NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1 NEWS Wed, 09 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0300 en Wed, 09 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0300 European Parliament finally adopted "Magnitsky list" http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1715 <p>Finalising their 2009 - 2014 EP term, this week parliamentarians returned to the Brussels plenary hall. After two years reconstruction works to repair roof constructions, the hall opened to host a short EP plenary session. Usually, every year twelve regular plenary sessions are held in Strasbourg and additional six two-day sessions in Brussels, but in the last two years all short sessions had to be cancelled.</p> <p>This week, MEPs finally adopted the so-called Magnitsky list, voted on tariff cuts for Ukraine, backed the decision to end roaming charges for using a mobile phone in other EU countries, voted on discharge of the implementation of the general 2012 EU budget, and for the last time this term, discussed foreign policies issues with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Caterine Ashton.</p> <p>32 Russian citizens linked with the Magnitsky case not welcome in the EU</p> <p>European Parliament and especially, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group and human rights coordinator of this group, Leonidas Donskis, finished this EP term with a symbolic victory. After two years intense work, the EP finally confirmed the so-called Magnitsky list which includes Russian officials and citizens who are suspects in the case of Sergei Magnitsky. Russian lawyer Magnitsky died in custody in 2009 following inhuman treatment, torture and refused medical assistance. He is still trailed posthumously and his family is persecuted. MEPs named 32 persons related to the death of the lawyer who disclosed a huge scale public funds embezzlement scheme. MEPs propose to cancel EU visas of these persons and to freeze their and their families` assets in the EU. Half of these persons are also included in the 2012 US Magnitsky law.</p> <p>European Parliament called for action on the Magnitsky case in numerous resolutions and in 2012 requested the EU Council to draft a list of Russian officials related to this case. However, the High Representative Catherine Ashton was not able to include this question in the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council. Therefore, the EP liberals who are frontrunners on this question and have close ties with colleagues, friends and family of S. Magnitsky, drafted such list themselves and proposed it for the whole European Parliament. This idea received backing in the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs and later on in the plenary session.</p> <p>On Wednesday, after the adoption of the resolution and in the presence of the widow of Sergey Magnitsky and his son, ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt stressed that it is now up to the Member States, High Representative Ashton and the European External Action to react, and to implement visa bans and asset freezes. "I hope that Ms Ashton will include this question in the agenda of the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council. Member states, which do not agree to introduce sanctions for the persons on the Magnitsky list, will have to explain why they support Russia`s criminal gangs", - said G. Verhofstadt.</p> <p>Leonidas Donskis is the only Lithuanian politician in the inter-parliamentary Sergey Magnitsky group which unites parliamentarians from different countries who fight in their parliaments for transparent investigation into the death of Sergey Magnitsky and punishment of those responsible. Mr Donskis works closely with the colleagues of Magnitsky and is one of the authors in the book edited by Elena Servettaz "Why Europe Needs a Magnistky Law: Should the EU follow the US?".</p> <p>Support for the Ukrainian economy</p> <p>On Thursday morning, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Caterine Ashton, addressed the European Parliament for the last time. She outlined her main achievements representing the EU and named the biggest challenges for the future EU foreign policy. The speech by Ms Asthon was dominated by the events in Ukraine. Once again she repeated that the EU does not recognise the referendum in Crimea and its annexation to Russia is illegal. She stressed that the EU will use all diplomatic, political and economic measures to force Russia to respect international law. Ms Ashton invited all EU institutions and Member States to support Ukraine`s democracy and economy with all possible means.</p> <p>Later on Thursday, MEPs voted to cut custom duties on imports from Ukraine. This measure will remove 94.7% of&nbsp; &nbsp;EU tariffs currently charged on industrial goods imports from Ukraine and reduce them for the remaining handful of industrial goods. It will also remove EU tariffs on over 80% of Ukraine&rsquo;s farm produce exports. This unilateral measure will boost Ukraine&rsquo;s struggling economy by saving its manufacturers and exporters &euro;487 million a year.</p> <p>These new rules will be implemented as of May and apply until 1 November 2014, or until the EU-Ukraine association agreement enters into force. MEPs believe that this measure means strong political and economic support for Ukraine and will help to cope with the pressure from Russia and economic and financial difficulties in the country. Besides, it is a unilateral agreement and Ukraine will not have to introduce similar tariffs for EU goods.</p> <p>This proposal was backed by 531 votes to 88, with 20 abstentions. The measure still requires the formal approval of the EU Council of Ministers. The EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has already announced that the preferences "will start to be applied within a few weeks&rdquo;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1715 Thu, 03 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0300 EU attention to Central Asia only sporadic http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1705 <p>Last week, European Parliament`s Subcommittee on Human Rights discussed EU human rights policies in Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. A group of experts from Germany and Spain presented a study on this topic conducted for the Subcommittee on Human Rights.</p> <p>Studies or research papers conducted on request of the European Parliament which analyse a situation in specific countries or regions and evaluate EU policies in certain area is an instrument which Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) can use in their work. It has to be noted that because of a very high price of such studies, every EP committee can only order a few studies every year as agreed by all political groups. Therefore, the topics chosen represent are those most relevant and most needed at the time being. A request to conduct a study on EU human rights policies and engagement in Central Asian countries was tabled by Leonidas Donskis, member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group and human rights coordinator for this group.</p> <p>During his term in the EP, Leonidas Donskis worked intently on the former Soviet countries, including Central Asia. MEP has soon noticed that the old Europa and Western politicians are much less sensitive to this region and naturally concentrate their efforts on Africa and other post-colonial regions. However, the situation of development and human rights in Central Asian is as grave and urgent as in Africa. Working on a number of EP documents and resolutions, Leonidas Donskis sought to include these forgotten countries, and to talk about the problems in Central Asia in the context of the EU policy on human rights.</p> <p>As showed by the study, which outlined a lot of shortages of EU policies and engagement, Central Asia is indeed one of the forgotten regions by the EU. The relations between the EU and Central Asian countries entered a new phase in 2007 when a new EU-Central Asia partnership strategy started. The new beginning raised hopes that the EU will more successfully act in this region and contribute to solve some of its most urgent problems. Amongst central EU priorities in Central Asia are human rights, good governance, rule of law and support for democratization. In order to reach these goals, various political and financial instruments were established. However, according to the authors of the study, financial assistance and support for democracy and human rights is limited and the existing funds are first of all directed to solve technical problems in judicial system (for example, to reform prisons). This way, more profound and complicated problems of human rights in these countries are ignored. Therefore, EU influence on the situation of human rights in Central Asia is insignificant with strong authoritarian regimes in the region preventing any progress in this field. Limited EU leverage, incoherence of its internal policies and inadequate evaluation of the implemented projects makes the situation even worse.</p> <p>Recommendations put forward by the authors of the study highlight that in order to reach concrete results in EU initiated human rights dialogues it is crucial to formulate clearly and publicly what reforms EU wants to see in Central Asian governments. Support for human rights in Central Asia will only be successful when human right projects will evolve from single projects to a consistent and extensive EU engagement in the region and the stress on the same issues in all EU foreign policy tools. EU soft power should be combined with public diplomacy. Unfortunately, the EU has avoided officially expressing critical remarks on Central Asian governments so far. Questions of human rights were often excluded from the high level meetings giving priority to trade and security issues.</p> <p>In his speech in the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Leonidas Donskis reminded actual human rights problems in Central Asia which he dealt with during the term in the EP. They include child labour in cotton fields in Uzbekistan, crackdown on civil society and opposition in Kazakhstan and others. The video record of the meeting can be found here. The speech of Leonidas Donskis starts at 11:16:45.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1705 Wed, 26 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Crimea conflict discussed in Strasbourg http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1701 <p>Not surprisingly, the conflict in Ukraine was once again the central question in the European Parliament`s plenary session agenda in Strasbourg this week. Illegal Russia`s aspirations to annex the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula and the reluctance of president Putin to respect the international law dominates the agendas not only in EU institutions, but in all important geopolitical organisations and in the most powerful countries around the world.</p> <p>The situation in Ukraine was not only in focus in an extra plenary debate dedicated to this topic and the EP resolution adopted on Thursday. It also figured in the debate on the EU Council meeting in Brussels on March 20 - 21 which is the last one in this EP term. With the end of the term approaching, the agenda also included numerous topics related to the ordinary life of EU citizens. The MEPs voted on stricter data protection rules, adopted common standards for vehicle checks, proposed to strengthen the rights of air passengers and to introduce common charger for all mobile phones. Additionally, the latest documents prepared by Leonidas Donskis in the Subcommittee on Human Rights were also adopted in this plenary session.</p> <p>Stronger words on the situation in Ukraine</p> <p>Wednesday`s main plenary debate, called without any ambiguity `on Russia`s invasion in Ukraine`, featured the President of the European Commission Jos&eacute; Manuel Barroso, Commissioner for Enlargement &Scaron;tefan F&uuml;le and representatives from the Greek presidency. Different than during a similar debate in February, this time almost all MEPs refrained from diplomatic expressions and have openly criticised Russia`s politics. Earlier cautious MEPs, mostly from the Western Europe, refraining from offering Ukraine `too much`, have now joined the representatives from Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden and Baltic states who have continually supported Ukraine`s European aspirations. MEPs admitted that EU diplomacy dedicated to solve the crisis in Crimea has been unsuccessful so far and that economic sanctions are crucial now. Although these measures would hurt not only Russia, but also EU members, politicians urged to stop thinking that Europe is helpless. A huge proportion of Russia`s export is directed towards the EU and this makes it possible for Europe to isolate Russia.</p> <p>The situation in Crimea is not only a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but a threat to the European security and peace. Therefore, MEPs strongly criticised member states which continue to export arms to Russia or plan to develop energy projects. This allows financing Putin`s actions against Ukraine with the money of the European tax payers paid for gas and oil. Some MEPs admitted that the EU has no strategy for Ukraine and the achievements reached so far are attributed to the efforts of single member states. However, most politicians encouraged to delay these discussions and to concentrate all efforts to prevent the annexation of Crimea.</p> <p>On Thursday, the EP adopted a resolution which urged Russia to immediately withdraw all its military forces from Ukrainian territory. MEPs condemn its `act of aggression in invading Crimea` as a breach of international law, declare Crimea&rsquo;s plans to hold a referendum on its accession to Russia to be illegal and warn that Russia&rsquo;s actions pose a threat to the security of the EU.</p> <p>Resolution welcomes the EU Council decision to suspend visa liberalization and partnership talks with Russia and say that in the event of Russian annexation of Crimea the EU should quickly impose an arms and dual-use technology embargo, restrictions on visas, an asset freeze and measures against Russian companies, particularly in the energy sector. MEPs applaud the EU&rsquo;s decision to provide Ukraine with a &euro;11 billion aid package, sign the political chapters of association agreement and enact immediate customs tariff cuts for EU imports of Ukrainian good. They also call upon it to speed up visa liberalisation with Ukraine. The full text of the resolution can be found here.</p> <p>Leonidas Donskis who also tabled this resolution on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), draw attention to the situation of Crimean Tatars and urged to defend the rights of this ethnic minority introducing a separate paragraph on this topic in the final text. L. Donkis has organised a number of events where Crimean Tatars, who were expelled from their lands by Stalin and were allowed to return some 50 years late, had an opportunity to talk about their problems in the EP. Crimean Tatars who identify themselves with Ukraine`s European aspirations, have already addressed the international community asking to supports Ukraine`s territorial integrity. Their situation after the annexation of Crimea might tremendously worsen.</p> <p>Documents prepared by L. Donskis voted</p> <p>This plenary session included some documents, preparing which Leonidas Donskis, ALDE group`s coordinator for human rights, represented the EP liberals. One of them is a report on eradication of torture in the world. This report and amendments tabled by L. Donskis were adopted in the Committee on Foreign Affairs in February and now the whole European Parliament voted on the document. You can find more information about this report and L. Donskis` role preparing it here.</p> <p>European Parliament also voted on the EU priorities for the 25th session of the United National Human Rights Council taking place in March in Geneva. L. Donskis acted as ALDE shadow rapporteur in the preparation process of this document. Talking in the debate on this document in the plenary session on Wednesday, Donskis used the opportunity to once again underline the main priorities of his agenda during the last five years, including the situation of human rights and democracy in Russia and other post-Soviet countries, caste-based discrimination, situation in Tibet. The whole speech can be found here.</p> <p>Finally, on Thursday the European Parliament voted on two urgency resolutions which were tabled by Leonidas Donskis on behalf of the ALDE group. These are the resolution on the sentencing of demonstrators involved in the Bolotnaya Square events in Moscow and the laws recently adopted in Uganda and Nigeria further criminalising homosexuality.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1701 Fri, 14 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Leonidas Donskis receives Commission`s feedback report http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1700 <p>More than one year passed since in the last Strasbourg plenary session of 2012 the European Parliament adopted the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2011 and the European Union`s policy on the matter by 482 votes in favour, 48 against and 83 abstentions. This report was prepared by the Lithuanian MEP, human rights coordinator of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), Leonidas Donskis.</p> <p>The report, which is one of the most important EU documents on human rights, evaluated the situation of human rights in the world und EU actions in this area in 2011. It also includes recommendations on how to reach better results in this EU priority policy field. Leonidas Donskis calls his work as a rapporteur the biggest achievement of his term in the European Parliament. Indeed, not every MEP can become the main rapporteur of this document and for those outside of the two biggest political groups, social democrats and conservatives, this is even more challenging.</p> <p>As the end of 2009 - 2014 EP term is approaching, it is worth evaluating the results of this document and to assess the effectiveness of the comments, proposals and recommendations expressed by the EP. The report of the European Commission corresponding to the EP`s document analyses the efforts and actions of the Commission in the fields pointed out by the EP.</p> <p>The report by the Commission on the implementation of Annual Report on Human Rights highlights the topics also underlined by Mr. Donskis. One of them is the inclusion of the basic human rights standards in international trade agreements between the EU and third countries. The European Commission names concrete examples when human rights aspects were included into new trade agreements and also the cases when the agreements were not signed precisely because of the human right breaches in some third countries. The Commission stresses the importance of the freedom of expression, a priority area for the EP liberals, which is nowadays especially significant in the face of digital revolution and demographic changes around the world.&nbsp; The Commission informs about various instruments and strategies it is preparing, which will help civil society organisations and individual citizens to freely use internet and all opportunities it offers without being afraid of censorship and even imprisonment practiced in some authoritarian regimes.</p> <p>Besides, the report outlines the efforts of the Commission to demand Russia to start an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky&nbsp;and to punish those responsible. It also includes the actions to fight caste-based discrimination which causes suffering of more than quarter million people around the world.</p> <p>However, not all points raised by Leonidas Donskis in the Annual Report on Human Rights are dealt with. These issues include the establishment of the EU Special Representative for Tibet and the problems surrounding EU companies which enable authoritarian regimes to spy on dissidents and human rights defenders. Instead, the Commission points out that it can only deal with issues which fall under its competence.