraging governments from ratifying the Rome Statute by pressurising States worldwide to enter into 'bilateral non-surrender agreements' and obstructing multilateral cooperation in the framework of the UN on the grounds of the 'American Service-Members' Protection Act';

181.  Invites the Council and the Commission, as well as its own interparliamentary delegations, to include ratification and implementation of the ICC Statute as an item on the agenda of political contacts with third countries, in particular with the US;

182.  Calls on all governments not to conclude any 'bilateral non-surrender agreement' with the United States as these are contrary to the Rome Statute and inconsistent with the EU Council Conclusions and Guiding Principles of 30 September 2002 and to refuse to engage in the scheme of transforming the fight against terrorism into a pretext for the conclusion of such agreements;

183.  Is convinced that a number of South-East Asian countries may take China and Japan as examples for their eventual ratification and implementation of the ICC Statute, in particular in the context of the efforts of the United States to obtain bilateral immunity agreements from the countries of this region; calls, therefore, on China and Japan to accede to the International Criminal Court Statute as soon as possible;

Iraq

184.  Takes note of the resolution adopted at the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2003 whereby the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iraq will be extended for a further year; calls for the deployment of human rights monitors as soon as the security situation permits;

185.  Strongly condemns the attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003, killing 20 people including the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and UN Special Representative in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello; emphasises that this constitutes a war crime and that those responsible must be identified and brought to justice;

186.  Urges the UN, on the basis of UN SC resolution 1502 (2003) to do the utmost for the protection of United Nations personnel, associated personnel and humanitarian personnel in conflict zones and strongly urges UN Member States to cooperate in strengthening the security of humanitarian aid workers around the world;

187.  Reiterates its call on the Council and the Member States to engage in the establishment of a commission under the mandate of the Secretary General of the United Nations and/or the Security Council for the purpose of investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity committed under the Iraqi Regime, with a view to creating an ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal to try the persons responsible for those crimes;

188.  Calls on the working group on minorities within the United Nations Sub-Committee on Human Rights to study the situation in Iraq;

189.  Calls on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq to ensure continued monitoring, in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other relevant agencies, as well as the occupying power in Iraq, the situation of refugees and the internally displaced inside Iraq, and provide remedies for abuses they suffer, including when refugees and displaced populations return to their home areas and property;

Indigenous Peoples

190.  Requests the Commission and the Council to ensure the full implementation of the 1998 and 2002 Council resolutions on indigenous peoples, in particular the development of a specific methodology for the development work with indigenous communities and the training of Commission staff;

191.  Requests the Council and the Commission to follow up Parliament's demands to promote a worldwide policy on indigenous peoples in general, and not only on indigenous peoples in developing countries;

192.  Strongly supports the demands of the Pygmies, Masao, San and other indigenous peoples in Africa to be recognised by the African countries as indigenous communities, according to the international debate on this issue;

193.  Requests to place, where appropriate, the issue of indigenous peoples as a permanent item on the agendas of its interparliamentary delegations with countries where indigenous people live, in order to check and complete the relevant information in the Country Strategy Papers;

194.  Requests the Commission to include in all Country Strategy Papers relating to countries with indigenous peoples, a specific paragraph or chapter on their living conditions and main concerns;

195.  Calls on the Commission to include in agreements with third countries specific clauses and mechanisms to assess respect for and the protection of the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, who are all too often the victims of extremely serious and systematic violations;

196.  Reiterates its demand to establish a permanent delegation between the European Parliament and the UN forum on Indigenous peoples and proposes to co-organise the next session of this forum;

Children's rights

197.  Expresses its concern about the serious violation of children's rights, as set out in the Convention of the Rights of Child, including the right to health, education and nutrition as well as protection from violence, exploitation and abuse; notes that 600 million children live in poverty worldwide; every three seconds a child dies from malnutrition, lack of water or health care; 130 million children, two-thirds of them girls, are deprived of basic education; two million children have been killed in wars over the last ten years; more than 300,000 children under 18 years of age are actively participating in armed conflicts; two million girls are victims of female genital mutilation;

198.  Calls on all countries to ratify and enforce the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, the Mine Ban Treaty of Ottawa, the ILO Convention to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour, and the ILO Minimum Age Convention;

199.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to introduce a stronger children's rights perspective into all EU external and internal policy areas, based on strategic implementation guidelines, and to ensure overall coordination; calls on the Council and the Commission to develop a strategy for the follow-up of the Special Session on Children of the UN General Assembly;

