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Procedure : 2004/2619(RSP)
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Thursday, 24 February 2005 - Strasbourg Final edition
Human Rights (Geneva, 14 March to 22 April 2005)

European Parliament resolution on the EU's priorities and recommendations for the 61st session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva (14 March to 22 April 2005)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the 61st session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), which will be held in Geneva from 14 March to 22 April 2005,

–   having regard to the EU Treaty and its provisions on human rights,

–   having regard to Articles I-3(3) and III-292 of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe,

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

–   having regard to 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 (COM(2001)0252) and its resolution of 25 April 2002 on that communication(1) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 22 April 2004 on human rights in the world in 2003 and European Union human rights policy(2) ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the UNCHR since 1996,

–   having regard to its resolution of 29 January 2004 on the relations between the European Union and the United Nations(3) ,

–   having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas one of the main objectives of the European Union must be to uphold the universality and indivisibility, as well as the interdependent and interrelated nature, of all human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and the so-called third-generation human rights, such as the rights to development, to peace and to a healthy environment,

B.   whereas respect for human rights is essential with a view to achieving the objective of sustainable development which respects both human beings and the environment,

C.   whereas the protection and promotion of human and fundamental rights are among the most fundamental principles of the Union,

D.   whereas the promotion and defence of human rights and the defenders of those rights, of democracy and of the rule of law are a high priority for the European Union in all its relations with third countries, in particular in its Common Foreign and Security Policy and in its Development and Cooperation Policy,

E.   whereas the UN Human Rights Norms for Business represent a major step forward in the process of establishing a common global framework for understanding the responsibilities of business enterprises with regard to human rights; and whereas the EU committed itself to promoting the development of an intergovernmental framework of corporate accountability at the UN World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002,

F.   whereas the UNCHR is one of the main UN bodies for the promotion and protection of human rights around the world,

G.   taking note of the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and its recommendations on the UNCHR,

H.   welcoming the European Union initiatives tabled at the 60th session of the UNCHR, including 8 country resolutions and 2 thematic resolutions, and the numerous resolutions which the EU co-sponsored, making it one of the most active players at the UNCHR,

I.   welcoming the reintroduction of resolutions on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burma, Burundi, Chad, Liberia, Somalia, Cuba, Belarus, North Korea, Turkmenistan, and the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, as well as Chair Statements on East Timor, Haiti and Nepal,

J.   having regard to the conclusions contained in the Declaration issued at the International Cooperation and Coordination Meeting for Colombia, which was adopted at Cartagena as a follow-up to the recommendations issued in London in the presence - inter alia - of the UN,

K.   supporting the recommendations of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia,

L.   concerned at the fact that resolutions were not adopted on the following countries and territories in relation to which the European Parliament had called on the European Union to sponsor or co-sponsor texts: Chechnya, Iran, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Côte d'Ivoire, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the Central African Republic,

M.   concerned at the fact that the resolutions on Zimbabwe sponsored by the EU as well as on China were rejected at the 60th session of the UNCHR,

N.   concerned in particular by the motion of 'no-action' adopted at the initiative of the Republic of Congo on Zimbabwe, as well as the motion on China adopted at the initiative of the latter,

O.   welcoming the appointment of six new experts on human rights: two for thematic issues (the United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and the Independent Expert on Human Rights and Terrorism) and four for country mandates (the Special Rapporteur on Belarus, the Special Rapporteur on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Independent Expert on Chad and the Independent Expert on Sudan),

P.   welcoming the fact that the 60th UNCHR session forcefully condemned the death penalty, with more votes than in previous years, and confirmed the obligation for a State which has received a request for extradition on a capital charge to refuse to comply with it in the absence of effective assurances that capital punishment will not be carried out,

Q.   stressing in this regard the fact that the EU objective is the adoption by the UN General Assembly of a resolution establishing a worldwide moratorium on capital executions as a first step towards the universal abolition of the death penalty,

R.   recalling the indignation and outrage it has expressed at all terrorist attacks, particularly those of 11 September 2001 and 11 March 2004, and its solidarity with the victims of those attacks, as well as its sympathy for the pain and suffering of their families, friends and relatives,

S.   whereas contemporary terrorism, and in particular global terrorism directed against democracy and its defenders, causing massive indiscriminate civilian casualties by brutal, murderous and cowardly attacks, nowadays represents the most violent threat to basic and fundamental human rights that our societies are faced with,

