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European Parliament resolution of 7 May 2009 on the Annual Report on Human Rights

May 10, 2009

European Parliament resolution of 7 May 2009 on
the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World
2008 and the European Union's policy on the matter
European Union (EU)
reliefweb.int
May 7, 2009

P6_TA(2009)0385
A6-0264/2009
(2008/2336(INI))

The European Parliament,

* having regard to the tenth European Union
Annual Report on Human Rights (2008) (Council document 14146/1/08),

* having regard to Articles 3, 6, 11, 13 and 19
of the Treaty on European Union and Articles 177 and 300 of the EC Treaty,

* having regard to the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and to all relevant international human rights instruments(1),

* having regard to the United Nations Charter,

* having regard to all United Nations human
rights conventions and the optional protocols thereto,

* having regard to regional human rights
instruments, including in particular the African
Charter on Human and Peoples" Rights, the
Optional Protocol on the Rights of Women in
Africa, the American Convention on Human Rights
and the Arab Charter on Human Rights,

* having regard to its resolution of 15 January
2009 on the situation in the Gaza Strip(2) and
the conclusions of the General Affairs and
External Relations Council of 27 January 2009 on the Middle East Peace Process,

* having regard to the entry into force on 1 July
2002 of the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court (ICC) and to Parliament's resolutions related to the ICC(3),

* having regard to the Council of Europe
Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human
Beings and the 2005 European Union plan on best
practices, standards and procedures for combating
and preventing trafficking in human beings(4),

* having regard to Protocol No 13 to the European
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), concerning the
abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances,

* having regard to the United Nations Convention
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Convention against Torture),

* having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,

* having regard to the United Nations Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women and the optional protocol thereto,

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

* having regard to the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement and its revision(6) ,

* having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1889/2006
of the European Parliament and of the Council of
20 December 2006 on establishing a financing
instrument for the promotion of democracy and
human rights worldwide(7) (the European
Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights or EIDHR),

* having regard to its previous resolutions on human rights in the world,

* having regard to its resolutions on the fifth
and seventh sessions of the United Nations Human
Rights Council (UNHRC), adopted on 7 June 2007(8)
and 21 February 2008(9) respectively, and on the
outcome of the negotiations on the UNHRC,

* having regard to its resolution of 14 February
2006 on the human rights and democracy clause in
European Union agreements(10) ,

* having regard to its resolutions of 1 February
2007(11) and 26 April 2007(12) on the initiative
for a universal moratorium on the death penalty
and to United Nations General Assembly Resolution
62/149 of 18 December 2007 on a moratorium on the use of death penalty,

* having regard to its resolution of 20 September
2001 on female genital mutilation(13) , which
affirms that any form of such mutilation, of
whatever degree, is an act of violence against
women and constitutes a violation of their fundamental rights,

* having regard to its resolution of 6 September
2007 on the functioning of the human rights
dialogues and consultations on human rights with
third countries(14), including women's rights
which are to be explicitly addressed in all human rights dialogues,

* having regard to its resolution of 4 September
2008 on the evaluation of EU sanctions as part of
the EU's actions and policies in the area of human rights(15),

* having regard to its resolution of 16 January
2008 on "Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child"(16) ,

* having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2006
on freedom of expression on the Internet(17) ,

* having regard to all resolutions adopted by it
on urgent cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law,

* having regard to the European Union NGO Human
Rights Forum, held in Lisbon in December 2007,

* having regard to the United Nations Convention
on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which
was signed by the European Community and the
majority of its Member States on 30 March 2007
and which lays down an obligation to incorporate
the interests and concerns of persons with
disabilities in human rights actions towards third countries,

* having regard to the United Nations Declaration
on Human Rights Defenders and the activities of
the Special Representative of the United Nations
Secretary-General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders,

* having regard to the International Convention
for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance, adopted in December 2006,

* having regard to the European Union Guidelines
on promoting compliance with international
humanitarian law (IHL)(18) , on children and
armed conflict and on human rights defenders, as
well as on the death penalty, torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, human
rights dialogues with third countries, promotion
and protection of the rights of the child,
violence against women and the fight against all
forms of discrimination against women,

* having regard to its resolution of 8 May 2008
on EU election observation missions: objectives,
practices and future challenges(19),

* having regard to its resolution of 14 January
2009 on the development of the UN Human Rights
Council, including the role of the EU(20),

* having regard to Rules 45 and 112(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

* having regard to the report of the Committee on
Foreign Affairs (A6-0264/2009),

A. whereas human rights and the protection of
those rights rely on recognition of the dignity
of the human person; whereas it should be
recalled in this connection that the opening
words of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights read: "recognition of the inherent dignity
and of the equal and inalienable rights of all
members of the human family is the foundation of
freedom, justice and peace in the world",

B. whereas justice, freedom, democracy and the
rule of law arise out of an authentic recognition
of the dignity of the human person, and whereas
such recognition is the foundation of all human rights,

C. whereas the tenth European Union Annual Report
on Human Rights (2008) produced by the Council
and the Commission provides a general overview of
the activities of the EU institutions regarding
human rights inside and outside the European Union,

D. whereas this resolution sets out to examine,
evaluate and, in specific cases, offer
constructive criticism of the human rights
activities of the Commission, the Council and Parliament,

E. whereas the European Union's internal human
rights record has a direct impact on its
credibility and ability to implement an effective external human rights policy,

