Tag Archives: MEPs

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

MEPs condemn use of force in Sudan

MEPs strongly condemn the excessive use of force by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) during the ongoing popular protests against price increases and President Omar al-Bashir’s regime. The Sudanese government recently decided to end subsidies on staple goods in response to aggravating inflation, which is now the second highest in the world at around 122 %.

The European Parliament also deplores the ongoing general repression by the authorities in Sudan, which continue to target activists and human rights defenders, as well as lawyers, teachers, students and doctors.

The resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of human rights lawyer and 2007 Sakharov Prize laureate Salih Mahmoud Osman, who was arrested on 8 January, as well as all other political prisoners currently in detention without charge or trial.ep pleanry stb

MEPs reiterate their demand to President al-Bashir  to comply with international law in accordance with the conventions and treaties to which his government is party. The Sudanese President, in power for 29 years, is the only sitting head of stated wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide committed during his campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. Although the Sudanese constitution does not permit him to stand again when his term ends, Mr al-Bashir is currently seeking to amend relevant articles in order to obtain a life mandate.

China trade in donkey hides devastates communities

Describing the scale of the animal abuse in Chinese trade in donkey hides and its devastating impact for local communities in developing countries, especially in Africa, the Members of the European Parliament called for an urgency of action to protect the equidae as an indefensible contributor to harmonious rural lifestyle.

During the European Parliament Strasbourg Plenary MEPs of the EU Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals considered the welfare of equines – horses, donkeys and hybrids, largely neglected within the existing laws and suffering abuses in Europe, however it is the Chinese traditional medicine, which causes the most abhorrent practices, with systemic torturing and killing of donkeys in pursue of their precious hides. Some farms in Europe also act as suppliers of donkey hides for China, however their activities are far too small to cover the huge demand of Chinese traditional medicine, looking for the animals all over the world, including the poorest villages in Africa, where people depend on donkeys for transport of water and goods.

Chaired by Jacqueline Foster MEP (ECR, UK),  the hearing featured speakers from World Horse Welfare, The Donkey Sanctuary and BrookeAction for Working Horses and Donkeys shared the numerous problems of equines welfare in the EU and worldwide, especially abhorrent abuses of donkeys in Chinese trade.

The Intergroup focused on the trade of donkey hides and the social, economic, and welfare problems that it raises. Ian Arthur Cawsey, UN Ambassador at The Donkey Sanctuary, explained the threat this trade represents, causing a global crisis for donkeys welfare, and even more so for people who depend on them.

During the last decades, China has seen the demand for donkey skins explode to produce ‘ejiao’, a substance used in traditional medicine, health and beauty products. Currently, the Chinese demand is assessed around 4 million donkey skins a year. As the result the global trade in animals increases, and donkeys are being traded and stolen all around the world.

However, these animals support the livelihood of 500 million people across the world and some of the world’s poorest communities. When donkeys are sold or stolen, the additional burden of taking on their work often falls on the most vulnerable members of the society: children and women. “If you have no donkey, you are a donkey yourself“, explains the Ethiopian proverb, hinting on animal key function in fulfilling daily hard work.

Since the skin is valued so much more than the meat, the premature death of the donkeys from deprivation of food and water is actually considered  by Chinese traders as ‘helpful’. The cruel practices also raise serious concerns for public health and the environment, while the growing Chinese demand for donkey skins clearly will never lead to regulated, humane or sustainable production practices.

Petra Ingram, Chief Executive Officer of the Brooke – Action for Working Horses and Donkeys, and Dr. Jennifer Wathan, Senior Manager, gave a presentation on the local impact of the trade in donkey hides on livelihoods in Africa, advocating to think global and act local. A donkey is a valuable asset that provides multiple essential functions to a household. The growing Chinese trade of donkey skins therefore deeply impacts poorest communities in Africa.

Donkeys provide a huge contribution in developing countries all over the world. For example, every day a donkey earns users and owners in Kenya between $5-12, doing tasks such as collecting water, carrying goods to market or in farming. Loss of a donkey not only results in that income being jeopardised, but also increases the burden on families to carry out manual work themselves. Our research shows that vulnerable people are particularly affected, especially women and the elderly who use their donkeys for daily chores and transportation. This can even keep children out of school” Petra Ingram said.