</p> <p>EP liberals support the initiatives which allow the Parliament to track the results of the documents adopted by MEPs. ALDE group actively works to ensure that such procedure is applicable not only for the regular EP documents, like the Annual Report on Human Rights, but also for very important urgency resolutions on human rights which the EP adopts in order to immediately react to gross violations of human rights and democracy around the world. Publicly accessible and well-prepared feedback reports by the Commission or other EU institutions is not only a great tool for MEPs to plan their future work, EU policy executors, but also for non-governmental organisations and civil society who can follow the work of EU institutions in concrete areas and exercise democratic control.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1700 Thu, 13 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Leonidas Donskis on EU priorities for the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1702 <p>On March 12, 2014 at the EP Strasbourg plenary debate Leonidas Donskis on behalf of ALDE group speaks on EU priorities for the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The video record is available&nbsp;here.&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1702 Wed, 12 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0200 The Curse of the Worn-Out Vocabulary http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1698 <p>Over the past days and weeks, on a quick look at Russian TV channels (I have one even in my hotel at Strasbourg not to relax from the disturbing complexities of our life in the EU and in the vicinity - especially after comparison of Russian TV with BBC News or French TV) it was difficult to get rid of a d&eacute;j&agrave; vu feeling. Every piece of information about Ukraine there is strikingly and frighteningly similar to what I had long been listening immediately after 13 January 1991 when the Soviet troops killed fourteen peaceful civilians in Vilnius.&nbsp;(Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1698 Mon, 10 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0200 The fate of the Russian language http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1703 <p style="color: #274e89; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px;">Jokes are not terribly kind to the Russian language and its political reputation. One of them, for instance, deals with anticipations of the emergence of a new global lingua franca as the outcome of the rise of the economic and political power of a respective nation.It holds that while an optimist is still inclined to proceed with English and polishing all forms of its use for business and leisure, a pessimist works hard on his or her Russian. A realist, however, chooses neither. Instead, he or she opts for Mandarin Chinese. Curiously enough, the worst-case scenario comes straight out of the imagination of the Cold War era without giving much consideration as to whether the world, dominated by the Chinese or any other non-Western power emerging after a successful authoritarian modernisation, would be any better off and happier.</p> <p style="font-size: 13px;">Another joke, immortalized by the humorist and author Leo Rosten, appears even harsher towards the Russian language. Having observed an old Jew sitting on a bench and studying, a KGB officer approaches him and asks what he is studying in such a painstaking fashion. "Hebrew,&rdquo; the old man answers. "And why do you need it?&rdquo; smiles the KGB guy. "You will not go to Israel without special permission, won&rsquo;t you? Additionally, you are much too old to need a new language.&rdquo; "That&rsquo;s the whole point,&rdquo; sighs the old Jew. "When I die, suppose I will go straight to Heaven and then I will badly need Hebrew.&rdquo; "Yes, but what if you go straight to Hell?&rdquo; asks the nosy KGB officer. "No problem,&rdquo; smiles the Jew, "I already speak Russian fluently.&rdquo;</p> <p style="font-size: 13px;">For Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians, whose histories and cultures had long been tied to Russia the Russian language does not appear as something that we can paint in black and white. Imperial languages do have their centers of gravity, as Lithuanian poet Tomas Venclova once noted. In the Baltic States, some of the most eminent thinkers and world-class scholars were native speakers of Russian. Along with Poles in Lithuania and Baltic Germans in Latvia and Estonia, Russian speakers make up an entire trajectory of culture in the Baltics. Riga alone was the birthplace of such great Russian speakers of the world as Isaiah Berlin, Sergei Eisenstein, Arkady Raikin and Mikhail Baryshnikov, just to name a few.</p> <p style="font-size: 13px;">Adam Michnik, who cleverly depicts himself as an anti-communist Russophile (the vast majority of Eastern and Central European intellectuals could best be described as political Russophobes and cultural Russophiles), once confessed to me that he had long been a decent Polish patriot in the sense of disdain for the Russian language. Yet the critical moment came, according to Michnik, when he started reading Russian dissidents and found himself a brother-in-arms with Andrei Sakharov, Elena Bonner, Vladimir Bukovsky, Sergei Kovalev and all other great Soviet dissenters and human rights defenders. I remember how Michnik once described Russian as the language of courage and dissent.</p> <p style="font-size: 13px;">Whereas the former Soviet Union that captivated much of Europe and Latin America with its ideological charms and powers of deception and seduction seems to have been a Shakespearean tragedy, present-day Russia appears as a farce. It is a mafia state and a banal kleptocracy rather than a former Jerusalem of the Proletariat or the proud heir of the Enlightenment project. The former Soviet Union was able to fool millions of ambitious and dissenting minds, while Vladimir Putin&rsquo;s Russia is capable of attracting and corrupting only a European political Russophile of Gerhard Schroeder&rsquo;s type or casting the spell on the far right - the new useful idiots of the Kremlin now appear to be the xenophobes, racists, antisemites and homophobes of Europe, such as Marine Le Pen and her ilk, instead of the folks of Lion Feuchtwanger or Jean-Paul Sartre&rsquo;s cut.</p> <p style="font-size: 13px;">All of these reflect the role of the Russian language. After the policy of intense Russification practiced in Czarist Russia, the Soviet Union stood much closer to the goal of the Sovietization of local elites and societies than to the objective of linguistic and cultural Russification. On the contrary, highbrow Russian culture - especially classical and modern literature, academic music, and independent film and theater directors - has always been an ally to the non-conformist parts of the local elites and Soviet republics in their intellectual and cultural resistance to the Soviet propaganda and ideological indoctrination.</p> <p style="font-size: 13px;">In Putin&rsquo;s Russia, the Russian language is increasingly seen as a tool of political domination over the former republics of the Soviet Union. Subsidizing Russian-language radio and television channels in what the Kremlin perceives as the "near abroad&rdquo; and their influence zone as well as fuelling anti-democratic debates and anti-EU sentiment there does a disservice to Russia and its immortal culture in terms of promoting the Russian linguistic and cultural presence in the world.</p> <p style="font-size: 13px;">The Russian language could have become a lingua franca of Eastern Europe. It failed irreversibly precisely because Putin and his regime stripped the political vocabulary of Russia of its potent moral imagination and alternative potential. What is left is not even the banality of evil practiced by the Kremlin with no impunity and in the moral and political void created by the West and its impotence - the West that attempts to reset relations with a regime hostile to every single political and moral sensitivity of the EU and the U.S. Instead, it is the evil of banality whose essence lies in exercising power for no meaningful reason and with no love for humanity.</p> <p style="font-size: 13px;">And this sounds like funeral music for the role the Russian linguistic and cultural presence in the world played in the 20th century.<br />&nbsp;</p> <p style="font-size: 13px; text-align: justify;">Leonidas Donskis, Ph.D.,&nbsp; is a Lithuanian Member&nbsp; of the European Parliament.</p> <p style="font-size: 13px; text-align: justify;">&copy; 2014 The Baltic times. All rights reserved.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1703 Wed, 05 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Ukraine: central issue in the second February EP plenary session http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1687 <p>The second EP plenary session this February included a number of important decisions in the areas of transport, justice, and social policies. The EP took the final decision on the regulation on tobacco sale and productions and decided to grant a visa-free regime for Moldovan citizens. However, the main focus was the situation in Ukraine and bloodshed in Maidan which was followed by the political upheaval.</p> <p>On Wednesday evening, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) participated in heated discussions with the EU Enlargement Commissioner &Scaron;tefan F&uuml;le on the role of the EU in the events in Ukraine and the future assistance to this strategic Eastern Partnership country which seems to have finally chosen the democratic path. The questions raised in this discussion included the possible signing date of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, the contents of this agreement, the prospects for Ukraine to become EU member, the possibilities and volume of EU assistance to Ukraine which currently faces huge economic problems.</p> <p>Although the absolute majority of MEPs expressed their support to Ukraine, their opinions on the EU-Ukrainian relations differ in many ways. A part of MEPs, especially coming from the Central and Eastern European countries, like Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, urged the EU to finally drop its indecisive policies of the last few months and give Ukrainian people a real prospect of the EU membership, abolish visas for Ukrainian citizens, organise a donor conference and provide adequate financial support as soon as possible. Some other MEPs were more cautious and suggested that Ukraine should not be promised unreal conditions.</p> <p>The leader of the political group of Leonidas Donskis, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), Guy Verhofstadt, reminded that already in the beginning of February the European Parliament adopted a resolution urging the EU Council to prepare sanctions for all Ukrainian officials, politicians and oligarchs who support them, who are responsible for harsh measures against the Maidan protesters and even their deaths. However, the voice of the MEPs was not heard. ALDE leader drew attention to the fact that only after the bloodshed last week, when the EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs finally decided to introduce sanctions, 12 members of the Yanukovych party, Party of the Regions, in the Verkhovna Rada joined the opposition. Only then the new majority in the Ukrainian parliament was formed and the crucial decisions could be made.</p> <p>On Thursday, the EP voted for a resolution on the situation in Ukraine which stresses that those who committed crimes against the citizens of Ukraine and who misused the power of the state should face independent trials, urges to speed up the visa dialogue with Ukraine, notes that the EU is ready to sign the Association Agreement including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) as soon as the current political crisis is solved and the new government is ready to do so.</p> <p>MEPs also hope that the EU Council and the Commission come forward as soon as possible, together with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, with financial assistance to help Ukraine tackle its worsening economic and social situation and provide economic support to launch the necessary deep and comprehensive reforms of the Ukrainian economy. The EP proposes to call for an international donors` conference and urges the EU to make the best use of funds available for Ukraine under the existing financial instruments and to consider making additional resources available for Ukraine as soon as possible.</p> <p>The full text of the resolution can be found here.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1687 Thu, 27 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Sergei Magnitsky: a big small man http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1677 <p>Yesterday, the book by the French-Russian journalist Elena Servettaz "Why Europe Needs a Magnitsky Law: Should the EU follow the US?" was presented in two separate events in the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius. The first presentation took place in the Europe information office in the Lithuanian Parliament Seimas and the second one was dedicated to students, NGO representatives and Russian opposition figures living in Lithuania. Of course, in the face of tragic events in Ukraine, the thoughts of all speakers and participants were with the people of Ukraine and a moment of silence was dedicated to the victims of Maidan.</p> <p>The case of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who revealed a huge tax-embezzlement scheme by the Russian authorities and was imprisoned and tortured to death in a Russian prison caught attention by the young journalist Elena Servettaz who previously lived in Russia now works for "Radio France" and a few independent Russian media. Last year, Elena accomplished her idea to collect in one book a number of essays by public figures, politicians and human rights defenders on the necessity of the so-called "Magnitsky List" in Europe following the example of the US. Such list includes Russian officials who are related to the death of Sergei Magnitsky and who now face sanctions issued by the US.</p> <p>Presenting her book, Ms Servettaz stressed that the Magnitsky case is so special, because it is the best documented case of human rights breaches in Russia. Being a lawyer, Magnitsky constantly submitted complaints on the judicial process, imprisonment conditions, and denial of medical care. Despite that, Russian officials continue claiming that Magnitsky did not complain about anything while being in prison and died of "national reasons". The posthumous trial against Magnitsky found him guilty of tax evasion last year and still continues.</p> <p>Leonidas Donskis is the only author from Lithuania contributing to the book by Servettaz and also a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Magnitsky Group. Speaking in one of the events, Donskis called Sergei a big small man explaining that Magnitsky was not a human rights defender or dissident, did not belong to any NGOs, but simply honestly worked as a lawyer and wanted the justice to be done and hundreds of millions USD returned to the Russian budget. He chose the rule of law instead of the loyalty to the system and paid with his life for it.</p> <p>Discussing the necessity of the Magnitsky law in Europe, the panellists agreed with Donskis that this would be the best proof of the Western solidarity and fidelity to human rights, human dignity and life. Such law would send a signal to Russia that a life of a human being will never be only an internal matter of a country. This way, Europe would support the people who defend freedom and ordinary citizens, and not the dictators.</p> <p>Unfortunately, despite the numerous resolutions by the European Parliament, some initiated by Leonidas Donskis, the EU member states remain deaf to urges to introduce sanctions for officials responsible for Magnitsky`s death. Such sanctions would include visa bans and asset freezes in the EU. According to the director of the Freedom House office in Lithuania, Vytis Jurkonis, the EU has no instruments to put pressure on Russian officials who breached the rule of law and numerous human rights and who continue to enjoy the benefits of the EU, like travelling, buying real estate, and educating their children in the European universities. Ivan Tyutrin, a member of the opposition party United Civil Front established by Garry Kasparov, explained that the "Magnitsky List" is of a great importance to Vladimir Putin himself, because its existence would make it difficult for Putin to protect the real estate of the people in his circle abroad and that would weaken Putin`s position. This is why Putin reacted so strongly to the Magnitsky law passed in the US in 2012 and banned US citizens from adopting Russian children.</p> <p>Leonidas Donskis reminded that Lithuania was never afraid of taking decisions which are not acceptable for Kremlin. He called it one of the most remarkable traditions of the Lithuanian politics and urged to continue it becoming the first EU member adopting the Magnitsky law.</p> <p>***</p> <p>The book by Elena Servettaz "Why Europe Needs a Magnitsky Law: Should the EU follow the US?" can be found here. The movie "Justice for Sergei" can be watched here.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1677 Thu, 20 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0200 REPORT on the eradication of torture in the world (2013/2169(INI)) http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1689 <p>The European Parliament,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other UN human rights treaties and instruments,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1975[1],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the Optional Protocol thereto (OPCAT),</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and other relevant universally applicable UN standards,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment[2],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the UN General Assembly resolutions on torture,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the statement adopted by the UN Committee against Torture on 22&nbsp;November 2001 in connection with the events of 11 September 2001, pointing out that the prohibition against torture is an absolute and non-derogable duty under international law and expressing its confidence that &lsquo;whatever responses to the threat of international terrorism are adopted by States parties [to the Convention], such responses will be in conformity with the obligations undertaken by them in ratifying the Convention against Torture&rsquo;,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the UN General Assembly resolution of 20 December 2012 on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty[3],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the UN General Assembly resolutions on the rights of the child, most recently its resolution of 20 December 2012 thereon[4],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, and in particular Article 3 thereof, which states that &lsquo;no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment&rsquo;,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, adopted by the UN on 28 July 1951[5],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the 23rd General Report of the Council of Europe&rsquo;s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, published on 6 November 2013[6],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the two Optional Protocols thereto, on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography[7] and on the involvement of children in armed conflict[8], respectively,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocol thereto[9],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, which entered into force in 1997[10],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Statute of the International Criminal Court,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Istanbul Protocol)[11],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy[12], as adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June 2012,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as updated in 2012[13],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the EU Guidelines on the death penalty of 16 June 2008[14],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law[15],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2012, adopted by the Council on 6 June 2013[16],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2012 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2011 and the European Union&rsquo;s policy on the matter[17],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2012 on the review of the EU&rsquo;s human rights strategy[18],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its resolution of 10 October 2013 on alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA[19],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its study of March 2007 entitled &lsquo;The Implementation of the EU Guidelines on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment&rsquo;[20],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to 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[21],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment[22],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its recommendation to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to the Council and to the Commission of 13 June 2013 on the 2013 review of the organisation and the functioning of the EEAS[23],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Women&rsquo;s Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0100/2014),</p> <p>A.