F. whereas efforts must be made to focus greater
attention on respect for basic human rights, in
particular political rights, in the negotiation
and implementation of bilateral or regional trade
agreements, even those concluded with important trading partners,

G. whereas it is necessary to respect the human
rights clauses in the agreements signed by the EU
and its third-country partners,

H. whereas policies promoting human rights remain
under threat in various regions of the world, as
the violation of human rights inevitably goes
hand in hand with an effort by their violators to
reduce the impact of any policy promoting them,
particularly in countries where human rights
violations are crucial in maintaining a non-democratic government in power,

1. Considers that the EU needs to move towards a
coherent and consistent policy of upholding and
promoting human rights around the world, and
stresses the need to conduct such a policy more effectively;

2. Reiterates its conviction that, in order to
effect an improvement in the promotion of human
rights, the EU's common foreign and security
policy (CFSP) needs to be strengthened, and that
it is necessary to ensure that the promotion of
human rights as a main objective of the CFSP, as
outlined in Article 11 of the Treaty on European
Union, is strictly implemented in the EU's
dialogues and institutional relations with all the countries of the world;

3. Calls on the Council and the Commission to
make greater efforts to improve the ability of
the European Union to respond rapidly to breaches
of human rights by third countries; stresses the
key role played by the EU in the sphere of human
rights in today's world and the corresponding
increased expectations; calls for a common EU
human rights line both in its external policy and within its own borders;

4. Calls for continued maximum vigilance as
regards respect for the human rights clauses in
the agreements signed by the EU and its
third-country partners, and for such clauses to
be included systematically in future agreements;
points out that the human rights clause, by
virtue of being an essential element, should
apply to all the provisions of the agreement;
reiterates its call for this clause to be
systematically accompanied by a genuine enforcement mechanism;

The European Union Annual Report on Human Rights 2008

5. Underlines the relevance of the European Union
Annual Report on Human Rights in analysing and
evaluating the European Union's human rights
policy, and recognises the positive role played
by the EU institutions" activities in this field;

6. Reiterates its request that more and better
information should be provided for the assessment
of policies and that elements and guidelines
should be proposed to improve the general
approach, minimise any contradictions and adjust
the policy priorities on a country-by-country
basis, with a view to the adoption of a Country
Strategy on human rights or, at least, a human
rights chapter in the Country Strategy Papers;
reiterates its call for a regular periodic
assessment of the use and the results of European
Union policies, instruments and initiatives on
human rights in third countries; calls on the
Council and the Commission to develop specific
quantifiable indices and benchmarks in order to
measure the effectiveness of those policies;

7. Welcomes the public presentation of the 2008
Report by the Council and the Commission at the
meeting of Parliament's Subcommittee on Human
Rights held on 4 November 2008, coinciding with
the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, and its
presentation in plenary on the same day as the
award of its annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Hu Jia from China;

8. Calls once again on the Council and the
Commission to identify the "countries of
particular concern" where it is particularly
difficult to promote human rights, as well as
countries in which human rights are violated,
and, to that end, to develop criteria by which to
measure countries by reference to their human
rights score, thereby enabling specific policy priorities to be established;

9. Calls on the Council and Commission to make
greater efforts to disseminate their annual
report on human rights and ensure it reaches as
large a public as possible; also calls for public
information campaigns aimed at raising the EU's profile in this field;

10. Calls on the Council and Commission to carry
out regular social impact and awareness studies
regarding the Union's action in the field of human rights;

11. Considers that the report shows that the EU,
despite the inquiries undertaken in some Member
States, has not carried out an evaluation of
Member States" practices in relation to the
anti-terrorism policies followed by the US
Administration under the Bush presidency;

12. In accordance with the resolution unanimously
adopted by the Peruvian Congress in April 2008,
calls on the Council to envisage inclusion of the
Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru (MRTA) on
the European list of terrorist organisations;

13. Stresses that, in the eyes of large segments
of public opinion worldwide, immigration policy
represents a challenge for the credibility of the
EU's external action in the field of human rights,

Council and Commission activities in the area of
human rights in international forums

14. Considers that a quantitative and qualitative
improvement of the Council's human rights
secretariat would enable the European Union to
further raise its profile in promoting and
ensuring respect for human rights in its external
policy; expects that a future appointment of a
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and
Security Policy, who would also be a
Vice-President of the Commission, would
considerably enhance the coherence and
effectiveness of the EU if the Lisbon Treaty were to enter into force;

15. Considers it essential that, given the
importance of human rights issues in conflict and
post-conflict situations, all European Union
special representatives should in future have a
mandate which specifically mentions promoting and
ensuring respect for human rights;

16. Reiterates its request to the Commission to
encourage European Union Member States, and third
countries with which there are ongoing
negotiations for future accession or for
strengthening relations, to sign up to, and
ratify, all core United Nations and Council of
Europe human rights conventions and the optional
protocols thereto and to cooperate with
international human rights procedures and
mechanisms; calls specifically for a framework
agreement to be concluded between the European
Union and the UNHCR with a view to promoting the
ratification and implementation of United Nations
conventions by all Member States;

