EU record on human rights protection in 2006 under scrutiny

30 2007

EU record on human rights protection in 2006 under scrutiny

The Foreign Affairs Committee adopted its annual report on human rights in the world on Tuesday. Focusing on the situation in 2006, the report looks at EU policies on breaches of human rights, criticises EU action in the area and makes specific recommendations.

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EU Dichiarazione del Consiglio su Ladysilvia; The report, drawn up by Simon Coveney (EPP-ED, IE), says China's human rights record is still a matter of "serious concern" and should thus "receive more focus in the build-up to the Beijing Olympic games". Members urge the Council and Commission "to raise the question of Tibet" in talks with the Beijing government. The Union's trade relations with Beijing, they add, should be contingent upon human rights reform.

Expressing its "deep concern regarding the deterioration of the human rights situation" in Iran the committee "calls on the Council to express concern [...] in all its contacts with the Iranian government". It also calls on the Commission to use the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) to promote cooperation with Iranian civil society.

The committee strongly criticises the Russian government, over the situation in Chechnya, the treatment of human rights defenders, and freedom of expression. It deplores legislation limiting the activities of NGOs. It is "appalled" at the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and expects Russia to take better measures "to protect freedom of expression and the security of journalists". There is also concern about allegations of surrounding the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and of the mistreatment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky in prison. The committee "urges the Commission and Council to raise such cases with the Russian authorities at the highest level and in the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Russia"

"Regretting" that the EU has not taken "more unilateral action" to persuade the Sudanese government to accept an international peacekeeping force in Darfur, the report urges the EU to back "an international peacekeeping force" and "the enforcement of the no-fly zone over Darfur". The Council, it goes on to say, should agree "a plan of specific, targeted sanctions to be imposed on the Khartoum regime [...] in the event of non-compliance with the demands of the international community."

Criticism of EU action on human rights

The report is critical of some EU activity in the area of human rights. It asks the Council to explain “how it was possible for Belarus to be elected onto the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in June 2005.” It also notes “with total stupefaction” the provisional suspension by ECHO of humanitarian aid for Iraq, despite “the disastrous situation afflicting the suffering Iraqi people and Iraqi refugees."

The committee notes that the Union, in its texts, attempts “to link immigration and development and ensure that the fundamental rights of immigrants are respected”. However, “the reality on the ground gives the lie to the texts”: readmission agreements are being concluded with third countries “that do not have the legal and institutional machinery needed in order to handle the readmission of nationals and protect their rights.

MEPs note that although the new United Nations Human Rights Council “has the potential to develop into a valuable framework for the EU's multilateral human rights efforts", it has proven to be "ineffectual in responding appropriately to human rights crises" due to "the use of the UNHRC by many states as a forum for political pressure instead of the promotion of human rights". (para 18) The committee urges Member States “not to support” countries which have been shown to commit “gross and systematic” human rights violations as candidates for high-ranking positions in international forums.

Supporting human rights defenders

The report includes a series of recommendations to the Council and Commission. Both institutions, it insists, should raise the situation of human rights defenders systematically in all political dialogues (para 60). EU missions ought to “reach out to local human rights defenders in a more proactive manner”, while the Council should take steps "to facilitate the issuing of visas for all human rights defenders". Future Council presidencies are asked to report back to Parliament on how its concerns have been taken into account.

Procedure: Own-initiative " Plenary vote: April, Strasbourg

ON PRESS; Ladysilvia it National Network

Committee on Foreign Affairs
Chair : Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (EPP-ED, PL)

Source by Redazione

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