&nbsp; whereas, although the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is a key international norm, provided for in both UN and regional human rights conventions, torture still persists worldwide;</p> <p>B.&nbsp; whereas in this resolution the term &lsquo;torture&rsquo; should be understood in accordance with the UN definition and also includes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;</p> <p>C.&nbsp; whereas the CAT and the OPCAT have created an international framework with real potential to move towards the eradication of torture, especially through the creation of independent and effective national preventive mechanisms (NPMs);</p> <p>D.&nbsp; whereas the EU has reinforced the commitment made in the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights to continue to campaign vigorously against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;</p> <p>E. whereas the eradication of torture, ill-treatment and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is an integral part of EU human rights policy, closely interlinked with other areas and instruments of EU action;</p> <p>F. whereas the EU Guidelines on torture were updated in 2012, while the last comprehensive public stocktaking and review of implementing measures took place in 2008;</p> <p>G.&nbsp; whereas, according to the updated guidelines, in the fight against terrorism the Member States are determined to comply fully with international obligations prohibiting torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;</p> <p>H.&nbsp; whereas torture can be both physical and psychological; whereas there is a growing number of cases in which psychiatry has been used as a tool for the coercion of human rights defenders and dissidents, who are placed in psychiatric institutions in order to prevent them from carrying out their political and community activities;</p> <p>I. whereas the Member States` judiciaries should have the tools to prosecute those torturers who have never been judged, and whereas particular attention should be given to cases of torture under dictatorships in Europe, as many of these crimes have gone unpunished;</p> <p>J. whereas the erosion of the absolute prohibition of torture remains a persistent challenge in the context of antiterrorism measures in many countries;</p> <p>K. whereas there are significant policy challenges as regards the specific protection needs of vulnerable groups, in particular children;</p> <p>L. whereas the police in some countries use torture as their interrogation method of choice; whereas torture cannot be regarded as an acceptable way to solve crimes;</p> <p>1. Stresses that the prohibition of torture is absolute under international and humanitarian law and under the CAT; stresses that torture constitutes one of the ultimate violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, takes a terrible toll on millions of individuals and their families, and cannot be justified under any circumstances;</p> <p>2. Welcomes the inclusion of three actions relating to the eradication of torture in the EU Action Plan on Democracy and Human Rights, but emphasises the need for specific and measurable benchmarks to assess their timely implementation, in partnership with civil society;</p> <p>3. Pays tribute to all those civil society organisations, national human rights institutions, NPMs and individuals striving to provide redress and reparation to victims, fighting impunity and actively preventing the scourge of torture and ill‑treatment around the world;</p> <p>4. Notes that, according to the CAT, the term `torture` means any act by which &lsquo;severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person ... by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity&rsquo;; considers, however, that situations in which acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment occur with the involvement of actors other than state or public officials also need to be addressed through policy measures for prevention, accountability and rehabilitation;</p> <p>5. Denounces the continued prevalence of torture and other forms of ill-treatment throughout the world and reiterates its absolute condemnation of such acts, which are and must remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever and can thus never be justified; observes that the implementation of the EU guidelines on torture remains insufficient and at odds with EU statements and commitments to addressing torture as a matter of priority; urges the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to give renewed impetus to the implementation of those guidelines, namely by identifying priorities, best practices and public diplomacy opportunities, consulting relevant stakeholders, including civil society organisations and reviewing the implementation of the torture-related issues mentioned in the Action Plan; calls, in this connection, for the full and timely implementation of the three actions in the Action Plan that relate to the eradication of torture;</p> <p>6. Recommends that a forthcoming revision of the Action Plan define more ambitious and specific actions to eradicate torture, such as more efficient information- and burden-sharing, training and joint initiatives with UN field offices and the relevant UN Special Rapporteurs and other international actors, such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, along with support for the establishment and strengthening of regional torture prevention mechanisms;</p> <p>7. Welcomes the 2012 update of the EU Guidelines on torture; underlines the importance of effective and results-oriented implementation of those Guidelines in conjunction with other guidelines and policy initiatives;</p> <p>8. Welcomes the fact that the guidelines reflect a holistic policy approach, including the promotion of an adequate legislative and judicial framework for the effective prevention and prohibition of torture, monitoring of places of detention, efforts to address impunity, and the full and effective rehabilitation of torture victims, backed up by credible, consistent and coherent action;</p> <p>9. Calls on the Council, the EEAS and the Commission to take more effective steps to ensure that Parliament and civil society are involved, at the very least, in the assessment exercise in respect of the EU Guidelines on torture;</p> <p>10. Reiterates the vital importance of rehabilitation centres for torture victims, both inside and outside the EU, in addressing not only the physical, but also the long-term psychological, problems experienced by torture victims; welcomes the EU&rsquo;s provision of financial aid to rehabilitation centres for torture victims throughout the world and suggests that they adopt a multidisciplinary approach in their activities, encompassing counselling, access to medical treatment, and social and legal support; remains convinced that the funding provided by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) to such centres in third countries should not be cut, even in the current financial and economic crisis, since national healthcare systems in those countries are often not in a position to address the specific problems of torture victims adequately;</p> <p>11. Regrets the fact that no comprehensive public stocktaking and review of the implementation of the guidelines has been carried out since 2008 and stresses the need for regular and comprehensive assessment of their implementation;</p> <p>12. Recommends that the Guidelines be accompanied by detailed implementing measures to be circulated to EU heads of mission and Member State representations in third countries; calls on heads of mission to include individual cases of torture and ill-treatment in their implementation and follow-up reports;</p> <p>13. Stresses that EU policy should be based on the efficient coordination of initiatives and actions at EU and Member State level so as to exploit the full potential of available political instruments and their synergy with EU-funded projects;</p> <p>14. Calls on the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States to undertake periodic reviews of the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 banning the trade of torture and capital punishment equipment, and to promote that regulation worldwide as a viable model for enforcing an effective ban on torture tools;</p> <p>15. Takes note of the recent Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (COM(2014)0001); stresses the importance of addressing brokering services, technical assistance and the transit of relevant goods; reiterates Parliament&rsquo;s earlier call for the insertion of a &lsquo;torture end-use catch-all clause&rsquo; into the regulation in order to allow Member States, on the basis of prior information, to license or refuse the export of any items which pose a substantial risk of being used for torture, ill-treatment or capital punishment;</p> <p>16. Considers that the death penalty, as a violation of the right to personal integrity and human dignity, is incompatible with the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment under international law and calls on the EEAS and the Member States formally to acknowledge this incompatibility and to adapt EU policy on capital punishment accordingly; emphasises the need to interpret the respective EU guidelines on the death penalty and torture as cross-cutting; considers deplorable the physical and psychological isolation of, and pressures on, prisoners on death row; reiterates the need for a comprehensive legal study and discussions at UN level on the links between the application of the death penalty, including the death row phenomenon of severe mental trauma and physical deterioration, and the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;</p> <p>17. Supports an immediate ban on stoning; stresses that it is a brutal form of execution;</p> <p>18. Encourages the resumption of the Council&rsquo;s torture task force, which should give renewed impetus to the implementation of the EU guidelines by identifying priorities, best practices and public diplomacy opportunities, undertaking consultation with relevant stakeholders and civil society organisations and contributing to the regular review of implementation in respect of the torture-related issues mentioned in the Action Plan;</p> <p>19. Is particularly concerned about the torture of human rights defenders in prisons, including community activists, journalists, human rights lawyers and bloggers; recognises that it is often the people who are most involved in the fight for human rights and democracy who suffer the most through unlawful detention, intimidation, torture and the exposure of their families to danger; insists that both EU missions on the ground and high‑level EU officials systematically and consistently raise this issue in meetings with their third-country counterparts, including by mentioning the names of specific human rights defenders who are in prison;</p> <p>20. Notes with grave concern the existence of secret detention centres and the practice of incommunicado detention and prolonged solitary confinement in several countries, which represent some of the most worrying examples of torture and ill-treatment; believes that these cases should be systematically raised in statements and d&eacute;marches and included in the list of individual cases discussed during human rights dialogues and consultations between the EU and third countries;</p> <p>21. Reiterates its concern about widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea (DPRK), in particular the use of torture and labour camps for political prisoners and repatriated citizens of the DPRK; calls on the DPRK authorities, as a first step, to allow inspections of all types of detention facility by independent international experts;</p> <p>22. Stresses that no exceptions from the absolute prohibition of torture and practices involving cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment can be justified, and that states have an obligation to implement safeguards to prevent the perpetration of torture and ill‑treatment, and to ensure accountability and access to effective remedies and reparations at all times, including in the context of national security concerns and counterterrorism measures; considers it worrying that some countries are assigning parallel policing tasks to paramilitary groups in an attempt to elude their international obligations; emphasises that the prohibition also applies to the transfer and use of information where it is either obtained by or likely to result in torture; recalls that the prohibition of torture is a binding norm under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, which means that it is valid both in peacetime and in wartime;</p> <p>23. Expresses its concern at police brutality in certain countries and considers this issue to be central to the prevention of torture and degrading treatment, especially in cases where peaceful demonstrations are put down, bearing in mind that according to the international definitions violence of this kind constitutes ill-treatment, at the very least, if not torture;</p> <p>24. Welcomes the joint project of the Council of Europe and the Association for the Prevention of Torture aimed at drawing up a practical guide for parliamentarians on visiting immigration detention centres;</p> <p>25. Calls for the adoption of a practical guide for parliamentarians on visiting places of detention as part of regular visits to third countries by European Parliament delegations; considers that the guide should include specific advice on visits to detention centres and other places where children and women may be detained, and should secure the application of the &lsquo;do no harm&rsquo; principle in accordance with the UN Training Manual on Human Rights Monitoring, in particular with a view to avoiding reprisals against detainees and their families following such visits; calls for such visits to be undertaken in consultation with the EU delegation in the country concerned, NGOs and organisations active in prisons;</p> <p>26. Calls on the EEAS, the Human Rights Working Group (COHOM) and other relevant actors jointly to undertake a survey of EU support for the establishment and functioning of NPMs, and to identify best practices as outlined in the Action Plan;</p> <p>27. Calls on the EEAS, the Member States and the Commission to facilitate the establishment and functioning of independent and effective NPMs, and particularly the professional training of their staff;</p> <p>28. Calls on COHOM, the torture task force and the Commission&rsquo;s DG HOME to develop measures integrating torture prevention into all freedom, security and justice activities;</p> <p>Addressing protection gaps, in particular vis-&agrave;-vis the torture of children</p> <p>29. Expresses its particular concern regarding acts of torture and ill-treatment committed against members of vulnerable groups, in particular children; calls for the EU to take political, diplomatic and financial measures to prevent the torture of children;</p> <p>30. Calls for the EU to address various forms of human rights violation affecting children, especially those linked to child trafficking, child pornography, child soldiers, children in military detention, child labour, accusations of child witchcraft, and cyber bullying, where they amount to torture, including in orphanages, detention centres and refugee camps, and to implement effective safeguards to protect children wherever authorities are involved in any way in torture affecting children,</p> <p>31. Points out that unaccompanied migrant children should never be sent back to a country where they may be in danger of being tortured or of suffering inhuman or degrading treatment;</p> <p>32. Notes that the abusive deprivation of children&rsquo;s liberty, especially in the context of preventive detention and the detention of migrant children, has resulted in overcrowded detention centres and an increase in torture and ill-treatment of children; calls on states to ensure that the deprivation of children&rsquo;s liberty is, as required by universal human rights standards, genuinely used only as a measure of last resort, for the minimum necessary period and always taking into account the best interest of the child;</p> <p>33. Calls on states to develop a more child-friendly justice system, comprising free and confidential child-friendly reporting mechanisms, including in detention centres, that empower children not only to assert their rights, but also to report violations;</p> <p>34. Stresses the need for the EU to address the use of the internet by adults and children for the psychological torture of children and harassment through social media; notes that, despite the existence of its Safer Internet programme, the EU`s response to the phenomenon of internet bullying has been inadequate; highlights the recent spate of incidents involving children taking their lives as a result of online bullying, and the continued existence of websites, hosted in Member States, which have been directly or indirectly implicated in these actions; stresses, therefore, the urgency of the EU taking clear and firm action against online bullying and harassment and the websites facilitating it;</p> <p>35. Recommends focusing EU policy efforts on rehabilitation and psychological support centres for children who are victims of torture, with a child-friendly approach that takes account of cultural values;</p> <p>36. Recommends including the torture of children in the planned targeted campaign on the rights of the child, as set out in the Action Plan;</p> <p>37. Recommends that the EEAS and the Commission pay special attention to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment targeting artists, journalists, human rights defenders, student leaders, health professionals and individuals belonging to other vulnerable groups, such as ethnic, linguistic, religious and other minorities, especially when they are being held in detention or in prison;</p> <p>38. Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the heads of the EU delegations, in their dialogue with authorities of third countries, to raise the issue of gender-based forms of torture that make girls a particularly vulnerable group, in particular female genital mutilation and early or forced marriages, as specified in the Strategic Framework and Action Plan;</p> <p>39. Calls on the EEAS and COHOM specifically to address the torture of children in the forthcoming updates of the EU guidelines on torture and the Action Plan;</p> <p>40. Expresses concern at the fact that women are particularly likely to be subjected to specific acts of torture and forms of inhuman or degrading treatment (rape, sexual mutilation, sterilisation, abortion, enforced birth control and deliberate impregnation), especially during armed conflicts, in which such acts are used as a type of warfare, even against those who are under age;</p> <p>41. Similarly condemns acts of torture, violence and abuse perpetrated on account of a person&rsquo;s sexual orientation or gender identity;</p> <p>42. Points to the need to support the work of NGOs involved in preventing violence in conflict situations, and hence the torture and ill-treatment inflicted on the civilian population in such situations, and, to this end, to raise awareness within armed groups of the need to comply with international humanitarian standards, especially as regards gender‑based violence;</p> <p>Fight against torture in the EU&rsquo;s relations with third countries</p> <p>43. Calls on the EEAS, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights (EUSR) and COHOM to make sure that human rights country strategies (HRCSs) contain country-specific objectives and benchmarks relating to the fight against torture, including the identification of groups requiring special protection, such as children, women, displaced people, refugees and migrants, and those facing discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, caste or cultural background, religious or other beliefs, sexual orientation or gender identity;</p> <p>44. Appeals to the EU and the international community as a whole to observe the principle of non-refoulement, whereby no asylum-seekers should be sent back to a country where they may be in danger of torture or of suffering inhuman or degrading treatment as defined in the Convention of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees;</p> <p>45. Stresses that HRCSs should identify protection gaps, appropriate interlocutors and entry points such as the UN framework or security sector or judiciary reform, with a view to addressing torture-related concerns in each country;</p> <p>46. Recommends that HRCSs address the root causes of violence and ill-treatment by government agencies and in private settings, and define assistance needs with a view to offering EU technical assistance for capacity-building, legal reform and training, so as to help third countries comply with international obligations and norms, in particular in the context of signing and ratifying the CAT and the OPCAT and complying with their provisions on prevention (specifically the establishment of NPMs), fighting impunity, and the rehabilitation of victims;</p> <p>47. Further recommends that HRCSs include measures to encourage the establishment and operation, or where appropriate the strengthening, of national institutions which can effectively address the prevention of torture and ill-treatment, including the possibility of financial and technical assistance where necessary;</p> <p>48. Underlines the need for the EEAS and the EU delegations to make available specific information regarding the availability in third countries of support and possible legal remedies for victims of torture and ill-treatment;</p> <p>49. Calls on the EEAS and the EU delegations to make full, but carefully targeted and country‑specific, use of the political instruments at their disposal as outlined in the EU guidelines on torture, including public statements, local d&eacute;marches, human rights dialogues and consultations, to raise individual cases, the legislative framework relating to torture prevention and the ratification and implementation of relevant international conventions; calls on the EEAS and the Member States to resume their past practice of carrying out targeted global campaigns on thematic issues relating to torture;</p> <p>50. Calls on the EU delegations and Member State embassies on the ground to implement the provisions of the EU guidelines on torture, and on the EEAS and COHOM regularly to monitor their implementation;</p> <p>51. Urges the EU delegations and Member States embassies throughout the world to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June each year by organising seminars, exhibitions and other events;</p> <p>52. Calls on the EEAS and the EUSR systematically to raise the issue of torture and ill-treatment in EU human rights dialogues and consultations with third countries;</p> <p>53. Recommends making torture-related issues the focus of local and regional civil society forums and seminars, with the potential for follow-up as part of the regular human rights consultations and dialogues;</p> <p>54. Calls on the EU, in its human rights dialogues, to promote the implementation of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners with a view to ensuring that prisoners&rsquo; inherent dignity is respected and that fundamental rights and guarantees are upheld, and also to ensure that the application of these rules is extended to all places of deprivation of liberty, including mental hospitals and police stations;</p> <p>55. Calls on the EU delegations and on Parliament delegations to carry out visits to prisons and other places of detention, including juvenile detention centres and places where children may be detained, to observe trials where there is reason to believe that defendants may have been subjected to torture or ill-treatment and to ask for information on and the independent investigation of individual cases;</p> <p>56. Calls on the EU delegations to provide support for members of civil society who are prevented from visiting prisons and observing trials;</p> <p>57. Calls on the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to meet the commitments made in the Action Plan to facilitate the establishment and functioning of independent and effective NPMs; calls on the Member States to review and analyse with diligence and transparency the existing NPMs and national human rights institutions in the EU and in third countries, and to identify best practices among them, making sure that they include a child rights perspective, with a view to strengthening the existing mechanisms, making improvements and promoting these examples to partner countries;</p> <p>58. Invites the EU delegations to call for detention to be used as a last resort, and to seek alternatives, particularly for people in vulnerable situations such as women, children, asylum-seekers and migrants;</p> <p>59. Is deeply concerned at recent reports of EU-based companies supplying chemicals used for lethal injection drugs in the USA; welcomes, in this connection, the development by a number of European pharmaceutical companies of a contractual export and control system aimed at ensuring that the product Propofol is not used for lethal injections in countries still applying the death penalty, including the USA;</p> <p>EU action in multilateral fora and international organisations</p> <p>60. Welcomes the EU&rsquo;s persistent efforts to initiate and support the regular adoption of UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions and to treat the issue as a priority under the UN framework; suggests that the VP/HR and the EUSR maintain regular contact with the UN Special Rapporteur on torture with a view to sharing information relevant to the EU`s foreign policy relations with third countries; suggests also that the Committee on Foreign Affairs and its Subcommittee on Human Rights regularly invite the UN Special Rapporteur on torture to brief Parliament on torture-related matters in specific countries;</p> <p>61. Points out that, as stipulated in Articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), torture, if committed systematically or on a large scale, can constitute a war crime or a crime against humanity; maintains that, by virtue of the responsibility to protect, the international community has a duty to protect populations who fall victim to such crimes, and, accordingly, calls for the decision-making procedure in the UN Security Council to be reviewed in order to avert deadlock in cases involving the responsibility to protect;</p> <p>62. Calls on third countries to cooperate fully with the UN Special Rapporteur, the Committee against Torture and regional anti-torture bodies such as the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and the Organisation of American States (OAS) Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty; encourages the Member States and the EEAS systematically to take into account the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur and other bodies for follow-up in contacts with third countries, including as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process;</p> <p>63. Urges the EEAS, the EUSR and the Member States actively to promote the ratification and implementation of the CAT and the OPCAT as a priority and to step up their efforts to facilitate the establishment and functioning of effective and independent NPMs in third countries;</p> <p>64. Calls on the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to support the establishment and functioning of regional torture prevention mechanisms, including the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa and the OAS Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty;</p> <p>65. Calls on the EEAS, the EUSR and the Commission to step up their support for third countries, enabling them to implement effectively the recommendations of the relevant UN treaty bodies, including the Committee against Torture and its Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women;</p> <p>66. Calls on the EEAS, within its capacity, to provide technical assistance for the rehabilitation of torture victims and their families with the aim of empowering them to rebuild their lives;</p> <p>67. Underlines the importance of the Member States` active participation in implementing the provisions of the Action Plan and providing the EEAS with regular updates on the action they have undertaken in this regard;</p> <p>68. Calls on the EU to cooperate more efficiently with the CPT and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe;</p> <p>European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)</p> <p>69. Welcomes the existing initiatives and projects under the EIDHR, 7&nbsp;% of whose funds have been allocated to torture-related projects, and underlines the need to continue earmarking specific funds for the fight against torture and cruel or degrading treatment or punishment, with a focus on awareness-raising, prevention, addressing impunity, and the social and psychological rehabilitation of torture victims, priority being given to projects of a holistic nature;</p> <p>70. Stresses that the funds allocated to projects under the upcoming programming period should take into account the EU priorities outlined in the Action Plan;</p> <p>71. Calls on the Member States to provide an overview of bilateral assistance programmes in the field of torture prevention and rehabilitation with a view to sharing best practices, achieving efficient burden-sharing and creating synergies and complementarity with EIDHR projects;</p> <p>Credibility, coherence and consistency of EU policy</p> <p>72. Points out that the EU and its Member States need to set an example in order to establish their credibility; calls, therefore, on Belgium, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Latvia and Slovakia to ratify the OPCAT as a matter of priority and establish independent, well‑resourced and effective NPMs; notes the importance of individual communications as an instrument for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and urges the Member States to accept individual jurisdictions in compliance with Article 21 of the CAT; calls on the signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to sign and ratify the 3rd Protocol thereto; also calls on the 21 Member States which have yet to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to do so as a matter of urgency;</p> <p>73. Calls on those Member States which have not made declarations recognising the Article 22 jurisdiction of the CAT to do so as a matter of priority;</p> <p>74. Calls on all those Member States which have NPMs to engage in a constructive dialogue with a view to implementing NPM recommendations, along with the recommendations of the CPT, the CAT and its Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture, in a coherent and complementary way;</p> <p>75. Urges the EU to strengthen its commitment to the universal values of human rights and, accordingly, calls for it to use its neighbourhood policy and the principle of &lsquo;more for more&rsquo; to encourage neighbouring countries to embark on reforms with a view to intensifying their action against torture;</p> <p>76. Regrets the very limited support provided by the Member States to the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture and the OPCAT Special Fund; calls on the Member States and the Commission to support the work of these funds through substantial and regular voluntary contributions, in line with their commitments under the Action Plan;</p> <p>77. Maintains that the EU should take a more determined stand, and calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to strengthen their commitment and political will with a view to securing a worldwide moratorium on capital punishment;</p> <p>78. Calls on the Commission to draw up an action plan with a view to creating a mechanism for listing and imposing targeted sanctions (travel bans, freezing of assets) against officials of third countries (including police officers, prosecutors and judges) involved in grave human rights violations, such as torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; stresses that the criteria for inclusion in the list should be based on well‑documented, converging and independent sources and convincing evidence, allowing for mechanisms for redress for those targeted;</p> <p>79. Recalls the obligation of all states, including the EU Member States, to adhere strictly to the principle of non-refoulement, under which states must not deport or extradite people to a jurisdiction where they run the risk of persecution; considers that the practice of seeking diplomatic assurances from the receiving state does not relieve the sending state of its obligations, and denounces such practices, which seek to circumvent the absolute prohibition of torture and refoulement;</p> <p>80. Notes the EU&rsquo;s vital position on the world stage when it comes to combating torture, in close cooperation with the UN; stresses that strengthening the principle of zero tolerance for torture remains at the core of EU policies and strategies to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, both outside and inside the EU; regrets the fact that not all the Member States comply fully with Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 and that some companies based in industrialised countries may have illegally sold to third countries policing and security devices that can be used for torture;</p> <p>81. Calls on the Council and the Commission to complete the current review of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005, including the annexes thereto, with a view to more effective implementation in line with Parliament&rsquo;s recommendations as set out in its resolution of 17 June 2010 on the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No&nbsp;1236/2005; calls on the Member States to comply fully with the provisions of that regulation, in particular the obligation of all Member States under Article 13 thereof to compile timely annual activity reports and make them public, and to share information with the Commission regarding licensing decisions;</p> <p>Considerations on fighting torture and development policy</p> <p>82. Recalls the need to set up an integrated and comprehensive strategy to fight torture by addressing its root causes; believes that this should include overall institutional transparency and a stronger political will at state level to fight ill-treatment; underlines the urgent need to tackle poverty, inequality, discrimination and violence by using NPMs and strengthening local authorities and NGOs; stresses the need to further enhance the EU&rsquo;s development cooperation and human rights implementation machinery in order to address the root causes of violence;</p> <p>83. Stresses that access to justice, the fight against impunity, impartial investigations, the empowerment of civil society and the promotion of education against ill-treatment are essential for combating torture;</p> <p>84. Stresses that the use of the term &lsquo;torture&rsquo;, and hence the absolute prohibition, prosecution and punishment of this practice, should not be ruled out when such acts are inflicted by irregular armed forces or tribal, religious or rebel groups;</p> <p>85. Recalls the importance and specificity of the dialogue on human rights as a component part of the political dialogue under Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement; recalls also that every dialogue with third countries on human rights should include a robust anti‑torture component;</p> <p>86. Urges the Council and the Commission to encourage their partner countries to adopt a victim-oriented approach in the fight against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, by paying special attention to the needs of victims in development cooperation policy; stresses that introducing aid conditionality is an effective way of addressing the problem, but that high‑level dialogue and negotiation, civil society involvement, strengthening of national capacity and a focus on incentives can achieve better results;</p> <p>Considerations on the fight against torture and women&rsquo;s rights</p> <p>87. Urges the EU to ensure, by means of aid conditionality, that third countries protect all human beings from torture, especially women and girls; calls on the Commission to reconsider its aid policy towards countries practising torture and to divert aid to support victims;</p> <p>88. Welcomes the measures contemplated by the Commission in its communication entitled &lsquo;Towards the elimination of female genital mutilation&rsquo; (COM (2013)0833), and reiterates the need for consistency between the Union&rsquo;s internal and external policies with regard to this problem; restates, moreover, the continuing need for the EU to work with third countries to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation; encourages those Member States which have not yet done so to criminalise female genital mutilation in their national legislation and to ensure that the relevant legislation is implemented;</p> <p>89. Expresses its concern over cases involving the execution of women with mental health problems or learning difficulties;</p> <p>90. Condemns all forms of violence against women, in particular honour killings, violence entrenched in cultural or religious beliefs, forced marriage, child marriage, gendercide and dowry deaths; affirms that the EU must treat these as forms of torture; calls on all stakeholders to work actively to prevent torture practices through education and awareness-raising measures;</p> <p>91. Condemns all forms of torture of women related to charges of sorcery or witchcraft, as practised in various countries around the world;</p> <p>92. Welcomes the Rome Statute&rsquo;s progressive and innovative approach in recognising sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced sterilisation and other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity, as a form of torture and, as such, as a war crime and a crime against humanity; also welcomes the implementation by the ICCʼs victim support fund of programmes to rehabilitate women who have suffered torture, notably in post-conflict situations;</p> <p>93. Calls for the EU to encourage those countries which have not yet done so to ratify and implement the CAT and the Rome Statute, and to incorporate the relevant provisions on gender-based violence into their domestic legislation;</p> <p>94. Urges states to condemn strongly torture and violence against women and girls committed in armed conflict and post-conflict situations; recognises that sexual and gender-based violence affects victims and survivors, relatives, communities and societies, and calls for effective measures for accountability and redress and for effective remedies;</p> <p>95. Regards it as crucial that national prosecutors and judges have the capacity and expertise properly to prosecute and try individuals for gender-based crimes;</p> <p>96. Considers that the failure to separate transgender women prisoners from male prisoners in detention is cruel, inhuman, degrading and unacceptable;</p> <p>97. Calls for the EU, in its human rights dialogues, to promote the implementation of the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules), with a view to strengthening international norms for the treatment of women prisoners, encompassing the aspects of health, gender sensitivity and childcare;</p> <p>98. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice‑President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments of the Member States, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>[1] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/DeclarationTorture.aspx</p> <p>[2] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx</p> <p>[3] (A/RES/67/176).</p> <p>[4] (A/RES/67/167).</p> <p>[5] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/StatusOfRefugees.aspx</p> <p>[6] http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/annual/rep-23.pdf</p> <p>[7] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPSCCRC.aspx</p> <p>[8] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPACCRC.aspx</p> <p>[9] http://www.icrc.org/eng/war-and-law/treaties-customary-law/geneva-conventions/</p> <p>[10] http://www.cidh.oas.org/Basicos/English/Basic9.Torture.htm</p> <p>[11] Published by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/training8Rev1en.pdf</p> <p>[12] Council document 11855/2012.