17. Calls on the Council and the Commission to
continue their vigorous efforts to promote
universal ratification of the Rome Statute and
national implementing legislation, in conformity
with Council Common Position 2003/444/CFSP of 16
June 2003 on the International Criminal Court(21)
and the 2004 Action Plan to follow-up on the
Common Position; requests that such efforts be
extended to include ratification and
implementation of the Agreement on the Privileges
and Immunities of the ICC, which is an important
operational tool for the ICC; welcomes the fact
that the ratifications of the Rome Statute by
Madagascar, the Cook Islands and Suriname in 2008
brought the total number of States Parties to 108
in July 2008; demands that the Czech Republic, as
the only remaining EU Member State not to have
ratified the Rome Statute, finally do so without
further delay(22) ; urges Romania to rescind its
Bilateral Immunity Agreement with the United States;

18. Asks all EU Presidencies to raise the
importance of cooperation with the ICC in all EU
summits and dialogues with third countries,
including in the EU-Russia summit and the
EU-China dialogues, and urges all EU Member
States to step up cooperation with the Court and
to conclude bilateral agreements on the
enforcement of sentences, as well as on the
protection of witnesses and victims; further
acknowledges the Cooperation and Assistance
Agreement between the EU and the ICC and, on that
basis, calls on the European Union and its Member
States to provide the Court with all necessary
assistance, including field support, in its
ongoing cases; within that framework, welcomes
the assistance of Belgium and Portugal in the
arrest and surrender to the ICC of Jean-Pierre Bemba in May 2008;

19. Calls for prompt ratification by the European
Community and its Member States of the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities; insists that the Optional Protocol
to the Convention should be regarded as an
integral part thereof, and calls for simultaneous
accession to the Convention and the Protocol(23) ;

20. Emphasises the need to strengthen further the
active involvement of the European Union and its
Member States with respect to human rights and
democracy issues as regards their participation
in a variety of international forums in 2009,
including in the work of the UNHRC, the United
Nations General Assembly, the Ministerial Council
of the Organization for Security and Co-operation
in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe;

21. Welcomes the Human Rights Defenders
Conference financed by the EIDHR, which took
place in the European Parliament in Brussels on
7-8 October 2008, as a major inter-institutional
initiative by the European Parliament, the
Commission and the United Nations, marking the
60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

22. Welcomes the cooperation between the European
Union and the Council of Europe taking place
within the framework of a Memorandum of
Understanding signed in May 2007; welcomes the
fact that quadripartite meetings were held on 23
October 2007 and 10 March 2008 between the EU
Presidency, the Commission, the Secretary General
of the Council of Europe and the Chair of the
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe;
reaffirms the importance of further promoting
cooperation in the field of human rights, the
rule of law and pluralist democracy, which are
the shared values of both those organisations and of all the EU Member States;

23. Welcomes the agreement signed on 18 June 2008
between the Commission and the Council of Europe
concerning cooperation in the EU Agency for
Fundamental Rights; points out that the agreement
includes provisions on the organisation of
regular meetings, exchange of information and coordination of activities;

24. Welcomes the fact that the Convention on
Cluster Munitions was adopted by the Dublin
Diplomatic Conference, which took place from 19
to 30 May 2008; is concerned that not all
European Union Member States signed the treaty at
the Signing Conference in Oslo on 3 December
2008, and asks them to do so as soon as
possible(24) ; notes that the Convention imposes
an immediate and unconditional ban on all cluster
munitions which cause unacceptable harm to civilians;

25. Welcomes the cooperation of Serbia in the
arrest and transfer of Radovan Karadžic' to the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia (ICTY); notes with concern that Ratko
Mladic' and Goran Hadžic' remain at large and
have not been brought before the ICTY; in this
regard, calls on the Serbian authorities to
ensure full cooperation with the ICTY, which
should lead to the arrest and transfer of all
remaining indictees, in order to open the way to
the ratification of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement;

26. Urges all Member States to collaborate fully
in international criminal justice mechanisms, and
especially in bringing fugitives to justice;
notes with great concern the persistent failure
of Sudan to arrest and transfer to the ICC Ahmad
Muhammad Harun ("Ahmad Harun") and Ali Muhammad
Ali Abd-Al-Rahman ("Ali Kushayb"), in disregard
of its obligations under UN Security Council
Resolution 1593 (2005); strongly condemns the
retaliation by Sudan following the issuing of an
ICC warrant for the arrest of President
al-Bashir, and expresses its deepest concern at
the recent crackdown on human rights defenders,
which led in June 2008 to the arrest of Mohammed
el-Sari, who has been sentenced to imprisonment
for 17 years for having collaborated with the
ICC; welcomes the release of Hassan al-Turabi,
leader of the main opposition group, the Popular
Congress Party, after two months of custody, for
his statement calling on President al-Bashir to
assume political responsibility for the crimes
committed in Darfur; finally, recalls its
resolution of 22 May 2008 on Sudan and the
International Criminal Court(25) and calls once
again on the EU Presidencies and the Member
States to live up to and act on their own words
as expressed in the EU declaration of March 2008
and the Council conclusions on Sudan of June
2008, stating that the EU "stands ready to
consider measures against individuals responsible
for not cooperating with the ICC, should the
obligation under the UNSC Resolution 1593 on
cooperation with the ICC continue to be disregarded";

