On February 20 2018 Members of the European Parliament co-signed a letter addressed to VP/HR Ms. Federica Mogherini concerning the urgent need of discussing the current human rights violations occurring in most League of Arab States (LAS) countries. On the 20th of February, a total of 31 MEPs kindly offered to co-sign such request, defending a common ground and a shared interest to address human right matters during the international political dialogue between the European Union and the League of Arab States.
As a matter of fact, on the 24-25th of this month, a EU-LAS Summit will take place in Sharm-el-Sheikh a first ever meeting which will bring together the heads of state of governments from both sides. The purpose is to strengthen the already existing Arab-European ties by analysing and fortifying a wide range of issues and common challenges, such as: multilateralism, trade and investment, migration, security and a general overview on the regional situation. The meeting is expected to start in the afternoon on Sunday 24 February and end with a press conference in the afternoon on Monday 25 February. President Donald Tusk will co-chair the meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He will represent the EU along with President Jean-Claude Juncker and VP/HR Federica Mogherini.
MEPs (members of the major Parliamentary groups, such as the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and the Greens–European Free Alliance, plus honourable mentions from ALDE, GUE, EPR and EPP) strongly believe that creating space for political dialogue brings to more inclusive cooperation, peace, development and prosperity among international actors. However, this could be achieved only through a higher level of inclusivity, by highlighting the increased and needed importance of bringing human rights issues at the forefront of these agendas. Respecting the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy which clearly states that the “EU will promote human rights in all areas of its external action without exception.”
Addressing the widespread and systematic human rights violations occurring in the GCC countries would definitely ensure more stability to the region and therefore would promote increased regional security. It has indeed become essential, especially considering the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2018, that this Declaration should especially inspire the EU’s external policies to include human rights dialogues in every bilateral or regional meeting between the European Union and non- EU countries and international institutions.
The human rights situation in the area has not stabilized nor has it progressed since the historical regional pro-democratic protests in 2011. Human rights defenders, political opposition leaders, civil societies and journalists continue to be persecuted, arrested, prosecuted, killed and tortured in organised and planned government crackdowns. Freedom of expression, freedom of religion and belief, freedom of speech, association and assembly both offline and online continue to be dismantled through rough and intense restrictions and punishments. Moreover, women condition continues to be inadequately protected against gender-based violence and the systematic legal and social discrimination against them persists. A dramatic picture which widely extends to under-aged and elderly communities. The death penalty as well as torture and other forms of ill-treatment are reiterating practices in most of these states. Furthermore, in the Gulf states, the Kafala system is still in place, a lucrative exploitation which poses severe obstacles on trade unions and migrant workers.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes this letter and the MEPs’ support and undeniable interest for promoting human rights worldwide. We stay hopeful that the addressed issue will be considered by VP/HR Federica Mogherini and that will be added to the common summit agenda. Since it’s our main goal to promote and stand for those matters, we can only be glad of such participation and support.
Click here to read the pdf of the letter.