On 14 March 2019, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on a European human rights violations sanctions regime. This text represents a vigorous stepping stone to further strengthen the human rights mechanisms of the European Union.
The text mentions the previous resolutions “calling for an EU-wide mechanism for imposing targeted sanctions against individuals involved in grave human rights violations” and “under Rule 35 of its Rules of Procedure calling for the imposition of targeted sanctions against individuals involved in grave human rights violations”, including those of 30 November 2017 on the situation in Yemen and of 25 October 2018 on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Sanctions are the focus of the resolution. It reiterates the importance of Title V, Chapter 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), regarding the adoption of sanctions under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the commitment of the European Union to the implementation of sanctions decided on by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and the fact that existing EU sanctions target both state and non-state actors.
After this introductory section, the European Parliament “condemns all violations of human rights across the globe” and “calls on the Council to swiftly establish an autonomous, flexible and reactive EU-wide sanctions regime that would allow for the targeting of any individual, state and non-state actors, and other entities responsible for or involved in grave human rights violations.” This sanctions regime aims at fostering cooperation on a global scale, with the intention of reinforcing the EU’s role as a “global human rights actor.” Furthermore, the Parliament emphasises that the criminal prosecution of perpetrators of gross human rights violations “through domestic or international jurisdictions should remain the primary objective of all efforts undertaken by the EU and its Member States to combat impunity.”
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes this resolution. We acknowledge the potential effectiveness of the human rights violations sanctions regime, hoping that the European Union will hold the Saudi government accountable for the multiple infringements of human rights that have been occurring within the country.