27. Welcomes the opening on 26 January 2009 of
the first ever trial at the ICC, against Thomas
Lubanga of the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), and notes that it represents the first
trial in the history of international criminal
law to see the active participation of victims in
the proceedings; in that context, urges the ICC
to intensify its outreach efforts with a view to
engaging communities in countries in crisis
situations in a process of constructive
interaction with the ICC, designed to promote
understanding and support for its mandate, to
manage expectations and to enable those
communities to follow and understand the
international criminal justice process; welcomes
the cooperation of the DRC in the transfer of
Thomas Lubanga, Germain Katanga and Mathieu
Ngudjolo to the ICC; however, deplores the fact
that the ICC warrant for the arrest of Bosco
Ntaganda has not yet been executed, and calls on
the upcoming meetings of the General Affairs and
External Relations Council to demand the
immediate arrest and surrender of Bosco Ntaganda
to the ICC; notes with concern that the already
volatile situation in the DRC has recently been
further destabilised by new attacks by the Lord's
Resistance Army (LRA), which brutally massacred
at least 620 civilians and abducted more than 160
children between 24 December 2008 and 13 January
2009 in northern DRC; therefore emphasises the
need to arrest LRA commanders as a matter of
urgency, as demanded in Parliament's resolution
of 21 October 2008 on the indictment and bringing
to trial of Joseph Kony at the International
Criminal Court(26) ; notes with concern that the
ICC warrants for the arrest of four members of
the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda have still not been executed;

28. Notes with satisfaction the first promising
statements on the ICC by the new US
administration, acknowledging that the ICC "looks
to become an important and credible instrument
for trying to hold accountable the senior
leadership responsible for atrocities committed
in the Congo, Uganda, and Darfur"(27) , and calls
on the USA to reinstate its signature and further
engage with the ICC, especially by cooperating in
situations which are the subject of an ICC
investigation or preliminary analysis;

29. Notes once again with satisfaction the
adoption by the United Nations General Assembly
of the Declaration on the rights of indigenous
peoples, which creates a framework in which
States can protect and promote the rights of
indigenous people without exclusion or
discrimination; urges the Commission, therefore,
to follow up on the implementation of the
declaration, in particular through the EIDHR,
while in particular enjoining all the Member
States to ratify as a matter of urgency
International Labour Organization (ILO)
Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples,
which backs up the principles set out in the
declaration in question with a legally binding
instrument; however, welcomes the Commission's
activities targeting indigenous peoples and
welcomes the project entitled "Promotion of
Indigenous and Tribal Peoples" Rights through
Legal Advice, Capacity-Building and Dialogue",
initiated as a joint management project between
the Commission and the ILO; notes that, almost
twenty years after its entry into force, only
three Member States have ratified the ILO
Convention, namely Denmark, the Netherlands and
Spain; consequently, encourages initiatives to
increase awareness of this important legislative
instrument and to enhance its effectiveness
worldwide by ensuring that it is ratified by all the Member States;

30. Reiterates its call for the development of a
European framework strategy on Roma, given the
special social situation of Roma communities in
the European Union, in the candidate countries
and in the countries involved in the
Stabilisation and Association process; notes with
satisfaction the Commission's first "EU-Roma
Summit", which took place in September 2008 under
the joint patronage of the President of the
Commission and the French Presidency, aiming to
promote a firm commitment to tackling concrete
problems and to creating mechanisms through which
to ensure a better understanding of the situation of Roma across Europe;

31. Welcomes the consensus reached in the Durban
Review Conference on an outcome document on 21
April 2009 as a follow-up to the World Conference
Against Racism, which inter alia fully protects
the right to freedom of expression as defined
under international law, affirms and strengthens
the call for the protection of migrants' rights,
and acknowledges multiple and aggravated forms of
discrimination; condemns the speech of President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which contradicted the
spirit and purpose of the conference, namely to
defeat the scourge of racism; welcomes the
substantive sessions of the UNHRC acting as the
preparatory committee for the Durban Review
Conference, which took place from 21 April to 2
May 2008 and from 6 to 17 October 2008;

32. Is disappointed at the lack of leadership on
the part of the Council and the inability of
Member States to agree on a common strategy at
the Durban Review Conference against Racism,
Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related
Intolerance held in Geneva from 20 to 24 April
2009 (Durban II); deeply deplores the lack of
unity and cooperation, in particular against the
backdrop of the expected intensification of EU
foreign policies under the new EU Treaty; calls
on the Commission and, notably, the Council to
explain to Parliament whether an EU strategy was
planned and what efforts were made to find a
common line, and to report on what happened and
on the implications of the outcome of Durban II;

33. Welcomes the second European Forum on the
Rights of the Child organised by the Commission
in March 2008, which focused on the matter of
child alert mechanisms for missing children and
on the issues of child poverty and social
exclusion, with special attention to Roma children;

34. Welcomes the European Year of Intercultural
Dialogue 2008, which was initiated by the
Commission and established by decisions of the
European Parliament and the Council; reiterates
that intercultural dialogue has an increasingly
important role to play in fostering European
identity and citizenship; urges the Member States
and the Commission to bring forward strategies to
foster intercultural dialogue, to promote, within
their spheres of competence, the objectives of
the Alliance of Civilisations, and to maintain
their political support for that Alliance;

The United Nations Human Rights Council

35. Welcomes the work of the UNHRC and stresses
its crucial role within the overall UN
architecture and its potential to develop a
valuable framework for the European Union's
multilateral human rights efforts; notes that
this new body has to keep working in order to gain more credibility;