T.   reaffirming that, in order to tackle this terrible modern threat, the prime duty of democratic governments is to protect our citizens with resolve, to fight terrorism firmly and tenaciously and to detect and dismantle any terrorist networks,

U.   whereas the fight against terrorism should not be used by any government to act against the legitimate exercise of basic human rights and democratic principles, but must contribute to the strengthening of the rule of law and these fundamental principles,

V.   whereas terrorism can never be justified and the fight against it necessitates the setting-up of comprehensive strategies that can help to address the causes of extreme poverty, insecurity, State breakdown and the growth of fundamentalism, which may contribute to the emergence of terrorist activity,

W.   having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 57/219 of 18 December 2002, UN Security Council Resolution 1456 of 20 January 2003 and UNCHR Resolution 2003/68 of 25 April 2003, which affirm that States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism is in conformity with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, the law on refugees and international humanitarian law,

X.   welcoming the Sana'a Declaration on democracy, human rights and the role of the International Criminal Court, adopted by the representatives of all the Arab countries and the countries of the Horn of Africa,

Y.   whereas the fact that there is a human rights dialogue between the EU and a third country should not prevent the EU from either submitting a resolution on the human rights situation in that country or providing support for an initiative by the third country, as is clearly indicated by the Council in its conclusions of 20 October 2004 on China and Iran, as well as in the guidelines on human rights dialogues,

Z.   whereas a permanent and constructive interinstitutional dialogue between the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council is essential to give consistency and coherence to the action of the European Union at the 61st UNCHR session,

AA.   worried by the functioning of the UN Committee on NGOs, in which in recent years certain international organisations promoting democracy and human rights worldwide have been subjected to political trials by non-democratic countries,

AB.   concerned at the fact that too often the UNCHR has failed to carry out its proper role of upholding rights and has instead sought to protect its members accused of abuses, as pointed out by the body appointed by the UN Secretary-General to put forward proposals to reform the Institution,

General considerations

1.  Reaffirms that respecting, promoting and safeguarding the universality of human rights is part of the European Union's ethical and legal acquis and one of the cornerstones of European unity and integrity;

2.  Reaffirms the need for strengthened consultation, cooperation and coordination between the EU and the UN, in particular the UNCHR;

3.  Urges the EU to play a pioneering role in the UNCHR;

Country and territory situations

4.  Calls on the EU, while taking due account of the fact that the following list is not exhaustive, that the circumstances differ substantially from country to country and that the situation in some countries has improved, to sponsor or co-sponsor resolutions on:

   - all countries for which an expert on human rights has been appointed with a country mandate (Afghanistan, Belarus, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan) and the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine;
   - all countries on whose human rights situations the EU has reiterated its serious concern in international fora (listed in the European Union Annual Report on Human Rights adopted by the Council) without a country mandate in the UNCHR, namely: Zimbabwe, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal, Vietnam, the Russian Federation (Chechnya), Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Libya, Iran, Mauritania, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia;
   - all countries on whose human rights situations the European Parliament has reiterated its deep concern (the Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Eritrea and Togo);
   - China, strongly condemning in particular the unjustified use of arbitrary detention, the repressive action in Tibet, in Xinjiang, and against the Falun Gong movement and any form of political opposition; calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of opinion and conscience, respect for the freedoms of thought, conscience and religion, and respect for women's and workers' rights; calling for the rapid ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; condemning the intended lifting of the EU arms sales embargo; condemning the unjustified and excessive use of the death penalty; calling for the adoption of a moratorium on executions, as well as the ratification of the Second Protocol to the ICCPR as soon as possible; and calling for the continuation of the Sino-Tibetan dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Government to establish a real autonomy for Tibet within the Chinese borders;
   - Iran, condemning the serious increase in human rights violations, notably the growing number of reports about executions, including executions of juvenile offenders, amputations, flogging in public, a generalised crackdown on the press and media, and widespread arrests – especially of women and young people – on unclear or minor charges; calling for a moratorium on all executions; expecting the Iranian authorities to enact the promised legislation to prohibit the use of the death penalty for offences committed under the age of 18; and calling on the UNCHR to re-appoint a special representative to monitor the human rights situation in Iran and on the Iranian Government to grant free access for human rights monitors to the country;
   - Iraq, condemning violations of human rights and humanitarian law in particular, the execution of civilians, the taking of hostages and their barbaric execution by terrorist groups, regular attacks on minority groups such as Assyrians and others, obstruction of access to medical care, and acts of torture against civilian populations; condemning the Iraqi Interim Government's decision to restore capital punishment; asking that allegations of human rights violations and war crimes committed during the last three decades be investigated by the Iraqi authorities as quickly as possible and that those responsible be punished; insisting on the right of every detainee to fair legal treatment in accordance with international law; reiterating its condemnation of the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners; calling for thorough, impartial, public and transparent investigation of allegations of torture and ill-treatment; asking for appropriate sanctioning through appropriate channels ; welcoming the holding of the Iraqi elections and insisting that human rights and democracy be the main values on which the future constitution of the country is based;
   - Chechnya, condemning first and foremost the terrible Beslan massacre, but also the increasing number of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian authorities against the civilian populations, in particular abductions and forced disappearances, and targeted operations which have taken on a systematic and punitive character; condemning the situation of women, particularly targeted in such punitive operations; deploring the continued impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of such crimes; condemning the systematic abuses committed and obstructive measures taken by the Russian army against human rights defenders in the exercise of their activities, obstruction and violation of the freedom of the press and the threats against people lodging complaints with the European Court of Human Rights; and calling for an immediate start to political negotiations between the parties to the conflict with a view to finally finding a peaceful solution to the conflict;
   - Turkmenistan, condemning the violent repression of any form of press freedom and political conviction;
   - Zimbabwe, condemning the Mugabe regime for its relentless and brutal oppression of an impoverished and starving people, its systematic subversion of judicial, press and individual freedom, and its destruction of a once successful economy; calling upon responsible authorities in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe's neighbours to use their power and influence to ensure that the forthcoming elections (on 31 March 2005) are held in accordance with international principles and norms and in the presence of a robust international monitoring mission; and calling upon the UN Security Council to intervene decisively in the Zimbabwean crisis should the regime fail to uphold the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights throughout the forthcoming election period;
   - Uzbekistan, condemning the outlawing of religious groups in particular and the serious interference with activities of political parties;
   - Afghanistan, recognising the need to support the elected new government; condemning violations of human rights, the taking of hostages, their ill-treatment and execution; and asking that allegations of human rights violations and war crimes committed over the last decade be investigated and the perpetrators held to account;
   - Sudan, calling on all parties to the Darfur conflict to immediately cease all violence and attacks, refrain from forcible relocation of civilians, cooperate with international humanitarian relief and monitoring efforts, ensure that their members comply with international humanitarian law, facilitate the safety and security of humanitarian staff, and fully cooperate with the UN Commission of Inquiry investigations into violations of international humanitarian law and human rights, allowing it to also confirm whether acts of genocide have occurred and to identify perpetrators of such violations; calling on the UN Security Council to seriously consider a global arms embargo on Sudan and other targeted sanctions against those responsible for massive abuses of human rights and other atrocities in view of recent breaches of ceasefire and peace process commitments, and to ensure that any such sanctions do not add to the suffering of the population of Sudan; welcoming the signature on 9 January 2005 of the peace agreement between the Khartoum government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army and looking forward to its rapid and complete implementation;

5.  Calls on the Council to support the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to scrutinise Nepal's human rights record;

6.  Calls on the EU to issue a public statement conveying to the Chinese Government its deep concern about the repeated violations of human rights;

7.  Calls, following the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, and its validation by the General Assembly, for the adoption of a resolution calling for international law to be applied so that Israel's violation of its international obligations ceases, namely through the suspension of construction of the wall on lands that are on the West-Bank side of the internationally recognised 'green line' between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, its dismantling and the repeal of all legal or regulatory acts relating to its construction, and also so that third countries honour their obligations by refraining from supporting the building of the wall; calls on the Council and the Commission to intensify their efforts to achieve a just and lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East through the negotiation of a firm and final peace agreement as laid out in the Roadmap for Peace, without prior conditions, based on the existence of two democratic and sovereign states - Israel and Palestine - coexisting peacefully side by side within secure and recognised frontiers; reaffirms its commitment to the creation of a viable sovereign Palestinian state in 2005;

