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Friday, December 16, 2005

Press Release - Human rights

Press Release - Human rights - 15-12-2005 - 16:35
Human rights in Ethiopia, Tibet and Hong Kong, and Russia
MEPs voted in favour of three resolutions on the human rights situation in Tibet and Hong Kong, human rights issue in Russia and the new NGO legislation and the situation in Ethiopia and the new border conflict.
MEPs condemn violence in Ethiopia.

In adopting a joint resolution on the situation in Ethiopia with 93 votes in favour, 0 against and 1 abstention, MEPs condemn the violence, the use of disproportionate means of repression by the armed forces and the mass arrests. The House calls on the Ethiopian Government to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and journalists and fulfil its obligations with respect to human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. Parliament calls on the Ethiopian Government to disclose the total number of persons detained throughout the country, to allow visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and to allow all the detainees access to their families, legal counsel and any medical care that their health situation may require. MEPs call on the Ethiopian Government to fully respect the fundamental principles of press freedom, put an end to the state media monopoly and allow the independent press to function by returning confiscated property. The House calls for the immediate establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry, optimally under UN responsibility, to investigate the human rights abuses and to identify and bring to justice those responsible.

MEPs consider that, despite the political dialogue between the EU and the Ethiopian Government under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, the latter has failed to fulfil its obligations with respect to human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. The House calls on the Commission and the Council to take a coordinated stance in line with Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. Parliament also calls on the Commission and the Council to consider targeted sanctions against members of the Ethiopian Government if the current human rights situation is not significantly improved. The House calls on the Council and the Commission to channel humanitarian aid for the population of Ethiopia primarily through NGOs and UN specialised agencies in order to provide direct assistance to the population. Parliament also calls for a resumption of the process of reform and improvement of democratic institutions, which includes a serious and international examination of the results of the parliamentary elections held in May. Finally, MEPs call on the African Union, whose head office is in Ethiopia, to take a clear stance, proving its determination to bring democracy forward in Africa, especially in Ethiopia.

Situation in Tibet and Hong Kong

In adopting a joint resolution on the situation in Tibet and in Hong Kong, MEPs demand that the Government of the PRC clarify the circumstances of the death of the young Tibetan Monk Ngawang Jangchub during the 'patriotic education' session in October 2005. The House is deeply concerned about the state of health of the five monks arrested on 23 November 2005 at Drepung Monastery. Parliament urges the Government of the PRC to immediately release them from their imprisonment in the Public Security Bureau Detention Centres. MEPs call on the Government of the PRC to provide all the information available concerning their detention conditions with reference, in particular, to the allegations of torture and the possible arrest of more people. The House urges the Government to suspend the blockade of Drepung Monastery in Lhasa immediately. MEPs also urge the Chinese authorities to cease the 'patriotic education' campaign, to react in a proportionate manner to non-violent protests and not to undermine human rights by the use of physical violence against them.

MEPs calls once more on the Government of the PRC to improve the conditions of imprisonment in its jails, to cease and abolish torture of detainees, as well as stopping the continued violation of the human rights of the Tibetan people and other minorities and ensuring that it respects international standards of human rights and humanitarian law. The House calls on the Council and the Member States to maintain the EU embargo on trade in arms with the PRC and not to weaken the existing limitation of such arms sales. MEPs call on the Government of the PRC to continue the dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama. Finally, the House urges the Conference of Presidents to invite his Holiness the Dalai Lama to address the European Parliament during 2006.

Hong Kong

MEPs recall that the Basic Law provides for Hong Kong's Chief Executive ultimately to be elected by universal suffrage. Parliament Calls on the authorities of Hong Kong to:

- set a timetable for universal suffrage acceptable to all democratic parties and the public,
- abolish the appointment system in the District Council,
- replace corporate voting by individual voting for functional constituencies of the Legislative Council,
- broaden the electorate of the Election Committee;

Finally, the House looks forward to seeing the Chief Executive and all members of the Legislative Council elected by means of an electoral system based on the principles of a multi-party democracy, accountability of the government to the legislature and genuinely effective governance which will confer a clear benefit on all the people of Hong Kong.

In adopting a resolution on human rights in Russia and the new NGO legislation, MEPs underline the importance of non-governmental organisations to a stable and democratic civil society which is built not only on principles such as the rule of law and freedom of speech but also on the ability of citizens to associate freely. THe House expresses therefore its great concern about the draft law on amendments to Russian federal legislation on non-profit organisations and public associations and calls for the new legislation to comply with the norms and standards of the Council of Europe.

Human rights in Russia

MEPs hope that the Russian legislators will:

(a) provide a clear definition of unacceptable political activities which may not be financed from foreign sources, (b) establish that a decision of a judicial and not a supervisory authority is the only ground for dissolution of NGOs and NPOs, (c) choose not to introduce the requirement of permanent residence for non-nationals as well as the age requirement, (d) ensure the right of non-nationals to establish NGOs in Russia and participate in their work, (e) ease the proposed powers of supervision by the authorities over NGOs, particularly as regards the requirements of financial accountability for resources supplied by foreign sponsors.

Parliament appeals to the Russian Duma to take the necessary time to review and improve the amendments in the light of the recommendations made in the Presidential review, the Council of Europe Provisional Opinion and this Resolution. The House calls on the State Duma to start a broad consultation process involving all the democratic components of Russian civil society in order to find ways to genuinely encourage, support and consolidate the setting-up of NGOs. MEPs call on the incoming Austrian and Finnish Presidencies to raise the issues of respect for democracy and human rights at the next EU-Russia summits, to give the EU-Russia human rights dialogue a more prominent role and to further involve the European Parliament in this process. The House calls on the Russian authorities to cease politically motivated harassment of NGOs, especially those observing the situation in Chechnya such as the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society. Finally, MEPs call on the Council and the Commission to enhance their support for civil society in Russia and to increase allocations for promoting human rights.

REF.: 20051215IPR03789

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