36. Stresses that the role of civil society
organisations is indispensable for the efficiency of the UNHRC;

37. Welcomes the start of the Universal Periodic
Review and the first round of the review, which
took place in April and May 2008 and ended with
adoption of the outcome reports by the UNHRC's
plenary in June 2008; notes that the
implementation of the first two cycles of the new
mechanism confirmed the Universal Periodic
Review's potential, and trusts that the
implementation of the Universal Periodic Review
mechanism will achieve further concrete results
and improvements; calls on the Council and the
Commission closely to follow and monitor the
undertakings of the Universal Periodic Review,
and calls on the Council to consult Parliament on this matter;

38. Notes that, as the Annual Report points out,
EU Member States are in a minority in the UNHRC;
calls on the EU institutions and the Member
States to take concerted action to remedy this,
developing appropriate alliances with those
countries and non-state actors that are
continuing to defend the universal and indivisible nature of human rights;

39. In this regard, calls on the Council and the
Commission to strengthen their engagement with
democratic governments from other regional groups
within the UNHRC, with a view to improving the
chance of success of initiatives aimed at respect
for the principles contained in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights; asks the Commission
to provide an annual report on voting patterns at
the UN in matters concerning human rights,
analysing how these have been affected by the
policies of the EU and of its Member States and those of other blocs;

40. Calls for enhanced cooperation between the
Council of Europe and the European Union in the
field of promoting minority rights and protecting
regional and minority languages, using the legal
tools of non-discrimination to advocate diversity and tolerance;

41. Reaffirms the vital importance of the special
procedures and country mandates within the UNHRC;
considers that the process for the renewal of
mandates must be transparent; welcomes the new
manual of the UN special procedures and insists
that efforts should continue to appoint
independent and experienced candidates who are
properly representative, both geographically and
in terms of gender; notes the recent developments
in the thematic and country mandates; welcomes
the newly established thematic mandates, dealing
with contemporary forms of slavery and access to
safe drinking water and sanitation; welcomes the
fact that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur
on the situation of human rights in Sudan has been extended until June 2009;

42. Welcomes the fact that the EU initiated the
holding of a special UNHRC session on Burma in
October 2007, which culminated in the adoption of
a resolution in June 2008 condemning the ongoing
systematic violations of human rights and the
recruitment of child soldiers in Burma and urging
the Burmese Government unconditionally to release
all political prisoners immediately;

Performance as regards the European Union human rights guidelines

43. Considers that, despite the delay in final
ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the
preparations for the creation of the new European
External Action Service should be used
proactively to harmonise the approaches of the
missions of Member States and the Commission
abroad in the area of human rights, by sharing
structures and staff so as to create genuine "European Union embassies";

44. Takes note of the Slovenian and French
Presidencies" drive to finalise European Union
human rights guidelines on the rights of the
child; is looking forward to receiving within the
next year drafts of the specific implementing
measures that will concentrate on implementing
the holistic and comprehensive approach which the core guidelines develop;

45. Considers that measures should be taken to
ensure that human rights issues are followed in a
more systematic way by the EU missions, for
instance by appointing human rights focal points
and including guidelines on human rights and
their implementation in EU mission staff training programmes;

Situation of women, violence against women and feminicide

46. Welcomes the new priority status given by the
French Presidency in the second half of 2008 to
women's issues in the context of the EU's action
in the field of human rights; stresses, in
particular, the need to tackle the tragic
phenomena of violence against women (including
the practice of female circumcision) and
feminicide (including the practice of gender-selective abortion);

47. Given the failure of the international
community to bring about change for the better in
Zimbabwe – a human rights catastrophe -- calls on
the Council and Member States to examine the
reasons behind this, to determine more effective
policies, and to inform Parliament what action
they intend to take, given the extent of the
relationship between the EU and its Member States
and many African countries, in particular in southern Africa;

48. Welcomes the adoption of new guidelines on 8
December 2008, thereby establishing a
comprehensive strategy for strengthening EU
action to enhance women's security, especially in
conflict-affected countries, as well as in other
countries; deplores, however, the fact that
Parliament was not more closely involved in the
drafting of those new guidelines and calls in
this regard for a mechanism to be established in
future for consultation with Parliament both when
the new guidelines are being drawn up and when
they are being assessed and revised;

49. Draws attention, none the less, to the
existing gaps in the development of the Union's
policies and actions relating to the human rights
of women; finds these gaps reflected in the
Council's report, inasmuch as, when assessing
various specific areas, it fails to go into detail;

The death penalty

50. Recalls the resolution on a moratorium on the
use of the death penalty (Resolution 62/149)
adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on
18 December 2007, calling for a global moratorium
on the use of the death penalty; stresses that
the resolution ends by calling on all United
Nations Member States to establish a moratorium
on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty;

51. Welcomes the Joint Declaration against the
death penalty, signed on 10 October 2008 by the
Presidents of the European Parliament, of the
Council and of the Commission, on behalf of the
EU, and by the President of the Parliamentary
Assembly, the Chairman of the Committee of
Ministers and the Secretary General of the
Council of Europe, on the "European Day against
the Death Penalty", which is celebrated on 10
October each year; reiterates that the
prohibition of the death penalty is one of the
key provisions of the Charter of Fundamental
Rights of the European Union, Article 2 of which
explicitly states: "No one shall be condemned to
the death penalty, or executed";

52. Welcomes the revised and updated version of
the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty;
reiterates that the EU is opposed to the death
penalty in all circumstances, and emphasises once
again that the abolition of the death penalty
contributes to the enhancement of human dignity
and the progressive development of human rights;