</p> <p>[13] http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/8590.en08.pdf</p> <p>[14] http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/10015.en08.pdf</p> <p>[15] http://eeas.europa.eu/human_rights/docs/guidelines_en.pdf</p> <p>[16] http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/13/st09/st09431.en13.pdf</p> <p>[17] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0503.</p> <p>[18] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0504.</p> <p>[19] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0418.</p> <p>[20] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2007/348584/EXPO-DROI_ET(2007)348584_EN.pdf</p> <p>[21] OJ L 200, 30.7.2005, p. 1.</p> <p>[22] OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 107.</p> <p>[23] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0278.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1689 Wed, 12 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Torture exists not only in movies http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1674 <p>Last week, during the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, the members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) had to also attend committee meetings. Although they usually take place in Brussels, in some urgent or extraordinary cases the meetings are also held in Strasbourg. This time, AFET members voted on the draft report on eradication of torture in the world. The adoption of this report is foreseen for the EP plenary in March.</p> <p>The report prepared by V&eacute;ronique De Keyser, a Belgian member of the Socialists and Democrats (S&amp;D) group, was shadowed by Leonidas Donskis on behalf of his group the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). As a shadow rapporteur, Mr Donskis submitted a number of amendments to the report.</p> <p>According to the definition by the United Nations (UN) torture is any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, intimidating or coercing him, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by of a public official or other person in an official capacity</p> <p>Although many might think that torture is unimaginable in the modern world and that inhumane imprisonment or investigation methods can only be seen in movies, the situation on the ground is very different. According to the UN data, cases of torture were reported in 90 per cent of countries in the world and in around half of them this represents a systematic problem. The absolute majority of torture cases happen in imprisonment institutions, like in custody or investigation rooms, prisons etc. As these places are hidden from public, torture is not visible to the public or even secret. The middle age techniques are not used anymore nowadays, but the torture methods still remain very cruel, inhumane and painful: beating, electrical shock, extraction of teeth, leaving the prisoners naked or in uncomfortable positions for hours, waterboarding, threats, intimidation and others. Modern torture techniques are designed to leave only minimal physical traces.</p> <p>The main documents fighting for the universal ban on torture are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which came into force in 1987. This convention is signed and ratified by the absolute majority of countries in the world. However, as stated in the AFET draft report, in many countries this universal ban is not upheld. Therefore, the MEPs urge the EU to define more specific actions for the eradication of torture and to systematically include the questions on torture and inhumane treatment in human rights dialogues and consultations as a separate topic. The MEPs also draw attention to the most urgent problems and areas related to torture. Besides, the EU institutions and member states are called upon to control if their companies do not trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The document mentions the fact that some member states have secret detention centres. The countries that have yet to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) are urged to do so as a matter of priority and to join the international control system for imprisonment institutions. Lithuania ratified this protocol only a few weeks ago.</p> <p>ALDE shadow rapporteur and coordinator for human right Leonidas Donskis submitted a number of amendments together with his colleagues to the draft report tabled by De Keyser. Mr Donskis proposed to draw particular attention to the cases of psychological torture. He states that there are more and more cases when psychiatry is used as a torture tool against human rights defenders and dissidents who are kept in psychiatry institutions in order to prohibit their political activities.</p> <p>Mr Donskis also draw attention to the fact that in most cases those suffering from illegal imprisonment, threats, torture in prisons and facing danger to their family members are people related to the fight for human rights and democracy, like community activists, journalists, human right lawyers and bloggers. This amendment by Mr Donskis was included into the document text during the AFET voting session. Lithuanian MEP also urges EU missions and officials to systematically and constantly raise this question in the meetings with colleagues from third countries, to mention the concrete cases of imprisoned human right defenders and to provide support to civil society activists in cases when they are not allowed to visit prisons or observe court procedures.</p> <p>Leonidas Donskis stresses the importance of rehabilitation centres for torture victims both inside and outside of the EU in addressing not only physical, but also long-term psychological problems experienced by torture victims. Mr Donskis is convinced that funding for such centres in third countries should not be cut even in the face of the financial and economic crisis since national healthcare systems of these countries are often not in a position to adequately address the specific problems of torture victims.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1674 Tue, 11 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0200 EP plenary session: Ukraine and Russia in focus http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1673 <p>This February, the Members of the European Parliament will visit Strasbourg for two plenary sessions. The agenda of the first session featured a number of topics important in our everyday life, including the rights of air passengers, distribution of music online, documentation related to moving into another EU country, the rights of seasonal workers, and others. These are the topics highlighted by an alternative EU election campaign "We are not sexy and we know it" which stresses that participating in the EU elections we will not change the world, but we can elect MEPs who will deal with many ordinary life issues faced by every European. A funny alternative campaign video can be found here.</p> <p>Ukraine: criticism for EU`s lack of action and demands for sanctions</p> <p>Of course, the most important events around the world were also discussed in this EP session. One of them is the on-going demonstrations in Ukraine which turned violent in the last weeks witnessing victims. When the tensions in Ukraine reached the peak and the US immediately cancelled visas for Ukrainian officials related to the bloodshed, the European Union seems to lack a concrete plan for Ukraine. Although this Wednesday, while the EU Enlargement Commissioner &Scaron;tefan F&uuml;le discussed the situation in Ukraine with the MEPs in Strasbourg, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton was in Kiev in search for a political solution for Ukraine, many MEPs stressed that they wish to see concrete EU actions and not rhetoric and visits to the country.</p> <p>One of the strictest positions was voiced by Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), a member of which is Leonidas Donskis. Mr Verhofstadt who has been recently confirmed as the liberal candidate for Commission President stressed that in order to improve the situation in Ukraine the EU must have a credible strategy followed by actions. It should also include sanctions for the representatives of the regime limiting their travel options, cancelling visas and freezing their assets in the Union. In addition to that, the EU must prepare also encouraging measures, like visa-free regime for ordinary Ukrainians and financial support for the Ukrainian economy.</p> <p>"Ukrainian people in Maidan not only defend their own rights and dignity. They also defend Europe and European values. They defend the EU Eastern Partnership. If they leave the square, the whole region will become a part of a new version Soviet Union", - said Mr Verhofstadt in Strasbourg.</p> <p>On Thursday, the MEPs voted for a strict resolution on the situation in Ukraine which was also tabled by MEP Donskis on behalf of the ALDE group. It says that the crisis in Ukraine can be solved by assembling an interim government and preparing for early elections. The MEPs strongly condemn violence against peaceful citizens, students, members of civil society, opposition politicians and religious leaders. EP demands that President Yanukovych cease the shameful deployment of Berkut riot police and other security forces in provoking, kidnapping, harassing, torturing, beating and humiliating supporters of the EuroMaidans, who were also called to refrain from the use of violence. It is very important that the MEPs also urge to increase diplomatic pressure and prepare personalised targeted measures (travel sanctions and asset and property freezes) with regard to all those Ukrainian officials and legislators and their business sponsors (oligarchs) who are responsible for the crackdowns on and deaths of protestors. EU institutions and member states are encouraged to commit to a broad opening to Ukrainian society, in particular through a swift agreement on a cost-free visa regime and ultimately a visa-free regime, to drastically reduce the visa fee for young Ukrainians and to strengthened youth exchange programs.</p> <p>Russia urged to keep the hands of the post-Soviet space</p> <p>During this plenary session, the MEPs also discussed the EU-Russia Summit which took place in the end of January and the relations between the EU and Russia in general. In the discussions on Wednesday, it was often admitted that the EU-Russia relations are at their low point at the moment. This was illustrated by the fact that the foreseen two-day summit was reduced to a few hours. As stated in the resolution adopted on Thursday, which was also tabled by Mr Donskis, this reduced format was a reaction of the Russian pressure on the Eastern Partnership countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;Reaffirming that Russia remains one of the EU&rsquo;s most important partners, the MEPs stress that the further cooperation can be only based on mutual values. They regret the fact that Russian leadership regards the EU&rsquo;s Eastern Partnership as a threat to its own political and economic interests and oppose Russia&rsquo;s intention to continue to consider the Eastern Partnership region as its sphere of influence. Special attention in this resolution is paid to Ukraine stressing that the Ukrainian citizens must have a right to decide on the future of their country.</p> <p>As usually, the resolution reminds the problematic situation of human rights and democracy in Russia. It mentions the law on foreign agents, the anti-LGBT legislation, the recriminalisation of defamation, the treason law and the legislation regulating public protests. The MEPs also urge to repeal fully the federal law on &lsquo;propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations&rsquo; and similar regional anti-propaganda laws. In the discussions on this topic, it was reminded that the EU should keep on observing Russia after the Sochi games, because many NGOs fear that the situation of human rights in Russia might strongly deteriorate and the pressure on the post-Soviet countries might grow. Therefore, the EU must put all its efforts to sign as soon as possible the Association Agreements with Georgia and Moldova, and also Ukraine.</p> <p>The resolution also urges to withdraw the Russian troops and arms from the territory of Moldova and a separate urgency resolution adopted on Thursday express concerns about the right to education in Transnistria. This resolution noted that there are eight Romanian-language schools in this territory. However, the Transnistrian de facto authorities harass these schools putting pressure on the administration and even proclaiming that the schools which deny the separatist regime will be closed.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1673 Fri, 07 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0200 European Parliament resolution on the EU-Russia summit (2014/2533(RSP)) http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1695 <p>The European Parliament,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its previous resolutions on Russia,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the existing Agreement on partnership and cooperation (PCA) establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Russian Federation, of the other part, and to the ongoing negotiations for a new EU‑Russia agreement,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the &lsquo;Partnership for Modernisation&rsquo; initiated in 2010 at Rostov-on-Don and to the commitment made by the Russian leadership to the rule of law as a fundamental basis for the modernisation of Russia,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the objective shared by the EU and Russia, set out in the joint statement issued on 31 May 2003 following the 11th EU-Russia summit held in St Petersburg, of creating a common economic space, a common space of freedom, security and justice, a common space of cooperation in the field of external security and a common space of research and education, including cultural aspects (the &lsquo;four common spaces&rsquo;),</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the EU-Russia human rights consultations of 28 November 2013,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Eastern Partnership Summit of 28 and 29 November 2013,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the EU-Russia summit of 28 January 2013,</p> <p>&nbsp;- &nbsp; having regard to the statement by the President of the Commission, Jos&eacute;&nbsp;Manuel&nbsp;Dur&atilde;o&nbsp;Barroso, and the remarks by the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, following the EU-Russia summit of 28 January 2014,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the joint EU-Russia statement of 28 January 2014 on combating terrorism,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,</p> <p>A.&nbsp; whereas the EU remains committed to further deepening and developing EU-Russia relations, as is shown by its commitment to seriously engage in negotiating a new framework agreement for their further development, and whereas the EU and Russia have established deep and comprehensive relations, particularly in the energy, economic and business sectors;</p> <p>B.&nbsp; whereas the EU-Russia summit of 28 January 2014 was reduced to a three-hour restricted meeting that focused on a limited number of issues, reflecting the challenges in EU-Russia relations, mostly as a result of Russia&rsquo;s pressure on Eastern Partners;</p> <p>C.&nbsp; whereas enhanced cooperation and good-neighbourly relations between the EU and Russia are crucial for the stability, security and prosperity of Europe and, in particular, the common neighbourhood; whereas the development of a strategic partnership between the EU and the Russian Federation can only be built on shared common values; whereas it is of the utmost importance to step up cooperation at international level between the two partners in all institutions, organisations and forums with a view to improving global governance and addressing common challenges;</p> <p>D.&nbsp; whereas there remains concern over developments in the Russian Federation with regard to respect for and protection of human rights and respect for commonly agreed democratic principles and the rule of law; whereas the Russian Federation is a full member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and has therefore committed itself to the principles of democracy and respect for human rights;</p> <p>E. whereas at the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit all participants reconfirmed their commitment to the principles of international law and to fundamental values including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights;</p> <p>F. whereas good-neighbourly relations, peace and stability in their common neighbouring countries are in the interests of both Russia and the EU; whereas an open, frank and result‑oriented dialogue should develop on the crises in these countries with regard, in particular, to the frozen conflicts, with a view to strengthening security and stability, supporting the territorial integrity of the countries concerned and developing joint crisis management mechanisms;</p> <p>G.&nbsp; whereas Eastern Partnership countries have the full sovereign right and freedom to build relations, as equal partners, with partners of their choice, in line with the Helsinki Accords;</p> <p>H.