Tag Archives: MEPs

Cameroon: MEPs concern about human rights

Strasbourg 26.11.2021 MEPs are deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Cameroon. The adopted European Parliament resolution notes that the country is facing a number of political and security challenges simultaneously, including threats from terrorist group Boko Haram in its Far North region and an internal armed separatist rebellion, which has been ongoing for almost five years in its Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions. The latter conflict between militias and state authorities has so far killed thousands of people, witnessed heinous abuses, and led to a full-blown humanitarian crisis in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions.

Parliament urges both the Cameroonian government and the political and military leaders of separatist groups to agree on a humanitarian ceasefire and encourages the parties to the conflict to agree on confidence-building measures, such as freeing non-violent political prisoners and lifting school boycotts. MEPs call on President Paul Biya’s government and the Anglophone separatists to immediately re-initiate peace talks, while pleading for the international community, especially the African Union, Central African states and the EU, to help facilitate dialogue by offering to take on a mediation role.

The resolution also calls on the Cameroonian authorities to stop bringing people to trial before military tribunals, in particular civilians, predetermining outcomes and imposing the death penalty, which is unlawful under international human rights law. MEPs remind Cameroon that it must uphold the right of all citizens to a fair trial before independent courts of law and recall that military courts should not have jurisdiction over the civilian population.

The text was adopted by 614 votes in favour, 32 against and 40 abstentions.

MEPs condemn Russia Wagner Group

Strasbourg 26.11.2021 The European Parliament adopted a resolution assessing human rights violations committed by the Russian paramilitary paramilitary Wagner Group.

MEPs condemn in the strongest terms the heinous crimes committed by the Russian paramilitary organisation the Wagner Group and related private military entities in various conflict areas.

The Russian state appears to bear responsibility for the funding, training, management and operational command of these paramilitary groups, MEPs say, while pointing out that the Wagner Group’s activities correspond with the spread of Russia’s influence in conflict zones. The Wagner Group, and other Russian-led security contractors, should be treated as proxy organisations of the Russian state, MEPs insist.

The resolution notes that the Wagner Group is present in many conflicts around the world, notably in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Mozambique, Libya, the Central African Republic and Venezuela. Given their track record of violations, MEPs welcome the statement made by EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on the imminent adoption of targeted EU sanctions against “relevant individuals and entities affiliated with the Wagner Group”, as well as individuals and entities working with them. They call for these sanctions to include travel bans and assets freezes on Wagner operatives.

In addition, the resolution urges all countries using the services of the Wagner Group and its affiliates, particularly the Central African Republic, to cut all ties with the group and its employees. It calls on the European Commission to ensure that EU funds cannot, under any circumstances, be used by recipient countries to fund private military companies with such terrible human rights records.

The text was adopted by 585 votes in favour, 40 against and 43 abstentions.

MEPs called for the matter of the activities of the Wagner Group and other private military companies in Africa to be thoroughly discussed during the upcoming EU-Africa Summit.

The Members of the Europarliament are of the opinion that strengthening EU training missions (EUTMs) would more effectively contribute to security sector reform in partner countries; is of the opinion that the swift implementation of the European Peace Facility, in full compliance with the Council Common Position on arms export controls.

Mozambique in MEPs focus

Brussels 15.12.2020 “The crisis in the northern part of Mozambique is already causing more than half a million displaced people and more than 2,000 deaths” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while debating the situation with Mozambique with the Members of the European Parliament in Brussels.

“And we, the European Union, continue to try to help through the humanitarian, development and peace-building axis, defending human rights at the centre of our response.

As if that were not enough, Cabo Delgado, one of the poorest provinces in Mozambique, with a tremendously fragile social structure, was devastated by Cyclone Kenneth in 2019. This has only aggravated a situation that is now complicated by the extension of the terrorism that comes from the north, from Somalia.

We have specialised teams working on the situation in Mozambique. We have permanent contacts with the government and with international institutions, the United Nations, the African Union and the United States.

We have allocated 100 million euros in the resilience program with the government to respond to the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19. And, of course, we are ready to study the possibility of contributing more resources.

This year we have already contributed 37 million euros in humanitarian aid, primarily to Cabo Delgado.

We are strengthening cooperation with all countries in the region, combating the impact of human trafficking – which, unfortunately, will increase with this situation – and helping to implement the Maputo peace agreement between the Mozambican government and RENAMO.
But the prospects are not positive, ladies and gentlemen. The situation in Mozambique is deteriorating under the protection and heat of natural disasters and of a country with extremely serious government difficulties.

In reality, it is the entire façade from the Horn of Africa to the Indian Ocean that is being the scene of an extension of conflicts and the spread of terrorist forces.

We are very concerned about the situation. It does not appear that we have improved in the Somalia area to the south. The recent tensions between Somalia and Kenya are not going to help either, but within Mozambique we must surely take stronger measures.