53. Calls on the Presidency to encourage Italy,
Latvia, Poland and Spain, which have signed but
not yet ratified Protocol No 13 to the ECHR
concerning the abolition of the death penalty in
all circumstances, to do so; recognises in that
regard that the Guidelines on the Death Penalty
could be implemented more coherently if Member
States were to sign up to and ratify such protocols and conventions;

54. Welcomes the fact that the death penalty is
in retreat, having been abolished for all crimes
in 2008 by Rwanda and Uzbekistan; welcomes the
draft penal code in Iran, which prohibits stoning
sentences, and urges the Iranian parliament to
conclude the penal code so as to provide for the
absolute prohibition of stoning; condemns the
fact that the Iranian regime still sentences to
death and executes defendants under the age of 18
(particularly those whose only "crime" under
sharia law is having committed acts of
homosexuality); stresses that Iran is the only
country to have executed juvenile offenders in
2008; is deeply concerned that at least 130 other
juvenile offenders are on death row in Iran; once
again condemns the Iranian regime's increasing
use of the death penalty, which places Iran in
second position, just after China, in the league
table of countries having the highest number of
executions; notes that there has not been any
death sentence passed in Guatemala; however,
expresses its disquiet at the possibility that
the death penalty might once again start to be
enforced; urges the Guatemalan Government, on the
contrary, to genuinely commit itself to the
universal moratorium on the death penalty;
however, welcomes the decisions taken by
President Colom in March 2008 which may lead to
the abolition of the death penalty in Guatemala;
expresses its concern at the retention of the
death penalty in domestic legislation in Peru;
notes that since 2007 all death penalty cases in
China have been reviewed by the Supreme Court;
however, remains concerned that China still
carries out the greatest number of executions
worldwide; condemns the practice of the death
penalty in Belarus, which is the only country in
Europe that continues to use the death penalty
and therefore runs counter to European values;

Torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment

55. Urges all EU Member States that have not
hitherto signed and/or ratified the Optional
Protocol to the Convention Against Torture
(OPCAT) to do so as swiftly as possible;

56. Remains concerned about the true commitment
to human rights of European Union Member States
that refuse to sign the above-mentioned
International Convention for the Protection of
All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; welcomes
the ratification of that convention by Argentina
in May 2008, and asks all EU Member States that
have not done so to sign and ratify it promptly(28) ;

57. Welcomes the revised version of the EU
Guidelines on Torture, adopted by the Council in
April 2001 and updated in 2008, the aim of which
is to provide the EU with an operational tool to
be used in contacts with third countries at all
levels as well as in multilateral human rights
forums in order to support and strengthen ongoing
efforts to prevent and eradicate torture and
ill-treatment in all parts of the world;
reiterates that the EU is firmly committed to
upholding the absolute prohibition of torture and
cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;

58. Expects the Council and the Commission to
enhance the cooperation with the Council of
Europe for the purposes of creating a Europe-wide
zone free from torture and other forms of
ill-treatment, as a clear signal that European
countries are firmly committed to eradicating
those practices within their borders in the first
place, thereby setting an example for other
countries of the world where such practices unfortunately still exist;

59. Welcomes the assessment of the EU Guidelines
on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading
Treatment or Punishment, which includes new
recommendations and implementation measures
designed to further strengthen action in this
area; notes with satisfaction the incorporation
of the recommendations contained in the study
entitled "The Implementation of the European
Union Guidelines on torture and other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment",
presented to Parliament's Subcommittee on Human
Rights on 28 June 2007 and to COHOM in December
2007; notes with satisfaction the conclusions
drawn from the examination of the implementation
of the guidelines; welcomes the implementation
measures, which are designed to provide guidance
in that regard for EU missions and Commission
delegations; in this context, welcomes the
specific criteria for action concerning
individual cases, and regrets the lack of
measures to prevent the transfer of persons to a
country where they may be at risk of torture or
other inhuman or degrading punishment; in this
regard, once again urges the EU to comply with
the norms and standards laid down by the
international and regional instruments relating to torture and ill-treatment;

60. Welcomes Resolution 62/148 on torture and
other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or
punishment, co-sponsored by the EU and adopted by
the United Nations General Assembly on 4 March
2008, recalling that freedom from torture and
other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or
punishment is a basic right that must be
protected under all circumstances; notes that the
Network of Human Rights Parliamentary Committees
of the European Union held its second meeting in
the European Parliament on 25 June 2008, with a
special focus on the fight against torture, in
the presence of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak;

61. Urges the Council and the Commission to
continue the practice of demarches in respect of
all of the European Union's international
partners as regards the ratification and
implementation of international conventions
banning the use of torture and ill-treatment, as
well as the provision of rehabilitation
assistance to torture survivors; calls on the
Council and the Commission to regard the fight
against torture and ill-treatment as a top
priority of the EU's human rights policy, in
particular through enhanced implementation of the
European Union guidelines and all other EU
instruments such as the EIDHR, and by ensuring
that Member States refrain from accepting
diplomatic assurances from third countries where
there is a real risk of people being subjected to torture or ill-treatment;

62. Notes the importance of Council Regulation
(EC) No 1236/2005 of 27 June 2005 concerning
trade in certain goods which could be used for
capital punishment, torture or other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment(29)
, which prohibits the export and import of goods
which have no practical use other than for the
purposes of capital punishment, torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment, and which entered into force on 30
July 2006; urges the Council and the Commission
to carry out an assessment of the implementation
of that Regulation by the Member States, and to
explore the possibilities for widening the scope of the Regulation;