&nbsp; whereas the process of borderisation around Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region / South Ossetia has accelerated and become hostile, with the support of Russian forces and to the detriment of the Georgian territories;</p> <p>I. whereas, as of 1 December 2013, Advanced Passenger Information (API) data is being transferred by air carriers to the Russian authorities, and whereas from 1 July 2014 full passenger and crew data will be required by the Russian authorities for overflights; whereas the Russian authorities are aiming to establish a fully fledged Passenger Name Record collection system;</p> <p>1. Takes note of the EU-Russia summit of 28 January 2014 as an opportunity to reflect on the nature and direction of the EU-Russia Strategic Partnership and to clarify points of disagreement; notes that the reduced format of the EU-Russia summit is a reflection of the current state of affairs in EU-Russia relations, which allows for a pragmatic exchange on topical issues while also symbolising the challenges EU-Russia cooperation currently faces; expects that the discussions will lead to improved mutual trust and create conditions for a renewed political impetus to move the partnership forward;</p> <p>2. Reaffirms its belief that Russia remains one of the EU&rsquo;s most important partners in building strategic cooperation, sharing not only economic and trade interests but also aspiring to the realisation of commonly agreed democratic values; stresses that progress in bilateral relations requires an open discussion to clarify issues of mutual disagreement;</p> <p>3. Underlines the need for a sustained and constructive dialogue to discuss developments in our common neighbourhood, along with different regional economic integration initiatives, and in particular their trade implications, on the basis of existing World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments; encourages the EU and Russia to find ways of making the respective regional integration processes more compatible, while continuing to work towards a vision of a common trade and economic zone in the future;</p> <p>4. Reiterates that the EU-Russia dialogue on issues relating to a common neighbourhood must be based on the fundamental principle of sovereignty and the independence of neighbouring countries as regards choosing political and trade alliances; is convinced that further political and economic reform in Eastern Partnership countries, including Ukraine, based on EU values and standards, is ultimately in Russia&rsquo;s own interest, as it would expand the zone of stability, prosperity and cooperation along its borders; recalls the EU&rsquo;s standing invitation for Russia to contribute to this process via constructive engagement with the Eastern Partnership countries; opposes Russia&rsquo;s intention to continue to consider the Eastern Partnership region as its sphere of influence; believes that Ukrainian citizens alone should have the right to decide the future of their country;</p> <p>5. Regrets the fact that the Russian leadership regards the EU&rsquo;s Eastern Partnership as a threat to its own political and economic interests; underlines the fact that, on the contrary, Russia will gain from increased trade and economic activities and that its security will be enhanced by a stable and predictable neighbourhood; stresses the importance of developing synergies so as to allow the countries in the common neighbourhood to benefit from and make the most of bilateral relations with both the EU and the Russian Federation;</p> <p>6. Reiterates that, unlike the Customs Union championed by Russia, the EU&rsquo;s agreements with Eastern Partnership countries on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) do not prohibit the latter from engaging in free trade with third countries; points out, therefore, that, following the signing of an association agreement including a DCFTA, Eastern Partners will still be able to conduct free trade with Russia under the free trade agreements currently signed as part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS);</p> <p>7. Expects, if the conditions are properly prepared, to launch the new agreement negotiations at the next summit, to be held in Sochi in June 2014; regrets the lack of progress in the negotiations on a new PCA to replace the current one, mainly owing to the lack of commitment from the Russian side to engaging in substantial negotiations on the trade chapter; underlines the necessity of maintaining the commitment to the Partnership for Modernisation;</p> <p>8. Calls for effective coordination of EU policy responsibility towards Russia in the next term of the European Commission, with a clear and central role for the High Representative / Vice-President and with the Member States committed to speaking to Russia with one voice;</p> <p>9. Calls on Russia to comply with all its multilateral obligations deriving from its accession to the WTO and to implement its WTO commitments fully; calls on Russia to refrain from imposing arbitrary bans on products from EU Member States, as such measures are harmful to bilateral relations between individual Member States and Russia, and to EU-Russia relations;</p> <p>10. Firmly condemns the recent terrorist attacks in Volgograd; welcomes the adoption of the joint EU-Russia statement of 28 January 2014 on combating terrorism, in which the EU and Russia agreed to consider possibilities for further strengthening cooperation in response to crimes committed by terrorists and organised crime, to expand cooperation in exchanging best practices vis-&agrave;-vis counterterrorism and training experts in counterterrorism, and to intensify their cooperation both within the UN framework and in other multilateral forums;</p> <p>11. Notes the EU-Russia Common Spaces Progress Reports, which outline progress, or regress, in the implementation of the EU-Russia Common Spaces and of the road maps adopted in 2005; especially supports cooperation in the field of research and development and stresses that the four Common Spaces rely on the principle of reciprocity;</p> <p>12. Stresses the importance of energy security and the fact that the supply of natural resources should not be used as a political tool; underlines the mutual importance of collaboration in the energy field, which represents an opportunity for further trade and economic collaboration in an opened and transparent market, with full understanding of the EU&rsquo;s need to diversify transportation channels and energy providers; stresses that the principles of interdependence and transparency should be the basis for such cooperation, together with equal access to markets, infrastructure and investment; calls for EU-Russia cooperation in the energy field to be based firmly on the principles of the internal market, including the Third Energy Package, in particular with regard to third-party access, and of the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT); is convinced that full acceptance of the principles of the ECT by Russia would have mutually beneficial effects on bilateral energy relations; calls for close cooperation between the EU and Russia regarding the supply of raw materials and rare earths, especially those considered critical, and calls for compliance with international rules, especially WTO rules;</p> <p>13. Urges the Russian Federation to step up its contribution to addressing climate change; calls, in particular, on Russia to take on a second commitment period target by ratifying the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;</p> <p>14. Reiterates its commitment to the long-term objective of visa-free travel between the EU and Russia, on the basis of a step-by-step approach focused on substance and practical progress; notes that negotiations on an upgraded visa facilitation agreement are ongoing, while the implementation of the &lsquo;common steps towards visa-free short-term travel&rsquo; is under way; expresses its concern over the plans to include a great number of Russian officials with &lsquo;service passports&rsquo; of convenience in the visa facilitation agreement;</p> <p>15. Expresses its concern over developments in the Russian Federation with regard to respect for and the protection of human rights and respect for commonly agreed democratic principles, rules and procedures, particularly as regards the law on foreign agents, the anti-LGBT legislation, the recriminalisation of defamation, the treason law and the legislation regulating public protests; urges Russia to abide by its international commitments as a member of the Council of Europe;</p> <p>16. Welcomes the recent cases of amnesty and underlines the fact that a clear and reliable understanding of fundamental freedoms, human rights and the rule of law will help further advance our strategic partnership; emphasises that an independent, impartial and efficient justice system is a core element of the rule of law and contributes greatly to the development of a reliable and stable business environment and investment climate;</p> <p>17. Reiterates its concern about the overall human rights situation in Russia and the absence of any evolution on the modalities of the EU-Russia human rights consultations; regrets, in particular, the fact that this dialogue has become a process rather than a means to achieve measurable and tangible results; insists once more on the need to include public indicators of progress in these human rights consultations, to improve the dialogue&rsquo;s modalities, for example by alternating the location of the consultations, through interaction between Russian NGOs and the Russian authorities as part of this process and on the composition of the Russian delegation, and to issue public assessments of progress on the occasion of EU‑Russia summits and following the Partnership Council meetings;</p> <p>18. Calls on Russia to repeal fully the federal law on &lsquo;propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations&rsquo; and similar regional anti-propaganda laws which curtail human rights, notably freedom of expression and assembly in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity; expresses its sincere concern over the negative consequences of these laws on society, with discrimination and violence against LGBTI individuals increasing; calls on the EU Delegation to increase its support for defenders of the human rights of LGBTI people, in line with the relevant guidelines;</p> <p>19. Reiterates its call on the Commission, with a view to the ongoing programming of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and the Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities (CSO-LA) financial instrument, to significantly step up efforts to provide assistance to the oppressed civil society by doubling its financial allocations to the country;</p> <p>20. Stresses that regular political dialogue meetings on a wide range of foreign policy issues are an essential element in EU-Russia relations; states that Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC), must assume its responsibility in international crises; calls on Russia to take a very constructive approach at the Geneva II Conference on Syria, where the aim is to achieve a political solution to the conflict; welcomes Russia&rsquo;s efforts, together with the USA and the international community, to approve a UNSC resolution regarding the destruction of Syria&rsquo;s chemical weapons and the launch of the Geneva II talks;</p> <p>21. Underlines the importance of dialogue and cooperation with Russia on global questions with a view to tackling effectively issues such as Afghanistan, the work of the Middle East Quartet and anti-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa; encourages the deepening and strengthening of this cooperation, aiming at joint action regarding Iran&rsquo;s nuclear programme;</p> <p>22. Calls on Russia to reverse its recognition of the separation of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali / South Ossetia; strongly condemns the process of borderisation around Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region / South Ossetia, which has led to the expansion of the area of occupied territories, to the detriment of Georgia; calls on Georgia and Russia to engage in direct talks without preconditions on a range of subjects, with mediation, if needed, by a mutually acceptable third party, which should complement, but not replace, the existing Geneva process;</p> <p>23. Calls on the Russian Federation to fulfil the commitments made in 1996 in the Council of Europe and reflected in OSCE Summit decisions (in Istanbul in 1999 and Oporto in 2002) concerning the withdrawal of Russian troops and arms from the territory of Moldova; expresses concern over the lack of progress on this issue; underlines the fact that all sides of the 5+2 talks have committed to solving the conflict on the basis of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova; calls on Russia to play a constructive role in efforts to resolve the protracted conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, in the framework of the Minsk Group;</p> <p>24. Believes that renewed efforts are needed to advance cooperation and dialogue between the EU and Russia on matters of regional security, including the resolution of protracted conflicts in the neighbourhood;</p> <p>25. Underlines the importance of fostering EU-Russia intercultural dialogue and knowledge of each other&rsquo;s history and cultural heritage, as well as encouraging the mobility and exchange of students, teachers, professors and researchers in order to facilitate people-to-people contacts that would provide a visible and tangible testimony to a sustainable partnership leading in the long term to a community of values;</p> <p>26. Appeals to the Russian authorities to cooperate in opening up Russian archives, enabling access for researchers and declassifying relevant documents, including in relation to the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, who 70 years ago saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from genocide;</p> <p>27. Welcomes the work of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee as a platform for the development of cooperation and for continued dialogue between the two parliamentary institutions;</p> <p>28. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the governments and parliaments of the Eastern Partnership countries, the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1695 Wed, 05 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0200 European Parliament resolution on the situation in Ukraine (2014/2547(RSP)) http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1694 <p>The European Parliament,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its resolution of 12 December 2013 on the outcome of the Vilnius Summit and the future of the Eastern Partnership, in particular as regards Ukraine[1],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2013 on the &lsquo;European Neighbourhood Policy: towards a strengthening of the partnership - position of the European Parliament on the 2012 reports&rsquo;[2],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the pressure exerted by Russia on Eastern Partnership countries (in the context of the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius)[3],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Joint Declaration of the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit of 29&nbsp;November 2013,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Council conclusions on Ukraine of 20 January 2014,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the resignation of Prime Minister Azarov and his government on 28 January 2014,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Joint Statement of the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group countries on Ukraine of 29 January 2014,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and Ukraine, which entered into force on 1 March 1998, and to the new Association Agreement initialled on 30 March 2012,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the EU-Russia Summit of 28 January 2014,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,</p> <p>A. whereas the demonstrations that started more than two months ago as a consequence of President Yanukovych&rsquo;s decision not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU continue to the present day in the capital and the discontent is spreading to other cities, including in eastern regions of Ukraine; whereas the popular uprising in Ukraine has reached a majority of the regions, with the administrations of those regions being under the control of the people;</p> <p>B. whereas over the past weeks the situation has further deteriorated at an increasing pace, with people taking to the streets to defend democracy and civil liberties after brutal crackdowns by Berkut riot police on demonstrators, human rights activists and journalists;</p> <p>C. whereas despite international pressure, the Ukrainian authorities continue to pursue a policy of intimidation, repression, torture and violence against protesters, which has resulted in more than 2 000 people being injured, many people being abducted and at least six people killed;</p> <p>D. whereas the adoption on 16 January 2014 of a series of anti-protest laws by the government majority severely limiting the freedoms of expression and assembly provoked international outrage and sparked violent clashes in Kyiv resulting in the loss of human lives;</p> <p>E. whereas any forcible crackdown or declaration of a state of emergency will be considered as a criminal act and a violation of fundamental rights with profound international consequences;</p> <p>F. whereas the visit to Kyiv from 28 to 30 January 2014 of the ad hoc European Parliament delegation met with the authorities and with Euromaidan, the political opposition and church leaders and obtained a thorough and in-depth analysis of the situation in Ukraine;</p> <p>1. Welcomes the democratic spirit and resilience of the Ukrainian people after two months of courageous protests which have met with a brutal response from the authorities, and expresses its full solidarity and support for the people&rsquo;s efforts for a free, democratic, independent Ukraine and its European perspective;</p> <p>2. Expresses deep concern about the serious political crisis in Ukraine and the violent confrontations in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities; calls strongly for a political solution to the crisis and insists on a truly democratic debate on the ways and means of overcoming the confrontation and divisions in the country;</p> <p>3. Strongly condemns the escalation of violence against peaceful citizens, journalists, students, civil society activists, opposition politicians and clergy, and expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the violence in Ukraine; calls on the Ukrainian authorities to fully respect people&rsquo;s civil rights and fundamental freedoms and to take immediate steps to end the state of impunity by investigating and punishing the authors of violence against peaceful demonstrators;</p> <p>4. Calls also on the Maidan protesters to refrain from the use of force and to maintain the legitimacy of their cause in a peaceful way, and asks all opposition leaders to continue to refrain from unprovoked violence and to keep the protest peaceful;</p> <p>5. Is concerned by the excessive use of violence by the security forces and the Titushki and by the violent actions of ultranationalists;</p> <p>6. Demands in particular that President Yanukovych cease the shameful deployment of Berkut riot police and other security forces in provoking, kidnapping, harassing, torturing, beating and humiliating supporters of the EuroMaidans, as well as arbitrary arrests and over-extended pre-trial detentions; is particularly concerned about reports of torture and stresses Ukraine&rsquo;s international commitments in this respect; points out the most recent case of Dmytro Bulatov, the leader of &lsquo;AutoMaidan&rsquo;, who was kidnapped and tortured;</p> <p>7. Calls on President Yanukovych to order a stop to these practices and demands the immediate and unconditional release and political rehabilitation of all the demonstrators and political prisoners illegally detained, including Yulya Tymoshenko; calls for the setting-up of an independent investigative committee under the auspices of a recognised international body, such as the Council of Europe, in order to investigate all the human rights violations that have taken place since the demonstrations began;</p> <p>8. Recalls the EU&rsquo;s readiness to sign an AA/DCFTA with Ukraine as soon as the political crisis is overcome and the relevant requirements are met as defined by the Foreign Affairs Council of 10 December 2012 and supported by Parliament&rsquo;s resolution of 13 December 2012;</p> <p>9. Welcomes the Verkhovna Rada&rsquo;s decision to repeal the anti-protest laws, and its signature by President Yanukovych, as a positive step towards the political resolution of the crisis; regrets, however, that the amnesty law turning victims into hostages was approved on 29 January without the consent of the opposition; takes the view that an unconditional release of protesters would greatly facilitate the talks and appease society;</p> <p>10. Urges the President and the government to engage seriously in an inclusive dialogue with the opposition, civil society and the Maidan protesters in order to de-escalate the tense and polarised situation and to find ways of overcoming the current political and societal crisis in Ukraine through peaceful means;</p> <p>11. Reminds President Yanukovych of his responsibility before the Ukrainian people and the international community to refrain from using repressive methods, to remedy the current political crisis and to respect the right to peaceful protest;</p> <p>12. Calls for the continued engagement of the EU to mediate and facilitate a process leading to a de-escalation, a more constructive political dialogue in the country and a solution to the crisis, and bridging the gap of a total lack of trust; underlines the fact that such a dialogue should be transparent and fully involve EuroMaidan and civil society;</p> <p>13. Takes the view, following numerous requests by ordinary Ukrainian citizens, activists and politicians, that the active involvement of Members of the European Parliament in Kyiv could prevent a further escalation of the crisis and calls, in this regard, for the establishment of a permanent European Parliament mission in Ukraine, with a view to defusing tension and facilitating dialogue between the parties; instructs the Conference of Presidents to set up this mission as soon as possible;</p> <p>14. Calls for the EU institutions and the Member States to take immediate action, including increased diplomatic pressure and the preparation of personalised targeted measures (travel sanctions and asset and property freezes) with regard to all those Ukrainian officials and legislators and their business sponsors (oligarchs) who are responsible for the crackdowns on and deaths of protestors, and to step up efforts to stop money laundering and tax evasion by Ukrainian companies and businesspeople in European banks;</p> <p>15. Calls for the EU, the US, the IMF, the World Bank, the EBRD and the EIB to continue to prepare a long-term package of concrete financial support to help Ukraine tackle its worsening financial and social situation and provide economic support to launch the necessary deep and comprehensive reforms of the Ukrainian economy by the government;</p> <p>16. Welcomes and supports the ongoing work of the European Union and the United States to create a substantial support package for Ukraine which should be offered to a credible new interim government in order to alleviate the present tight situation in respect of payments;</p> <p>17. Is of the opinion that one of the important measures for resolving the crisis in Ukraine is a return to the 2004 constitution, which was illegally abolished in 2010 by the Constitutional Court, bypassing the Ukrainian Parliament, together with the establishment of an interim government and early elections;</p> <p>18. Calls for the EU institutions and the Member States to commit to a broad opening to Ukrainian society, in particular through a swift agreement on a cost-free visa regime and ultimately a visa-free regime; is of the opinion that the visa fee should immediately be drastically reduced for young Ukrainians, along with strengthened research cooperation, expanded youth exchanges and increased availability of scholarships;</p> <p>19. Considers that further efforts should be made to include Ukraine in the EU&rsquo;s energy market via the Energy Community;</p> <p>20. Calls on Russia to adopt a constructive attitude and to stop retaliatory measures and undue pressure aimed at undermining the sovereign right of its neighbours freely to determine their future; urges the EU and its Member States to speak to Russia with one voice in support of the European aspirations of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries that freely choose to deepen their relations with the EU; emphasises that applying political, economic and other coercion is in breach of the Helsinki Final Act and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum concerning Ukraine&rsquo;s security; points out that both the EU and Russia bear responsibility for making an active contribution towards peace and prosperity in the common neighbourhood that benefits both the EU and Russia; reiterates its belief that cooperation to achieve this goal is the only way forward;</p> <p>21. Supports the further involvement of civil society in national reform processes; encourages enhanced interparliamentary cooperation with the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly; welcomes the involvement of the Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of the Eastern Partnership;</p> <p>22. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy, the Member States, the President of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Government, the Verkhovna Rada, the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, and the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>[1] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0595.</p> <p>[2] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0446.</p> <p>[3] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0383.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1694 Wed, 05 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0200 European Parliament resolution on Transnistria (2014/2552(RSP)) http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1693 <p>The European Parliament,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Moldova and the European Union, which entered into force on 1 July 1998,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Action Plan for the Republic of Moldova adopted by the seventh EU‑Moldova Cooperation Council meeting on 22 February 2005,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Association Agreement initialled by the EU and Moldova on 29&nbsp;November 2013 on the occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the ruling of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights of 19 October 2012 on the case of Catan and 27 Others v. Moldova and Russia (No 43370/04),</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the declarations of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at its 1999 summit in Istanbul and its 2002 Ministerial Council meeting in Oporto,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in the Republic of Moldova, particularly that of 15 September 2011 on the Association Agreement[1], and to its resolutions on the situation in the Transnistrian region,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the pressure exerted by Russia on Eastern Partnership countries (in the context of the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius)[2] and its resolution of 12 December 2013 on the outcome of the Vilnius Summit and the future of the Eastern Partnership, in particular as regards Ukraine[3],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the judgment of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova of 5&nbsp;December 2013 that the country`s official language is Romanian and to the fact that Romanian-language education remains restricted by the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the recommendations of the meetings of the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, particularly those pertaining to the right to education in the Transnistrian region,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,</p> <p>A.&nbsp; whereas the 1992 war in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova led to the establishment of a separatist, illegitimate and authoritarian regime in the region; whereas the situation of frozen conflict persists, and human rights violations continue to be gross and widespread, including in the area of education and the operation of schools;</p> <p>B.&nbsp; whereas any political interference with the educational process is unacceptable: whereas the parties involved in the settlement of the Transnistrian issue should ensure free and non‑discriminatory access to education in the region and the regular functioning of educational institutions and should accord the highest priority to the security of children and staff;</p> <p>C.&nbsp; whereas the local authorities in Gagauzia organised a regional referendum on 2 February 2014 concerning the direction of the foreign policy of the country; whereas this referendum was declared illegal by the central government and the competent judicial authorities;</p> <p>D.&nbsp; whereas negotiations concerning Transnistria have been ongoing since 1992, in the so-called &lsquo;5+2&rsquo; format, but no sustainable solution based on full respect for the Republic of Moldova`s territorial integrity and sovereignty has been found, despite the abovementioned repeated international decisions; whereas Russian troops continue to be stationed there;</p> <p>E. whereas the 5+2 negotiations resumed again in 201,1 and the Working Group on Education has met since then;</p> <p>F. whereas the tensions have been growing, as the negotiations are constantly undermined by the self-proclaimed Transnistrian authorities; whereas the new round of 5+2 negotiations has been provisionally agreed to take place on 27-28 February 2014 and constitutes a fresh opportunity to end the deadlock and achieve substantial progress;</p> <p>G.&nbsp; whereas according to a November 2012 OSCE report, there are eight Latin-script schools that are able to continue teaching with the help of the Ministry of Education, six of them on Transnistrian-controlled territory and two relocated to neighbouring Moldovan-controlled territory on the left bank, resulting in serious daily transport problems for the pupils; whereas the report highlighted that the situation of these schools remains urgent, issues of concern including rental contracts and conditions of premises, freedom of movement, transport of goods, health, safety and sanitary inspections, declining pupil numbers, pressure or intimidation towards parents and teachers, legal status, and the specific situations of the property in R&icirc;bnița and the schools formerly located in Grigoriopol and Dubăsari;</p> <p>H.&nbsp; whereas in December 2013 the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria relaunched an aggressive campaign against the eight Romanian-language schools, with actions ranging from administrative pressures to declarations by the self-proclaimed authorities indicating that they will shut down those schools that refuse to recognise the authority of the separatist regime;</p> <p>I. whereas many of the teachers at the Lucian Blaga high school in Tiraspol have been subjected to illegal interrogation by the separatist militia and pressure to pay their taxes to the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria and not to the Moldovan state; whereas the school&rsquo;s bank accounts were illegally blocked for several weeks in January 2014 by the self‑proclaimed authorities;</p> <p>J. whereas the meeting of the Working Group on Education held in Chișinău on 27 January 2014 did not manage to successfully address the outstanding issues around the Romanian‑language schools; whereas a provisional agreement was reached to conduct joint inspection visits to those schools;</p> <p>K.&nbsp; whereas the OSCE Mission in Moldova has been monitoring the functioning of the Romanian-language schools since the 2004 crisis when the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria took action against eight schools in the region that are operated by the Moldovan central authorities and follow a Moldovan curriculum; whereas the OSCE mediates between the central and the Transnistrian education authorities to find solutions for outstanding issues and prevent the emergence of new crises; whereas the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria have been limiting the OSCE&rsquo;s mission access to the region and have forbidden access to the head of mission as of 1 February 2014;</p> <p>L. whereas the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 19 October 2012 in the case of Catan and Others v. Moldova and Russia pointed to a violation by the Russian Federation of Article 2 of Protocol No 1 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;</p> <p>M.&nbsp; whereas the Republic of Moldova has made great progress towards deepening its relations with the EU, and the Association Agreement is an opportunity for the entire country, including regions such as Transnistria or Gagauzia, to further deepen its relations with the EU and adopt European values and standards while improving its economic prospects;</p> <p>N.&nbsp; whereas education is an area where there is a great potential for future cooperation in spite of the sensitivities involved;</p> <p>O.&nbsp; whereas the European Union and the Republic of Moldova initialled the Association Agreement in November 2013 and there is a commitment from both sides to sign and provisionally apply it by September 2014; whereas the Agreement provides for cooperation in the fields of education, youth policy and multilingualism as well the protection and promotion of the rights of the child, explicitly by focusing on children&rsquo;s wellbeing and the facilitation of their access to education;</p> <p>1. Strongly deplores the lack of respect for human rights in the Transnistrian region, especially in the field of education;</p> <p>2. Condemns the politicisation of the education policy area, considers freedom of education to be a fundamental right, and calls for full respect for that right and the cessation of any form of pressure directed towards Romanian teaching institutions in the Transnistrian region;</p> <p>3. Regrets that the persistence of the above problems has significantly contributed to falling enrolment in the Romanian-language schools; strongly criticises the fact that those schools are charged higher rates for public utilities in Transnistria than other educational institutions and that the ambiguous situation of the premises and rental contracts leaves both the schools and their pupils in uncertainty;</p> <p>4. Condemns the increased administrative pressure being exercised by the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria, in particular higher rents prices, the abolition of free rental contracts (affecting the Gymnasiums in Corjova and Roghi), restrictions on bank account use and harassment of teachers (Lucian Blaga high school, January 2014);</p> <p>5. Urges the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria to fully respect the fundamental right to mother-tongue education and to accord the highest priority to the security of children and staff;</p> <p>6. Calls on the authorities to ensure that children and parents are protected from the adverse consequences of the current political situation and to find solutions in the best interest of the children and parents directly concerned;</p> <p>7. Takes note of the agreement to conduct joint inspection visits to the Romanian-language schools over the period 10-20 March 2013;</p> <p>8. Condemns the lack of constructive participation by the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria in the 5+2 format negotiations, resulting in minimal progress since the resumption of talks;</p> <p>9. Emphasises the EU&rsquo;s firm commitment to the territorial integrity of Moldova and calls for a greater involvement of the EU in solving this conflict in its immediate neighbourhood, including the enhancement of the EU&rsquo;s status to that of a negotiating partner; expresses its support for dialogue as the only tool for resolving such sensitive and important matters and ensuring long-term solutions;</p> <p>10. Believes that the prosperity and stability of the Republic of Moldova, within its internationally recognised borders, and of the entire region can be fully achieved only through a peaceful solution to the Transnistrian conflict;</p> <p>11. Calls on the OSCE to continue its monitoring and negotiation facilitation activities and to defend the right to education of the students of the Romanian-language schools in Transnistria; further calls on the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria to cooperate with the OSCE mission to Moldova and allow it to access its territory;</p> <p>12. Calls on the High Representative to address the issue of the right to education during the next round of 5+2 negotiations scheduled for February, to devote more attention to the 5+2 format negotiations, and to engage at all levels, including in its bilateral summits, with all the parties involved in order to achieve a faster comprehensive and peaceful solution to the Transnistrian conflict;</p> <p>13. Calls on the Russian Federation to implement fully the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights that ruled that Russia had violated the right to education in the cases of Moldovan schools using Romanian in the region of Transnistria;</p> <p>14. Notes that the presence of Russian troops leads to a climate that endangers respect for and promotion of human rights in the region; further calls on the Russian Federation to immediately stop its support for the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria and fulfil the commitments made in 1996 in the Council of Europe and reflected in OSCE decisions (Istanbul, 1999 and Oporto, 2002) concerning the withdrawal of Russian troops and arms from the territory of Moldova;</p> <p>15. Calls for restraint on the part of local authorities, including those in Gagauzia, as well as for full respect for the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, the protection of minorities included; encourages dialogue with the Moldovan central authorities in order to avoid unilateral decisions;</p> <p>16. Calls on the Council and the Member States to adopt a speedy procedure leading to the adoption of the visa liberalisation with Moldova in the course of this summer, since this will have a positive impact on all citizens, including in the education field;</p> <p>17. Calls on the Commission to speed up the technical procedures leading to the signing and provisional application of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free trade Area Agreement;</p> <p>18. Believes that social progress, improvements in human rights and economic modernisation in Transnistria would also be advanced by the implementation of the provisions of the Association Agreements, including the DCFTA, by the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria;</p> <p>19. Calls on the Commission also to use instruments such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights to support the Transnistrian population directly, developing programmes to support civil society, access to information, education and free media, which have been denied by the self-proclaimed authorities in Transnistria;</p> <p>20. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, the Government and Parliament of Moldova, the Government of Romania, the Government of Ukraine, the Government of the Russian Federation, the Government of the USA, the Secretary-General of the OSCE and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>[1] OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 108.</p> <p>[2] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0383.</p> <p>[3] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0595.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1693 Wed, 05 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0200 European Parliament resolution on the situation in Thailand (2014/2551(RSP)) http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1692 <p>The European Parliament,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to its previous resolutions on Thailand of 5 February 2009[1], 20 May 2010[2] and 17 February 2011[3],</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the Universal Periodic Review of Thailand before the UN Human Rights Council, and its recommendations, of 5 October 2011,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the statements by the Spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, of 26 November 2013 on the political situation in Thailand, of 13 December 2013 and of 23 January 2014 on the recent events in Thailand, and of 30 January 2014 on the coming elections,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the statement issued by the Delegation of the European Union in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Thailand on 2 December 2013,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the press briefings by the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 26 December 2013 and 14 January 2014,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials of 1990,</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,</p> <p>A.&nbsp; whereas demonstrations started in November 2013, after the Thai Parliament&rsquo;s Lower House adopted an amnesty bill introduced by the ruling Pheu Thai Party (PTP) for various crimes committed since 2004 by political leaders and government officials, including Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra&rsquo;s brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra; whereas the former prime minister has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 to avoid a two-year jail term following a conviction in a corruption-related case;</p> <p>B.&nbsp; whereas in protest against the proposed amnesty bill, peaceful demonstrations began in Bangkok on 11 November 2013, spearheaded by former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the People&rsquo;s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), an anti-government group; whereas street protests continued despite the rejection of the amnesty bill by the Thai Senate;</p> <p>C.&nbsp; whereas on 20 November 2013, the Constitutional Court rejected a proposed amendment to the Constitution transforming the Senate into a fully elected body and also rejected an opposition petition to dissolve the Pheu Thai Party, which increased anti-government protests;</p> <p>D.&nbsp; whereas Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban accused the government of being illegitimate and proposed that the parliament should be replaced by an unelected &lsquo;People&rsquo;s Council&rsquo; to carry out political and institutional reforms;</p> <p>E. whereas during the unrest, which has lasted for months, several people have been killed and hundreds have been injured, among them Kwanchai Praipana, a leader of Thailand&rsquo;s pro-government faction, who was shot and wounded on 22 January 2014, and Suthin Tharatin, a Thai anti-government movement leader, who was shot dead on 26 January 2014;</p> <p>F. whereas on 21 January 2014, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra declared a 60-day state of emergency in the capital, Bangkok, and the surrounding provinces, banning public gatherings of more than five people, allowing people suspected of violence to be held in custody for up to thirty days, authorising censorship of news inciting violence and granting immunity from criminal prosecution to government agencies and officials involved in the enforcement of the decree;</p> <p>G.