Thematic issues

8.  Calls on the Presidency to sponsor or co-sponsor resolutions on:

   - civil and political rights: protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism; racism; the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world; the questions of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, freedom of expression, the independence of the judiciary, impunity and religious intolerance; the rights of the child, with an emphasis on full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and particularly the dramatic plight of children in armed conflicts and violence against children; the rights of women and girls need for protection against the use of rape as a 'tool of war' in conflict situations; the right to reproductive health; migrant workers, minorities and displaced persons; indigenous peoples; disappearances and summary executions; human rights defenders; freedom of the press and protection of journalists; protection of internally displaced persons; modern forms of slavery (namely in the field of child labour, trafficking in people and trafficking in human organs); and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity; and the responsibilities of transnational corporations and related business enterprises with regard to human rights;
   - economic, social and cultural rights: the right to development; the right to food; extreme poverty; the Additional Protocol to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; businesses and human rights; and disability, race, age and religion;

9.  Calls on the EU to continue to support the Working Group on the Right to Development in its efforts to develop a clear methodology for the implementation of the right to development;

10.  Calls on the Presidency and the Council fully to support the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, established by the Commission on Human Rights in 2004;

11.  Recalls, in line with the 1986 UN Declaration recognising the right to sustainable development as an inalienable human right, the EU commitment to promote an international economic order based on equality, sovereignty, interdependence and mutual interest; calls on the EU to focus on the need for development at the next WTO negotiations due to take place in December 2005 in Hong Kong;

12.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to take all the necessary measures to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, especially those of eradicating poverty, widespread hunger, gender inequality, environmental deterioration and lack of education, health care and clean water;

13.  13- Reiterates its request to the Presidency to continue its efforts in favour of the Brazilian initiative on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity by gathering other countries' support for a resolution on this problem.

14.  Calls on the Council, the Member States and the Commission to strengthen the activities of the UNCHR as well as those of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and the Protection of Human Rights dedicated to indigenous issues, in particular those of its Working Group on Indigenous Populations;

15.  Calls on the Presidency, the Council and the Member States to give unequivocal support to the draft resolution from the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (Sub-Commission resolution 2004/17) to the 61st session of the Commission on Human Rights proposing a study on discrimination based on work and descent, and the development of a draft set of principles and guidelines for the elimination of caste-based discrimination in a comprehensive response to a massive and systematic human rights problem that affects the lives of an estimated 260 million people around the world;

16.  Welcomes the work of the inter-sessional open-ended working group of the UNCHR in charge of preparing a draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance; and supports the drafting of a convention on protection and assistance for victims of terrorist attacks; calls on the UNCHR to adopt, as a matter of priority, a draft convention on the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance; and urges the Council and all governments of Member States to support both working groups, with a view to early adoption of the convention by the General Assembly of the United Nations;

17.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to give due attention to the question of impunity in respect of violations of international human rights, war crimes and humanitarian law;

18.  Calls on the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression to look specifically at the issue of journalists in areas of conflict and the dangers and threats facing them; calls, in this respect, on the Commission on Human Rights to instruct its Sub-Commission to give careful consideration to this issue and draw up new standards or guidelines aimed at ensuring that the rights and fundamental freedoms of journalists working in areas of conflict are fully respected;

19.  Recalls that 2005 is the 10th anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women and should constitute an important occasion to advance the human rights of women worldwide;

20.  Calls on the EU to support the full integration of a gender perspective throughout the United Nations system;

21.  Welcomes the fact that, from 1997 onwards, on the initiative of the European Union, the UNCHR has adopted a resolution calling for an end to the death penalty or for its application to be limited as much as possible; calls for action to be taken in favour of renewal of that resolution during the 61st session of the UNCHR;

22.  Calls on the Member States to ratify the UN Migrant Workers' Convention and to support the universal ratification thereof; calls, in this respect, on the EU to strongly support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants;

23.  Calls on the Commission, the Council, the Presidency and the Member States to do their utmost to ensure that the UN General Assembly adopts at its next session a resolution establishing a worldwide moratorium on capital executions as a first step towards the universal abolition of the death penalty;

24.  Expresses its concern, however, about the risks of a slow-down or even a reversal of the abolitionist tendency, and calls on all States that retain the death penalty to act in accordance with Resolution 2004/L94 adopted at the 60th session of the UNCHR;

25.  Calls on the EU to ensure that the omnibus resolution on torture strongly reaffirms that no state may expel, return or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that this person would be in danger of being subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;

26.  Calls on the Presidency to sponsor a resolution calling on the US to immediately clarify the situation of the prisoners in Guantánamo and in other locations i n respect of international human rights standards and humanitarian law, and recalls its positions on the dramatic situation of the prisoners in Guantánamo, reiterated through several resolutions;

27.  Reaffirms that, through its development and trade policy, the EU has an important role to play in eroding the support base for terrorist networks and movements through its focus on poverty reduction, land reform, governance and the fight against corruption;