63. Deplores the fact that there are 1 350 000
displaced persons in the DRC, including 850 000
displaced in North Kivu; emphasises once again
the need for urgent action in the form of a full
investigation aimed at bringing to justice the
perpetrators responsible for the killing of an
estimated 150 people by the CNDP (National
Congress for the Defence of the People) and Mai
Mai combatants in Kiwanja in November 2008; calls
on the governments of the DRC and Rwanda to
pledge their full support for MONUC (the UN
Mission in the DRC) in the region, in the
fulfilment of its peacekeeping mandate, and to
work towards protecting civilians in the region
from the violence and severe atrocities seen to
date; further requests the Council and the
Commission to support an investigation into the
serious violations of international humanitarian
law which are occurring on a daily basis,
including rape, extrajudicial killings and
torture, as well as the need to implement a
strong EU strategy which would help to facilitate change in the region;

64. Remains deeply concerned about the
devastating humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, the
cholera epidemic and the continued refusal of the
Mugabe regime to respond effectively to the
crisis; further calls on the Council and the
Commission to roundly condemn the actions of the
Mugabe regime and to reaffirm their commitment to
the Zimbabwean people in the form of a long-term
programme of humanitarian aid; further denounces
the intimidation and detention of human rights
defenders and members of civil society, such as
Jestina Mukoko, by the Mugabe regime, and calls
for the perpetrators of these acts to be brought to justice;

Children's rights

65. Stresses once again the crucial need to
implement the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed
Conflict; urges all States to adopt the 2007
Paris Commitments to protect children from
unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups;

66. Welcomes the updated version of those
guidelines, adopted on 16 June 2008, and notes
with satisfaction that the EU has instructed
ambassadors to devise individual strategies
regarding the 13 priority countries for the
implementation of the six new thematic issues
identified in the guidelines: recruitment,
killing and maiming, attacks on schools and
hospitals, blockage of humanitarian access,
sexual and gender-based violence and violations and abuses;

67. Welcomes the adoption in June 2008 of the
European Council conclusions on the rights of the
child, in particular children affected by armed
conflict; notes that the Council called on the
Commission and the Member States to continue to
ensure the coherence, complementarity and
coordination of human rights, security and
development policies and programmes with a view
to addressing the short, medium and long-term
impacts of armed conflict on children in an
effective, sustainable and comprehensive manner;

68. Welcomes the adoption by the EU in June 2008
of the revised checklist, which aims to integrate
the protection of children affected by armed
conflict into the European Security and Defence
Policy; notes that this includes substantive
improvements, particularly as regards the
elaboration of the definition of child
protection, specific training in respect of
children affected by armed conflict, monitoring
and reporting, improving visibility and
awareness, the possibility of having specific
expertise on the ground, and enhancing expert
communication between missions/operations and Brussels;

69. Welcomes the Presidency initiatives on
children affected by armed conflict; notes the
conference entitled "Increasing the Impact on the
Ground – NGO and EU Collaboration in the Thematic
Area of Children Affected by Armed Conflict",
organised by the Slovenian Presidency in April 2008;

70. Notes the resolution on children and armed
conflict adopted on 22 February 2008 by the UN
General Assembly and the Report of the Special
Representative of the UN Secretary-General;
strongly condemns the recruitment and use of
children in armed conflicts in Chad and Iraq;

71. Welcomes the Annual Report and conclusions of
the UN Security Council Working Group on Children
and Armed Conflict; strongly condemns the grave
violations of children's rights and the continued
use of children in the armed conflicts in Sri
Lanka, Burma, the Philippines, Somalia, Congo and Burundi;

72. Welcomes the fact that 16 EU Member
States(30) have signed the Geneva Declaration on
Armed Violence and Development, thereby bringing
the total number of States Parties to 97; urges
the remaining 11 EU Member States that have yet
not signed the Geneva Declaration to do so as swiftly as possible;

73. Calls on those Member States that have not
done so to sign and ratify without delay the
optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child(31) ;

74. Welcomes the fact that 2008 saw the launch by
the Commission, within the framework of the
thematic programme entitled "Investing in
People", of a call for proposals for projects by
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for
children affected by armed conflict and
trafficking in children; calls on the Commission
to continue to devote special attention to the
situation of children affected by armed conflict;

Human rights defenders

75. Welcomes the Human Rights Defenders
Conference held on 7-8 October 2008; reiterates
the EU's commitment to improving protection for
human rights defenders in their struggle to
realise the vision set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

76. Draws attention to the abuse and sexual
exploitation of millions of children worldwide;
asks the Council, the Commission and Member
States to do everything possible to prevent and
combat the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse
of children, to protect the rights of victims of
such exploitation and abuse, and to promote
national and international cooperation in the
fight against the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children;

77. Welcomes the Declaration on Council of Europe
action to improve the protection of human rights
defenders and promote their activities, adopted
by the Committee of Ministers on 6 February 2008;

78. Welcomes the establishment in 2006 by the
OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights (ODIHR) of a focal point for human
rights defenders for the purpose of monitoring
the human rights situation in all OSCE countries;
urges the EU institutions to strengthen their
support for human rights defenders by creating a
focal point in the European Parliament, the
Council and the Commission with a view to
improving the follow-up of individual cases and
coordination with other international and European organisations;