I have asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal [Augusto Santos Silva], who will assume the presidency shortly, to travel to the region as my personal envoy – since I cannot go due to scheduling reasons – and I have asked him as colleague of the [Foreign Affairs] Council, please pay special attention during your presidency to what is happening in that country, which Portugal knows very well.

Is what I can tell you. I cannot bring you many positive elements, just rest assured that we mobilize all the resources we have to act in Mozambique”.

#SOTEU: africa-EU KEY parTNER

Brussels, 16.09.2020. In the annual State of the European Union #SOTEU address the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen devoted special attention to the bloc partnership with African countries:
“”When I came into office, I chose for the very first trip outside the European Union, to visit the African Union, and it was a natural choice. It was a natural choice and it was a clear message, because we are not just neighbours, we are natural partners,” the European Commission president von der Leyen said.
“Three months later, I returned with my entire College to set our priorities for our new strategy with Africa. It is a partnership of equals, where both sides share opportunities and responsibilities.

“Africa will be a key partner in building the world we want to live in – whether on climate, digital or trade”.
The State of the European Union #SOTEU debate is a key moment to demonstrate the European Commission’s accountability towards the EU’s democratically elected representatives. It focuses on important issues like the coming economic recovery, climate change, youth unemployment and migration flows. This annual event is significant to promote a more transparent and democratic Union. It is an opportunity to bring the European Union closer to the citizens, highlighting the year’s core action points and challenges. Citizens’ rights and the democratic process are at the heart of this unique plenary debate.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, MEPs have taken stock of the von der Leyen Commission’s achievements to date.
Ursula Von der Leyen has outlined the impact of the Commission’s work in mitigating the COVID-19 sanitary and economic crisis, and shared her vision for economic recovery, fighting climate change, and the situation in Europe’s neighbourhood.
Political group leaders have assessed the Commission’s work and set out their views, as this annual State of the Union debate is a chance for MEPs to scrutinise the work and the plans of the European Commission and help set the future direction for the EU.
The debate started with an address by President von der Leyen, followed by several rounds of interventions by political group speakers between which Ms von der Leyen answered to MEPs. The German Council Presidency also took the floor.

EU-Mauritania fishery extension

The fisheries agreement with Mauritania and its implementing protocol, the EU’s most significant in economic terms by far, are currently being renegotiated. To allow continued EU fishing activities in Mauritanian waters after the expiry of the latest protocol, the European Commission has proposed to prolong it for a maximum of one year. The European Parliament is due to vote on giving its consent to this extension during the May plenary part-session.

The EU’s fisheries relations with Mauritania date back more than 30 years, with a series of agreements concluded in 1987, 1996 and 2006. The latter, renewable for six-year periods, is now in force. It is one of the few mixed fisheries agreements covering a variety of demersal and pelagic species, including a tuna component. EU fishing vessels operate in Mauritanian waters under a protocol implementing the agreement, which defines the fishing opportunities available and the financial contribution paid by the EU. The latest protocol, concluded in 2015 and modified by Commission decision in 2017, expired on 15 November 2019. An evaluation study recommended its renewal.

Urpilainen committed to Africa

“…On our first trip outside Europe, President Von der Leyen and I went to hear Africa. We experienced a continent of youth, brimming with confidence, full of potential, attractive for the global players. We met a partner that deserves a more positive engagement from us.

“We have already paved the way for change with the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, supported by the External Investment Plan for sustainable investments, and have achieved – in such a short amount of time – tangible progress. Now, we can capitalise on those achievements and go further. It is time for a new chapter that brings a step change in our relationship. For that to happen, we need a new comprehensive strategy.

“A strategy that supports Africa’s political, economic, governance efforts, and its moves to bolster peace and resilience. A strategy with Africa that ensures partners’ ownership and commitment. A strategy that positions better the EU in the new global context, reflecting the aims of this geopolitical Commission and the ambitions of the European Green Deal.

“The Abidjan priorities we set back in 2017 remain valid today; our approach is not to change direction, but to step up a gear for better results.

“The strategy’s comprehensive character will be ensured by its inbuilt links with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate change, the EU Global Strategy, and the European Consensus on Development.

“We will continue to work on economic continental integration, human development, mobility and migration. Thematically, apart from addressing the climate and environmental challenges, we will focus on digitalisation and gender equality, which are major enablers for development. There could not be development without solid governance, respect of human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Therefore, we will pursue our efforts in these areas along with the fight for peace, security and against extremism. Finally yet importantly, we would like to work closer with our African partners on the multilateral rules-based system that is more and more being called into question.

“A key priority through my mandate, I will ensure that the implementation of this Strategy unleashes the power that youth represents. Young people must also own this Strategy.