28.  Calls on the EU to support the setting-up of an UN special monitoring mechanism on human rights and counter-terrorism to examine the effect of counter-terrorism measures, laws and practices on human rights and to make recommendations to states on respecting human rights while combating terrorism;

29.  Calls on the Presidency to make efforts to progress towards the creation of an 'International Arms Exports Treaty', taking note of Parliament's resolution of 17 November 2004 on the Council's Fifth Annual Report according to Operative Provision 8 of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports(4) ;

30.  Continues to support wholeheartedly the process towards a new International Convention on the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities; encourages the Council and the Commission to play a leading role in order to achieve a comprehensive Convention at the earliest opportunity, which will ensure equal and effective enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities throughout the world; calls on the EU Presidency to take account of Parliament's resolution of 3 September 2003 on the UN Convention(5) when representing the EU in the negotiations within the UN ad hoc committee responsible for drafting the UN Convention; reminds the Council and the Commission to continue and increase the dialogue with the representative disabled people's organisations;

Efficient functioning of human rights instruments and mechanisms

31.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to work towards the universal ratification of all human rights instruments;

32.  Welcomes the work done by the European Union in favour of the universal ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and calls on the Union to continue its work; calls, in particular, on the United States to ratify this Statute and not to negotiate a special status for its military personnel which would guarantee them a form of 'international immunity';

33.  Calls on the Commission to provide for sufficient budgetary funds in order to ensure the promotion and follow-up of the Sana'a process;

34.  Calls on the Presidency and Member States to request that, as a prerequisite for membership of the UNCHR, governments should have ratified core human rights treaties, complied with their reporting obligations, issued open invitations to the UN human rights experts and endeavoured to implement their recommendations;

35.  Urges the Council and the Member States to ensure that all recommendations outlined in the experts' reports, aimed at improving the promotion of human rights within the Commission on Human Rights as well as protecting this Commission, be taken into account and followed up in the reform process;

36.  Calls, in particular, on new members and the Chair of the UNCHR to use their term on the UNCHR to demonstrate their commitment to human rights by taking concrete steps to improve respect for human rights in their countries;

37.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to support the UN in its efforts to send human rights Special Rapporteurs, according to their terms of reference, to countries where human rights violations are taking place, in particular countries which have close ties with the EU;

38.  Calls on the Presidency and the Member States to sponsor or co-sponsor a resolution to strengthen the special procedures of the UNCHR, including through allocating adequate resources to assist their effective functioning;

39.  Deplores the deterioration in certain UNCHR debates, which concentrate solely on support for countries accused of human rights violations, and calls on the Presidency and the Member States to step up the number of joint or individual declarations, as well as questions and declarations following the reports of the Special Procedures;

40.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to monitor carefully the procedures and decisions taken by the UN Committee on NGOs in order to prevent and avoid any violation of the fundamental freedom of expression of NGOs inside the UNCHR;

41.  Calls on the Council Presidency to sponsor or co-sponsor a resolution to create an effective system for monitoring and evaluating the implementation by governments of recommendations from the UNCHR and the Special Procedures in order to achieve greater accountability by States;

42.  Encourages the EU to respond to the call by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in her 2005 Annual Appeal, to ensure appropriate resources for her Office's work in servicing the Commission on Human Rights and its Sub-Commission, and for supporting the treaty bodies and the special procedures;

Preparation and follow-up of the 61st session of the UNCHR

43.  Reaffirms the need for a coordinated, concerted and well prepared approach on the part of the European Union prior to, during and after the 61st UNCHR session so as to ensure an efficient and effective contribution to its proceedings;

44.  Asks its Conference of Presidents to establish an ad hoc delegation of Members of the European Parliament to attend the 61st session of the UNCHR;

45.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to report back in full to Parliament in plenary session on the outcome of the UNCHR no later than May 2005; and points out that their report should outline in detail not only the issues on which the EU and its Member States sponsored or co-sponsored resolutions and the range of actions taken by the EU during the UNCHR session, but also when and why such sponsoring was not undertaken;

o   o

46.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the governments of the countries mentioned in this resolution.

(1) OJ C 131 E, 5.6.2003, p. 147.
(2) Texts Adopted, P5_TA(2004)0376.
(3) Texts Adopted, P5_TA(2004)0037.
(4) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2004)0058.
(5) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2004, p. 231.

Last updated: 29 August 2005Legal notice