“We hope that highlighting this issue to the MEPs who attended or observed online today will prompt more research, and ultimately bring us closer to tackling the devastating effects of an unregulated trade in donkey hides. Brooke has made some progress, but this is a global crisis, too large for us and other charities to tackle in isolation, so we must work together to raise awareness and gather more evidence to support positive change for the donkeys and the people who depend on them,” Ingram concluded.

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Ramaphosa addresses Europarliament

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has addressed MEPs in a formal sitting in Strasbourg on Wednesday, 14 November during Plenary week.

In view of upcoming VII EU-South Africa Summit in Brussels on 15 November the EU-South Africa strategic relations and cooperation, peace and security in Africa  are among the issues addressed in Mr Ramaphosa’s  speech.

 

The development and trade are the priorities and focus of the bilateral relations between the EU and South Africa.

Through his address President Ramaphosa confirmed his loyalty to the heritage of Nelson Mandela, and determination to continue the development of South Africa in his footsteps.

This millennium Mr.Ramaphosa is the second South African President to deliver a speech in the House since his predecessor Thabo Mbeki took floor in November 2004.

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MEPs denounce violations of human rights in Burundi

During European Parliament Strasbourg plenary week, the MEPs denounced the intimidation, repression and the harassment of journalists and human rights defenders, and urged Burundian authorities to guarantee the respect of the rule of law and human rights, such as the right of freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

They demand an end to any further payments to the Burundian troops engaged in UN and AU peacekeeping missions, which have been used by the government to conceal domestic problems in the country.

The European Parliament appeals to governments in the region to ensure that the return of refugees is voluntary, based on informed decisions and carried out in safety and dignity. 413 000 people have fled the country since the President announced that he will run for a third term.

The resolution was adopted by raising hands.

President Lourenço calls for closer EU-Angola cooperation

EU-Angola relations and cooperation, development, migration and promoting stability, growth and jobs in the African continent were among the issues addressed during Mr João Lourenço’s first official visit to the European Parliament.

The President of Angola stressed the need to address common challenges together, such as migration, calling for a closer cooperation to help African countries to develop, create jobs and business opportunities.

Angola is determined in enhancing democracy, to opening up to the world and investments, Mr Lourenço said. Africa and Europe will only have to gain if African people can stay, live and work in their continent, he told MEPs.

The EU must strengthen its action in Angola and, more in general, in Africa,’’ said European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, following the meeting with the President of Angola. Mr Tajani reiterated the need for a comprehensive Marshall Plan for Africa to help mobilise investments.

‘…At the end of his European Parliament speech, while President Joao Lourenço, of Angola, was leaving EP plenary, I managed to greet him and to ask him this question about Rafael Marques de Morais, and the corrupt ex-Prosecutor. He smiled and shrugged…” – wrote in her Twitter microblog Portugese Socialist MEP Ana Gomes.

 

MEPs demand to stop ivory trade

Despite the international ban on ivory trade imposed by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in 1989, global demand for ivory is fueling elephant poaching. Any legal domestic and international market for ivory stimulates the demand and allows the laundering of illegal ivory. While the EU has been a leader in supporting international initiatives to fight illegal ivory trade, it is clearly facing difficulties to close its own domestic ivory market.

According to EU regulations, the sale of ivory goods is only allowed for antique ivory, acquired before March 1947. But new ivory pieces are being treated to look antique and permits are forged to launder illegal ivory from poaching. Moreover, the EU Member States are used as transit countries to smuggle illegal ivory from Africa to Asia.

Ivory trade is a global phenomenon and the failure from the EU to prevent illegal trafficking would hamper the international effort to put an end to the poaching of elephants and to its ecological, economic and societal consequences. The European Parliament has adopted three Resolutions  calling on all EU Member States to introduce a full ivory trade moratorium. In March 2018, more than 30 African countries called on the EU to shut down its ivory market, stressing that the antique ivory exception is used to smuggle newer ivory to Asian markets and feed global demand.

The Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals met on Thursday 31 May to discuss ivory trade in the European Union. The poaching of elephants and trade of their ivory threaten the very existence  of the species. The European Commission will announce in July its response to a recent consultation on ivory trade as part of its review on the implementation of the EU Action Plan Against Wildlife Trafficking.

The Intergroup meeting will be chaired by Jacqueline Foster MEP (ECR – United Kingdom), Vice-President of the Intergroup, who has extensively worked on the issue of wildlife trafficking during this parliamentary term.

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