“Work on the new ambitious framework is already ongoing, both at political and technical level. In the meantime, we continue listening and trying to ensure broad ownership of the Strategy both by yourselves and our Member States, as well as by our African Partners, and civil society, including young people.

“We will hold an EU-AU College-to-College meeting on the 27th of February in Ethiopia and a ministerial meeting in May. Both events will provide key opportunities for dialogue with our African partners.

“The proposal for the new strategy will be on our College agenda for adoption on early March that will mark the beginning of a more concrete work with our key stakeholders…” Strasbourg, 11 Feb 2020 – Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen

 

Libya detention centres debate

The conditions at Libyan detention centres and the procedures used by the country’s coastguard in sea rescues will be the focus of a committee debate on November 21 in Brussels.

MEPs of the Civil Liberties Committee, the Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Delegation for relations with Maghreb countries will assess the conditions facing migrants in Libya against the backdrop of the general situation in the country, with representatives of the European External Action Service and the European Commission.

In a second session, they will delve into what is happening in detention centres and analyse the procedures used by the Libyan coastguard when returning migrants rescued at sea, based on testimonies from representatives of UNHCR, IOM, Médecins sans Frontières and the International Rescue Committee.

MEPs condemn Egypt crackdown on protest

The European Parliament strongly condemns the latest state crackdown on peaceful anti-government protests, as well as the ongoing restrictions on fundamental rights in the country. Egyptian authorities have in the past weeks arbitrarily arrested over 4300 people who have been protesting against systemic corruption, repression and austerity measures, and have demanded the resignation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The European Parliament strongly condemns the latest state crackdown on peaceful anti-government protests, as well as the ongoing restrictions on fundamental rights in the country. Egyptian authorities have in the past weeks arbitrarily arrested over 4300 people who have been protesting against systemic corruption, repression and austerity measures, and have demanded the resignation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

MEPs call for an end to all acts of violence and intimidation, and the immediate release of all human rights defenders detained or sentenced for carrying out their legitimate work. They also express grave concern at the reprisals against those in Egypt who cooperate or seek to cooperate with international human rights organisations or the UN’s human rights bodies.

A profound review of the EU’s relations with Egypt is necessary, MEPs say. They argue that the human rights situation in the country requires a serious revision of the Commission’s budget support operations, which should be restricted to primarily support civil society. The full resolution, adopted by a show of hands, will be available here (24.10.2019).

MEPs call for an end to all acts of violence and intimidation, and the immediate release of all human rights defenders detained or sentenced for carrying out their legitimate work. They also express grave concern at the reprisals against those in Egypt who cooperate or seek to cooperate with international human rights organisations or the UN’s human rights bodies.

A profound review of the EU’s relations with Egypt is necessary, MEPs say. They argue that the human rights situation in the country requires a serious revision of the Commission’s budget support operations, which should be restricted to primarily support civil society. The full resolution, adopted by a show of hands, will be available here (24.10.2019).

Uganda LGBTI: MEPs express deep concern

MEPs express their deep concern at the possible resurgence of the anti-homosexuality law in the Ugandan political debate, which would, if introduced, include the death penalty for “aggravated acts of homosexuality”.

They take note of the statement made by Ugandan President Museveni’s spokesperson denying that the government has any intention to propose such a new bill, and call on the Ugandan government to stand by this statement .

The European Parliament regrets emphatically the use of the death penalty under any circumstances and reminds the Ugandan government of its obligations under international law and the Cotonou Agreement, which calls for universal human rights to be respected. MEPs also call on the EU delegation in the country to continue to monitor the situation for LGBTI people closely and to actively support civil society organisations and human rights defenders on the ground. The resolution was adopted by 521 votes in favour, 4 against and 110 abstentions and will be available here (24.10.2019).

MEPs condemn Cameroon use of force

Cameroon authorities must end the use of force against the political opposition, say Members of the European Parliament in a resolution adopted on April 17 in Strasbourg plenary.

As this year, Cameroon’s security forces violently supressed opposition protests and arrested around 200 opposition supporters, including political leader Maurice Kamto,

MEPs condemn the use of such force, call for an independent and transparent investigation into the conduct of the police and security forces against protesters and the immediate release of all detainees held on politically motivated charges. They also want the country’s government to confirm that it will not seek the death penalty for political activists and protesters, while recalling that such punishment has not been used in Cameroon since 1997.

Parliament also urges the government in Cameroon to initiate a consensual review of the country’s electoral system, with the aim of ensuring a free, transparent and credible electoral process. Cameroon’s current President Paul Biya has been in power since 1982, which makes him one of the longest ruling presidents in the world. Since the last presidential elections in 2018 were marked by suspicions of fraud and the reporting of irregularities, MEPs insist that a review of the electoral system takes place before any further elections are held, in order to promote peace and avoid post-electoral crisis

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