79. Welcomes the 2008 revised version of the EU
Guidelines on human rights defenders; highlights
the inclusion of provisions aimed at improving
the support given to, and the protection of,
human rights defenders by EU missions, such as
local strategies for the implementation of the
guidelines, local working groups on human rights
and the organisation of meetings at least once a
year between human rights defenders and
diplomats; welcomes at the same time the
inclusion of the possibility of issuing emergency
visas and facilitating temporary shelter in the
EU Member States as measures to provide swift
assistance and protection to human rights
defenders in danger in third countries;

80. Once again calls on the Council and the
Member States to consider in concrete terms the
matter of emergency visas for human rights
defenders by including a clear reference to the
specific situation of human rights defenders in
the new Community Code on Visas, thereby creating
a specific and accelerated visa procedure which
could draw on the experience of the Irish and
Spanish governments in this matter; notes the
discussion concerning the issuing of visas for
the temporary relocation of human rights
defenders who are at immediate risk or in need of
protection, and calls on COHOM to take further
steps; considers that the confidentiality of
Union demarches in favour of human rights
defenders is sometimes useful but asks that,
despite that confidentiality, Union local staff
systematically and confidentially provide all
useful information concerning those demarches to
the NGOs on the ground, to the human rights defenders and to their families;

81. Refers to the Council Conclusions on Belarus
of 13 October 2008 and the statement issued by
the Presidency on 30 September 2008 concerning
the parliamentary elections held that month in
Belarus; regrets that the elections fell short of
the international standards and failed to meet
the democratic criteria of the OSCE; welcomes the
release of the last internationally recognised
political prisoner, Alyaksandr Kazulin, before
the elections; however, remains concerned that at
least 10 activists continue to serve "restricted
freedom" sentences that permit them only to be at
home or at work; remains greatly concerned about
the human rights situation in Belarus;

82. Condemns the strengthening of restrictions
imposed by the Chinese government on human rights
defenders before the Olympic Games, which
prohibited them from engaging in telephone and
internet communications, tracked their movements
and subjected them to varying degrees of house
arrest and unprecedented surveillance and
monitoring, as a result of which many activists
chose to postpone or suspend their work until the Games were over;

83. Draws specific attention to the significant
impact that the right of free expression on the
internet can have on closed communities, and
calls on the EU to support cyber-dissidents
worldwide; accordingly, asks the Council and the
Commission to deal with all restrictions on the
provision of internet and information society
services by European companies in third countries
as part of the EU's external trade policy and to
regard as barriers to trade all unnecessary
limitations on the provision of those services;

84. Is greatly concerned that Iran has continued
in 2008 to suppress independent human rights
defenders and members of civil society, and that
serious violations of human rights have
persisted; condemns the arbitrary arrest, torture
and imprisonment of human rights defenders for
their work, on the charge of "activities contrary
to national security"; regrets the current
government policy directed against teachers and
academics, barring students from access to higher
education, and condemns the persecution and imprisonment of student activists;

85. Expresses its concern at the human rights
situation in Nicaragua and Venezuela and at the
attacks against and harassment of a number of
human rights organisations in those countries;
calls on the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan
governments and authorities to act to protect
democratic rights and freedoms and the rule of law;

86. Reiterates its position with regard to the
Cuban Sakharov Prize winners Oswaldo Payá
Sardiñas and the group known as "Damas de Blanco"
("Ladies in White"); regards it as intolerable
that a country with which the EU has reassumed a
political dialogue on all kind of matters,
including human rights, should refuse to allow
both Oswaldo Payá and the Damas de Blanco to
participate in the ceremony marking the 20th
anniversary of the Prize; strongly rejects the
systematic violence and the recurrent acts of
harassment suffered by the Sakharov Prize
laureates; in this respect, calls on the Cuban
government to release immediately all political
prisoners and prisoners of conscience and to
recognise the right of all Cubans freely to enter and leave the country;

Guidelines on human rights dialogues and
recognised consultations with third countries

87. Notes the revised version of the guidelines,
adopted under the French Presidency, on human
rights dialogues with third countries; once again
calls on the Council and the Commission to
initiate a comprehensive evaluation of those
guidelines, based on an in-depth evaluation of
each dialogue and the results obtained and, to
that end, to develop clear indicators for the
impact of each dialogue and criteria for the
initiation, cessation and resumption of
dialogues; emphasises the need to continue the
informal interinstitutional meetings before and
after each dialogue with a view to increasing the
exchange of information between institutions and,
if necessary, improving coordination; points out
in this regard that the adoption of human rights
strategies on a country-by-country basis will
help to improve the coherence of EU policy on human rights;

88. Emphasises once again in this context the
proposals set out in Parliament's above-mentioned
resolution of 6 September 2007 on the functioning
of the human rights dialogues and consultations
on human rights with third countries;

89. Regrets China's postponement of the eleventh
China-EU summit on the grounds of the Dalai
Lama's visit to Europe; emphasises the need for a
radical intensification and re-thinking of the
European Union-China human rights dialogue;
expresses its disquiet at the serious human
rights violations in China and stresses that,
despite promises made by the regime before the
Olympic Games in August 2008, the situation on
the ground regarding human rights has not
improved; points out, moreover, that restrictions
on freedom of association, expression and
religion have been further tightene
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