200.  Calls on the Council to start drafting a Common Strategy on children and armed conflict; stresses that any action must target those involved in trafficking and their clients, adequate sanctions must be planned and applied in the country of origin, of transit and of destination, and child victims must benefit from adequate protection;

201.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the issue of children and armed conflict is adequately reflected in the Country Strategy Papers, with particular attention to prevention and rehabilitation measures for child soldiers;

Disabled people

202.  Notes with grave concern the evidence presented by the Disability Awareness in Action report (March 2003) that over the last 12 months there have been 483 reports of abuse concerning 4 292 disabled people across the globe, and that 13% of the total number of victims have died as a direct result of human rights abuse;

203.  Expresses serious concern about the evidence presented in the respective reports of Amnesty International on users of psychiatric treatment and the Report by Mental Disability Advocacy Centre on Caged Beds which informs us of the severe human rights abuses experienced by disabled people living in institutions across Europe, whose needs must be immediately addressed by the Governments of the countries concerned;

204.  Is particularly concerned about the continued use of cage beds for people with intellectual disabilities, used in psychiatric hospitals and in social care homes in a number of Eastern European countries; calls on the countries concerned to cease this degrading and inhuman practice without delay;

205.  Reiterates its support for a UN Convention on the Human Rights of Disabled People which must build on the provisions of the UN Standard Rules in such a way as to fully recognise and promote the rights of disabled people and urges that such a UN Convention be legally binding;

206.  Calls on the UN Members and Agencies to ensure that the six existing UN Human Rights Conventions are interpreted to recognise and fully promote the rights and needs of disabled people and their families, which has not been the case hitherto;

207.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that disability is explicitly referred to its reports on human rights and that disabled people are recognised in the work of the European Commission as a group particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses;

Prison conditions

208.  Expresses its concern that the rising numbers of detained people worldwide, together with the lack of additional resources, increases pressure on prison systems and poses the risk that human rights and human detention conditions be disregarded;

209.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to encourage, in relations with third countries, the adoption of provisions in penal codes which offer alternative punishments to prison sentences for minor offences; underlines the importance of improving prison conditions, in order to tackle in particular the spread of life-threatening diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS in detention centres and of improving the situation of juveniles, women, foreigners, people from ethnic and religious minorities and homosexuals in prisons;

210.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to include in the EU annual report, under thematic issues of particular importance to the EU, information on specific action taken in relation to prison conditions;

211.  Urges the Commission to make an extended assessment of the prison conditions in countries with which the EU has a cooperation or association agreement;

o
o   o

212.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the candidate countries, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the governments of the countries referred to in this resolution, as well as the EU offices of the leading non-governmental organisations on human rights.

(1) NB: for all relevant basic texts, please consult the table annexed to the report.
(2) OJ C 131 E, 5.6.2003, p.138; OJ C 65 E, 14.3.2002, p. 336; OJ C 377, 29.12.2000, p. 336; OJ C 98, 9.4.1999, p. 270; OJ C 20, 20.1.1997, p. 161; OJ C 126, 22.5.1995, p. 15; OJ C 115, 26.4.1993, p. 214; OJ C 267, 14.10.1991, p. 165; OJ C 47, 27.2.1989, p. 61; OJ C 99, 13.4.1987, p. 157; OJ C 343, 31.12.1985, p. 29; OJ C 172, 2.7.1984, p. 36; OJ C 161, 10.6.1983, p. 58.
(3) P5_TA(2003)0034.
(4) OJ C 131 E, 5.6.2003, p. 147.
(5) OJ C 364, 18.12.2000, p. 1.
(6) P5_TA(2003)0012.
(7) P5_TA(2002)0367.
(8) P5_TA(2002)0449 and P5_TA(2002)0521.
(9) OJ L 155, 12.6.2001, p. 19 and OJ L 164, 22.6.2002, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 150, 18.6.2003, p. 67.
(11) OJ C 379, 7.12.1998, p. 265, OJ C 262, 18.9.2001, p. 262, OJ C 293 E, 28.11.2002, p. 88.
(12) OJ C 77 E, 28.3.2002, p. 126.
(13) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3.
(14) OJ L 203, 1.8.2002, p.1.
(15) OJ L 36, 12.2.2003, p. 7.

Last updated: 28 April 2004Legal notice