&nbsp; whereas the Constitutional Court ruled on 24 January 2014 that elections could be postponed due to the unrest, but the government decided to go ahead with advance votes starting on 26 January 2014;</p> <p>H.&nbsp; whereas general elections took place in Thailand on 2 February 2014 and voting started on 26 January 2014, despite the call by the Election Commission for the polls to be delayed because of the ongoing unrest;</p> <p>I. whereas the main opposition party, the Democrat Party, announced it was pulling out of the elections scheduled for 2 February 2014;</p> <p>J. whereas on 26 January 2014, voting was cancelled in 83 of the 375 constituencies nationwide because anti-government protesters cut off access to polling stations, blocked election officials and prevented voters from exercising their right to vote;</p> <p>K.&nbsp; whereas, despite the low turnout, following a meeting with the Election Commission on 28 January 2014 the Prime Minister confirmed that the 2 February 2014 election date would be maintained;</p> <p>L. whereas no voting took place in nine provinces, and protesters reportedly disrupted electoral registration and blocked voting in parts of Bangkok and the south of the country, with an estimated 69 of 375 districts of the country and 8.75 million voters affected by disruptions;</p> <p>M.&nbsp; whereas Thai law stipulates that the legislature cannot re-open unless at least 95 % (or 475 seats) of the 500 seats are filled; whereas by-elections will therefore have to be held in the affected areas;</p> <p>N.&nbsp; whereas the parliament will not be able to convene and a new government cannot be formed, threatening to create a political vacuum that is likely to prolong the crisis;</p> <p>1. Expresses deep concern over the degeneration of political and socioeconomic differences into violent clashes between government and opposition, and between demonstrators and security forces in Thailand, and expresses its solidarity with the Thai people who have suffered due to the unrest and all the families whose loved ones have been killed or injured during the past months;</p> <p>2. Calls on the Thai authorities to fully investigate the recent cases of violence that led to several deaths and injuries and to prosecute those responsible;</p> <p>3. Calls on all parties to respect the rule of law and to abide by democratic principles; stresses that elections must be free and fair and condemns the destructive actions of anti-government protestors who prevented voters from casting their ballots on 26 January 2014 and 2 February 2014;</p> <p>4. Calls on the Thai authorities to protect freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association; appeals to the authorities to immediately revoke the state of emergency as the existing laws are adequate to deal with the current situation;</p> <p>5. Calls on both government supporters and anti-government demonstrators to refrain from any political violence and move forward within Thailand&rsquo;s democratic and constitutional framework;</p> <p>6. Calls on the leaders of the Democrat Party to allow the parliament, elected by the people of Thailand, to fulfil its mandate;</p> <p>7. Underlines the fact that the proposal of the People&rsquo;s Democratic Reform Committee for an unelected &lsquo;People&rsquo;s Council&rsquo; to replace the government and rule the country for up to two years is undemocratic;</p> <p>8. Urges the government, the Electoral Commission and the opposition to engage immediately in a constructive dialogue and initiate an inclusive and time-bound process of institutional and political reforms, which could be approved through a national referendum and followed by inclusive, secure, free and fair elections;</p> <p>9. Welcomes the fact that the National Human Rights Commission has called a consultative meeting of intellectuals, representatives of social movements, religious leaders and the four former Prime Ministers, Anand Panyarachun, Banharn Silapa-acha, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Chuan Leekpai, to look for and put forward a solution to end this crisis;</p> <p>10. Urges the military to maintain their neutrality and play a positive role in order to ensure peaceful resolution of the ongoing crisis;</p> <p>11. Is concerned regarding the occupation of public office buildings and television broadcasting stations, the intimidation of the media and the charges of criminal defamation brought against two journalists based in Phuket;</p> <p>12. Recalls that the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials state that authorities must, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms and, whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, must use restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence;</p> <p>13. States its support for democracy in Thailand, while noting the excellent nature of EU-Thai relations and Thailand&rsquo;s role as a source of prosperity and stability in the region; underlines the fact that negotiations for a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Thailand are ongoing and that PCA agreements that have already been concluded usually require the two parties to reaffirm their strong attachment to democratic principles and human rights;</p> <p>14. Urges the international community to put all its efforts into stopping the violence; urges the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to follow the political situation closely and coordinate actions with ASEAN and the United Nations in order to foster dialogue and strengthen democracy in the country;</p> <p>15. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Government and Parliament of Thailand, the Secretary-General of ASEAN and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>[1] OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 144.</p> <p>[2] OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 152.</p> <p>[3] OJ C 188 E, 28.6.2012, p. 57.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1692 Wed, 05 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Resettlement and relocation of Tibetan nomads and risks to their cultural heritage (Question to the Commission (Vice-President/High Representative)) http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1696 <p>A new building project initiated by the Chinese Government is aimed at relocating 2.3&nbsp;million Tibetans from their homes to new residential areas. According to a China‐appointed government official, &lsquo;the living conditions of farmers and herdsmen have improved over time. Their lifestyles have experienced dramatic change, and the area has taken on a brand-new look&rsquo;. However, similar projects in the past, such as those relating to the Inuit, the Masai and the Apache communities, which put an end to their nomadic lifestyles, resulted in those communities being absorbed by the larger population and then eventually virtually disappearing. In view of this official policy, which appears to be an attempt to alienate Tibetans from their past and ultimately homogenise them with the rest of the Chinese population:</p> 1. Does the VP/HR regularly bring up the issue of the ongoing suppression of the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Tibetan population in its bilateral channels of negotiation with the Chinese administration?<br /> 2. What steps is the&nbsp;EU taking to protect the cultural environment and heritage of the people of Tibet from the cultural invasion attempted by the Chinese Government?<br /><br />Question for oral answer <br />to the Commission and to the Council<br />Rule 115<br />Jan Mulder, Renate Weber, Sonia Alfano, Jens Rohde, Cecilia Wikstr&ouml;m, Nils Torvalds, Leonidas Donskis, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Sir Graham Watson, Louis Michel, Nathalie Griesbeck, Sylvie Goulard, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Marielle de Sarnez, Jelko Kacin, Olle Schmidt,&nbsp;on behalf of the ALDE Group NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1696 Thu, 30 Jan 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Too Little and Too Late http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1669 <p>This is exactly what comes to my mind trying to assess EU policies vis-&agrave;-vis Ukraine and Viktor Yanukovych. What happened in Ukraine? That&rsquo;s obvious: Ukraine and the EuroMaidan are hardly anything less than a Deus ex machina manifestation of pro-European passion and faith. This is more than a timely emergence of such a sentiment, as the EU expects and fears - and rightly so - the European Parliament to be elected in May 2014 that is highly likely to be richly represented by far Right and Euroskeptics.&nbsp;(Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1669 Thu, 30 Jan 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Welcome to West Papua? http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1663 <p>If you plan to visit Indonesia, a country praised for its economic and democratic progress in the recent decades, you will most probably visit Jakarta, Bali, Sumatra and Java islands. But you will definitely not go to West Papua and not because this province in the west of the New Guinea island lacks of beautiful nature or unique culture.</p> <p>West Papua, previously Dutch colony, finally became a part of Indonesia in the sixth decade following a long dispute. It is the richest province of Indonesia in natural resources, one of biggest countries in the world by population. West Papua is covered by forests and rich in oil, gas, copper and gold. The province is very ethnically and culturally different from the rest of Indonesia. Its inhabitants, Melanesians, are mostly Christians, although some people still have traditional animistic beliefs. Trying to preserve their unique culture, West Papuans are paying a very high price, but the world does not know almost anything about it.</p> <p>Last week, in the hearing initiated by Lithuanian MEP Leonidas Donskis, the EP discussed this dark page of Indonesia for the first time. Participants invited to this meeting of the Subcommittee on Human Rights included Indonesian and international NGOs, the European External Action Service and the Ambassador of Indonesia to the EU. It was a great opportunity for many MEPs to hear about the human rights breaches, poverty, social exclusion and isolation of West Papua. The same week the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted a document on the EU and Indonesia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. An amendment submitted by Leonidas Donskis, which urges to pay more attention to the situation in West Papua, was included in the final report text.</p> <p>Unfortunately, although no restrictions exist for tourists and work of journalists, NGOs and international observers, to reach West Papua and to gather information on the situation in this province is almost impossible. The official Jakarta`s policy is to pose a myriad of bureaucratic obstacles for anyone seeking to find out the truth.</p> <p>However, it is no secret that since the inclusion of West Papua to Indonesia, military troops have been stationed here in order to fight the Papuan independence movement. These troops together with other security and military institutions in West Papua are granted high powers and practically impunity. Persons who committed offenses are only trailed in non-transparent military tribunals. Continuous repressions, illegal detentions and imprisonments, torture of prisoners and even murder are wide-spread in West Papua as tools to restrict the freedom of assembly and speech of local population. Among those suffering are also family members of persons who are suspected to spread separatist ideas. The flag of West Papua, the Morning Star, is also forbidden and raising it is punished. In recent years, the number of political prisoners in the province has risen twice and now reaches 70, although the governor maintains that there are no political prisoners in West Papua. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The poorest Indonesian province rich in resources attracts billions of dollars from Jakarta invested in huge scale infrastructure and industry development projects. Together with these projects hundreds of thousands inhabitants from other provinces, mostly Muslims, resettle to this ethnically unique part of Indonesia. This way, the percentage of indigenous population in West Papua is rapidly decreasing from 90 per cent three decades ago to 50 per cent today. In 2030 this number should drop to 15 per cent.</p> <p>West Papuans, who mostly live in remote areas and earn their living by traditional agriculture, are more and more marginalized and have only restricted access to health and social services, and education. The funds from Jakarta for the economic development of this province do not reach the local population due to widespread corruption. The Papuans need hospitals, schools and professionals working in their living environment. Statistics show that the West Papua has the highest percentage of illiterate population, the lowest school attendance rate and one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the whole Asia.</p> <p>The main reason why the Indonesian government does not improve the living standards in West Papua despite its huge natural resources is the absolute indifference on the side of the official Jakarta, ignorance of the needs of the local population and refusal to lead dialogue with West Papuans. Papua Peace Network, a peaceful organisation representing local needs including political and civic rights, economic development for indigenous population, cultural and social rights, affirms that all efforts to start a dialogue with Jakarta have been unsuccessful so far.</p> <p>Indonesia hides West Papua from the Western world. The access to this province is not possible for foreign journalists, diplomats, humanitarian workers or international observers (except in case of a special authorization by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and only accompanied by an official from the secret service). It seems that this strategy has been successful so far as Indonesia rarely hears any criticism for human rights breaches. This was also obvious during the hearing of the Subcommittee on Human Rights when the representative form the European External Action Service (EEAS) did not dare to criticise Indonesia for the situation in West Papua and has instead praised the country for a steady progress. According to Leonidas Donskis, this situation reveals one of the biggest problems of the EU policy on human rights, namely its lack of coherence. Mr Donskis believes that the EU should not be afraid to raise criticism even in cases of countries which have achieved a lot. It does not mean that these achievements are not important, but encourages the country to reach for even higher democracy and human rights standards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1663 Thu, 30 Jan 2014 00:00:00 +0200 MEPs working on human rights encouraged to be optimists and not realists http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1662 <p>The end of the term and the upcoming elections shape the agenda of the European Parliament in Brussels. Although the last committee sessions will take place in April, the Subcommittee on Human Rights, a member of which is Leonidas Donskis, still has a lot of work before it. Last week, the Subcommittee discussed a number of well-known human rights issues together with some topics new for the European Parliament.</p> <p>On Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Human Rights discussed the report on eradication of torture in the world shadowed by Leonidas Donskis on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). The vote on this report and on the amendments submitted by Donskis in the Committee on Foreign Affairs will take place early February.</p> <p>The committee meeting on Wednesday also featured a visit of NGO representatives from Russia who shared the latest information on human rights and democracy breaches in Russia. Kirill Koroteev, a senior lawyer at the human rights NGO "Memorial" which was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, spoke about the implications of the new law obliging the NGOs receiving foreign financial support to register as foreign agents. Koroteev defends "Memorial" and other organisations refusing to do so at courts and believes that the Russian government uses this law as a tool to clamp down on NGOs. Tanya Lokoshina, the director of the Moscow office of the international organisation "Human Rights Watch", warned that the recent release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, "Pussy Riot" members and other political prisoners might be misleading. According to her, these actions are related to the upcoming Sotchi Olympics, but there are no profound changes in the Russian legal system. Lokoshina urged the EU and the rest of the world to continue observing Russia also after the Olympics, because it will be the time when democracy might experience crucial backdrop. Finally, Wanja Kilder from the LGBT organisation "Quarteera" presented the consequences of the recent Russian law prohibiting gay propaganda. Alongside Lithuanian MEPs Leonidas Donskis and Vytautas Landsbergis, this hearing was attended by Konstantin Dolgov, Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry of Russia on the Issues of Human Rights. The video record of this meeting can be found here.</p> <p>On Thursday, MEPs also had an opportunity to debate with the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, a post initiated by the European Parliament. Lambrinidis often visits the Subcommittee on Human Rights and informally communicates with the MEPs working in this field. Although this was his last visit this term, it was clear that the cooperation will continue. "In our work we must be optimists and not realists", - said Stavros Lambrinidis stressing that changes in human rights situation in the world are very slow and the results hard to see. Therefore, human rights defenders have to be patient and committed to their work.</p> <p>In his speech, Lambrinidis highlighted the need for coherence in EU human rights policy. It is important that all EU institutions, representatives and politicians on all levels use the same language when it comes to human rights and are leaded by the same values. Coherence is also needed to assess the human rights situation within the EU. Only applying the highest standards inside the Union, we can demand this from our partners in the rest of the world. Finally, the EU has to apply the same standards to all third countries no matter what the EU interests are. Economic or geopolitical considerations cannot lead to lower standards in the areas of human rights and democracy. The power and importance of any particular country cannot be a factor in human rights policy.</p> <p>MEP Leonidas Donskis, ALDE group coordinator on human rights, admitted that his and Lambrinidis` philosophy regarding human rights is almost identical and thanked the Special Representative for his good work. Donskis draw attention to the situation in Ukraine and expressed his concerns the country risks to become a dictatorship copying the worst anti-democratic Russian traditions. MEP also questioned whether the EU soft diplomacy is still effective in relations with countries which only acknowledge power politics. The whole speech of Lambrinidis and the discussions can be found here (starting from 10:09).</p> <p>The work of the Subcommittee on Human Rights this week finished by a hearing initiated by Leonidas Donskis on the human rights situation in West Papua introducing this issue on the EP agenda for the first time. West Papua which is very rich in natural resources is an integral part of Indonesia, ethnically and culturally very different from the rest of the country. Praising Indonesia for its progress, the international community often oversees grave human right abuses in West Papua, including illegal imprisonments and immunity from punishment for perpetrators. New topics on the agenda of the Subcommittee on Human Rights show that work on human rights cannot stop because of election fewer at the EP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1662 Mon, 27 Jan 2014 00:00:00 +0200